I was cynically amused - but not surprised - at a post by CDR Salamander.
Any student of history knows what happens to a military that becomes a boated patronage machine more focused on privilege and status than service and warfighting.
Everyone likes to talk about how "expensive" manpower is - but as we decimate the meaty center of our operational capability with ERB and other programs - we ignore the most expensive bloat of all; our Admirals.
There's more at the link. CDR Salamander links to a post at the US Naval Institute blog, 'Sixteen Pages of Admirals', and an article by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), 'The Hidden Costs of Star Creep: Generals Making More in Retirement Than In Service', to back up his arguments.
At present it appears that there are 1.17 Admirals for every ship in the US Navy. If that's not a living, breathing definition of the word 'ridiculous', I don't know what is! Of course, the US Navy isn't alone in having to deal with this problem. The Royal Navy had more admirals than ships in 2008 (41 versus 40), and the situation has grown much worse since then - the service now has only 22 surface warships, which will drop to below 20 as older ships are retired before planned new construction replaces them. Needless to say, the number of Royal Navy admirals has not suffered a similar pruning. The other US armed forces are equally guilty. For example, until the end of the Cold War US Air Force wings were usually commanded by a colonel. However, today many are commanded by Brigadier-Generals. There was no real need for this escalation in command rank; it was a case of 'jobs for the boys'. More and more colonels needed an upward promotion path, so the USAF top brass obligingly created one for them. (The fact that this further decreased the number of command slots for colonels - already greatly diminished by post-Cold-War defense cuts during the 1990's - appears to have been ignored.)
Given a declining US defense budget and proposed major force reductions, it would be unconscionable if there were not at least a commensurate reduction in the number of senior officers in our armed forces. In fact, given the way in which their numbers have crept upward relative to the size of the armed forces as a whole, it may not be a bad idea to ruthlessly prune the ranks of Flag and General Officers - personally, I'd suggest by as much as 50% - before a single enlisted position is eliminated. Oh - and by all means eliminate the ridiculous provision that allows US Generals and Admirals to receive more than their pre-retirement salary as a pension!