Q: I recently read that the military has an excessive number of generals/flag officers. There seems to be a four-star general assigned to every hot spot around the world. They used to be only service chiefs and major command and component commanders. How many are there compared to the height of the Cold War or Vietnam era?
—Jim Rogers, Aiea, Hawaii
A: There are fewer generals/flag officers (G/FOs) now than at the end of the Cold War in 1991, but there aren’t as many uniformed military personnel, Ben Freeman, a national security investigator for the Project on Government Oversight (pogo.org), a nonpartisan independent watchdog, told Q&A on the News in an email. Freeman testified before the Senate’s Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Personnel on “General and Flag Officer Requirements” in Sept. 2011. As of October, there were 936 G/FOs in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps, according to the Department of Defense, compared to 1,017 G/FOs at the end of the Cold War, but there are 6.7 per 10,000 uniformed military personnel compared to about five per 10,000 in ’91. There were fewer than two G/FOs per 10,000 troops at the end of World War II, just more than three per 10,000 during the Korean War and about four per 10,000 during the Vietnam War. “We’re very close to being the most top-heavy we’ve ever been in U.S. history,” Freeman wrote. “And, we’ll only get more top heavy as the war in Afghanistan comes to a close.” Spokeswoman Eileen Lainez, told Foreignpolicy.com that the Department of Defense “is on track” to “eliminate” 102 G/FO positions and “reduce” 23 additional positions to a lower rank.
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