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Posts Tagged ‘star creep’

DOD’s increasing reliance on brass is a sign of broader problems

October 6th, 2014

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The Pentagon is more top-heavy than ever before. How much does this bureaucratic bloat cost taxpayers? The Pentagon has no idea, and neither does the Government Accountability Office. Pentagon officials know they need more generals and admirals, they just can’t tell you why. Those are the conclusions from a GAO report released earlier this month.

In 2011, I testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee and explained the problem, which I dubbed Star Creep—the Pentagon’s propensity to have generals and admirals (also known as Generals and Flag Officers, or GFO) fill positions once performed by lower-ranking officers. This has resulted in an unprecedentedly high ratio of generals and admirals to the troops they command.

Third Way has repeatedly shown how this hinders military effectiveness and wastes money. The GAO study corroborated many of our findings, including:

  • The number of generals and admirals increased by 8 percent from 2001 to 2013, while the enlisted ranks shrank by 2 percent;
  • “The ratios of enlisted to non-GFO officers and enlisted to GFOs are both at their lowest levels since prior to 2001 (5:1 and 1,200:1, respectively).”

Unfortunately, the study could not answer the burning question that we at Third Way and many members of Congress have: How much has this increasing top-heaviness at the Department of Defense cost American taxpayers? Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) have all introduced legislation to combat Star Creep, but we still don’t have a full cost estimate.

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Too Many Generals

July 24th, 2013

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Troop levels are being cut. Civilians are being furloughed. Planes are being grounded. Ships are being docked. But the Pentagon’s top ranks are thriving.

Over the past 10 years, as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan raged, the U.S. military’s enlisted ranks shrank, while the officer corps – particularly the general and flag officer ranks – and the bureaucracy supporting these top commanders, grew immensely.

Earlier this month Third Way released a report on this trend, reaching a disquieting conclusion – the U.S. military is more top-heavy than it has ever been. While I, and others, have documented this trend before, it’s only gotten worse. The U.S. military now has an officer-to-enlisted personnel ratio that’s at an all-time high; this imbalance will only worsen with the recent announcement of further reductions to the force.

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