Army and Navy cutting “brass bloat” at flag levels

posted at 8:21 pm on August 22, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

Stars and Stripes is reporting that the Army and the Navy are quietly sending word around that, “the money is gone” and are moving to cull the ranks of their top brass over the next few years.

The Navy announced late Tuesday that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus had approved a plan to “reduce, eliminate or consolidate a net of 35 Navy flag officer positions” at the one-, two- and three-star ranks. The Navy said it also plans to eliminate 6 more top officer positions in the 2015 budget.

And last week, a memo from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Army Secretary John McHugh declared that a plan to cut Army headquarters at the two-star level and above by 25 percent was priority No. 1 for headquarters staff.

As with most long term measures in the military, this isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight. We’re not talking about some suits from the accounting department walking into the top military offices and handing out pink slips to the top officers. It’s slated to take place by reducing the number of officers being advanced to the highest levels, attrition through retirement, combining the duties of some offices and having others headed up by slightly lower ranking members.

The Navy released a detailed list of positions to be reduced or eliminated, with most being reduced by one pay grade. For instance, the director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon will be a captain in the future, rather than a one-star admiral.

Other positions will be merged, such as two jobs in the CNO’s office – director of the total force programming and manpower management division, and director of military personnel plans and policy division – that will now be done by one rear admiral.

Is this endangering our strategic position or weakening our military? There’s a couple of ways to look at this question. Dr. Joyner (who caught this story first) weighs in.

Now, let’s stipulate that stars-to-troops ratios are not a perfect metric by any means. The proliferation of technology has decreased the need for raw manpower and increased the need for education and training. But, while that would explain a higher ratio of officers to men, it doesn’t explain why we need so many generals and admirals. Nor does it explain the odd phenomenon of the Air Force, the service least impacted by the fighting of the last eleven-plus years, having the highest rate of star creep. Nor, especially, does it explain why jobs done by one-stars a decade ago suddenly need to be done by two-stars.

Maybe there is some “brass bloat” in a couple of the services, and the article certainly provides some evidence to suggest that two branches have been expanding at the top a bit more than the others. And while we’re on the subject, if we are to be honest about the entire idea of fiscal conservatism and prudent budget management in 2013, we can’t go picking and choosing favorites. Every element of the government must be open to finding places where savings can safely be found, with the military being no exception.

But with all that being said, reducing openings at the top ranks of either the officers or the enlisted can carry some pitfalls. There is always the risk that you drive out some percentage of the best and the brightest if they perceive that opportunities for advancement are dwindling even further. Enlisted troops are already familiar with the phenomenon of being “PNA” when they take an advancement test. (It stands for Passed but Not Advanced, meaning you got a fine score, met all of the other requirements, but did not get promoted because there weren’t enough open slots and others scored higher than you.) The higher you go in the ranks, the fewer openings there are, and some people won’t wait around forever.

It’s a tough tightrope to walk, but I’ll have to trust that the military has examined all of these factors and determined that they can make a move like this and still maintain readiness. Hopefully they’re correct.


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Obama rid himself of Military Leadership in Feb 2013

… because.. Racist. And college tuition. And that other stuff.

Key West Reader on August 22, 2013 at 8:25 PM

Obama making sure only his men are in charge of the Military pre 2017.

astonerii on August 22, 2013 at 8:25 PM

One word: hall-e-phucking-lu-jah.

Not only do over-ranked positions put people in roles where they’re more likely to be “supervisors” than “doers,” they pull with them all the subordinate support folks that come with the role.

bigmacdaddy on August 22, 2013 at 8:27 PM

Obama making sure only his men are in charge of the Military pre 2017.

astonerii on August 22, 2013 at 8:25 PM

Yeah, that’s my thought. This is partly the Obama Admin getting rid of any flag officers who aren’t ready to pucker up and kiss his skinny behind.

TarheelBen on August 22, 2013 at 8:31 PM

I say go back to the Star to enlisted ratio we had during World War Two. Worked OK back then, but that would mean a Metric Butt Ton less Flag Officers than what we have today. And I say this as a Retired Navy Chief Petty Officer.

Johnnyreb on August 22, 2013 at 8:36 PM

Time to get rid of those old white career officers who might be too ‘traditional’ for today’s all-inclusive non-discriminating military. Time to step into the 21st Century, to lead troops who are lean, mean, gay, and PMS-y.

