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:


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
LCS * 2

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.
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  • yudao661
  • http://www.facebook.com/jakesmydog Mike Fulton

    When I left the Air Force in 1988, I was a 1st Lt. I was 26 years old and had 72 enlisted people working for me. I was the base fuels management officer, and I was fairly low paid. There were other officers like me who also had many responsibilities and we worked very hard at our jobs. It is shocking to me to hear your statistics of today’s military, 5:1 ratio and high paid officers sitting around. I strongly support cutting the military budget.

  • Popsmoke

    Totally agree here… Lets not talk about the potential savings from weapon systems that don’t make it off the drawing boards…….

  • LindaAnselmi

    Great post. Nice to see specifics and appreciate your willing to hold Romney and Ryan to account when you disagree with them.

    Defense does need a serious hair cut. But I’m with KenoshaMarge in believing it is not going to happen. Our government disfunction does have its beneficiaries.

  • jrterrier

    On a related note, I find this particularly disgusting. So often there have been stories of the lousy conditions at VA hospitals and here the VA is spending $5 million at a convention. If you add up all the waste, we wouldn’t be in such a hole.

    “The Veterans Affairs Department has turned over to Congress 54 DVDs showing every moment, including some embarrassing ones, of the controversial 2011 human resources conferences held in Orlando, Fla., that cost taxpayers a combined $5 million.

    The single worst moment is a video mix that shows VA employees singing karaoke to the Michael Jackson song “Beat It,” with excerpts from some of the week’s speakers. For example, one speaker says, “I’ll show you impact” as two women do the bump.

    VA officials are not trying to downplay the potential waste of taxpayer money.


  • lola828

    A funny comment coming from a Pentagon/security contractor like Larry Johnson. Touche…!

    The U.S. security budget (which includes military, Homeland Security, etc.) is a joke at over $1 trillion today and possibly as high as $1.3 trillion to $1.4 trillion, depending on who’s numbers you look at. So, yes, Larry Johnson, military spending and security spending needs to be cut. You cannot be a deficit hawk or fiscal conservative and still support this level of military spending.

    The U.S. is 5% of the world’s population and spends 50% of the global military spending. That just says what a paranoid bunch Americans are.

    However, Mr. Johnson your statement:

    “I strongly disagree with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, who insist that the Defense budget should not be touched. ”

    is wrong. Romney actually wants to INCREASE military spending.

    ” According to those principles, Romney would increase defense spending to $7.9 trillion between 2013 and 2022, says the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. ”


    So Romney has no problem with gutting the social safety-net and lowering taxes proportionally more for the wealthy, but will not touch military spending. Romeny’s and the GOP’s priorities are completely screwed up.

    • Fred82

      Could the Left possibly be any more fah-king retarded.

      Defense spending is more important than economic stimuli, social safety-nets, or any other entitlement program. Without an America, what good are entitlement programs?

      Given the Lefties’ status as kings of foreign intervention, policing the world, and the globocop biz, where do they get off on advocating cutting the military and defense spending.

      • lola828

        Defense spending might be good as a job program, althout most economists disagree even with that, but this level of defense spending is likeliy a massive drain on the economy and is overkill with regard to protecting America and our security. In fact, this level of defense spending is likely fiscally weakening our economy over the long-term and a strong economy (to be able to afford our military) is our best source of security and protection.

        “Lefties’ status as kings of foreign intervention”

        That is a funny comment given their have been a grand total of two major interventions under Democratic Presidents in recent year – Kosovo and Libya (which was only a half ass American intervention and really led by the Europeans).
        Now Republicans have a massive history of invading countries.

        Republican neocons right today want us in Syria and Iran.

        • Hokma

          Just one more piece of evidence that you never attended grade school.You figure it out.

        • Fred82

          Actually the Left was pushing for intervention in Syria. The Left has pushed for intervention in Sudan as well. Besides, being led into foreign interventions by Europeans when the US economy is in bad shape and American forces are already engaged in two wars is dumb beyond belief.

