26 October 2017

Are There Too Many General Officers for Today’s Military

Recently there has been a debate in USA on "Are There Too Many General Officers for Today’s Military?

There are approximately 900 Active duty general/flag officers (GO/FOs) today of 1.3 million troops. This is a ratio of 1 GO/FO for every 1,400 troops. During World War II, an admittedly different era, there were more than 2,000 GO/FOs for a little more than 12 million Active troops (1:6,000). 

As always there are two schools of thought on increase in General Officers. 

Those who think that present number of General Officers are too many have the following reasoning : 

This development represents “rank creep” that does not enhance mission success but clutters the chain of command, adds bureaucratic layers to decisions, and costs taxpayers additional money from funding higher paygrades to fill positions. One study states the obvious: the U.S. military is more top-heavy than it has ever been.43 Benjamin Freeman, “The Pentagon Has Too Many Generals,” U.S. News & World Report, July 24, 2013, available at https://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/world-report/2013/07/24/the-pentagon-has-too-many-troops

It is unlikely that today’s senior leaders are of such a higher caliber that a higher ratio is justified. 

Today’s Army generals, as a representative example, have the same flaws as previous decades 

The “strategic corporal” concept advanced several years ago plausibly posits that information technology will push strategic-level decisions further and further down to junior troops doing tactical-level jobs, thus obviating the need for many bosses. 

Those who think the increase is justified have the following reason ; 

Comparisons across vastly different eras can be problematic and it could be unwise to mimic industrial age ratios. 

One study defends the dramatic growth in senior ranks as emerging from “the long term decline of labor intensive functions in the military relative to technologically skilled functions, and the increased demand for managerial skill, given the military’s greater organizational complexity over time.”

Another raises the possibility of why the GO/FO population has grown while avoiding the downsizing that most of the forces have endured in the last few years, including joint requirements, coalition operations, organizational structure, and technological change.

Some generals anonymously speak to the complexity of the modern battlefield as justification for more senior officials than before.

Matching international or coalition partners in rank could also be a consideration.

The joint requirements of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986,

Concerns about top-heavy ranks are hardly new. Marine legend Lieutenant General Chesty Puller stated of World War II, “The staffs are twice as large as they should be. The regimental staff is too large. I have five staff officers in the battalion and I could get along with less.” Edward Luttwak states that in 1968 in Vietnam there were 110 GO/FOs and “hundreds and hundreds of colonels,” mostly in Saigon.Evidence of excess brass adding to bureaucratic complexity or poor decision making is indirect and suggestive.

Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), defended a proposal to reduce GO/FOs and recently summarized the Goldwater Nichols trends: “Over the past 30 years, the end strength of the joint force has decreased 38%, but the ratio of four-star officers to the overall force has increased by 65%.”

A possible explanation for the continued increase in GO/FOs is the requirements associated with the war on terror. This period has shown a continuation of the trend line. From 2001 to 2011, the number of three and four star officers grew by nearly 25 percent, one and two stars grew 10 percent, and enlisted ranks only 2.5 percent.. [“How Bad Is Our Bloat of Generals? How Does It Compare with Other Armies?” Fabiusmaximus.com, September 10, 2012 ]

The former Secretary of Defence Robert Gates ordered the elimination of more than 100 GO/FOs as part of his 2010 efficiency initiative. He then stated, “Almost a decade ago, Secretary Rumsfeld lamented that there were 17 levels of staff between him and a line officer. The Defense Business Board recently estimated that in some cases the gap between me and an action officer may be as high as 30 layers.”

As usual whenevr there is a cut the actual cut happens in the lowermost rank possible. One official from Pentagon stated, “when Gates spoke there were 981 generals and admirals. Today, there are 958. Yet, this difference results almost entirely from reducing one stars; there are now 10 more three stars, and 14 more two-stars.”

