Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sequester the Admirals - Part 2

Well, the post Sequester the Admirals generated a bit more interest and comments than I thought it would.  So, here's some more information on the subject.  As reported by Navy Times website (1), the Navy had one admiral for every 130 ships at the close of WWII.  Today, the Navy has one admiral for every 0.8 ships.  Wow, that’s some kind of growth in the flag ranks!

While there have been repeated drawdowns in the lower levels after the Korean war, Viet Nam war, and various other times, it is noteworthy that there has never been a drawdown amongst the flag ranks, as far as I know.

As the article points out, the Navy manning has been steadily decreasing for the last couple decades and yet the flag ranks have been steadily increasing over that same period.  Does that make sense?

Before any of you attempt to make the argument that the Navy, today, is engaged in world wide activities and, therefore, has more responsibilities than before, you'll have to explain how fighting a World War is so much less demanding of flag rank positions.  Common sense suggests just the opposite.  If the Navy of WWII could fight a world war with thousands of ships and many hundreds of thousands of sailors with only a tiny fraction of the number of admirals that today's Navy of 285 ships has then we have a severe problem today and that problem is about 300 useless admirals.  There couldn't be a clearer example of rank inflation.

Revisiting the concept of cutting Admirals as the first step in meeting the demands of sequestration, the Navy estimates that each admiral costs $230,000 per year in salary and benefits.  Even if cutting two or three hundred admirals wouldn’t solve the budget issue by itself it would certainly send the proper message that sacrifice starts at the top and that the Navy’s priorities are rational.  Contrast that to the Navy’s first action which was to stand down four air wings and idling the associated carriers.  How’s that for priorities?

Do any of you still think there isn’t room for LOTS of thinning of the flag ranks?


  1. Its worse when you consider that Admirals don't command individual ships, or airwings or bases, only groups of them. Even the Norfolk Naval Base, the largest in the world is only commanded by a Captain. So comparing the number of Admirals with the 286 "Deployable Battle Force Ships is wrong since there is far less number of overall commands that those 286 ships are divided among.

    And the cost are far worse then $230,000 since each Admiral needs a command created for them along with a staff. Just the cost of the paperwork they generate is probably much more and since each Admiral is only in their position for a few years, there is a new wave of paperwork generated each time a new one takes command since they all want to show that they are doing something

    Of course a bigger question is why the Navy has so many officers? The US Navy has 52,546 officers, 4,438 midshipmen and only 260,253 enlisted. That is less then 5 enlisted for every officer. I was a third class petty officer and was in charge of more personnel that that. And among those enlisted are many with 10 or more years of service who you would think would not need all that officer supervision.

    The number of officers along with the Up or Out promotion system also creates our system of officers only staying in any position just long enough to get it marked into their record and then moving on. I was on one ship for five years and had 13 division officers, 3 department heads, 4 XO's and 3 captains. Don't know how many Admirals, they were just a blur in the distance with an occasional one showing up on the ship to repeat a canned speech.

    Status of the Navy link below

    1. Why so may officers? Well... a large number those officers are naval aviators and naval flight officers. Current guidance says a pilot or NFO must be an officer. It has very little to do with how many folks they are supervising.

    2. While I have no idea how many officers are accounted for by aviation positions, you make a good point. Aviation officers do nominally supervise various groups within the air wing but it's more of a chain-of-command-on-paper thing. Thanks!

  2. They could start with that idiot in the Pacific who thinks that climate change is the biggest threat he is facing. When they are getting ready to wrap a squadron of brand new EA18Gs and put them in storage and have the troops stay at home most of the week rather than get rid of about 200 useless politicians, I mean admirals, then how can any sailor believe in his leadership.

    1. I must have missed that one. What's the background story or do you have a link to a story?

    2. Here is a link to the Admiral Locklear story. I wonder if he realizes that the US Military is one of the biggest users of fossil fuel and if he is so sure that "Climate Change" is the biggest threat then shutting down the US military should be his top priority. Or maybe they are already doing it with their fantasy shipbuilding plans.

    3. Wow! That guy should be instantly relieved of command. Even setting aside the scientifically debatable concept of climate change, his job is warfighting. I also noted his thought that China was being unfairly blamed despite the reality that they are the aggressor and source of most problems in the area. Sadly, given the state of Navy leadership, I think we're looking at a future CNO, here.


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