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How bad is our bloat of generals? How does it compare with other armies?

10 September 2012

Summary:  As a followup to yesterday’s rant by Richard A Pawloski (Captain, USMC, retired) about our bloated corps of senior generals, today we look at the actual numbers.  They show that if anything Pawloski understated the situation, and that only many more rants can reform our military. It’s not just expensive, but might become a risk to the Republic.

“In place of that optimax of 5% {officers} that the MI never can reach, many armies in the past commissioned 10% of their number, or even 15%! This sounds like a fairy tale but it was a fact, especially during the 20th century. What kind of an army has more officers than corporals? And more noncoms than privates! An army organized to lose wars — if history means anything. An army that is mostly red tape and overhead, most of whose soldiers never fight.”
— Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (1959). Heinlein was Annapolis class of 1929, discharged in 1934 due to TB.

Good advice!

Contents

  1. About our bloated roster of generals
  2. Our economy has not grown, but our officers corps has
  3. Comparing our Army to successful & unsuccessful past armies
  4. Research about inflation in our officers corps
  5. Other articles about our senior officers
  6. Other posts about our military, & the potential risk to the Republic

(1)  About our massive, bloated roster of senior officers

What will all those generals and admirals do with our vast military and intelligence forces? No other nations appear interested in playing war. In fact, the primary military goal of our opponents is defending power-projection off their borders — or against US attacks.

What our generals cannot do is win modern wars, as our defeats in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan prove beyond doubt.  Despite great efforts, 4GW (brought to maturity at the close of WWII by Mao) remains an unsolved mystery to our generals.

But there are many things they can do at home in America. See the military’s increased role in disaster relief and patrolling the borders.  And there are vistas beyond those small projects.  History shows that generals often feel well-suited to lead their nations in many ways beyond defending the State against external foes.

We may be ready for their leadership, especially if tough times arrive.  Polls show that the military are the only agency of government in which modern America has confidence (followed by their cousins in the security services).

It’s the prussian-ization of America.  It’s a pre-fascist trait, one of many appearing in America today.

For more about our fading confidence in Republican institutions, and rising faith in generals:

(2)  Our economy has not grown, but our officers corps has grown and prospered

Excerpt from “General and Flag Officer Requirements”, testimony of Ben Freeman (Project on Government Oversight) before the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Personnel, 14 September 2011:

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Since World War II ended, the number of general or flag officers per uniformed personnel has been increasing — reaching an all-time high in 2010 of nearly 7 general and flag officers per every 10,000 uniformed personnel. This is an increase of more than 0.5 a general or flag officer per 10,000 uniformed personnel than when the war in Afghanistan began; 1.5 more than when the Cold War ended; and 5 more than when World War II ended, as Figure 1 shows.

There has been a fairly constant increase in the ratio of general and flag officers compared to all other uniformed personnel since the end of the Cold War, even though the military underwent a contraction during the 1990s and an expansion following the onset of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As of April 2011, there were 964 general and flag officers. By comparison, at the end of the Cold War the U.S. had 1,017 general and flag officers. Thus, there has only been a nominal decrease in general and flag officers even though the number of active duty uniformed personnel has decreased by roughly 28%, the Air Force flies 35% fewer planes, and the Navy has 46% fewer ships in its fleet. In sum, the number of general and flag officers has barely fallen despite double-digit percentage drops in the size of the forces they command.

This trend towards a top-heavy force structure continued during the post-Cold War drawdown from 1991 to 2001. During this time period, the DoD cut just over 600,000 uniformed personnel — a decline of approximately 30% — but only 146 general and flag officer positions were eliminated — a decline of less than 15%. Thus, the remaining general and flag officers were responsible for commanding far fewer personnel when the war in Afghanistan.

GROWTH IN THE NUMBER OF THREE- AND FOUR-STAR GENERAL AND FLAG OFFICERS

The increase in the very top brass — 3- and 4-star officers — further illustrates star creep within the DoD. The number of 3- and 4-star general and flag officers has increased since the Cold War ended, as depicted in Figure 3. In 1991, there were 157 3- and 4-stars. By April 2011 they had swollen to 194—an increase of 24%. We have more 3- and 4-stars now that at any point since the Cold War ended. Since 1991, no DoD personnel group has grown at a faster rate. From 1991 through April 2011, officer ranks shrank by more than 56,000 (19%) and enlisted personnel decreased by nearly half a million (30%).

