Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The Royal Navy now has 15 times as many commanders as it has warships

So reports a British MP. The senior service now has 40 admirals, 260 captains — but just 19 ships, he alleges. But checking around the web, I think what the MP meant was that Britannia has just 19 major surface combatants (not counting minesweepers and such). It also has about a dozen submarines — but ...

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So reports a British MP. The senior service now has 40 admirals, 260 captains -- but just 19 ships, he alleges. But checking around the web, I think what the MP meant was that Britannia has just 19 major surface combatants (not counting minesweepers and such). It also has about a dozen submarines -- but then, the British have always undervalued subs, haven't they?

At any rate, the MP's point is a good one. It appears that the RN could man an entire warship with surplus skippers. On the other hand, here's one blog's analysis that kind of knocks down the report. The blogger needs an editor -- he leads with ancillary observations, and only after much throat-clearing gets to his argument. But worth wading through the top to get to the core argument.

The newspaper report adds that the British Army has more generals (260) than it has main battle tanks (200). I wonder if it has more artillery officers than artillery pieces. Anyone know?

So reports a British MP. The senior service now has 40 admirals, 260 captains — but just 19 ships, he alleges. But checking around the web, I think what the MP meant was that Britannia has just 19 major surface combatants (not counting minesweepers and such). It also has about a dozen submarines — but then, the British have always undervalued subs, haven’t they?

At any rate, the MP’s point is a good one. It appears that the RN could man an entire warship with surplus skippers. On the other hand, here’s one blog’s analysis that kind of knocks down the report. The blogger needs an editor — he leads with ancillary observations, and only after much throat-clearing gets to his argument. But worth wading through the top to get to the core argument.

The newspaper report adds that the British Army has more generals (260) than it has main battle tanks (200). I wonder if it has more artillery officers than artillery pieces. Anyone know?

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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