December 09, 2021

Why Military Officers Are Commanding Fewer Enlisted Troops Than Ever Before

Source: Task and Purpose

Journalist: David Roza

A recent piece of analysis from a non-profit government watchdog group suggests that the U.S. military is too top-heavy, and that having too many commissioned officers leads to needless bureaucracy and drives up the taxpayer burden with officer payrolls.

The U.S. military is “larded with far more pencil-pushers than trigger-pullers,” wrote Mark Thompson, national security analyst for the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), on Wednesday.

For the rank and file, POGO’s findings have an obvious appeal, especially for those who resent officers for generally receiving lighter punishments for wrongdoing, not knowing what they’re doing, and for having complete control over the lives of their subordinates.

The problem is that, based on trends in U.S. history, a lower enlisted-to-officer ratio might actually be a good sign for the future of the military.


Thompson of POGO raised concerns that the military has become full of pencil-pushers, and he’s right, because in some ways that’s what’s bound to happen.

“People will harken back to World War II, but we have a vastly different military recruitment model now,” said Katherine Kuzminski, senior fellow and Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security. “We’re an all-volunteer force, not draft-based, so we should expect to see not necessarily more officers, but a much smaller military, so the fact that we see this ratio change makes sense.”

Read the full story and more from Task & Purpose.


  • Katherine L. Kuzminski

    Deputy Director of Studies, Director, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

    Katherine L. Kuzminski (formerly Kidder) is the Deputy Director of Studies, and the Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society (MVS) Program at CNAS. Her research special...