Liam on August 22, 2013 at 8:36 PM

There’s always been bloat and needless bureaucracy in the military. But I do not trust Obama and his merry band of race hustlers and Chicago politicians to determine who stays and who goes. Will political party affiliation and rsce and sexual identity determine what is best for our national defense? Will pur top people get kicked out for violent behavior in battle? Will piloting skill be less important than gender identity? I don’t trust Obama or his henchmen to major good decisions vis- a- vie defense of the United States.

simkeith on August 22, 2013 at 8:43 PM

They should start with the “Palace Princes of the Pentagon”.

GarandFan on August 22, 2013 at 8:44 PM

Sad, that heroes we grew up to respect would have no place in today’s military. Patton, Nimitz, Halsey, McAuliffe (“Nuts!”) — not a one would feel comfortable, let alone be welcome, in today’s armed forces.

I bet most of our fathers who served wouldn’t, either.

Liam on August 22, 2013 at 8:46 PM

Like emptying the ocean by a thimbleful and declaring that you’ve accomplished something of significance.

This is like my local university cutting down on professors hours and schedules because enrollment was down. The 18 people working in the “office of diversity” didn’t even get their hair ruffled by a passing breeze.

JackBurtonJr on August 22, 2013 at 8:47 PM

Will piloting skill be less important than gender identity?

simkeith on August 22, 2013 at 8:43 PM

Not for a while. The Air Force is worried, because it expects to be short by 200 pilots in the six more years or so.

Liam on August 22, 2013 at 8:47 PM

You can tell who knows anything about the military from the comments. On the of Pearl Harbor there were only two flag officers on the CNO’s staff, the CNO and the Director of Plans who was a two star. The head’s of the eight bureaus were one and two stars. The other flags had operational commands. We had too many flag officers in all the services with nothing to do.

jerryofva on August 22, 2013 at 8:48 PM

Obama making sure only his men are in charge of the Military pre 2017.

astonerii on August 22, 2013 at 8:25 PM

I strongly believe astonerii’s comment, however, even though my beloved Marine Corps isn’t mentioned, they have far too many general officers. I know Jesus was a PFC and Moby Dick was a minnow when I was in the Corps, but their biggest growth has been administrative, not strength the past many years.

cartooner on August 22, 2013 at 8:50 PM

There’s always been bloat and needless bureaucracy in the military. But I do not trust Obama and his merry band of race hustlers and Chicago politicians to determine who stays and who goes. Will political party affiliation and rsce and sexual identity determine what is best for our national defense? Will pur top people get kicked out for violent behavior in battle? Will piloting skill be less important than gender identity? I don’t trust Obama or his henchmen to major good decisions vis- a- vie defense of the United States.

simkeith on August 22, 2013 at 8:43 PM

An anti-humanistic collectivist and fascist like Obama can’t be trusted with a lemonade stand, let alone the U.S. military.

ebrown2 on August 22, 2013 at 8:50 PM

simkeith on August 22, 2013 at 8:43 PM

Your concerns are shared by many.

Side note: Wish I would have kept it, but back in the 80′s there was a chart floating around…showing rank to staff ratios…general officers/flag officers and GS-16 up through super-grades….and government standards for floor space per each. Billions in waste just to make sure each “command” had the required space and personnel to service the command…redundancy over redundancy…and billions wasted.

Now, most can agree with our having a top-heavy problem.

But…under Obama how is that determination going to be made as to who stays, who goes, who is offered a drop in rank or grade (the old RIF schematic)…and such?

Which commands are to be determined vital, or just somewhat essential and which ones can be easily consolidated or just plain eliminated?

I do not trust the current crew with handling such a task…after all.. this is the same Administration that defines a group of outside experts to examine NSA as solely being totally NSA and White House professionals.

coldwarrior on August 22, 2013 at 8:54 PM

It needs doing and it shouldn’t wait for another election cycle just to give an R a chance at it. Anyone who can’t tolerate that should either go back in time and work to prevent O’s re-election (let me know when you get TARDIS tech!) or have some sort of cogent criticism beyond “I just don’t want HIM doing it.”

Otherwise it’s just bellyaching about ideals in a world of the imperfect.

dieudonne on August 22, 2013 at 8:57 PM

Enlisted troops are already familiar with the phenomenon of being “PNA” when they take an advancement test. (It stands for Passed but Not Advanced, meaning you got a fine score, met all of the other requirements, but did not get promoted because there weren’t enough open slots and others scored higher than you.)

