In a historic shift, active-duty military military personnel are now outnumbered by the civilians supporting them. In July, the Army announced that 40,000 soldiers would be cut from active duty, on top of the 80,000 soldiers let go since the Iraq and Afghanistan buildup.
As the military shrinks in size, now numbering roughly 1.36 million active-duty troops, the number of government employees and federal contractors is disproportionately large. Since the peak of the defense budget in 2010, the number of civilian employees at the Pentagon has grown by 6% to 744,000 and the number of contractors has increased by 20% to roughly 730,000.
Mackenzie Eaglen of the Wall Street Journal writes about how the Pentagon’s incredible purchasing power — and the lack of oversight that comes with it — has led to the rampant growth of its civilian ranks, while the military is giving troops the boot.
“Because the Pentagon cannot adequately manage this unaccountable army of contractors, it ends up shortchanging the military, which is starting to lose critical staff, notably mid-grade field officers and senior noncommissioned officers. … Congressional and Pentagon leaders must impose oversight on the Pentagon’s shadow workforce.”