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Retired Army Gen. Paul Kern enjoys his golden years

By Laurie Bennett

September 22, 2009 at 7:59am

Paul J. Kern never made big bucks as a four-star general. The Army pay grade for his rank was less than $200,000 a year.

After retiring from the service in 2005, Kern moved to the defense industry, adding at least one zero to his gross income.

A former commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, Kern now holds positions with five companies. Last year he became president and COO last year of AMC General, the company that manufactures the Humvee.

Paul J. Kern
Paul J. Kern

He is also an adviser to the Cohen Group, the lobby firm headed by former Defense Secretary William Cohen. The company’s client list includes such major defense contractors as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Honeywell International and United Technologies.

In addition, Kern sits on the board of three other companies:

  • CoVant, a partnership that invests in defense and homeland security ventures;
  • iRobot, whose products range from the Roomba home vacuum to unmanned military vehicles;
  • ITT Corporation, which makes defense electronics such as night vision devices and combat radios.

Only iRobot and ITT are public, so it’s difficult to figure Kern’s total income. However, his pay packages from these two board positions alone exceeded $500,000 in 2008.

Kern’s background provides him with a wealth of knowledge and contacts valuable to any military contractor.

He is a West Point graduate who holds degrees in mechanical and civil engineering. He served in Vietnam and was a brigade commander in Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

At the Army Materiel Command, he was responsible for equipping the troops with munitions, vehicles, aircraft, communications, food and shelter.

Now he’s in a position to help capture billions in government contracts. Earlier in 2009, AM General won a $1.3 billion bid to provide trucks and vehicle components to the Army. Last year, its Army contracts totalled almost $4.5 billion.

Kern is scheduled to become chief executive of the company later this year, succeeding James Armour, who will continue as chairman through 2011.

AM General is a subsidiary of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings, a company controlled by billionaire investor Ron Perelman. The holding company’s businesses range from defense contracts to cameras to lottery technology to cosmetics. Panavision, Scientific Games and Revlon are also subsidiaries.

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