BTW advancement tests are only part of the over score for enlisted promotion. Fitness reports, time in service, time in grade and awards also give you points. So you could pass your advancement tests but still not end of with enough points for promotion as a result of point scores in the other area.

chemman on August 22, 2013 at 9:01 PM

But…under Obama how is that determination going to be made as to who stays, who goes, who is offered a drop in rank or grade (the old RIF schematic)…and such?
Which commands are to be determined vital, or just somewhat essential and which ones can be easily consolidated or just plain eliminated?

No need to ask ominous sounding and open ended questions while waiting for someone to do your research for you. Stars and Stripes is quoting direct sources you can send questions or FOIA requests too.

dieudonne on August 22, 2013 at 9:04 PM

No need to ask ominous sounding and open ended questions…

dieudonne on August 22, 2013 at 9:04 PM

You are correct. Obama makes all of his decisions through a filter of racial and socialist politics. He will impose that same filter on the military to the degree that he is allowed to.

sharrukin on August 22, 2013 at 9:08 PM

dieudonne on August 22, 2013 at 9:04 PM

I haven’t read the Stripes in years…heading over to the website presently. Thanks.

As for the ominous sounding questions…having spent a considerable amount of time in uniform and around uniform sorts over the years, have seen a number of capricious decisions made from time to time with all the best of intentions, of course. So, why not ask them?

coldwarrior on August 22, 2013 at 9:08 PM

Will the cut the rank of “Asshole in Chief” please???

patman77 on August 22, 2013 at 9:09 PM

moving to cull the ranks of their top brass over the next few years

About time. But only one “little problem”, guess who gets culled?

It won’t be the most faithful servants to Obama. It will be only those Obama and his minions think are not.

VorDaj on August 22, 2013 at 9:09 PM

You are correct. Obama makes all of his decisions through a filter of racial and socialist politics. He will impose that same filter on the military to the degree that he is allowed to.

sharrukin on August 22, 2013 at 9:08 PM

As C-in-C, Obama can do whatever he wants — about the only place he can with impunity.

I’m all for trimming the fat; I believe you can take at least 10% off the top of anything. The problem, if I think too much about it, is that the military has been a laboratory for every half-baked liberal social scheme they can contrive. The armed forces are the ultimate in Affirmative Action planning, tweaking, and refining.

Nothing works better for liberals than a captive audience held hostage.

Liam on August 22, 2013 at 9:14 PM

As C-in-C, Obama can do whatever he wants — about the only place he can with impunity.

Liam on August 22, 2013 at 9:14 PM

There are some limits imposed by the need to not look too obvious, but I wonder how much they really care about that any more.

sharrukin on August 22, 2013 at 9:19 PM

As an active duty Sailor, please understand when I say… It’s about time. We got way too many flag officers spending way too much money on pet projects. We have great civilian workers in the Navy who had to deal with furloughs while one star admirals hired decorators for their offices. Hoo-f’ing-ya!

NavyDavy on August 22, 2013 at 9:21 PM

I have no issues with this at all.

I was PNA’d x 4 at E4

ted c on August 22, 2013 at 9:21 PM

C. Northcote Parkinson (who, besides being a Ph.D was a wartime Captain in the second best navy on earth- the one that flies the Union standard), explained in Parkinson’s Law that as the Royal Navy contracted in manpower and hulls after WW 2, it expanded in the number of flag officers, mainly be decreeing that posts previously filled by Commanders, Captains, and the odd Commodore here and there were now so important that nothing less than a flag rank would do.

He predicted that by the 1980s, the RN would have one ship, commanded by three RADMs, run by two chiefs and four ratings, under the overall command of fifty-seven Fleet Admirals.

If not for the Falklands War, it might just have happened.

The Pentagon has long been our example of the same thing. As John Ringo says, in there, LTCOLs and majors are the coffee b****es. And the only time anyone there actually has a field command is when on his way up to his first star. After which, it’s REMF all the way.

Now, imagine trying to run an actual, private company like that. You’d have three board members for every actual worker.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the innovations in warfighting that have been “transformational” (I apologize for the buzzword) in the years since Vietnam have come from outside the Pentagon, not inside it. The F-16 and F-15 came from Major John “Forty-Second” Boyd’s “Fighter Mafia” at Nellis. The evolution of the SEALs from UDT came from Coronado. The tactics and strategy of heavy forces based on the superior speed and rate of advance of the Abrams came from the National Training Center in the desert.

