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Pentagon Cuts Worry Top Brass

With Defense Secretary Robert Gates promising to slash spending, the armed services’ swollen corps of 40 four-star generals and admirals are beginning to feel that they are the ones in the crosshairs. The total number of active-duty generals and admirals has also increased by 13 percent since 1996 in what Gates calls a "brass creep." But now one- and two- star generals and admirals are worried that they will be forced into premature retirement, while rising colonels and captains are anxious about diminishing possibilities for promotion. "Every flag officer will think I'm after him or her," Gates said. "But we have to be willing to look at everything." Cuts are most likely to come in Europe, where a four-star commander jointly runs U.S. military and NATO forces. However, in a vestige of World War II, the Army, Navy and Air Force have four-star officers overseeing their individual forces in Europe. But analysts believe that a squeeze may be academic. Each general could save the Pentagon $200,000 a year, which is only a drop in its base budget of $535 billion for this year.