          That and not all Democrats are Leftists. Were Bill Clinton not a moderate, there would have almost certainly been more policing the World under his watch thanks to the Left. And you forgot that Bosnia happened under Clinton’s watch.

          BTW, the Republicans have only started one truly questionable war in recent history. That was Iraq.

          • lola828

            Syria? Bullshit. Obama has done a good job at keeping the U.S. out of Syria. It is McCain and Republican Neocons that want the U.S. to get more involved in Syria.

            Name me one person on the left or Democrat that wants the U.S. to get militarily involved in Sudan? More complete BS.

            Iraq, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, etc. All Republican military interventions or wars.

            • Fred82

              Yawn, Yawn.

              Grenada was justified, Operation Cyclone was begun by the Carter Administration, and Operation Enduring Freedom was a response to a direct attack on the United States.

              For starters on Sudan, how about George Clooney?

              BTW nobody ever said the Lefties were the only advocates of foreign intervention. However, it is the Left that wants to gut the military and continue the globocop biz.

  • POdVet

    One of the biggest flaws in the modern military mindset, is that officers need to be college grads. There were far too many college educated idiots with no street smarts what so ever when I was in from 88-92. They are the biggest reason I chose not to re-enlist! If they were to do in service promotions of deserving E-6’s to Officers, they would not find themselves needing twice as many officers now as they needed during WWII. Most Officers then were not college grads, but people with real world experience. Exactly what good having a degree in modern literature does for our armed forces is beyond me…

  • foxyladi14

    They don;t want to scare the horses.

  • Retired_from_SPOnaj

    Annecdote: When I was assigned to an Intelligence Officer/Analyst billet in the Fleet Marine Force in 1978, it was a 1stLt’s slot on the Table of Organization. When I rotated a year later, it was a Major’s slot. Of course, it could’ve just been that they recognized that only a Major could replace me and achieve the same level of performance. I shudder to think what rank that billet must be now on the T/O.

  • FormerLiberal9

    Trimming the fat is sometimes a good thing because it forces everyone to become more efficient. Time to get rid of the gold brickers.

  • Fred82

    Now now,

    I cannot argue with your assessment Larry.

    Given the sad state of the US economy however, is now the time to start RIFFing people or downsizing the armed forces?

    That and the bad guys will interpret this as a sign of weakness and behave accordingly.

    At the same time, I do not trust the current administration to make such cuts as they are sure to resist any cuts to their worthless pet projects. If the defense budget is going to be cut, there are many, many government bureaucracies that should be cut first.

    Lastly, I have little sympathy for the private sector at this point. The private sector has done much to screw itself over.

    • http://noquarterusa.net Larry Johnson

      I hear you. Just trying to point out an uncomfortable truth. I just want people, public and private, to be accountable.

      • AnitaFinlay

        Thanks for your assessment, Larry. I would wager many people know nothing of these numbers.

      • lola828

        But you have no problem supporting a GOP party that wants to make spending cuts in all other areas right away…. the current spending cuts at the State level by primarily GOP governments is a big current austerity drag on the economy.

        • POdVet

          Excuse me MORON but exactly which states are improving economically? Oh thats right, it’s the states you claim are being a drain on the economy. Meanwhile the lib utopia of California, has Lib run cities going bankrupt left and right, and the State is not far behind!

          • lola828

            Actually New York and Massachuetts are doing well. Ohio, Michigan and Indiana are also doing better because of the auto bail-out.
            The only pure Red States which are doing well are because of the high price of oil. Easy to rid that global commodity.

            • Hokma

              Warped history with warped analysis. Only from a left wing loon.

            • POdVet

              Ok lets go over this in a precise manner so you might understand. New York unemployment is up from 8.2% to 9.1% in the last year. Massachusetts is showing a decline in unemployment, but if you look at the numbers you see that their labor force has magically dropped by 20,000 people! Now for Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. Can you say Republican Governors?

              • lola828

                You need some better analysis of the numbers in NY.

