Too Many Senior Military Officers?, and More from CRS

02.23.16 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Does the U.S. military have too many senior officers in its ranks?

A new report from the Congressional Research Service does not answer that question, but it explains why the question could arise, and provides relevant background for addressing it.

“While always very small in comparison to the total force, the general and flag officer (GFO) corps has increased as a percentage of the total force over the past five decades.”

“GFOs made up about one-twentieth of one percent (0.048%) of the total force in 1965, while they made up about one-fifteenth of one percent (0.069%) of the total force in 2015, indicating that the share of the total force made up of GFOs increased by 43%.”

“Some argue that this increased proportion of GFOs is wasteful and contributes to more bureaucratic decisionmaking processes. Others counter that the increased proportion is linked to the military’s greater emphasis on joint and coalition operations, core organizational requirements, and the increasing use of advanced technologies.”

“This report provides an overview of active duty GFOs in the United States Armed Forces–including authorizations, duties, and compensation–historical trends in the proportion of GFOs relative to the total force, criticisms and justifications of GFO to total force proportions, and statutory controls.”

See General and Flag Officers in the U.S. Armed Forces: Background and Considerations for Congress, February 18, 2016.

Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has withheld from public release include the following.

Encryption and Evolving Technology: Implications for U.S. Law Enforcement Investigations, updated February 18, 2016

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), updated February 19, 2016

Legislative Options for Financing Water Infrastructure, updated February 18, 2016

Recovery Act Funding for DOE Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) Projects, February 18, 2016

The Role of Local and Regional Food Systems in U.S. Farm Policy, February 18, 2016

The Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC): In Brief, February 18, 2016

Temporary Protected Status: Current Immigration Policy and Issues, updated February 18, 2016

Kuwait: Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, updated February 19, 2016

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV): Background and Issues for Congress, updated February 18, 2016

FY2017 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Budget Request: In Brief, February 19, 2016