Star Bloat

After Thanksgiving, waistlines aren’t the only things that are bloated–the Pentagon’s top ranks are fattening at an alarming rate. Despite a plan set forth by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to rein in the Department of Defense’s (DoD) increasingly top-heavy force and assurances from Pentagon personnel that these plans were being enacted, the U.S. military is still adding top brass faster than you can say tryptophan.

via defence.professionals |

My concern here isn’t so much with the direct costs of having so many general/flag officers, nor even the indirect financial costs. My heartburn is that the increasing numbers of senior officers adds undue bureaucracy and complexity.

One of the things that always astounded me when I started studying the Army in World War II was the immense responsibilities placed on relatively junior officers. ┬áToday, a Lieutenant Colonel wouldn’t be trusted to stock the office coffee nook.

We have a defense overhead today that dwarfs the 16 million man force we fielded in World War II. Does that make sense to anyone?

7 thoughts on “Star Bloat”

  1. But does that take into account the rate of inflation. They recently published some numbers for what it took to build the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge and then converted it into present day dollars. It was actually pretty close to what it was costing to replace Bay Bridge (which may someday be completed).

  2. Way too many GOs.

    A corps commander in WW 2 was a 2 star…and they would have 5 divisions under them plus corps troops. A field Army commander was a LTG.

    Leslie Groves rank when he ran the Manhattan Project? BG

  3. We need the GOs for exactly what you stated; all those stupid junior and mid-grade officers that we trust to lead in combat must be closely supervised in a garrison environment. Drawing down out of all our wars will put us in a garrison environment. Ergo, the choices before us to regain the proper ratio of GO:Field/Co Grade officers is to draw the regular forces down hugely, or else promote more of “us” to “them.” As you can see, the DOD opted for the former as a cost-saving measure.

    1. The regular forces are down more than enough (probably too much, if the truth be told) but the GOFO to force ratio is simply way too high. Nimitz was head of BuNav as a Rear Admiral. That’s a either Vice or full Admiral slot now.

      Bluntly, we need to draw down the senior ranks quite a bit and bring them into line with the actual force. It’s interesting to note that most of the prominent Generals of the ETO during WW2 were mere LTCs in 1938 and rose quickly as we expanded the force.

      I could accept the current structure IF there were enough reserve forces that could be quickly mobilized to fill out the structure that would require so many GOFOs, but we don’t. Not even close. I don’t think we could even field a Korean war size force. The danger is if we are forced to got o war we will be forced to take what we have and go. There will be no build up this time around as we have neither the cushion of distance anymore (against some forces), nor do we have the industrial capability to build as we did before.

    2. QM, a close reading of my post will reveal pure sarcasm. I am pretty concerned about the looming cuts.

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