Active Component Officers

Chapter 4

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The commissioned officer corps (with civilian oversight) is the senior leadership and management of the Armed Forces.  This chapter presents a view of the demographic and social characteristics of both Active Component officer accessions and the commissioned officer corps in FY 1999. [1]  Also highlighted are longitudinal changes among officers.  Figure 4.1 illustrates the trend in Active Component officer strength by Service since 1973.  Supporting data are provided in Appendix Table D-25.

Figure 4.1.  Active Component officer end-strength, by Service, FYs 1973–1999.

These data depict two drawdowns and one buildup in the Active Component officer corps.  These changes in military strength can be attributed, at least partially, to changes in the world situation.  The first decline, during the 1973 to 1979 period, occurred during the demobilization following the end of the Vietnam Conflict; the defense buildup of the 1980s was generated by the escalation of the “Cold War”; and  the fall of communism and the end of the Cold War led to the most recent drawdown.  At a few more than 204,600, the FY 1999 Active Component officer end-strength is nearly 2 percent smaller than in FY 1998 and less than three-quarters the size of the FY 1986 officers corps, which was the peak of the buildup.  The FY 1999 officer end-strength represents the smallest officer corps since the advent of the All Volunteer Force 26 years ago.

The overall number of individuals commissioned by the Services increased slightly (5 percent) in FY 1999 to approximately 16,400 (Figure 4.2).  As the Army experienced a 2-percent drop in accessions, the other Services increased their number of officer appointments. The Navy accessed 13 percent more new officers than in FY 1998.  The FY 1999 Air Force accession cohort grew by almost 7 percent compared to FY 1998.  The Marine Corps virtually remained unchanged, increasing only 0.2 percent compared to FY 1998.

Figure 4.2.  Active Component officer accessions, by Service, FYs 1973–1999.

[1] Data are for commissioned officers; warrant officers are excluded.  A brief sketch of warrant officers is presented at the end of this chapter.

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