                Albany, NY (August 16, 2012) –
                Since the beginning of the state’s economic recovery in November 2009, New York State’s economy has added 346,900 private sector jobs and regained all of the private sector jobs it lost during the recession, the State Labor Department reported today. In comparison, the nation has only regained 44% of the private sector jobs lost during the recession. Overall, the state’s private sector job count now stands at 7,331,400.
                A labor-management dispute (now resolved) at Consolidated Edison in New York City affected the state’s private sector job count during July 2012. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Situation release on August 3, 2012, the dispute affected 8,500 utility workers. These workers were not counted as employed for the federal payroll survey, which determines the monthly job count. The state’s positive trend in private sector job growth would have continued in July if not for the labor-management dispute. Instead, the state’s economy lost 4,100 private sector jobs, or 0.1%, due to the effect the dispute had on the reported job count. By comparison, the nation’s private sector job count increased by 172,000, or 0.2%.
                Since July 2011, New York State’s labor force grew by more than 100,000 as people have more confidence in the economy. When more jobseekers enter or re-enter the labor market due to renewed confidence about finding employment, an area’s unemployment rate temporarily rises. For the 12-month period ending July 2012, the number of discouraged workers (those not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available) in New York State fell 21.6%. The state’s unemployment rate was 9.1% in July 2012, up from June 2012’s level of 8.9%.
                Whether Ohio, Indiana and Michigan have Republican Governors or not those States have benefited hugely from the turnaround in the auto sector. Those GOP Governors should be kissing Obama ass for goint through with the auto bail-out.

  • Brian Kelly

    I couldn’t agree more. There are cuts that can be made in the defense budget. It like all parts of government are bloated.

  • KenoshaMarge

    I don’t believe there is ANY part of government that cannot be cut without damaging their efficiency. We have a bloated and wasteful government. With less they might, just might, be forced to become leaner and more efficient.
    Do I think that will happen? No.
    The bureaucracy will fight whoever tries tooth and nail. And I believe that in the long run the bureaucracy will win because the Democrats and Republicans will not pull together to do what must be done.
    The whole government will go down in flames before the idiots work together.

    • foxyladi14

      Cut the waste fire some politicians.

      • KenoshaMarge

        Great idea!

  • Hokma

    I think you can understand why Romney can’t campaign on that.

    But once in office I would not doubt that he will be looking at every major part of the budget. The way you outlined this, the military’s budget is filled with waste and we certainly can find ways to streamline without losing force.

    • lola828

      Why can’t Romney campaign on that? Is that what you look for in a candidate? Someone who constantly avoids the issues and tough questions. Romney clearly is your man. Mr. Flip Flopper is your man.

      What Romney and Ryan are actually campaigning on is increasing the military budget and keeping it at an extremely high 4% of GDP. Most countries are only spending 1-2% of GDP with there military spending.

      • Hokma

        Regarding “most other countries” how many countries have military bases in the United States particularly where we have military bases?

        This is why you are so utterly ignorant to even pose information like you did. You really are more suitable having a discussion with a baboon.

        • lola828

          I think that is precisely the point. Why are we spending so much money on the military and on all those foreign bases?

          • Hokma

            No moron that is not your point. Your point was that we are spending much more than other countries on military as a percent of GDP and I gave you part of the obvious answer. We are committed to spending more on defense than other countries because we are protecting many of them. Your second point is a whole other issue and nothing to do with the budget.

  • DianaLC

    Can’t disagree with you. Someone send this post on to Romney. We need a strong SMART military. My brother served as a Nuke during the Viet Nam years. He complained mostly about the officers who knew nothing. It was the same with my son who served as a Nuke on a fast attack sub during the late 90s early 2000s. One of his subs captains forced the crew to do what all the nukes on board tried to warn him not to do. He had absolutely no training in the science of it and refused to take hints and suggestions. The sub was nearly totally wrecked.
    The fewer, but more well trained, officers the better.
    (And to tell the truth, the overabundance of administrative personnel in most school districts is also a major problem.)

    • foxyladi14

      Tru dat but they don’t have money for busses to get the kids to school.
      Makes my blood boil.