In short, the reason our military is the most effective on Earth today is thanks to the imaginations of the actual shooters, not the Pentagon Nobility. And needless to say, those trigger-pullers aren’t welcome in the Five-Sided Palace.

The Pentagon has become the Versailles of the U.S. military. We should consider very carefully exactly why Louis XIV had Versailles built in the first place. And then ask ourselves if what he did to the French nobility is what we want to do to our military command.

clear ether

eon

eon on August 22, 2013 at 9:21 PM

I work in the healhcare industry. Whom do you prefer to be cut to make the cut in “the cuts” to the cause…

…the VPS and/or regional/corporate directors, or the front end caregivers?

Because you have to choose where…

ladyingray on August 22, 2013 at 9:25 PM

There are some limits imposed by the need to not look too obvious, but I wonder how much they really care about that any more.

sharrukin on August 22, 2013 at 9:19 PM

Since Obama’s first inauguration, the Left has come out full-bore everywhere. They might be a little demure in some areas, but since 1/20/09 they have more open about their true nature and intentions. Few have admitted they’re truly statist, but the confession is on the tips of their tongues.

Liam on August 22, 2013 at 9:26 PM

As an active duty Sailor, please understand when I say… It’s about time. We got way too many flag officers spending way too much money on pet projects. We have great civilian workers in the Navy who had to deal with furloughs while one star admirals hired decorators for their offices. Hoo-f’ing-ya!

NavyDavy on August 22, 2013 at 9:21 PM

“Please understand?” Sailor, you’re an authority on the subject around here. :-)

Thanks for being out there for us. God bless!

Liam on August 22, 2013 at 9:28 PM

Gotta turn over the leadership of the military to the homosexuals and other moral deviants.

Murphy9 on August 22, 2013 at 9:29 PM

With the ranks they’re talking about, they’ll just retire and continue to collect a darn good paycheck…I can’t see how any of them can have less than 20 years in. So I wouldn’t feel sorry for them. Also, the numbers they’re talking about doesn’t sound like they’ll be short of necessary leadership for our (real) national security.

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 22, 2013 at 9:30 PM

I work in the healhcare industry. Whom do you prefer to be cut to make the cut in “the cuts” to the cause…

…the VPS and/or regional/corporate directors, or the front end caregivers?

Because you have to choose where…

ladyingray on August 22, 2013 at 9:25 PM

In case I wasn’t clear…you can choose to cut the queen bees or you can choose to cut the worker bees, because you can’t afford to pay both…who ya gonna cut?

ladyingray on August 22, 2013 at 9:30 PM

Gotta turn over the leadership of the military to the homosexuals and other moral deviants.

Murphy9 on August 22, 2013 at 9:29 PM

Oh, so you are “leadership of the military”?

ladyingray on August 22, 2013 at 9:32 PM

During my career in the military (retired as an AF E-7), I’ve found that there are two types of officers: Warriors and bureaucrats. Warriors are conspicuous from their accomplishments (Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf is a good example; Col. Alan West is a more recent example). Bureaucrats are much more common, making sure they don’t make any unpopular decisions — like calling out an obviously insane Army psychiatrist before he can go on a killing spree on an Army post.

I’m personally certain that the bureaucrats are not the ones that will be cut.

RoadRunner on August 22, 2013 at 9:32 PM

Jazz,

Considering that the US Navy currently has more flag officers than warships, I don’t think that this will be a problem.

Had I my wishes, we ought to be cutting at least 1/3 of the GoFos.

TKindred on August 22, 2013 at 9:34 PM

Oh, so you are “leadership of the military”?

ladyingray on August 22, 2013 at 9:32 PM

Do you have a point to make cowingray?

Murphy9 on August 22, 2013 at 9:35 PM

I work in the healhcare industry. Whom do you prefer to be cut to make the cut in “the cuts” to the cause…

…the VPS and/or regional/corporate directors, or the front end caregivers?

Because you have to choose where…

ladyingray on August 22, 2013 at 9:25 PM

In one place I worked, meetings were a big thing. Being at the bottom, I had four levels above me. My department head had semi-weekly meetings.

His boss had weekly meetings.

That next worthy had bi-weekly meetings.

And the final guy had meetings whenever he felt like.

If we cut out the top two guys, we might have actually had time to get some real work done. If not for FDA deadlines, my entire department would have spent all its time in meetings about how to streamline the department and become more efficient.

Liam on August 22, 2013 at 9:35 PM

Q: How many officers work at the Pentagon?