… The rise of the top brass during the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan compared to other DoD personnel is noteworthy. From 2001 to 2011 the number of officers per 3- and 4-star general or flag officers dropped by 172 and the number of enlisted personnel per 3- and 4-star officer dropped by 1,253.

… The rise of the top brass during the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan compared to other DoD personnel is noteworthy. From 2001 to 2011 the number of officers per 3- and 4-star general or flag officers dropped by 172 and the number of enlisted personnel per 3- and 4-star officer dropped by 1,253.

Figure 5 compares the growth of 3- and 4-star officers to other categories of military personnel. The 3- and 4-star ranks have increased twice as fast as 1- and 2-star general and flag officers, 3X as fast as the increase in all officers, and almost 10x as fast as the increase in enlisted personnel. If you imagine it visually, the shape of U.S. military personnel has shifted from looking like a pyramid to beginning to look more like a skyscraper (i.e. higher ranks having fewer lower ranking personnel under them rather than more).

STAR CREEP ACROSS THE SERVICES SINCE 9/11

While star creep is the general trend across the military, there have been considerable and counterintuitive variances across the services since September 2001. Figure 6 tracks the number of general and flag officers per 10,000 uniformed personnel in each branch of the military from September 2001 to April 2011.  The Marines have the fewest generals and are also the leanest force (but still top heavy compared to historical Marine force compositions), averaging just over 4 generals for every 10,000 uniformed personnel. At the other end of the spectrum, the Air Force is the most top-heavy branch with almost 10

generals for every 10,000 airmen. In other words, the Air Force is 2.5X as top-heavy as the Marines, and in absolute terms they have more than 3X as many generals as the Marines. With 312 general officers, the Air Force is tied with the Army for most general and flag officers of any service, even though the Air Force has approximately 237,000 fewer uniformed personnel than the Army.

… THE FINANCIAL COSTS OF STAR CREEP

For taxpayers concerned with an ever-expanding DoD budget, star creep adds to DoD costs. This is due in large degree to the costs that that surround general and flag officers, such as staff, contractors, and travel, which tends to increase significantly with higher ranks.

… The direct compensation cost of officers also increases with their rank. In just basic pay, when a colonel (Navy captain) with over 20 years experience becomes a brigadier general (rear admiral – lower half), their pay jumps from $110,674 to $138,488, an increase of more than $27,000 per year.30 Costs increase further when other parts of an officer’s compensation package are included, such as allowances for subsistence, housing, and tax benefits. A major general (rear admiral) with 30 years of service and a family of four receives a compensation package worth more than $206,000 annually, and if they are promoted to a three-star lieutenant general (vice admiral) their compensation package increases to over $225,000.

(3)  Comparing the US Army to successful and unsuccessful armies of the past

Slides from a PowerPoint presentation by Donald E. Vandergriff (Major, US Army, retired) on Officer Manning: Armies of the past.  He makes a powerful case that larger ratios of officers to enlisted ranks makes an army more effective.  That’s unfortunate, for our military has gone the other way.

(4) More research about inflation in our officers corps

  1. Officer Inflation: Its Cost to the Taxpayer and to Military Effectiveness, Officer Inflation: Its Cost to the Taxpayer and to Military Effectiveness, Project on Military Procurement, October 1987
  2. More Brass, More Bucks: Officer Inflation in Today’s Military, Project On Government Oversight, 1 March 1998
  3. General and Flag Officer Authorizations for the Active and Reserve Components: a Comparative and Historical Analysis, Library of Congress, December 2007

(5)  Other articles about our senior officers

(a)  Articles:

  1. Generals Wary of Move to Cut Their Ranks“, New York Times, 26 August 2010
  2. The Pentagon’s Biggest Overrun: Way Too Many Generals“, Dina Rasor, Truth-Out, 5 January 2012

(b)  Government Reports:

  1. General and Flag Officer Requirements Are Unclear Based on DOD’s 2003 Report to Congress, Government Accounting Office, April 2004
  2. DOD Could Make Greater Use of Existing Legislative Authority to Manage General and Flag Officer Careers, Government Accounting Office, 23 September 2004
  3. Post-Government Employment of Former DOD Officials Needs Greater Transparency, 21 May 2008 –

(6)  For more information the skill and integrity of our senior military leaders

See these FM Reference Pages for all posts about our military:  America’s military, and our national defense strategy

Might the US military become a threat to the Republic?

