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Top Heavy

Old 2nd Dec 2009, 11:28
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Top Heavy

Interesting piece in this week's Private Eye, about the number of senior officers in each of the services:-
  • The army has 90 more generals, brigadiers and colonels than required
  • 80 admirals and commodores "surplus to requirements" in the navy
  • The RAF apparently has 160 AM, AVMs, air commodores and group captains
If there are currently too many senior officers, presumably a good few won't survive any defence budget review . . . or will they?
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Old 2nd Dec 2009, 11:36
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Old 2nd Dec 2009, 11:46
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I'm glad you didn't word it as "thick at the top". It might have been misinterpreted.

Why, I might ask, do the numbers for the Army and the Navy specify (and without asking how it was determined) those who are surplus to requirements, but the RAF give just a total?

Unless, of course, the author thinks the entire RAF is surplus to requirements.
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Old 2nd Dec 2009, 11:54
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A few years back I was staying in the Wyton Officers' Mess and in the mailroom there were pigeon holes for 27 Gp Capts!!! 27! Unbelievable.

To think that any cuts will help address this imbalance is tantamount to lunacy.

Still, at least we feel we can rely on them and have faith in their decision making abilities....
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Old 2nd Dec 2009, 12:05
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Its not just Gp Capt and above. Look around the DFAC at KAF next time your there, it would seem that 1 in 3 people clutching a coveted blue beret is a Sqn Ldr.

Who on earth are all these people managing and leading?
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Old 2nd Dec 2009, 13:00
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Orac, I was just quoting the article - it's doesn't specify how many of the air officers in the RAF are "surplus", so not my spin!
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Old 2nd Dec 2009, 18:47
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Minigun, the 'leaders' at KAF are managing all the excess people that exist there that do lots of 'I don't know what'....

Is it just me, but what do ALL those people in the DFAT actually do...?
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Old 2nd Dec 2009, 19:15
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Eat.............?
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Old 2nd Dec 2009, 19:31
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Originally Posted by Bunker Mentality View Post
Eat.............?
Ah, so that's what goes on in there
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Old 2nd Dec 2009, 19:31
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Would it not be false economy to cull their Airships in the next Defence Cut hack? After all they retire on full pay anyway!
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Old 2nd Dec 2009, 19:57
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I think that as far as the RN goes, this may be a misinterpretation of a piece in International Affairs by Paul Cornish and Andrew Dorman (National defence in the age of austerity, July 2009) -

Yet in March 2008, the Navy had approximately 80 commodores, 20 more than it thinks it requires
For the RAF, the picture presented by Dorman and Cornish should worry rather more than just a few Group Captains and above:

According to none other than the minister of state for the armed forces (recently elevated to secretary of state for defence), in all ranks above flight lieutenant the RAF has more officers on its books than it requires
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Old 2nd Dec 2009, 20:41
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OK, take a look at these figures from 2004:

British Army officers and other ranks, Analysis by rank and sex, at 1st April 2004

Royal Navy and Royal Marine officers and other ranks, analysis by rank and sex, at 1st April 2004



Royal Air Force officers and other ranks, Analysis by rank and sex, at 1st April 2004



354 Captains & above in the Navy (out of 41,000).
748 Colonel & above in the Army (out of 113,000).
459 Gp Capts & above in the RAF (out of 53,000).

So about in propotion (roughly!) in 2004.

In 2008 the requirement for the RAF was 350 but the actual number was 440!

See House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 02 Jun 2008 (pt 0033)

I can't find the 2009 figures but I guess this is why there has been a paucity in Flt Lt to Sqn Ldr promotions recently (about 60 on the recent flying-branch list vice about 120 in recent years! ); I guess they're doing something about it now?

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Old 2nd Dec 2009, 20:56
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Just found this for Nov 2009:

RAF trained UK regular strengths and requirements by NATO rank Requirement vs Trained strength
OF-6 and above 100 vs 130
OF-5 290 vs 330
OF-4 1,130 vs 1,230
OF-3 2,420 vs 2,540
OF-2 and below 4,720 vs 4,260
Officers total 8,670 vs 8,480


See House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 10 Nov 2009 (pt 0012)

I guess this answers the current "rebalance" policy of less promotees...
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Old 2nd Dec 2009, 21:17
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Look at the Army WO1/2 with about 6000 compared with the RAF WO/MACR near 1000 and the RN at the same.

If we look at boss worker bees - fofl/fs/wo equivalents we have:

Army 19800, RN 12520 and RAF 10040.

At sqn ldr eq it is 4470, 1020 and 2980.

Percentage wise, the OF4 grade in the Army is 22% of the managers grade, in the RN it is 8% and in the RAF it is 30%.

Clearly the RAF has more execs than managers whereas the RN promoted or out seems more efficient if more brutal.
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Old 2nd Dec 2009, 21:28
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it's not comparing like for like.

The army has a lot of experienced NCOs because you need them on the battlefield and to cover attrition. The RAF is top heavy because the aircrew are mostly commissioned and that affects the ratio above. The RN works to fixed ratios on board ship.

So you have to compare each to their task, their churn rate and their wartime expected attrition rate - not against each other.
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Old 3rd Dec 2009, 07:32
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I can see what'll happen here. We'll all complain that the Group Captains and their ilk are a waste of space, we'll cheer when the next defence review chops lots of them, then we'll all PVR because "no-one's getting promoted anymore, there's no room for advancement, there's no chance to have a proper career anymore." Best get myself off to that PA spine quickly!!

Also, according to the MoD pension calculator thing, this "Air ranks retiring on full pay" is a total myth. I thought they did retire on full pay so tried it out; a 5 year old AVM, who joined at 21, planning on retiring at 55 as a level 5 AVM (112 244 salary) leaves with a pension of 56 122 and a gratuity of 168 366.

Extremely generous yes, but not full pay by a long shot!
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Old 3rd Dec 2009, 07:46
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5 Forward 6 Back

The only ones who ever retired on full pay were the MRAFs and equivalent. The government decided a long time ago (2000?) not to make any more promotions to those ranks. So, the only full pay retirees now are the surviving MRAFs, Field Marshals and Admirals of the Fleet, most of whom seem to sit on the red benches in the Lords.
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Old 3rd Dec 2009, 07:53
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Didn't know that; but at least it defuses all the myths. Cheers!
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Old 3rd Dec 2009, 09:25
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Well I remember reading in 'Chicken Hawk' about the WO that used to be a full bird-colonel.. and was RIF'd (reduction in force) to WO. I think HM forces could do with a bit of that!
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Old 3rd Dec 2009, 09:47
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Why not get paid more?

5 Forward 6 back is correct.
I also believe that HM forces should be paid more generally for what they do (vice their MOD pen pushing collegues, all 65000 of them!)
So if they happen to be top heavy so what! Enjoy the better pay so that one day everyone can move up the Ranks.
I left after 16 years and took a 25% pay increase with little responcibilty( compared to the Airforce life) and now only work 15 days a month!
off to the golf course again.....
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