A: About half of them.

myiq2xu on August 22, 2013 at 9:35 PM

Prior to WWII we didn’t have a large standing military. Just like everything else government does, the military has become infested with bureaucrats and bureaucracy bloats the fattest at the top.

Meanwhile we pare the lower ranks to the bone.

myiq2xu on August 22, 2013 at 9:39 PM

Do you have a point to make cowingray?

Murphy9 on August 22, 2013 at 9:35 PM

Do you have a point to make muffdiverasinthepu$$yeatingdiver?

ladyingray on August 22, 2013 at 9:39 PM

ladyingray on August 22, 2013 at 9:25 PM

Let me correct my last.

If we had cut out some middle-management, too, we’d have gotten more work done.

Liam on August 22, 2013 at 9:40 PM

I’m personally certain that the bureaucrats are not the ones that will be cut.

RoadRunner on August 22, 2013 at 9:32 PM

THIS. As a retired Navy chief petty officer, I can say that I’ve seen both kinds of officers in action.

TarheelBen on August 22, 2013 at 9:41 PM

Liam on August 22, 2013 at 9:35 PM

My point exactly. Cut the fat at the top.

ladyingray on August 22, 2013 at 9:42 PM

This is long overdue, at least for the Navy.

CDR Salamander has the details:

http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com/2013/08/if-bus-load-of-admirals.html

Jeff Weimer on August 22, 2013 at 9:42 PM

Prior to WWII we didn’t have a large standing military. Just like everything else government does, the military has become infested with bureaucrats and bureaucracy bloats the fattest at the top.

Meanwhile we pare the lower ranks to the bone.

myiq2xu on August 22, 2013 at 9:39 PM

Can you imagine Patton ending up a pencil-pusher?

Liam on August 22, 2013 at 9:42 PM

Look at the Marines, fewest General Officers per Marine and the fewest Officers per Enlisted Marine. Way it should be. An Admiral per ship? Come on.

major dad on August 22, 2013 at 9:43 PM

My point exactly. Cut the fat at the top.

ladyingray on August 22, 2013 at 9:42 PM

It’s been a peculiar phenomenon the past twenty years in the private sector, how meetings about streamlining an operation replace actually doing the job.

Liam on August 22, 2013 at 9:44 PM

I say go back to the Star to enlisted ratio we had during World War Two. Worked OK back then, but that would mean a Metric Butt Ton less Flag Officers than what we have today. And I say this as a Retired Navy Chief Petty Officer.

Johnnyreb on August 22, 2013 at 8:36 PM

I’m with you brother.

This is the best time of year, yes?

FCCS(SW/AW) (ret)

Jeff Weimer on August 22, 2013 at 9:44 PM

Look at the Marines, fewest General Officers per Marine and the fewest Officers per Enlisted Marine. Way it should be. An Admiral per ship? Come on.

major dad on August 22, 2013 at 9:43 PM

That’s because the Marines have standards. If you call a Gunny ‘Sergeant’ he’ll correct you. He earned his rank.

Liam on August 22, 2013 at 9:45 PM

This G-D computer cut me off after two paragraphs.

Now, I refer you to C. Northcote Parkenson of Parkenson’s Law fame. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._Northcote_Parkinson

Parkinson worked as a naval historian. He noted that when the British Navy had 500 capital ships, it had 1500 people in the Admiralty. After WWI, when the Naval limitations went into effect, the Admiralty had 150 ships and 25,000 officers. He then promulgated his law and correlaries:

1. Work will expand to fill the time to do it.
2. In a meeting or Congress, the amount of time spent talking about a financial subject is inversely proportional to the amount of money involved.
3. All managers progress to their levels of incompetence.
4. All great engineering and science is done in old facilities. As soon as new facilities are built, all progress stops.

This explains why we have so many flag officers in all services. And no, we don’t want to fire or retire a whole bunch at one time, because the politics involved will get rid of the good ones, and the trash will remain in charge. Almost all of them got to flag rank because of politics, either military or civilian. Those know how to protect themselves, their patrons, and their clients.

Old Country Boy on August 22, 2013 at 9:46 PM

Old Country Boy on August 22, 2013 at 9:46 PM

So that’s where all those old saws came from. Thanks!

+1

Liam on August 22, 2013 at 9:49 PM

I was a Gunny once, call a Gunny, Sergeant and it would not be a pretty picture.

major dad on August 22, 2013 at 9:51 PM

I was a Gunny once, call a Gunny, Sergeant and it would not be a pretty picture.

major dad on August 22, 2013 at 9:51 PM

I’m former Air Force, and even I know better.

