Overly officered????

Are the military forces of most nations “overly officered”?? That is, are there too many officers in proportion to the number of enlisted personnel they command??

Restricting ‘most nations’ to those who have a Western-style military, no. Having a big airforce throws the ratio off (in America it’s something like 1 officer to every 6 enlisted), but it’s not like those jet jocks interfere with Joe Grunt.

Without doubt the US armed forces are massively ‘overly officered’. This also applies to the ‘other ranks’, what with their super-abundance of seargants and so forth. Far, far too few privates, troopers and what-not. I suppose it is the American way. Ironic, as the saying ‘too many Chiefs and not enough Indians’ comes from that continent(I presume).
As for the rest of the world - we ape the mightiest power, do we not?

Having said this, the other saying of ‘too many chefs in the kitchen’ may predate the above similar saying. Ha ha! Predestination rules!

Nah. The enlisted to officer ratio was something like 10:1 during WW2, and is something like 6:1 now. This just reflects the changing nature of our forces; New doctrine, many more technical positions and lots of new new assets that need to be managed. The ratio at the sharp edge of the sword is little changed; The infantry platoon still has one officer now, just as in WW2. But that new UAV section up at bridage? Need officers to run it. All that ELINT gear that divisions lug around these days? Need officers for it. And so forth.


Uh, a ‘bridage’ is sort of like a ‘brigade’, just with less intelligence assets. Yah, that’s the ticket…

Hum, most of the words are similar to English but when you string them together like that, they just turn into jibberish. Strange.

They certainly would sound like gibberish on the telly, which this is not, strange as it may seem. Ah…but different thoughts can seem very strange indeed, I grant you that.

I am afraid that I disagree on this. The real reason (I think) is decadence and corruption. Not that I think that the US armed forces in WW2 were ineffective. Quite the reverse in fact - the US was the primary power in that war, despite the (even then) too much preponderence of Officers(etc).
I think that US Infantry (and Armoured, and Marine Divisions) would have been even more effective had a more proper ratio been in force.
Of course, there are many differences this day, yet corruption rules even more, and your failures in Vietnam and now Iraq are a reflection on this.

Errr… What are you talking about?

I think the Red Army (you know, those goofy-dressed fellows that broke the back of the Wehrmacht) would beg to differ. For the European theater, at least. But that is neither here nor now.

What ratio would that have been?

Another matter for another debate, but our armed forces did pretty good in Vietnam, from a purely military perspective. That the political situation was FUBAR is not really something that the military could control.

Failure in Iraq? This could be fun…OK, how would a reduced officer to enlisted ratio in Iraq have prevented our tragic failure? I mean, when the Madina of the Republican Guards routed our forces during their brilliant counter-attack, I wept as bitterly as anyone; How would have your reduced officer levels have prevented that?

Have to agree with Brutus on this…our military is perhaps overly TECHNICAL (thats of course debatable, and I don’t for one subscribe to this), but its definitely not overly officered. We have a very technically oriented military which requires a higher emphasis on technical skills and less on canon fodder. In such an environment you are going to have a higher ratio of officers to enlisted (and your enlisted are going to have higher degrees of skill as well). In addition, as has been pointed out, in the Air Force (and the Navy for that matter) most pilots are officers…and we have a huge strength in air units.

Our military is what it is…and what it is, is the most effective military in the world. part of that effectiveness comes from our technical strength…and part of that comes from our officer to enlisted ratio.

:dubious: We weren’t defeated on the battlefield in Vietnam…we were defeated on the home front. Certainly the ratio of officers to enlisted had nothing to do with our ‘defeat’.

As to Iraq…well, thats a bit premature, but its really the same story. IF we are ‘defeated’, it won’t be on the battlefield…not even close. Not only did we (and the British) take out Iraq with ease, but the occupation has been EXTREMELY easy as far as US (and British) casualties go. We’ve occupied Iraq for over a year in the midst of a pretty heated insurgency and we still have less than a thousand casualties…and the British have even less. Compared to any other occupation in history (at least any I can think of) that had an active insurgency its pretty incredible.

IF we ‘lose’, it will be back here, on the home front. Jury is still out on that…guess it will depend on what the president (whoever it is) does in the next term, and how the American people’s attitude goes about our troops over there.


I think I’ll disagree with you here. I think it’s more related to the ‘up or out’ policy our military has now. They’re just trying to find more slots for officers.

And that one officer has three years experience instead of 10 or 15.

If an appropriate number of enlisted are not being supervised by these ‘officers’ then they don’t need to be officers. A sargeant could run it, or even a corporal.

Wow, deju vu, man. Haven’t heard that in decades.

Without the millions of tons of supplies (food, raw materials and finished goods) provided by the US, the Soviet Union would been far less effective, to say the least. Same goes for Britain.
I agree that reducing the ratio of officers in the Iraq adventure would make no difference. A poor blind man fighting a rich man who can see will always lose, no matter if the rich men are all officers. I’m sorry for the confusion. I did not mean it that way. Too many rants at once no good!

Just to try and prove to you yanks that I am not some sort of yankee-hater(unlike so many of us limey-denyers who think that you were not the dominant force in WW2), I know how great and manly the fight was carried out by the daylight bombing offensive by the (then) US Army Airforces. Unlike us brits, you flew all over the third reich by day, taking on the Luftwaffe, trying to precision-bomb(unlike the RAF terror-bombing by night). The enemy airforce was destroyed in this endevour in the greatest air-battles ever. Those men in all those B-17’s and B-24’s and P-51’s and P-47’s(etc) were true fighting soldiers. The officer-other-ranks-ratio seems about right. You see I am trying not to generalise about things!

Do you take pride in the defeat of the Iraqi Army in the first war where you ‘liberated’ Kuwait, or this last time when you conquered Iraq? If so, it it the same pride when the British won the battle of Omdurman. Except it is not the same, for this battle was a fair fight compared to these later events, which were true massacres, for the poor blind man cannot fight the rich man who sees all, with all his infinite firepower.
Your pride is a mark of decadence, as you suck the earth dry.

The US wasn’t the dominant force. The Soviets were. That’s historical fact, no need for an apology.

Yep, but airforces generally have FEWER enlisted men per officer. Since you’re arguing for MORE enlisted men per officer, doesn’t this go against your argument?

No it does not. Being aircrew in an airoplane-squadron is not the same as being in an infantry company. You think I am such a fool to not know this? I am insulted by your presumption.

So it’s good for some forces to have a lot of officers, but a sign of corruption and decadence in other forces? Give it a crack, try forming a coherent argument with, you know, facts, references, that kinda thing.

I was arguing about the effectiveness of US Air-power in WW2(amongst other things). Do you really not understand that an Infantry Company is different in that war or right now? A heavy-bombardment group of B-17’s? Are all things the same to you? You really expect me to write a complete essay right now on the relative difference of all things military? In my state? Sorry - can’t do it.
Of course, I take it you are joking, or perhaps being cruel. Which is it? Havn’t I said enough for you? I am completely knackered. I will attempt to imbibe more booze just for you. Thus I can blame you when I wake up to a greater hangover than usual. Ha ha, is the joke on me or you?

OK. I disagree, but does that make our armed forced ‘over officered’?

Eh. Training is far better these days, especially for the poor grunts. It’s not like our armed forces are having problems being ‘outclassed’ lately…

Well, welcome to the way things are done in the US Armed Forces. Pretty damned successfully, at that. But out of curiosity, what is the ’ appropriate number of enlisted’ for a 2LT to commmand? Should fighter pilots be bumped to noncoms, since they are ‘commanding’ anything but their own aircraft?