Thomas Ricks views the GO/FO job description as “being able to impose one’s will on a large organization engaged in one of the most stressful of human activities.”But since World War II, American military successes mostly stop at the tactical or operational level. Ricks finds the post–World War II class of Generals, with few exceptions, strategically inept, seen in middling conclusions to the many conflicts of the last several decades. He argues that Army leaders of the 1980s and early 1990s “produced a generation of tacticians who knew how to fight battles, but who apparently lacked the strategic ability to fight and conclude wars.” A retired Army three star places losses in Iraq and Afghanistan on abysmal generalship, stating “[it was] our war to lose and we did.” Strategic level thinking seems to be missing, and a reordering of GO/FO-specific professional military education seems to be in order. [ Daniel P. Bolger, Why We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars (New York: Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin, 2014), ]

According to Ricks, the Army’s current “template of generalship,” is that of “organization men who were far less inclined to judge the performance of their peers. They were acting less like stewards of their profession, answerable to the public, and more like keepers of a closed guild, answerable mainly to each other.” This situation cries out for reform and oversight from without, as DOD has proved unable to correct itself [ Thomas E. Ricks, The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today (New York: Penguin, 2012), 350. ] 

Today’s technology allows for a much clearer battlespace picture than at any time in history, allowing for a flatter chain of command, obviating the need for multiple GO/FO inputs. Staff and headquarters elements are the least defensible places for layers of brass. The burden of proof should be on the Services to justify GO/FOs outside of senior leadership and commanders of large line organizations. Services must be required to identify not which GO/FOs they want to give up but which ones they want to keep.

[ Gregory C. McCarthy, Are There Too Many General Officers for Today’s Military? JFQ 87, 4th Quarter 2017 ]

That brings me to conditions in India. Take Indian Army.

Wikipedia states that Indian Army has a manpower of 13, 25, 450. say 1.3 million.

As of 2017, the Indian Army has a sanctioned strength of 49,833 officers (41,569 serving, 8,264 under strength). There are 80 Lt Gens, 295 Maj Gens and 1190 Brigs ( the figures are approximate say 1570 flag rank officers). That means there is one flag rank officer for 845 troops.

Because of stagnation and promotion avenues being poor specially compared with civil services Govt of India appointed Ajay Vikram Singh Committee to look into the problem, The committee recommended and Govt of India accepted the proposal in October 2008. The upgraded or created posts included 20 Lieutenant Generals, 75 Major Generals, 222 Brigadiers and 734 Colonels. As expected the flag rank vacancies were promptly filled up. There is still controversy regarding vacancies of Col being fought at Supreme Court level.

This is an extremely sensitive issue and I have no interest to get into it. My recommendation is please carry out a detailed study on the effects of increase of flag ranks on the combat effectiveness of  the Indian Army. Need for promotion cannot be the only criterion for creating additional flag ranks. NFU will probably address this problem a bit.

China's Field of Dreams in Pakistan


by Rafiq Dossani and Niels Erich
President Trump's recent speech on Afghanistan called out Pakistan for harboring terrorists targeting U.S. and Afghan forces across the border, and hinted that billions of dollars in U.S. military and counterterrorism aid are at stake. U.S. aid to Pakistan has averaged $1–2 billion annually since 2002, spent mainly on reimbursing the military for support in the tribal areas along the Afghan border, securing Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, drug interdiction and disaster relief. A lively debate rages in Pakistan about whether such a small amount of targeted aid is worth accepting.
By contrast, China is four years into joint planning and construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, a $62 billion, 15-year joint infrastructure and economic development package of nearly 60 road, rail, port, power generation, communications and industrial zone projects that stretch 1,500 miles from Kashgar in southwest China to the Pakistani port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea.

John McCain: We Need a Strategy for the Middle East


By JOHN McCAINOCT. 24, 2017
WASHINGTON — Clashes this month between elements of the Iraqi security forces and Kurdish fighters around Kirkuk are deeply troubling, in particular because of the United States’ longstanding friendship with the Kurdish people. These clashes are also emblematic of a broader, more troubling reality: Beyond our tactical successes in the fight against the Islamic State, the United States is still dangerously lacking a comprehensive strategy toward the rest of the Middle East in all of its complexity.
This is the unfortunate legacy that the Obama administration left for its successor. President Trump’s call this month for a broader strategy to confront Iran’s malign influence across the Middle East was an encouraging indication that the administration recognizes the problem.
But just days after that speech, reports surfaced that Qassim Suleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, was near Kirkuk, preparing military advances on Kurdish positions by Iranian-backed Iraqi militias to augment the broader efforts of Iraqi security forces. When those advances came, some Iraqi forces, according to reports, fought with equipment that had been provided by the United States.

