The Navy is executing a plan to restructure a number of flag officer billets — cutting and merging some, while reducing the rank of others, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert announced in a letter this week sent to admirals and senior executives.
“We took care to balance the reductions across officer communities and are confident that the plan will permit flag officer promotions to occur within the year of selection,” Greenert wrote in the message, obtained by Navy Times.
Navy Times also received a PowerPoint slide showing how these billets would be restructured. But a Navy official cautioned the document is in the final stages of completion and changes are expected. The flag billets to be deleted are three O-7 fleet billets: the U.S. Pacific Command surgeon job and command billets at Submarine Group 2 and Expeditionary Strike Group 5, according to the slides. There are 10 billets merging with other jobs and 19 flag roles downgraded to captain billets. Changes will be phased in, with a target end date of fiscal 2016.
The flag adjustments, approved by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, were partially in response to orders from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates who, in 2011, called for the elimination of more than 100 general and flag officer jobs across the services.
The Navy has been working in earnest on the billet restructuring since 2012. It also has to meet statutory limits, which call for no more than 162 flags in the Navy and at least 61 joint billets, the official said. After all the shuffling, the billet structure will only decrease to 157 Navy billets and 61 joint billets.
That’s unlikely enough flag cuts to silence critics, who’ve blasted the service for being too top heavy. In 1990, there were 2,051 sailors for each admiral. In 2012, there were 1,085 sailors for each admiral.