  1. Who can we trust to defend our liberty? Will our culture’s rot spread to the military?, 17 June 2010
  2. Who is to blame for our civil-military dysfunction?, 5 September 2010 — Guest post by Bernard Finel
  3. The insurgency widens – another crack in civilian control of our military, 7 October 2010
  4. How to Fund an American Police State (aka Weaponizing the Body Politic), 5 March 2012
  5. What will replace the Constitution in Americans’ hearts? Let’s check for Fascism., 29 March 2012
  6. More evidence that the military is slowly cutting itself off from civilian control, 15 July 2012

About the skill and integrity of our senior military leaders:

  1. The Core Competence of America’s Military Leaders, 27 May 2007
  2. The moral courage of our senior generals, or their lack of it, 3 July 2008
  3. Careerism and Psychopathy in the US Military leadership, GI Wilson (Colonel, USMC, retired), 2 May 2011
  4. Rolling Stone releases Colonel Davis’ blockbuster report about Afghanistan – and our senior generals!, 12 February 2012

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31 Comments leave one →
  1. Thomas More permalink
    10 September 2012 3:54 am

    I suppose the good news is that since the rate of increase of generals per soldier seems to be monotonic, in some not-too-distant future the United States army will consist entirely of generals with no other kinds of soldiers. This will leave no one to fight America’s endless unwinnable foreign wars, so presumably they’ll end.

    • 10 September 2012 5:05 am

      robots

    • Kevin Berger permalink
      11 September 2012 10:18 pm

      Well, this certainly doesn’t add much to the conversation… BUT, I’d hate myself if I missed the opportunity to post this :

      Cutbacks, Terminal Lance, 17 August 2012
      .

      Terminal Lance, 18 August 2012

  2. Bluestocking permalink
    10 September 2012 5:18 am

    “As a followup to yesterday’s rant by Richard A Pawloski (Captain, USMC, retired) about our bloated corps of senior generals, today we look at the actual numbers. They show that if anything Pawloski understated the situation, and that only many more rants can reform our military. It’s not just expensive, but might become a risk to the Republic.” — FabiusMaximus

    On a related note, an article from last year’s Business Insider (“15 Facts About Military Spending That Will Blow Your Mind“) exposes some shocking details which further highlight the dire need for military reform:

    • The US is currently spending 1% of its entire GDP simply in order to maintain its military arsenal, and much of the money which is being budgeted for defense is being used to pay for sophisticated weapons technology that often doesn’t make it into production (and which is often expensive to maintain if and when it does) — and while the US only has 5% of the world’s population, it pays nearly 50% of the world’s total defense expenditure.
    • The US spends more on defense than the next 15 countries combined (including other countries which are considered global military powerhouses such as China and Russia)
    • The amount of money which in 2007 was estimated to have been lost or wasted in Iraq — 11 billion — could have paid the salaries of 220,000 teachers (among other things), and the yearly cost of maintaining one soldier in Afghanistan could feed sixty families for that same period of time.
    • While the economy shrank from 32% to 23% of global output, American defense spending doubled.
    • Every day that we continue to fight in Afghanistan costs the American people more than it originally cost to build the Pentagon.
    • In 2008, the amount of money that the US government spent every five seconds was more than the average American earned in an entire year.
    • It’s estimated that the budget for the Pentagon now consumes up to 80% of all individual tax revenues (and by the way, 54% of all discretionary spending now goes to defense).
    • The Pentagon spends more on war in a year than all fifty states combined spend on education, health, safety, and welfare.

    Grim statistics indeed, and especially since defense spending continues to remain something of a “sacred cow” in Washington, there is no reason to believe that this problem will somehow resolve itself on its own or that our elected officials will voluntarily agree to do anything about it. In fact, if anything, this would seem to confirm a supposed quote from a Washington insider to the effect that the real locus of control in this country is no longer the White House or the Capitol Building — it’s the Pentagon.

