Then-defense secretary Robert M. Gates stopped bagging his leaves when he moved into a small Washington military enclave in 2007. His next-door neighbor was Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, who had a chef, a personal valet and — not lost on Gates — troops to tend his property.Read the rest here.
Gates may have been the civilian leader of the world’s largest military, but his position did not come with household staff. So, he often joked, he disposed of his leaves by blowing them onto the chairman’s lawn.
“I was often jealous because he had four enlisted people helping him all the time,” Gates said in response to a question after a speech Thursday. He wryly complained to his wife that “Mullen’s got guys over there who are fixing meals for him, and I’m shoving something into the microwave. And I’m his boss.”
Yes, there are some fair points here. But I wouldn't put too much stock in it. One of the oldest expressions in the military is R-H-I-P (rank has its privileges). Every general or admiral in history has had staff including enlisted men who effectively function as personal servants. Even junior officers and some senior enlisted people rate a certain amount of deference and waiting on. The military is more hierarchical than Downton Abbey. On some level we inherited that from the Brits. The main difference being that the military is mainly a meritocracy and neither the rank nor the deference is hereditary. If that is really a huge hangup then you probably should not join.
Private executive jets and motorcades sounds over the top to me. But speaking as someone who never rose above the naval equivalent to sergeant I am not going to begrudge a man who has stars on his shoulder from the respect, and yes privileges, that come with rank. Admirals have better things to do than shine their own shoes, press their own uniforms or even cook their own meals. And though it rated only a sentence in the article, it's worth reiterating that the military has a lot of pomp and tradition which civilians usually just don't get.
Lastly, and with all due respect to former Secretary Gates, it is a hell of a lot harder to earn four stars than to be named Secretary of Defense.