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Project on Government Oversight

U.S. Military's Inflated Brass is Burden on Taxpayers, POGO Tells Senate Panel

Related Content: Wasteful Defense Spending
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September 14, 2011

The U.S. military has grown top-heavy in recent years with more generals and admirals doing work that could be performed by lower ranking officers than at any point since the Cold War ended, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) told a Senate panel today.

The average general and admiral has nearly 500 fewer uniformed personnel under their command today than they did in 1991. The Navy and Air Force have led the way in padding the ranks of their top brass while cutting more than 70,000 enlisted personnel and lower ranking officers, as well as reducing the number of aircraft and ships. In fact, the Navy is close to having more admirals than ships for them to command, POGO National Security Fellow Ben Freeman said.

“This progression towards a more top-heavy force is not without its consequences,” Freeman told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Personnel. “It is a burden for both taxpayers and military commanders. The cost of officers increases markedly with their rank, so taxpayers are overpaying whenever a general or flag officer is in a position that could be filled by a lower ranking officer.”

Freeman told the Subcommittee that the Department of Defense (DoD) should investigate the impact of the so-called “star creep” phenomenon on DoD payroll and determine if it hinders military effectiveness.

Follow the link to read Freeman’s testimony.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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