250 Things That Just Are Not True! (Continued): “The Military Has Been Cut To The Bone!’

By Frank Hill

Have you ever heard a defense hawk in Congress say the following?

‘We can’t cut any more out of our US defense budget! It has already been cut to the bone!

Oh, really?  Is that really true, Congressman, Senator, Anyone Running for President?

We just saw a recent article from the Navy Times (The Navy Times, for goodness sakes!) ‘Navy Admirals’ that pretty much says the following in plain English so everyone can understand it:

‘There is one (1) ship for every (1) US Admiral in the US Navy today.’

In WWII, there was 1 Admiral for every 130 ships.

Each Admiral costs the US Taxpayer about $230,000 per Admiral per year in salary and benefits.  That is $53 million per year spent (as of 2010) across the entire navy.

That does not include the cost of the attendant staff, travel, office, support and all the other costs that go into supporting each Admiral as he does whatever he does every day now that he is not commanding 130 ships as his father did in World War II.  We conservatively estimate it must cost about $1 million per year to support the activities of each US Admiral.

That is another $200 million to $300 million per year down the drain, er…thrown overboard, er….’wasted’.

Without being too flippant about it, and respecting the public service of each of these dedicated career naval officers, what does an Admiral do all day long if he/she is not commanding a fleet of aircraft carriers, battleships, destroyers and cruisers on the open sea in the 21st century? Sail a desk at the Pentagon?

Does it diminish the stature and strength of the US armed forces to have the Admiralty reduced to the point where no one really knows if he or she is commanding any ship of war on the high seas or just moving around ships on a board game like they are playing ‘Battleship’ all day long?

There is not much else anyone on any side of the political spectrum can say about reducing federal spending anywhere when such wasteful spending is accepted and even encouraged in any department agency.  You can’t argue that taxes need to be raised when $300 million or so per year is being wasted like this.  And you certainly can’t argue that we are any ‘safer’ from enemy attack when each Admiral is, in essence, ‘managing’ 1 ship in the US Navy, can you?

There’s probably 200,000 more things that just are not true in American politics.  We’ll keep bringing them to you to consider so you can make up your own mind.

(Editor’s Note: Frank Hill‘s resumé includes working as chief of staff for Senator Elizabeth Dole and Congressman Alex McMillan, serving on the House Budget Committee and serving on the Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform. He takes on politics from a fiercely independent perspective at the blog Telemachus).


  1. This kind of dovetails with what I wrote here about Defense Contractors:

    I saw one graph that when including contractors, the Defense Dept is the world's largest employer.

    These brass types get cushy jobs in the contractor companies when they retire, which I would suspect pay even more than the sums you listed.

  2. I appreciate the overarch of this article, but have a couple concerns with the logic.

    First, due to technology, military assets (ships) require much more support than they did in WWII. It may be wrong to think that 275 Admirals overlap in duty supporting about 300 ships. Consider just missle procurement, support, staffing and training. Just because we have a few ships with tremendous capabilities as big as small cities in population, may not mean that they can be managed by 3 admirals (130 per). People have very specialized skills when you are dealing with nuclear powered, mobile cities. Even modern infantry require much more technical and training support than they did in WWII.

    Second, our bloated federal government only spends about 17% on the military, which is the only legitimate federal duty. You may argue that federal courts, and other governmental operations are also required. However, more than half of spending is transfer of wealth. America can afford redundancy in defense as a vital insurance on our republic. America cannot afford the soul-sapping, dependency enducing nanny state.

    Before we start slashing "the biggest employer in the world," let's look at all the thousand of smaller government "employers." There is an argument that the vastly larger non-military portion of the federal government is counter productive to a free people. In the end our common goal is to ensure freedom…isn't it?

    1. if we can't honestly call 1 Admiral for every dingy in the US Navy 'wasteful, stupid and redundant', then we really can't claim ANY moral high ground when we start talking about cutting welfare, education, transportation, 'Bridges to Nowheresvilles', much less Medicare, SS and Medicaid where the real budget-busting problems reside.

      Nope, Doo-Doo, I have to respectfully disagree with you on your reasoned argument above. Let the Captains and Commanders run the ships like they are supposed to. 'RIF' the Admirals back to the 1 per 130 ship ratio of WWII (meaning 'reduction in force')

      Don't need them. They are probably causing more havoc in decision-making in the Pentagon since they ALL think they are the top-dog, or should be and as the article says, getting a decision made with all those Admirals bumping into each other must made it impossible to get anything done anymore in any reasonable amount of time

  3. Sounds like our school systems.


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