Liam on August 22, 2013 at 9:52 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpJ_IAUs8nI‎

HMS Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan

For your pleasure. Explains the whole military condition.

Old Country Boy on August 22, 2013 at 10:03 PM

As for the ominous sounding questions…having spent a considerable amount of time in uniform and around uniform sorts over the years, have seen a number of capricious decisions made from time to time with all the best of intentions, of course. So, why not ask them?
coldwarrior on August 22, 2013 at 9:08 PM

A lot of people here would rather ask questions that make political opposition look bad than get real answers to questions that don’t confirm their presuppositions. Witness one of the people here saying the questions didn’t matter – they simply assumed ill action to the extent he was able.

I think it’s particularly bloody minded and part of the reason why so-called conservatives can’t get elected to posts higher than dog catcher anywhere outside of our steadily shrinking bastions of party line blocs.

dieudonne on August 22, 2013 at 10:12 PM

dieudonne on August 22, 2013 at 10:12 PM

Huh??

TarheelBen on August 22, 2013 at 10:15 PM

I was a Gunny once, call a Gunny, Sergeant and it would not be a pretty picture.

major dad on August 22, 2013 at 9:51 PM

When I was in it was OK, just hardly anyone ever did it. What you did’t do was call a 1st Sgt (or Sgt, Maj.) ‘Top’.

cartooner on August 22, 2013 at 10:19 PM

Hopefully this will mean fewer BS projects/data collecting/etc. at the lower levels, since there will be fewer high-up administrative positions that have to justify their existence.

exhelodrvr on August 22, 2013 at 10:43 PM

I would imagine that the service academies will suffer as a result of this. Why would someone want to take the chance that his career could be short-circuited by future consolidations, let alone the fact that these current staff eliminations will lessen the chances for climbing the ladder.

If nothing else, fewer applicants may result in a greater likelihood that the academies will not obtain the best and brightest. Don’t ever look for another West Point graduating class like the one in 1915. That class numbered 164, and more than a third of that extraordinary class won stars, 59 in all-24 brigadier generals (one star), 24 major generals (two stars), 7 lieutenant generals (three stars), two generals (four stars), and 2 generals of the army (five stars). The two who attained the army’s highest possible rank were Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley.

The Good Doctor on August 22, 2013 at 11:02 PM

Don’t believe it. The net reduction of 35 less flag officers will be from those they would have created under their existing plans for creating a lot more. This is from the “jobs created or saved” crowd, remember.

Window-dressing on a slow news day.

virgo on August 22, 2013 at 11:06 PM

But with all that being said, reducing openings at the top ranks of either the officers or the enlisted can carry some pitfalls.

The top two Enlisted pay grade,s E-8 and E-9, have been restricted by law since they were created in the 50s. only 3% of total enlisted force can be E-8 or E-9. Most of the services (the USMC are the exception) breaks that down into 2% E-8 and 1% E-9.

The are more colonel (0-6) in every service than there are E-9s

E-9s, like me, mostly feel they have the best jobs in the military. There ain’t no E-10s and it takes the Secretary of each service to bust an E-9 to a E-8 ;-)

E9RET on August 22, 2013 at 11:14 PM

One word: hall-e-phucking-lu-jah.

Not only do over-ranked positions put people in roles where they’re more likely to be “supervisors” than “doers,” they pull with them all the subordinate support folks that come with the role.

bigmacdaddy on August 22, 2013 at 8:27 PM

Knowing next-to-nothing about how the military is run at the officer level, I nonetheless agree completely. When I am in DC, I see a bloated, self-serving mass of Pentagon pensioners with almost no value to the military, jsut sucking up tax money.

Like the EPA, only with uniforms.

Jaibones on August 22, 2013 at 11:20 PM

cartooner on August 22, 2013 at 8:50 PM

One cut they can make in the Corps is to return the Commandant to the 3-Star rank it rated before they felt sorry for him being the only 3-star at the JCS; but, in the scheme of things, a Corps commander is only 3-stars – Army or Marines.
Plus, it might be good for the Navy to rebrand those One-Star Admirals back to Commodore. Yeah, I know, the local Yacht Club is run by a commodore; but some pretty significant Navy commanders in history answered to that rank. And, if it would make the Navy feel any better about not being called “admiral”, we could always rebrand those one-stars in the land forces as just plain old “Brigadiers” – after all, they command Brigades, do they not?

