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Trading a Uniform for a Suit

For retired brass, high-paying defense industry jobs beckon

When Kenneth Eickmann was a three-star general in charge of the U.S. Air Force’s Aeronautical Systems Center, a defense contractor invited him to lunch. The man’s company was competing for a major weapons contract the general’s center was overseeing, so Eickmann declined the social contact.

Two days later an old friend, a retired general, phoned to get together for lunch. When Eickmann arrived at the restaurant, a surprise awaited him: The contractor accompanied his friend, who, it turned out, also worked for the company. “I never sat down at the table,” says Eickmann, recalling the 1997 incident. He is now retired from the military.