Thursday, February 21, 2013

800,000 civilian personnel at the Dept. of Defense to be laid off

Perhaps there's some lard to trim at DOD?

by Clifford F. Thies

Leon Panetta, the Secretary of Defense, says that if the sequester goes through, 800,000 civilian workers at the Department of Defense will have to be laid off (meaning laid off one day a month for the duration of the sequester).

800,000? The Department of Defense has 800,000 civilian workers?

How many warriors are there?

First, there are about 1.4 million active duty men and women in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. The ratio of non-uniformed to uniformed personnel in the Department of Defense is about 2-to-3. But, just because somebody is in uniform doesn't mean they're in an operational unit.

Focusing on the Army, there are 560,000 active duty personnel. These personnel populate multiple "Commands" (e.g., Training & Doctrine Command, Africa Command, First Army, etc.), in addition to populating operational units such as the 82nd Airborne Division. The operational units include 8 divisions, 5 separate combat brigades and cavalry regiments, 37 support brigades, and a variety of smaller support units. All together, the personnel in these operational units total about half of the active duty personnel.
So, the "tooth-to-tail" ratio for the Department of Defense is about 2-to-1, including all the uniformed personnel in operational units as part of the "tooth." and the civilian personnel and the uniformed personnel in non-operational units as part of the "tail."

The enormous overhead associated with the Department of Defense is why - in spite of spending more money on the military than all other countries in the world added together spend on their militaries - we have a hard time sustaining an expeditionary force of any size. Thinking that we need a ratio of three operational units (one building up for its next deployment, one deployed, and one standing down from its return from deployment), the active component of the Army and Marine Corps is unable to sustain an expeditionary force of more than 100,000. To sustain such an expeditionary force that requires continuously tapping into the Reserves and the National Guard.

800,000 civilian workers is just part of the problem of the top-heavy and bloated Dept, of Defense. During WWII, there were 1.5 flag officers per 10,000 uniformed personnel; today, there are 7.5 flag officers per 10,000. And of course, along with the stars come staffs, budgets and civilian workers. Over in the Navy, we're almost to the point of having one Admiral (of various grades) per ship. They twice as many people commanding, coordinating and supporting the warriors than they have warriors, most of whose job descriptions involve little more than passing paperwork back and forth.

In contrast, about 2500 troops of the French Foreign Legion took one month to defeat the Islamicists in Mali.


Gary said...

We could win the massive Civil War with a small war department. But today we need hundreds of thousands of government drone unionized workers to "support" our tiny micro-wars like Afghanistan where almost no one is killed.

John Taylor said...

The US is still arming itself for the Cold War.

Leigh Anne said...

The DoD has so many civilian employees because the active duty force has been downsized so much. At one time, almost all of the DoD jobs were filled with active duty people who were trained to fight as well as type, cook and fix Jeeps. (The Marine Corps still uses this model. No matter what the job, from F-18 pilot to general's aide, they are all Marine infantrymen first who know how to fight.) The rest of the DoD is full of civilian employees who are permanent residents of the areas where the bases are located. Local politicians love this situation because local residents vote in local elections while the vast majority of active duty military personnel do not vote in local elections because they make their domiciles in one of the states that have no state income tax (predominantly FL, NV, TX, AK because of the military installations in those states). The DoD also requires huge numbers of employees because so many of them are incompetent. Civil Service rules make it nearly impossible to get rid of incompetent employees so in order to get work done, it's necessary to hire additional employees to do the work while the useless drones are shunted off into corners where they can't do much harm. When most employees were uniformed military members, it was possible to have a smaller work force because the armed forces have an "up or out" system. (People who miss too many promotions are not allowed to remain in uniform.) If it was possible to fire the non-productive Civil Service employees instead of being forced to allow them to camp out until retirement, it would be possible to drastically reduce the number of employees in the DoD.

Chuck said...

I just got a little crush on Leigh Anne.

Thanks for the info. :)

Leigh Anne said...

A caller to Rush Limbaugh yesterday reminded me of where this all started. To "save money" as part of the "peace dividend," Bush 41 "privatized" a lot of the jobs that had previously been done by active duty personnel. Please don't misunderstand me. Contractors are the best choice for some specialized expertise but I believe that Bush outsourced a lot of jobs both to reduce the size of the uniformed component and to give business to his cronies. Just look at how many contractors were providing services to our armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those were jobs that in earlier conflicts were done by uniformed forces who could pick up guns and fight when needed, and they did them at much lower cost than the contractors.

Leigh Anne said...

Oh, and here's one more reason the politicians prefer Civil Service to uniformed personnel: Many of the civilians join public employee unions.