  3. Thomas More permalink
    10 September 2012 5:54 am

    The actual amount of money spend on the American military is significantly larger than the official figures, because the official figures do not include (amazingly!) the cost of the VA (73 billion) as well as other major costs like the CIA (which now maintains and operates a huge and growing fleet of armed drones) and the Department of Energy (which does much civilian work, but far and away all the biggest-budgets DOE projects are defense related, as for example particle beam weapons, the airborne laser system carried in a 707, and so on) and so on.

    No one is sure how much money the Pentagon actually spends because the U.S. military has never been able to pass an audit. The procurement process is so complex and the accounting so fragmented that there is literally no way to know where all the money goes.

    Estimates of the true total cost of annual U.S. military expenditures range from 1 trillion dollars to 1.2 dollars. This latter estimate include the cost of the Department of Homeland Security etc. as mentioned by FM. It can be found in this article from Mother Jones magazine, “The Real US National Security Budget: 1.2 Trillion.” If accurate, that figure would put America’s military spending closer to 8% of GDP that to 4.5% of GDP. But, as mentioned, nobody knows because much of the money literally disappears in to the cracks of the fragmented chaotic unbelievably huge military-industrial-surveillance complex, like those pallets containing billions of dollars of cash that just evaporated without a trace in Iraq.

    • Pluto permalink
      10 September 2012 10:26 am

      That reminds me of the old Soviet system where the Politburo had no idea of what it was spending because the books were so messed up. Not surprisingly, this led to some very bad decisions and the whole system eventually crashed.

    • 10 September 2012 12:37 pm

      The CIA is included in DoDs budget. But Homeland Security does include some of what are in effect DoD expenditures. Such as some of the Coast Guard’s activity.

      And as you note, big pieces of military costs are outside the usual DoD budget. Estimates of the real military cost vary wildly. I use the nice round one trillion dollar number.

      Some people include the cost of the debt they consider incurred to run DoD, but I think that just further confuses the issue.

      Winslow Wheeler of the Center for Defense Information, now part of the Project on Government Oversight, has done what is IMO the best work on this.

    • 10 September 2012 1:08 pm

      how much does the US spend on defense? The short answer: too much. Far more than we need to spend.

      But specifically how much? It depends on how one defines defense. For an answer let’s turn to one of our top defense analysts: “Nightmare: How Much Should We Spend for National Insecurity?” by Chuck Spinney, posted by James Fallows at his column on The Atlantic website, 3 February 2011 — It’s a long analysis, relying on work by Winston Wheeler. His conclusion:

      “So, in answering the first question: how large is the current defense budget? Reasonable estimates place it between $739 billion and $1 trillion for 2011 — take your pick.”

      For more information see Wheeler’s reports at the Project on Government Oversight.

    • 12 December 2012 10:52 am

      I have written an article titled “Decoding US military spending for 2013″, which will be published last X Saturday of this year. Total US defense spending is 670 – 700 billion USD a year for direct spending, and 1,13 – 1,37 trillion USD for total defense-related spending.

    • 12 December 2012 2:07 pm

      Please post a link to it here when it’s published!

    • 12 December 2012 10:53 am

      “last X” – it should have been “last Saturday”

    • 12 December 2012 2:55 pm

      It’s scheduled for 29.12.

  4. William Leach permalink
    10 September 2012 7:58 am

    What incentives could possibly compel our nations leaders to address the cancerous, out of control growth of carreerism in the military? Those inside the pentagon who would have us change course are being increasingly outnumbered by careerist officers whos main job is making sure no one rocks the boat.
    While I am sure there is no shortage of capable and courageous individuals who could make a difference, the opportunities to do so seem to be getting fewer and fewer.

    If change will not come easy from within the ranks then can we at least expect the congress to perform its oversight role and address our top heavy force structure? Unlikey, as the legislative branch is as bloated and careerist as the officer class. When it comes to the status qou the congress’ corporate sponsers are happy, which means congress is happy. Big careerist procurement bureacracy? Cha-ching! “Yes Ill donate to your re-election campaign and keep jobs in your district, just don’t you mess with procurement and keep that revolving door moving.”

