Friday, June 09, 2006

# Posted 12:02 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

HOW MANY GENERALS ARE THERE IN THE ARMY? It's not something that most people know, although I'd wager that there are a lot of OxBlog readers who do. The answer to this question and many more about the US military can be found at Global Security, a veritable goldmine of information.

As it turns out, there are about 300 generals in the Army. In contrast, there are almost 4000 colonels and more than 9000 lieutenant colonels. This tells you something about just how tough it is to become a general.

In the entire US military, there are more than 200,000 officers and almost 1.2 million enlisted personnel. The officer-to-enlisted ratio is highest in the Air Force and lowest in the Marines.

1.4 million military personnel all together. We owe them a tremendous debt.

CLARIFICATION: To be precise, there are approximately 300 general officers in the Army. There are, however, only 11 Generals, often referred to as "four-star generals". The remainder are Lieutentant Generals (3 stars), Major Generals (2 stars) or Brigadier Generals (1 star).
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Interesting side note to the number of flag officers (general officers) in the Army.

After the first Gulf War there were ~300 flag officers in the Army.

The Army, along with the other services, then drew down approximately 1/4 (or was it 1/3?)in strength over the next few years.

After the draw down, there were still 300 flag officers in the Army.

There are probably perfectly reasonable explanations for this, but to junior officers such as myself in the 1990s, it was a perfect statistic to illustrate why we felt micro-managed and over-bureaucritized.

My best guess is that a draw down might have reduced the number of divisional commands (and the like) somewhat, but we still needed about the same number of generals at the Pentagon and at the regional and functional commands.

Either way, I sympathize with what junior officers and enlisted had to endure in the 1990s
Chris. I feel your pain, as they say.

I'll be dating myself, but here's what I saw: In late 1970, I found myself, unfortunately, adjutant to an Air Defense Group (Nike Herculers). It took six batteries to defend the Detroit-Cleveland Air Defense Zone. With the earlier Nike Ajax (which the Herc replaces) it had taken sixteen batteries to defend Detroit alone. There were a lot of underworked highers.

Having said that, there are two other issues. One is the admiral's barge. Whether he commands one battleship or ten, he still needs a way to get from his office to the battleship(s). In other words, the reverse of the economy of scale as you scale down.

The other is the idea of the cadre army. The Treaty of Versailles limited the Germans to an army of 100,000 men. The Germans selected and trained their guys to be ready to be instantly moved up two slots. If you will recall, the Wehrmacht ramped up pretty quickly and looked pretty good.

It is my impression that the Army, at least, has a lot of sergeants in slots where, when I was in, I'd not have expected to find a sergeant.

Perhaps they're considering the necessity to be ready for a big, big increase in size.
Hey Richard. Why did anyone think it was worth the effort to defend Cleveland? ;)

Also, I'm less optimistic about the Army preparing for a surge in its end strength. Personnel costs are rising, which makes that very hard, necessary as it might be.
I remember reading that the Saudi Army was - probably still is - something like half officers and half of those were generals. Of course they had to accommodate the hundreds of members of the royal family who wouldn't start at private!
These stats provide a clue to the motivations for the anti-Rumsfeld/Bush stance taken by several high profile retired generals.
The Powell Doctrine was the Army's best defense against downsizing the officer corps.
Rumsfeld's abandonment of that doctrine together with the reforms he is implementing threaten the brass with far fewer officer slots (and opportunities for promotion).
anyone know what the yearly TURNOVER of generals is ?? That is, of those roughly 300 - how many retire on an yearly basis.

This also explains why there is always a "general" on TV that thinks the secretary of defense is "going about it all wrong".
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