Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sequester the Admirals

The Navy has 280 ships and over 300 Admirals.  How about we get rid of about 250 Admirals as a start towards meeting the budget cut requirements?  It's not like these people have been doing a stellar job of leading the Navy, anyway.  Just saying.

17 comments:

  1. Besides being a rank, just exactly what is the job description of an admiral? Is this a job that could be done by a captain or even a commander? How many subordinates need to report to you to qualify as an admiral? Do large corporations such as Walmart or Homedepot have a VP for every store? What happened? I feel the military has become a retirement club. Perhaps we could give a medal or something for outstanding service and a nice bonus instead of promoting everyone to a rank that has lost all meaning. You command a fleet or above-you're and admiral. Everyone below-you're a captain or commander. 300 at flag rank! Embarrassing.

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    1. WJ, if you continue to make sensible observations like this, the Navy may ask that you cease commenting! The actual number of Admirals is 334 according to the May 2012 Naval Review issue of Proceedings. That's 334 Admirals for a fleet of 280 ships! I'd get rid of all but about 20 or so.

      If you want some depressing reading, read the job titles of each of the Admirals as given in the Proceedings issue. The vast majority are just made up jobs to fit into a bloated bureaucracy and, if really needed, could easily be handled by a Captain. Of course, if that were the case, we'd soon be inundated with Captains! Oh well.

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    2. Agreed. Why not re-institute the brevet rank of commodore and decrease the two, three and four star slots? We're at war aren't we?

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    3. For that matter, how many Captains are there in the Navy. Thousands?

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  2. Greetings again from the UK, ComNavOps,

    If it makes you feel better, we have over 40 admirals for less than 40 ships! Like you mentioned with your admirals I do wonder how many of ours (and this goes for our air staff and general staff as well) are filling positions that could/should be covered by less senior men and women, and how many of those tasks actually need their own mini-department to handle?

    In slight fairness to the admirals, that word "admiral" does cover three different ranks and there are a lot of non-ship command tasks that could really do with an OF 7-9 type rank in charge. I'm intrigued now to know what all your admirals are doing?

    I don't suppose there's a handy list that you can post a link to?


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    1. Sorry to hear that you have your own excess admiral problem. Here's a link to what I think is an up to date list. You can click on each name to get the job title and short bio.

      http://www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/bio_list.asp

      You can also get the complete list of admirals, their job titles, and photos in the May 2012 issue of Proceedings, if you can obtain a copy.

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    2. Wow, that's a hell of a list! Bye, bye evening...

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    3. Ha! You have an admiral in charge of meterology and oceanography. Could they not just find a scientist to head that department?

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  3. I believe part of the problem is from our time with NATO and bad habbits which have rubbed off. Also militaries from europe are very officer heavy. So its gonna piss someone off over there if they have to answer to a captain if their rank is "supreme commander of the grand armada of the peoples socialist navy" or some such dipshit title.

    French are terrible about it.

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    1. Most European navies use fairly standard officer ranks.

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    2. No i mean the amount of generals staff and such.

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    3. Hmm, I think we're about the same. A lot of it has stemmed from the massive explosion of modern technology and partly, as you mentioned, because of the nature of alliance politics.

      The increased number of branches now, dealing with everything from Cyber to space and all that means most modern, western forces are replete with commands looking for senior officers to fill them.

      I wonder how many command position in some of these branches etc could be held by say Brigadier/Commodore ranks.

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  4. I am not defending the top-heavy structure of the Navy. There are a lot of excess flag billets mainly on the staff side that could be trimmed. Do we really need two rear admiral chaplains, or a rear admiral dentist?

    I do happen to think using ship count as the 'denominator' for assessing how many flag ranks we have doesn't tell the whole story. This completely overlooks the fact that besides 280 ships, the Navy also has something like 3,700 aircraft. This is several times larger than most country's air forces.

    But back to the main issue, the reason we have so many flags is really stems from Goldwater-Nichols and the proliferation of Joint staff billets. The demand for stars on the Joint and COCOM levels is insatiable.

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    1. Your comment about the reason for so many flag positions is interesting. I don't know how we came to have so many but your explanation seems plausible and undoubtedly accounts for a significant portion. Do you have any idea how many Admirals we had pre-Goldwater-Nichols? That would be interesting to know.

      The implied message in the post was that the Navy's reaction to budget issues was to immediately curtail operations and threaten forced separations at the lower levels among many other actions. I find it reprehensible that the Navy wouldn't begin their budget trimming at the top rather than the bottom given the clear presence of bureaucratic bloat. I can replace an Admiral easier than I can an electronics tech or machinist mate. We may debate the number of Admirals that are actually needed but no reasonable person could possibly argue that all of them are needed.

      You point out that the Navy has large numbers of aircraft but I don't see how that even justifies a single Admiral. The aircraft are largely organized into air wings which are commanded by sub-flag officers who in turn are commanded by the carrier group's Admiral. In that respect, aircraft are like bullets - they're a tool. We don't need (I hope!) an Admiral for every so many thousand bullets. Likewise, the mere existence of so many hundreds of aircraft doesn't seem to automatically require an Admiral given the multiple levels of command that are already applied to aircraft via air wing, strike group, and fleet heirarchies.

      Admirals were originally intended to command fleets or remote posts due to the inability to communicate with higher command in a timely fashion or to reside at HQs and formulate and direct strategy at the grand level. We now use Admirals as the equivalent of department heads in the naval bureaucracy.

      For example, every flag position that contains the word "Deputy" in the official title can be eliminated. Almost by definition, Deputy implies a lower level position not requiring an Admiral.

      Here's one of my favorites: Director, Decision Superiority. Huh??! Aren't all of our decisions superior? What the heck is that and does the position really need to exist and, if so, does it really need to be filled by an Admiral?

      Reading the list of titles is both amusing and depressing.

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  5. While I do agree that flag ranks need to be trimmed I think you're focusing too much on the visible "pointy end of the spear". It takes an awful lot of management and leadership expertise to deliver aircraft and ships to the fleet.

    For example the head of NAVAIR is a three-star. He manages billions of dollars in research, development and acquisition programs and a fleet of over 3,500 aircraft. VADM seems to be a perfectly reasonable level of rank, given his responsibilities.

    As to the Deputy jobs, they are usually just holding positions for a Strike Group or other Joint Staff jobs to open up. I don't know that eliminating them would solve the problem... though it would be a good start.

    I truly think the ultimate solution is to revise the Joint concept (Goldwater Nichols) altogether. That is what is creating the 'pull' for more flag officers.





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    1. I couldn't agree more - it does, indeed, take a lot of management to deliver products to the fleet. The key word is "management". Nothing about that word, or the associated job function, requires an Admiral. Management is a function that can be devolved to a lower level or hired out to civilian managers.

      If we have that many Admirals waiting in Deputy positions for jobs to open up then we have too many Admirals.

      You've intrigued me with your ultimate solution. Tell me more. How would you revise the Joint concept so as to address the glut of Admirals?

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    2. I believe Bureau of Aeronautics (precursor to NAVAIR) and Bureau of Ships (precursor to NAVSEA) were important flag billets prior to WW2. Proper management is just as important as leadership to future of Navy.

      I don't have any original ideas, other than cutting down on number of joint flag billets. Far too many O-7+ floating around at COCOM headquarters filling staff jobs.

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