Another Drew on August 22, 2013 at 11:35 PM

This scares the hell out of me! All flags officers will now be Obama’s men. and that should scare all of us.

jainphx on August 22, 2013 at 11:44 PM

Plus, it might be good for the Navy to rebrand those One-Star Admirals back to Commodore. Yeah, I know, the local Yacht Club is run by a commodore; but some pretty significant Navy commanders in history answered to that rank. And, if it would make the Navy feel any better about not being called “admiral”, we could always rebrand those one-stars in the land forces as just plain old “Brigadiers” – after all, they command Brigades, do they not?

Another Drew on August 22, 2013 at 11:35 PM

And, as a minor aside, Commodore is just a badass sounding rank. There’s a reason every yacht club yuppie wants to claim that title. Rear Admiral, Lower Half – even setting aside the Beavis and Butthead jokes, just sounds like a poor man’s version of the next rank up. Not worthy of the respect that rank deserves (for those that earn it, not the bureaucrat sorts.)

Gingotts on August 23, 2013 at 12:59 AM

Gramps was a Leading Seaman, Dad a Chief (God-d&&ned) Petty Officer-and-don’t-you-forget-it, and I was enlisted until I got lazy and became an Officer. I did a stint in D.C. after Desert Storm as a Navy Lieutenant. I made coffee and took meeting notes. I made it one year and had to leave to protect my sanity. A buddy of mine is a Lieutenant Colonel who sits in an office in D.C. with three other officers doing long-term warplanning.

This is not a sustainable environment. While technology can explain a position or two where flag rank comes with the technical nature of the job, we still have far too many flags out there. And each flag comes with an entourage of staffers and boot lickers. These are not adding value to the military role of national defense. As a result, we need to recognize that the party is over.

Now, if Obama would show similar zeal with welfare, unemployment, graft, corruption, and regulatory malfeasance, we’d be onto something. Not holding my breath.

GO NAVY!
BEAT ARMY (AGAIN!) – too soon?

Bigurn on August 23, 2013 at 3:15 AM

Piss poor start.

We have more Admirals than ships including Patrol Craft.
Most of our ships are commanded by commanders vice captains.

This has been an ongoing problem [I wrote about rank inflation in Proceedings in the early 90s].

Every reduction in force since WWII has retained more GOFOs than the forces required.

Even the USMC – the service with the best track record at fighting this now has more 4-stars than they have divisions.

Cut the Officer ranks by 50% and GOFOs by 85% and you would be at the ratio we had in WWII.

The size force we have only justifies 5 4-stars for all the services [JCS]. Basically, the USN, USAF, and USA each have more GOFOs than all the services combined should have.

In the buisiness world they see the same thing – it is a sure sign of a failing buisness. Too many chiefs and not enough indians…

IS1(SW), USN(Ret)

DJ Elliott on August 23, 2013 at 6:14 AM

PS Brigades are commanded by Colonels in the USA since 1940 when the US Army changed from the square system of 2 Rgts per Bde. Personnally, I think we should revert to that organization:
Div of 3 Bdes, 2 combat and 1 support.
Combat Bdes of 3 RCTs – redesignate the existing BCTs as RCTs.
Support Bde with Avn, Artl, and Sust Rgts.
That would eliminate 3-5 Divs [2-star billets] from the Army while retaining the teeth. Since there are only 10 divs in the Army and 3 of them are 1st Divs [Inf, Cav, Arm] you can guess where I would consolidate commands…
We only have 3 Corps [3-star billets] in the Army – Why more than 1 4-star? None of the services is large enough to rate more than 1 4-star…

Think about it – the US Army has only 10 Active Divs with ~15,000 per Div – What are all the other 200-300,000 doing? Staff and support has gotten rediculus.

The USMC retained the square system but, replaced the 2nd Rgt with a Marine Air Group. They held the line on rank-inflation but have apparently abandoned that fight…

And the USMC Divs are admin structures – they don’t fight as Divs.
MEU, MEF(Fwd) [MEB], and MEF are their combat commands.

As to Commadore – that was a wartime only rank. Still used as a title for a senior Captain commanding a squadron of ships [E.G. DesRon Commanders].

