Debate Question of the Day: the Generals

by Dave Schuler on November 16, 2012

What with the multiple scandals involving generals and in the interests of closing the barn door after the cows have already bolted, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has called for a review of ethics training for generals and admirals:

WASHINGTON — Responding to a string of recent scandals that have tarnished the military, the Pentagon’s top two leaders, Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, served notice on Thursday that they would strictly enforce ethical standards for their most senior officers.

“The fundamental mission of the Department of Defense is to protect the nation,” Mr. Panetta said in a memo to General Dempsey ordering a review of ethics training for generals and admirals. “Any behavior that negatively impacts our ability to perform that mission is unacceptable.”

I have a better idea. Why don’t we start reducing the number of general and flag-level officers? My experience as a contractor has been that every guy above a certain rank has a pet project and he’ll continue to promote it, first as an active duty officer and after he retires as a consultant, until he dies.

Today there are roughly 900 general and flag-level officers with a total active duty military of about 1.3 million. In 1945 there were about 2,000 general and flag-level officers for a total active duty military of 12 million. The number of officers then was about the size of our whole military now. I think that a gradual reduction in the number of general officers would have little deleterious effect on force readiness (I hear an active duty noncom somewhere snickering), would reduce costs, and might actually keep the general officer corps on their toes.

For perspective see here.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve Verdon November 16, 2012 at 11:37 am

I love this whole story….

1. It is a result of two women cat fighting over Patreus, now neither of them will “get him”. lol
2. Watching members of the surveillance state being gobbled up by the surveillance state is just pure awesome. lol

Now if only we could get every police chief in the country to get raided by a SWAT team, some of them shot in the process, and all of the dogs in killed in the process…well I don’t know what I’d do…dance maybe.

Dave Schuler November 16, 2012 at 11:40 am

Watching members of the surveillance state being gobbled up by the surveillance state is just pure awesome. lol

It does sort of resemble Spy vs. Spy, doesn’t it? It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

steve November 16, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Reducing the number of general officers has long been advocated by a host of military writers.Makes a lot of sense. They also need to continue broadening the path to that level. If you will recall, McMaster almost didnt make it because the path is much too rigid. However, on the issue of infidelity, over which Verdon seems excited, let me commend Mrs Sinclair’s piece. The combination of war, loss of family support and opportunity breeds infidelity issues. It has become an inevitable cost of our lengthy wars. As is often the case, it is the spouses and the children who bear the cost.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/when-the-strains-of-war-lead-to-infidelity/2012/11/15/1d6c020e-2f49-11e2-9f50-0308e1e75445_print.html

Steve

Icepick November 16, 2012 at 2:51 pm

It does sort of resemble Spy vs. Spy, doesn’t it?

Not really, because the guys aren’t wearing those cool hats.

Steve Verdon November 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm

However, on the issue of infidelity, over which Verdon seems excited, let me commend Mrs Sinclair’s piece.

It isn’t the infidelity, it is the stupidity and irony of it all. People being stupid and hoisted on their own petards is always funny…especially for the powerful who have no issues doing this similar to this to people with less power than they have.

Andy November 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm

I’ve spent close to 20 years in the military either on active duty or the reserve/guard and everyone I’ve talked to agrees there are way too many general officers. Unfortunately, Congress disagrees and they set the numbers.

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