This is totally unacceptable. The United States offered arms and training to the government of Iraq to fight the Islamic State and secure Iraq from external threats — not to attack Iraqi Kurds, who are some of America’s most trusted and capable partners in the region.Continue reading the main story

A woman stands near a booth promoting online cloud services at an exhibition in Beijing

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The People’s Republic of China entered the Internet age in 1994; 23 years on, China is considered to have the largest online population worldwide, with 731 million active users. At the same time, China has one of the world’s strictest online legal frameworks.

One could easily assume that an online ecosphere as vibrant and active as China’s would lead to many differentiated approaches to interpreting Chinese Internet law. Instead, China researchers, legal scholars, and observers of the Chinese internet industry have engaged in ever-repeating, entrenched, and constricted narratives focused on human rights abuses, censorship, and political oppression. Simultaneously and largely unnoticed, China has devised a strategy of innovation security as part of its internet law.

Xi Jinping Thought Vs. Deng Xiaoping Theory

By Son Daekwon

In a 3.5 hour marathon speech at the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress on October 18, President Xi Jinping heralded the dawn of a “new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics.” By adding the words “new era,” Xi differentiated his policies from former leaders’. The idea of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” was one of the most remarkable creations of Deng Xiaoping. Deng, by adopting a market economy to China’s own condition, successfully achieved unprecedented economic success. Now Xi signals a modified application of Deng’s policies for China’s “new era.” How does Xi Jinping Thought compare with Deng Xiaoping Theory?

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Xi Jinping has kicked off his second term as leader of the world’s second largest economy, vowing to spearhead the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” and signalling his intent to tower over Chinese politics for decades to come.At just before noon on Wednesday, Xi unveiled the new line-up of China’s top ruling council – the Communist party’s politburo standing committee – leading six besuited

Will not join CPEC while access to India is blocked: Ghani

October 25, 2017
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called on Pakistan to end its support to 'insurgent groups' and took a firm stand against joining the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), reported Tolo News
Ghani said he would not join CPEC if Islamabad refused to permit connectivity between India and Afghanistan.
The report stated that Ghani also rejected what he termed a “Pakistan-managed” effort to broker peace in Afghanistan. This comes just a week after talks between Pakistan , the US, China and Afghanistan in Oman which were aimed at getting the Taliban to the peace talks tables.

China’s new leadership team unveiled: Zhao Leji named as anti-graft chief while Xi elevates trusted deputy to top military role

The make-up of the Politburo Standing Committee, the country’s supreme political body, has been revealed. Five new faces will back up the president as he looks to advance his political agenda. The unveiling of the new lineup marks the climax of the twice-a-decade leadership reshuffle after months-long intense horse trading and power struggles in the lead-up to the 19th party congress.

America Is Getting Outclassed by Russian Electronic Warfare

Samuel Bendett

It has become clear to the U.S. military that Russian investment in electronic warfare capabilities may have outpaced anything available in the West.

The Russian military-industrial complex was successful in showing off the latest technologies during last month's Army-2017 military expo. This international forum, held outside Moscow, showcased hundreds of land, air and sea-based systems, and was attended by hundreds of thousands of visitors. The high-profile event culminated with Russia signing nearly $170 billion rubles ($3 billion) worth of contracts. Among major accomplishments for the Russian defense industry was the delivery to the military of the latest electronic warfare (EW) systems—“Vitebsk,” “Krasuha” and “Moskva.”

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It is time for the U.S. government to admit that it has failed to prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the United States. North Korea no longer poses a nonproliferation problem; it poses a nuclear deterrence problem. The gravest danger now is that North Korea, South Korea, and the United States will stumble into a catastrophic war that none of them wants.

