DoD’s Top Generals’ Drinks of Choice

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel hosts White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough at a Senior Leadership Council meeting with senior Department of Defense leadership and Combatant Commanders at the Pentagon, June 14, 2013. (DoD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)

When the military’s top generals sit down at a long U-shaped conference table in the Pentagon to discuss urgent matters, like how to deal with hundreds of billions of dollars in defense spending cuts, staying hydrated is key.

Fights on the battlefields of Afghanistan pale in comparison to a good, old-fashioned inside the Beltway budget battle. Thanks to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s official photographer Erin Kirk-Cuomo, we’ve been given a peak at the brass’ beverages of choice. She snapped several shots of the all the service secretaries, Joint Chiefs, undersecretaries and combatant commanders during a July 15 closed-door meeting.

Some of the four-stars had different drinks in different shots, so multiple beverages are listed for some of the leaders.

Without further adieu, here they are:

  • Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: Lemon-Lime Gatorade
  • Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: Canada Dry Ginger Ale
  • Gen. Raymond Odierno, Army chief of staff: Dr Pepper
  • Gen. Mark Welsh. Air Force chief of staff: Diet Coke
  • Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe: Diet Coke
  • Gen. William Fraser, commander of US Transportation Command: Diet Dr Pepper
  • James Miller, undersecretary for policy, Coke Zero/Starbucks
  • John McHugh, Army secretary: Large McDonald’s cup, probably a soft drink
  • Ray Mabus, Navy secretary: Diet Coke
  • Gen. John Kelly, commander of US Southern Command: Unknown soft drink or iced tea
  • Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander US Central Command: Coke Zero
  • Adm. William McRaven, commander US Special Operations Command: Red Bull (Is anyone surprised?)
  • Jessica Wright, acting undersecretary for personnel and readiness: Diet Coke
  • Christine Fox. director Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation: Bottled water
  • Adm. Sandy Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: Ice water

The following leaders were snapped holding coffee mugs, so we can presume that’s what they’re drinking: Gen. J.D. Thurman, commander of US Forces Korea; Gen. Robert Kehler, commander of US Strategic Command; Gen. Charles Jacoby, commander of US Northern Command; Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau; Michael Vickers, undersecretary for intelligence, Michael Donley, Air Force secretary and McRaven.

Across the series of photos, Adm. Sam Locklear, commander US Pacific Command and Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, did not appear to have any drink in front of them.

Judging by the number of diet soft drinks, these folks are certainly watching their calories.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel hosts a Senior Leadership Council meetings with Combatant Commanders at the Pentagon, June 14, 2013. (DoD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)

Marcus Weisgerber
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Marcus Weisgerber

Senior Pentagon Correspondent at Defense News
I write about broad-ranging policy, acquisition and budget issues affecting the US military.
Marcus Weisgerber
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