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American Opinion - On 'military mentors':

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opinion Willmar, 56201

Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

An excerpt from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States:By The Associated Press

On 'military mentors':

Defense Secretary Robert Gates took the correct action in ordering an overhaul of the use of retired military advisers, known as "military mentors."

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According to an investigation by USA Today, 80 percent of the more than 150 retired officers who have advised the military in that capacity in recent years have had ties to defense firms that were also trying to sell products to the military.

As government consultants, they can earn as much as $440 an hour on taxpayer dollars and then draw an additional salary as contractor consultants and defense company board members. And, that's all on top of their military pensions.

Under Gates' new policy, mentors will be subject to conflict-of-interest laws. They may not:

- Participate in matters in which they have a conflict of interest, defined in federal law as taking official action that has "a direct and predictable effect" on their personal interests.

- Divulge non-public information to defense contractors and other outside entities.

- Represent a client on matters in which they participated personally and substantially while advising the military.

The new rules also will bring greater transparency to the process ... Gates does seem to have struck a good balance between the military's desire to tap into the expertise of retired military officers and ethical concerns. The public should be assured that private firms bidding for contracts from the military aren't receiving inside information from retired officers who are advising both the military and their companies.

-- The Leaf-Chronicle,Clarksville, Tenn.

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