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Webb questions Air Force on number of generals

Jul. 27, 2011 - 05:03PM   |   Last Updated: Jul. 27, 2011 - 05:03PM  |  
Sen. Jim Webb also noted that the Air Force has more four-star generals than the Army, despite being a significantly smaller service.
Sen. Jim Webb also noted that the Air Force has more four-star generals than the Army, despite being a significantly smaller service. (Nicolas Asfouri / AFP via Getty Images)
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A key senator wants to know why the Air Force has proportionally far more general officers than the other services.

Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee's military personnel panel, said he will hold a hearing later this year to find out why the Air Force appears to have a top-heavy force structure.

Webb pointed to Defense Department data showing that the Air Force has one general officer for every 1,058 airmen in the force.

He compared that to the Navy, which has one admiral for every 1,279 sailors; the Army, with one general for every 1,808 soldiers; and the Marine Corps, with one general for every 2,350 Marines.

Webb also noted that the Air Force has more four-star generals than the Army, despite being a significantly smaller service.

That may be in part because the Air Force has uniformed generals performing some jobs for which the other services hire civilians, said Lt. Gen. Richard Harding, the Air Force Judge Advocate General, when Webb asked him about the disparity at a recent hearing.

Webb also asked Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, who is likely to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about the disparity at Dempsey's confirmation hearing Tuesday.

Dempsey said he was "surprised" to hear about that data and told Webb he would look into the matter.

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