The world has traveled down this perilous path before. In 1950, the Truman administration contemplated a preventive strike to keep the Soviet Union from acquiring nuclear weapons but decided that the resulting conflict would resemble World War II in scope and that containment and deterrence were better options. In the 1960s, the Kennedy administration feared that Chinese leader Mao Zedong was mentally unstable and proposed a joint strike against the nascent Chinese nuclear program to the Soviets. (Moscow rejected the idea.) Ultimately, the United States learned to live with a nuclear Russia and a nuclear China. It can now learn to live with a nuclear North Korea.

Russia Inducts New S-400 Missile Air Defense System

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The Russian military continues to boost its anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities.

The Russian military took delivery of the second S-400 Triumf advanced Air Defense System (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) regiment in 2017 this week, according to local media reports. Russian defense contractor Almaz-Antey handed over the new regiment to the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) on October 23.


Nicholas Krohley

Today’s American military is, arguably, the most tactically adept fighting force in the world—perhaps of all time. It is, without question, the best-resourced military in human history. Our technological advantage is unprecedented, as cutting edge hardware and software platforms deliver extraordinary capabilities in areas ranging from SIGINT to targeting to command and control. Taken together, the United States wields a tactically, financially, and technologically superior warfighting machine.

Bioweapons and Scientific Advances

The 191 States Parties and Signatory States to the 1975 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) staged their Eighth Review Conference from 7-25 November 2016. In this text, Claudia Otto and Oliver Thränert 1) assess the progress the BWC has made thus far, to include the attempts to both implement and enhance the treaty, and 2) analyze the recent assaults on the BWC’s relevancy, which are attributable to the radical technical and scientific advances occurring in the life sciences.

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Officials Want Industry to Help 'Digitize' the Marine Corps

By Vivienne Machi

BALTIMORE, Md. — As the Marine Corps works to enhance its information operations capabilities, it needs to more quickly adopt technologies that will facilitate the transfer of data, the service’s chief information officer said Oct. 23.

“We’re trying to digitize the Marine Corps,” Brig. Gen. Dennis Crall said at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association’s annual Milcom conference in Baltimore, Maryland. “We’re looking at how do we push information … to the warfighter.”

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By Dirk Splinter
Source Link

“So many people want to join mediation teams without having worked on the micro-techniques of mediation. These may seem far removed from bringing warring factions together. It relates more to the normal management of human interaction in conflict. These techniques have to do with the way you hold yourself; the way you listen; and the way you recognize where people have a common interest (…)” Nicolas ‘Fink’ Haysom,[2] South African mediator in Burundi and Sudan and former UN Special Representative for Afghanistan.

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First, Trump tweeted that “Facebook was always anti-Trump.” From all available information, it does seem true that the vast majority of Facebook’s employees did not want Donald Trump elected president of the United States. They are disproportionately young, urban, and socially liberal, living in California’s most left-wing region. Trump lost all these demographic groups.

How the electric grid has been compromised

By Peter Vincent Pry 

The Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack terminated on September 30, ironically, the same month North Korea tested an H-bomb it described as “a multifunctional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for superpowerful EMP attack.”

For 17 years, the EMP Commission warned about the existential EMP threat.

Rogue states or terrorists can blackout national electric grids and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures, topple electronic civilization, and kill millions from sea to shining sea, with a single high-altitude nuclear detonation, generating an EMP field covering North America. Natural EMP from a solar superstorm could blackout the whole world. EMP is considered a cyber weapon, not a nuclear weapon, in the military doctrines of Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.

An Advanced Engagement Battlespace: Tactical, Operational and Strategic Implications for the Future Operational Environment

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The Army Chief of Staff GEN Mark Milley has challenged the Army and its external stakeholders to fundamentally reassess their assumptions on warfare’s future character. Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) has adroitly reshaped its ongoing study of the future Operational Environment out to 2050, as well as its Campaign of Learning and 2025 Maneuvers.

How Americans Learned to Fight Modern War

By David Fitzgerald

In a recent interview reflecting on his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, General David Petraeus recalled an incident that took place during the invasion of Iraq. Petraeus, then commanding the 101st Airborne, recounted that after a tough fight to take the city of Najaf, he called the V Corps Commander, General William Wallace to say, “Hey boss, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that we own Najaf...The bad news is the same as the good news: we own Najaf. What do you want us to do with it?”