Document: Report to Congress on General and Flag Officers in the U.S. Armed Forces

February 24, 2016 11:50 AM

The following is the Feb. 18, 2016 Congressional Research Service report, General and Flag Officers in the U.S. Armed Forces: Background and Considerations for Congress.

From the report:

As of December 2015, there were 896 active duty GFOs subject to statutory caps, which is 66 less than the maximum number authorized by law. There were also another 19 exempt from the statutory caps. The current number is about average for the post-Cold War era, though substantially lower than the number of GFOs in the 1960s-1980s, when the Armed Forces were much larger in size than they are today. However, while always very small in comparison to the total force, the general and flag officer 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 decision making 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.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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