    Even if a congress could untangle itself from the military industrial complex, our legislative bodies and thier staffs are so large I suspect that any real work or discussion would be impossible. Could a president fix the problem? After all Americans expect the president to be able to “do stuff” about everything else. But why would any politician do a thing to the buck passing machine that is the current version of American military? Besides, the military does so much PR these days its much easier to co/opt or go along than it is to show any leadership.

    Of course if wish rely on Americas elected leaders then what we are really relying on is American electoral system and the politics involved. Scary stuff. Sadly, while the problem of parasitic officers may be a big deal, its only a small part of the current paradigm of waging constant war with a high tech “professional” army. That whole paradigm needs questioning if you ask me, but its only part of the problem of us having no grand strategy, much less the political will to create one.

    Just for record I have actual experience or expertise on these matters, but I love this site and wanted to throw my two cents out there. Just to clarify I meant no disrespect to the people in uniform when I put “professional” in quotations I merely dont think ot fair to expect the fewer and fewer people fighting more and more wars to be as capable at acting like model proffessionals as would be a force not stretched so dangerously thin (at the tip of the spear at any rate).

    • Bluestocking permalink
      10 September 2012 6:05 pm

      “If change will not come easy from within the ranks then can we at least expect the congress to perform its oversight role and address our top heavy force structure? Unlikely, as the legislative branch is as bloated and careerist as the officer class. When it comes to the status quo the congress’s corporate sponsors are happy, which means congress is happy. Big careerist procurement bureaucracy? Cha-ching! ‘Yes, I’ll donate to your re-election campaign and keep jobs in your district, just don’t you mess with procurement and keep that revolving door moving.’” — William Leach

      Indeed I’ve been saying for awhile now that one way in which we might reform the military, at least with regard to who serves, would be to establish a period of mandatory military service — or an equivalent period of civil service for confirmed conscientious objectors as well as those who are physically unable to serve — such as they have in some other countries for all young people who have reached the age of majority and who are no longer pursuing secondary education (meaning K-12) either because they have graduated or dropped out). As I see it, the potential benefits could be fivefold:

      It would help eliminate or at least diminish the disconnect which currently exists between the civilian population and the military, since most people would have “skin in the game” in the form of someone close to them — a son/daughter, a nephew/niece, etc. — who has served, is serving, or scheduled to serve.

      It would provide a potential disincentive for the federal government to promote or authorize military action since their own sons and daughters would also be required to serve.

      It would eliminate (or at least diminish) the need for private-sector subcontractors because there would be enough troops to perform the tasks needing to be done — and hence return the military to a state in which it is answerable to the people rather than shareholders or investors (since part of the danger of a military force supported heavily by private-sector subcontractors lies in the fact that the people as a whole have less say over how these subcontractors conduct their business, especially as the amount of bureaucracy within the system increases). This would also help reduce the defense budget (and hence the federal deficit) since private sector contractors cost more, especially as additional — and possibly superfluous or unnecessary — links are added to the supply chains.

      It would provide a potential disincentive for the growing divide in this country between different socioeconomic groups. Is it possible that WWII and the Korean War, in which wealthy people served alongside middle-class and poor people, served as an unseen or unconscious driving force behind the social reforms of the 1950′s (such as Brown vs. Board of Education) and the 1960′s…and is it possible that the elimination of the draft (with the result that the lower socioeconomic strata are overrepresented in the ranks of the military) has caused us to forget that? I think it might be possible, yes.

      It would provide young people with an incentive to develop greater maturity, responsibility, and social awareness. It’s thought by some that part of the reason why the 1950′s is considered America’s Golden Age is because many of the young people who fought in that war (and who were fortunate enough to return) were forced by their experiences to grow up quickly. Granted, the effects were clearly not as beneficial for those who returned from Vietnam…but this may have had a great deal to do with other factors such as the opposition to the war, the inability to rely on the support of Vietnamese civilians, the unequal nature of the conscription, and the manner in which many returning veterans were treated.

