Active Component Officers
Comm. Officers
Warrant Officers

Chapter 4


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 1998.(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 1973–1998.

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, can be attributed to the demobilization following the end of the Vietnam Conflict; the defense buildup of the 1980s was predicated by the escalation of the "Cold War"; and the most recent drawdown can be attributed to the fall of communism and the end of the Cold War.  At a few more than 208,100, the FY 1998 Active Component officer end-strength is 2 percent smaller than in FY 1997 and less than three-quarters the size of the FY 1986 officers corps, which was the peak of the buildup.  The FY 1998 officer end-strength represents the smallest officer corps since the advent of the All Volunteer Force 25 years ago.

The overall number of individuals commissioned by the Services decreased slightly (1 percent) in FY 1998 to approximately 15,600 (Figure 4.2).  As the Army experienced a 6-percent drop in accessions, the other Services increased their numbers of officer appointments. The Navy and Marine Corps accessed 1 percent more new officers than in FY 1997.  The FY 1998 Air Force accession cohort grew by more than 4 percent compared to FY 1997.

Figure 4.2.  Active Component officer accessions, by Service, FYs 1973–1998.
  1. Data are for commissioned officers; warrant officers are excluded for the most part.  A brief sketch of warrant officers is presented at the end of this chapter. (go back)

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