National Security Program | Idea Brief

Star Creep: The Costs of a Top-Heavy Military

by Ben Freeman, Ph.D

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The U.S. military is more top-heavy than it has ever been. Since 2001, the enlisted ranks have shrunk while the three and four-star ranks have grown by nearly 20%. The layers of bureaucracy to support the most senior officers have grown as well, slowing decision-making and burdening the warfighter.

In Star Creep: The Costs of a Top-Heavy Military, we explain why this bloat is a threat to U.S. national security—hindering the troops and wasting money better used combating 21st century threats. We need to trim the fat, which will make our military both leaner and more effective. The front-line should not be sacrificed to spare the back office.

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