      Of course, the fact that the Military Industrial Complex has this country firmly in its grip means that such a proposal will probably never be implemented for the obvious reason that the decreased need for private subcontractors will raise a hue-and-cry from the owners of such businesses who will complain to Congress and talk about the dire consequences of eliminating jobs in their district.

  5. guest permalink
    10 September 2012 9:54 am

    “How does it compare with other armies?”

    should probably be modified to read “How does it compare with historical examples of other armies?”

    as there are no comparisons with contemporary armies whatsoever (the example of the Israeli army in 1967 is good to compare with Vietnam-era armed forces 45 years back, but dubious otherwise).

    • 10 September 2012 12:28 pm

      Good point. However titles should be 6-8 words in length, which is too short to convey much useful information. Hence the trade-off of length and precision. It’s the same reason newspaper headlines are often so hysterical.

      It’s nice to be accurate, but it’s better to have someone read the article.

  6. Richard A Pawloski permalink
    10 September 2012 3:20 pm

    This has become a very valuable forum indeed.

    The excessive “numbers” of flag officers has become its own monster as this charmed community has also evolved into believing that they are entitled to enormous benefits and privileges and on top of that a guaranteed free ride to high wealth and prominence in the board rooms and senior positions throughout not only the military-industrial complex but also throughout the whole of the American corporate landscape. With the population of retired flag officers growing so fast there are now very special organizations in and out of official channels that cater to all the needs of an aspiring assemblage of retirees to ensure first that all of their clearances and special accesses are properly updated and maintained since the key to all job appointments hinges on such things and essentially it is the “clearances” that rule-out any and all possible competition by purist or un-associated academics who have not held or applied for such things in their former jobs.

    This form of exclusion drives the “over-classification” nightmare the whole country is burden with but it should be clear now that this is really the driver as to why repeated hundreds of times during the past decades – at least since Cheney became the champion of Halliburton while in the White House – hundreds of just retired Colonels working under the tutelage of mentoring generals with no real business experience and even less resources could miraculously get sole-source contracts for hundreds of millions of dollars to undertake emergency activities to support the immediate needs of the forces at war paid for out of the unlimited quarterly “supplemental funding bills” (all borrowed) with minimal if any oversight just because these individuals had the clearances that would allow them to be read into the programs under invention.

    If anyone would ask if the clearances were necessary you would be immediately excluded from the access for an answer. The over-population of generals made this and they used this to get themselves and their friends very rich while the wars dribbled on, troops died and were mangled, and of course what was really needed was never provided.

    The case of the JIEDDO – the joint effort to combat the IED’s is the one most perfect example of fraud, waste, and sheer classified over-kill to pad the pockets of thousands and employ a whole flock of retired incompetence at enormous salaries without yet providing anything that would in any way support the troops in these wars to combat the IED threat. All this serves as gifts to retired Colonels and Generals with no experience or resources but with all the proper clearances to start small companies that could bypass the procurement regulations in war time – all for the benefit of the troops – GMAFB.

    Now you must realize we are only scratching the surface but you need an over-population of rank to make this happen properly and smoothly – it is a Ponzi scheme when you get to build the pyramid. It sustains itself because once you have flag rank at the top of organizations it continues to feed the whole budget of the defense establishment.

    Army divisions not have two general, officers, hell you then need modular large heavy components for them to account for and lead, the Navy needs big aircraft carriers because they contain an Admiral’s staff, small ships would never work. And why the Marines need several four star ranks is beyond me, the Commandant should be at the most a humble combat blooded two-star. And this can go on and it – it all feeds into itself – the massive waste and overkill costing billions of taxpayer dollars with no return on investment.

    I will stop with a note that I contended that the over-population of generals is the key reason we have lost the ability to win wars and on top of that, the combined blindness and incompetence of these almost politically merged flag people has created the real reason we cannot fight a COIN war properly – the failure in preparing and delivering a capable light COIN air component that would bring the 3rd dimension to all those units at the leading edge of the fighting – but this will be developed in a short time.

  7. Richard A Pawloski permalink
    10 September 2012 3:21 pm

    Also note: “The Flag and General Officers Network (TFGON) has now grown to over 3200+ admirals and generals …”
    .