Basically, the teeth elements held the line on rank inflation while the staffs proliferated…

The Navy has more Flag Officers than vessels and it is the 2nd best at fighting rank inflation after the USMC…

DJ Elliott on August 23, 2013 at 6:36 AM

We have more Admirals than ships including Patrol Craft.
Most of our ships are commanded by commanders vice captains.

DJ Elliott on August 23, 2013 at 6:14 AM

Yes, the number of flags need to be cut. But comparing the number of ADMs to patrol craft is a stupid way of getting there.

The real cuts should be at HQ level commands from E-1 to O-10.

Happy Nomad on August 23, 2013 at 7:23 AM

My anecdotal, personal view as a military officer currently serving in the Pentagon is that we (Navy) do indeed have too many Admirals. We have more Admirals than ships.

I was in one office with only 50 personnel that was headed by a one-star Admiral. By comparison a submarine at sea has ~130 men and is headed by a Commander (two ranks lower). I’m sure the RDML was very good and helped the process, but the Captain beneath him was fully capable of handling the entire job.

Jason on August 23, 2013 at 7:41 AM

Remodel the Pentagon into a Triangle !!

And, you could still have a center crosswalk, water fountain, and little benches to take a break on and eat a sandwich for lunch ;)

BigSven on August 23, 2013 at 7:43 AM

My anecdotal, personal view as a military officer currently serving in the Pentagon is that we (Navy) do indeed have too many Admirals. We have more Admirals than ships.

Jason on August 23, 2013 at 7:41 AM

Face it Jason. OPNAV could be cut in half (E-1 to O-9, CIV, Contractor) without any detriment to operations.

Happy Nomad on August 23, 2013 at 7:47 AM

whatever, Bush did it in the 90′s with his peace dividend.

tlynch001 on August 23, 2013 at 7:59 AM

Bush did it in the 90′s with his peace dividend.

tlynch001 on August 23, 2013 at 7:59 AM

Um that was Clinton.

Happy Nomad on August 23, 2013 at 8:02 AM

And the USMC Divs are admin structures – they don’t fight as Divs.
MEU, MEF(Fwd) [MEB], and MEF are their combat commands.

Incorrect. The Ground Combat Element (GCE) of a MEF, is the Div, the MEB, a Regt and the MEU a Bn, each commanded by their HQ. In the Gulf War I MEF had both 1st and 2nd MARDIVs under command. In OIF I MEF had 1st MARDIV and TF Tarawa (2nd MEB with its Air Group stripped away and consolidated with 3rd MAW) as their GCEs.

Even the USMC – the service with the best track record at fighting this now has more 4-stars than they have divisions

Not really true. The Marine Corps rates two 4-star billets, CMC and ACMC. Any other Marines that have 4-star rank only do so because they are filling joint billets such as Chairman of the JCS or Vice Chairman, or one of the other joint commands such as Combatant Commander.

The creation of the joint structure starting the 80′s is responsible for a great deal of senior officer and staff growth. We now have six COCOMs, PACOM, EUCOM, AFRICOM, CENTCOM, SOUTHCOM and NORTHCOM. Each is a staff, commanded by a 4-star, that has no permanently assigned forces. Forces are assigned as required for specific missions from the Services. For example, I MEF was assigned to CENTCOM for the Gulf War and OIF. But, I MEF could easily be reassigned to PACOM for a crises in Korea or the Pacific. Bottom line is that we created large regionally oriented standing staffs that did not exist prior to the 80s. Each of these staffs is large and each Service not only fills billets in those staffs, but maintains Service element staffs at the COCOM HQ.

Recently one of the large staffs, Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) which was not a regionally focused staff, was stood down. However, many of the duties associated with JFCOM were transferred, along with the personnel, to the Joint Staff.

Bottom line is that “jointness” is responsible for a lot of the growth in staff numbers as compared to combat units.

SoonerMarine on August 23, 2013 at 9:20 AM

Um that was Clinton.

Happy Nomad on August 23, 2013 at 8:02 AM

Nope, Bush. I was there. The Dems shoved it down his throat.

Jeff Weimer on August 23, 2013 at 9:27 AM

really this should have been done long ago.
but as stated there is a tightrope to walk and, with this administration, I hesitate to say it will be done correctly.

dmacleo on August 23, 2013 at 10:17 AM

Yeah, like Stalin’s purge of the military without the blood. If you want to destroy the military, you have to start with the officers.

Akzed on August 23, 2013 at 10:19 AM

One Admiral, one ship.

Build more ships or fire more admirals.

MelonCollie on August 23, 2013 at 12:17 PM