I strongly disagree with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, who insist that the Defense budget should not be touched. Government spending, including defense, is out of control. Let me give you some interesting facts that will put this into perspective.

Let’s look at the US Navy. During World War II the peak strength of Navy overseas (as of 30 June 1945) was:

Officers 198,383
Enlisted 1,923,910
Total 2,122,293

During World War II the the US Naval fleet consisted of 6084 vessels:

BATTLESHIPS 23
CARRIERS, FLEET 25
CARRIERS, ESCORT 65
CRUISERS 61
DESTROYERS 367
FRIGATES 376
SUBMARINES 230
MINE WARFARE 614
PATROL 1183
AMPHIBIOUS 2147
AUXILIARY 993
SURFACE WARSHIPS 827
TOTAL ACTIVE 6084

So, what about today?

Here is the current breakdown of US Naval personnel:

Active Duty: 321,053
Officers: 52,694
Enlisted: 263,892
Midshipmen: 4,467

Ready Reserve: 107,062 [As of July 2012 ]
Selected Reserves: 64,164
Individual Ready Reserve: 42,898
Reserves currently mobilized: 4,246 [As of 14 Aug 2012]
Personnel on deployment: 47,943
Navy Department Civilian Employees: 203,609

And how many ships?

DATE 9/30/11
CARRIERS 11
CRUISERS 22
DESTROYERS 61
FRIGATES 26
LCS * 2
SUBMARINES 53
SSBN 14
SSGN 4
MINE WARFARE 14
AMPHIBIOUS 31
AUXILIARY 47
SURFACE WARSHIPS 122
TOTAL ACTIVE 285

So what?

Let’s start by looking at the ratio of Officers to ships. During World War II, while fighting a global two front war, the Navy had
Look at the ratio of Officers to Enlisted. During World War II there were 33 Officers per ship. And ratio of Officers to Enlisted personnel? There was one officer for every 9.7 sailors. Let’s just call it a 10 to 1 ratio. For every ten sailors you had one officer. Keep this in mind.

So, let’s look at today. The ratio of Officers to ships? Sit down–185 officers per ship. That is six times the number of officers per ship when we were fighting a genuine global war. How about the ratio of Officers to Enlisted personnel? There is one officer for every five sailors.

You might think that with the increased sophistication of technology we would need fewer officers. Nope.

Now, look at the financial implication. The average pay for a Naval Officer is $70,000. Do the math. That approaches $3.7 Billion in pay. We can easily cut the Navy budget on the personnel side by reducing officer ranks to the ratio that existed during World War II. You could save at least $1 billion dollars, and that does not even factor in pension and health care impacts. That could be even greater.

The bloat in the U.S. military is enormous. At the United States Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida, I can take you to offices where officers are sitting on their butts doing virtually no work. These officers are in command of no sailors or ships. They are purely administrative personnel doing “work” that can easily be eliminated without jeopardizing our national security.

Officer bloat is also a problem in the Air Force, the Army and the Marines. Unfortunately, very few in the Congress have the courage to take on this issue. They are afraid of being labled, “weak” on defense.

Here is the dirty secret–U.S. Government workers are overpaid and underworked. Even the Washington Post grudgingly acknowledges this fact:

Households led by the self-employed saw their income drop 9.4 percent, to $66,752, the report said. Households headed by private-sector employees saw wages drop by 4.5 percent, to $63,800, and households led by government workers saw median income decline by 3.5 percent, to $77,998, the report said.

Government workers, on average, are better educated than private-sector workers, which could help explain their higher wage levels, Green said.

Do you understand these numbers? That means that Government workers earn 17% more than their counterparts in the private sector. And who funds Uncle Sugar? You, the taxpayer.

U.S. military officers, regardless of their branch, are part of this group and do quite well, making a lot of money. Yes, they are putting their lives on the line. My only point is that apart from those on the pointy end of the spear, there is an enormous number of REMFs. What is a REMF? It is an acronym for Rear Echelon Mother Fucker. There is a lot of fat in the Federal Budget, on both the military and civilian side. Romney and Ryan need to be prepared to take a knife to Defense and Intel as well.

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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.