  8. James Catfish permalink
    10 September 2012 7:58 pm

    This is a great site for common sense, well thought out discussion and debate. As an enlisted in the Army, Sgt (e5) Infantry, I had 5 or 6 very formal conversations with then Major General Harold Moore (we were soldiers) “yes General and no General”.

    I then went on to spend 21 years in the Navy (from e3 to e7), during that time I had no conversations with an Admiral.
    After the Vietnam war it slowly became more difficult to get the job done. Equipment failed to operate as “advertised”, sloppy work was accepted from shipyards, and how things looked was more important than reality. Senior enlisted ranks became more competive, and “officer like”. It did produce some fine people, but at a cost to teamwork,and getting the job done. Career for some became the mission.
    Usually it was an exercise in frustration, to obtain spare parts, funding for maintenance, and manning to the authorized level.

    Explosion Aboard The Iowa, by Richard L. Schwoebel, and conversations with crew members present, (and traumatized to this day) covers the “dark side” for me. From my own point of view there was a common thread that ran through the Navy. Something appeared wrong at very senior levels.

    In 24 years I served with Army, Navy, and Marine Corps Officers worthy of admiration. It was (nearly) always interesting, and sometimes sad.

    • 10 September 2012 9:14 pm

      Thank you for sharing your experience! First person testimony is always valuable.

  9. Burke G Sheppard permalink
    11 September 2012 9:05 am

    I don’t think we’re the worst for being top heavy with officers. I believe the Royal Navy now has more Admirals than ships. But things here are pretty bad. I recall David hackworth pointing out that we had, in Mogadishu, one General officer for each rifle company in the theater. Which, when you put it that way sounds ridiculous. Which may be a good reason to put it that way, actually.

    Edward N Luttwak wrote extensively about the glut of senior officers in The Pentagon and the Art of War. It’s not a recent book, but I imagine that a lot of what he said is still relevant.

    • Telegraph: "Admirals outnumber warships in Royal Navy" permalink
      11 September 2012 12:03 pm

      Admirals outnumber warships in Royal Navy, report shows“, The Telegraph, 24 September 2008 — “The number of admirals serving in the Royal Navy now outstrips the number of warships in the Fleet, new research has revealed.”

      Opening:

      There are currently 41 admirals, vice-admirals and rear-admirals but with constant cuts the number of fighting ships in the Navy now stands at just 40. Since the Government came to power in 1997 the Royal Navy has been steadily eroded losing one aircraft carrier, six frigates, four destroyers and three submarines. The 41 admirals will draw an estimated salary of £6.7 million which would fund 420 able seamen at a time when the Navy has a substantial shortfall of 1,200 sailors.

  10. Dave permalink
    11 September 2012 5:11 pm

    They have been trying for the last decade to replace enlisted forces with contractors and technology – which is supported by contractors. It would be interesting to look at the ratio when the side-by-side support from private industry is counted.

  11. Kip permalink
    15 September 2012 1:29 am

    Having spent enlisted active duty time in both the Navy and Army, and with the national guard, the growth of the “civilian” General and Flag officers (GOFOs) that make up the Senior Executive Service (SES) has astounded me. These numbers also need to be put into the equation, as they hold very senior slots within the machine.

    I should add that I am a civilian contractor to DoD. In this position I am equvalent to an 04 or 05, and hold staff duties. I do often ask myself why me, and not a uniformed service member. In my area of expertise, it is due to the fact that the Army and other services refused to create programs of record, IOT not affect baseline funding. Using OCO {Overseas Contingency Operations} dollars, vast enterprises were built. With the cuts to war funding, many of these are simply defunded, or “fishin’ for a mission”. One example is JIEDDO’s {Joint IED Defeat Organization} COI {Counter-IED Operations Integration Center} doing staff visits to hawk their services. If they are used by commands, they can justify the dollars that are being cut.

    • 15 September 2012 2:12 am

      Thanks for sharing your experience! First person testimony is always useful.

  12. 29 November 2012 6:22 am

    I think America is one of the best super power in the world and the number of staff in the navy is also is in sufficient number as compare to their rival countries and this post really gave me good defense analysis of my country thanks for the post byeee!!!!!!!

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  5. Military Cuts Should Start With the Brass | AMVETS.org

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