The authorized officer strength for each service branch is the total number of officers authorized for that service at the end of each fiscal year; authorized grade strengths are the total number of authorized officers for grades O-4 or higher.
10 U.S. Code § 115: The United States Congress determines the end strength of active-duty personnel and the end strength of the Selected Reserve, as well as the maximum number of Reservists who can be on active-duty or full-time National Guard duty for various purposes. Fiscal year funding cannot be appropriated to the active duty and reserve component Armed Forces until Congress authorizes the end strengths for that fiscal year.
The SECDEF prescribes end-of-quarter and fiscal year end-strengths to Congress as part of the budget justification documents. The SECDEF may increase the end strength authorization by up to 3 percent for active-duty personnel, and up to 2 percent for active-duty personnel who are paid from funds for reserve personnel. The SECDEF may also increase the authorized number of Reserve/National Guard personnel who are called up for active-duty service by up to 10 percent for any fiscal year.
Each Service Secretary may increase the authorized active-duty end strength of the concerned service by up to 2 percent.
10 U.S. Code § 115a: Each year, the SECDEF submits to Congress a manpower requirement report that includes annual active-duty end strength, annual civilian personnel requirements, justification for major military force units, justification for medical missions, support positions and overseas positions, and estimates of active-duty officer requirements in each grade for the next five fiscal years.
10 U.S. Code § 521: At least once each year, the SECDEF must prescribe to Congress the total authorized active-duty strength of commissioned officers as of the end of the fiscal year for each of the armed forces. Service Secretaries may prescribe the end strength of any category of active-duty officers within the concerned service branch.
10 U.S. Code § 523: Contains tables listing the limitations to the distribution of active-duty officers in grades O4 through O6 for any given authorized officer strength in each of the services at the end of the fiscal year. Medical, dental, general, reserve officers, warrant officers, and officers of certain other special categories are excluded from these limitations. Whenever the number of officers in one of the grades is less than authorized, the difference may be applied to increase the number authorized in any lower grade.
10 U.S. Code § 525: The limits to the distribution of general and flag officer grades within each Armed Service component are as follows:
- O8: Up to 90
- O9 and O10: Up to 46
- O10: Up to 7
- Air Force
- O8: Up to 73
- O9 and O10: Up to 44
- O10: Up to 9
- O8: Up to 50
- O9 and O10: Up to 33
- O10: Up to 6
- Marine Corps
- O8: Up to 22
- O9 and O10: Up to 17
- O10: Up to 2
Appointment to O9 or O10 in excess of the limitations in one service may be offset by a reduction in the number of appointments in the equivalent grade of another. There may be no more than 15 such appointments for O9s and 5 for O10s. Officers on joint duty assignments (and in some other special circumstances) are excluded from above limitations.
10 U.S. Code § 526: The limits to the distribution of general and flag officer (GFO) grades within each Armed Service component are as follows:
- Army: 231
- Navy: 162
- Air Force: 198
- Marine Corps: 62
The SECDEF may designate up to 310 GFO positions that are joint duty assignments to be excluded by the above aforementioned. Of this group, up to 20 may be in the grade of O10, up to 68 may be in grades O9 or higher and up to 144 may be in the grade of O8.
The minimum number of general or flag officers serving in such a capacity for each military department as follows:
- Army: 85
- Navy: 61
- Air Force: 73
- Marine Corps: 21
The CJCS may designate up to 15 GFO positions in the unified and specified combatant commands and up to three GFO positions on the Joint Staff as positions to be held only by reserve component officers in a grade below O9. Each position shall be considered a joint duty assignment, and officers serving in those positions while on active duty do not count against GFO end strength limitations. Certain other officers are excluded from the limitations, including reserve GFOs on active duty for training or who are on orders for less than 180 days. Also excluded are reserve component GFOs on active duty for less than 365 days, not to exceed 10 percent of authorized reserve GFO strength for their service; and up to five reserve component GFOs on active duty for more than 365 days but less than three years and not in a joint duty assignment, unless authorized by the SECDEF.
10 U.S. Code § 527: In times of war or national emergency, the President may suspend the limitations on the number of officers in each grade.
10 U.S. Code § 10508: The SECDEF, in consultation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, shall determine manpower requirements of the National Guard Bureau.
10 U.S. Code § 12003: The authorized number of commissioned officers in active status for the Reserve components, other than officers on an active-duty list, is as follows:
- Army Reserve: 275,000
- Air Force Reserve: 200,000
- Navy Reserve: 150,000
- Marine Corps Reserve: 24,500
10 U.S. Code § 12004: The authorized strengths of Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps reserve GFOs are as follows:
- Army: 207
- Air Force: 157
- Navy: 48
- Marine Corps: 10
Adjutants general (AGs) or Assistant AGs, GFOs serving in the National Guard Bureau, officers counted under § 526, and those serving in a joint duty assignment (not to exceed 20 percent of the authorized strength) are not counted against authorized strength.
10 U.S. Code § 12005: The percentage of Reserve officers serving in active status as a percentage of the total authorized strength is limited in the following way:
|Grade||Army||Air Force||Navy||Marine Corps|
|O1 & O2||44%||47.6%||32.5%||35%|
10 U.S. Code § 12006: : In times of war or national emergency, the President may suspend the limitations on the number of officers in each grade.
10 U.S. Code § 12009: The authorized strength in any grade for any Army or Air Force component is increased to the minimum extent necessary to accommodate:
- Return to active duty of members on a temporary disability retired list.
- Appoint of a Chief of Engineers, Surgeon General, Judge Advocate General, or Chief of Chaplains in the Army.
- Promotion of officers on the reserve active status list (RASL) who are in the grades of O2 through O4 and who are on a selection list when they reach their maximum years of service in grade (5 years for O2 and 7 years for O3 and O4).
- General officers on the RASL and adjutant generals who cease to occupy positions commensurate with their grade.
- Officers selected for promotion while on the active-duty list and subsequently moved to the RASL.
10 U.S. Code § 12011: Contains tables listing the limitations to the distribution of Reserve Component officers serving on full-time reserve component duty in grades O4 to O6 for any given authorized officer strength in each of the reserve components at the end of the fiscal year. Whenever the number of officers in one of the grades is less than authorized, the difference may be applied to increase the number authorized in any lower grade. The SECDEF may increase the numbers by up to 5 percent.
DODI 1100.4: Congressionally mandated guidelines establish DOD manpower limits. Changes to manpower must be justified by defense requirements. The Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness is responsible for guiding and coordinating manpower management of the Armed Forces branches, while Service Secretaries are charged with the planning and execution of manpower policies.
DODI 1120.11: Active duty military personnel shall be counted as part of total service strength until separation, release from active duty, retirement, death, or loss from military control. Projection of Individuals manpower will be shown as the Military Services' best estimates of expected actual Individuals average strength at the end of each FY.
DODI 1205.18: Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) personnel will be counted against authorized Selected Reserve end strength as authorized by the Congress each year for their respective RC, against the authorized end strengths for RC members on active duty or full-time National Guard duty in support of the RC, and if applicable against authorizations for the grades of O4 through O6 in accordance with 10 US Code § 12011 and § 12012.
Air Force Policy
AFPD 36-21: The Chief of the Air Force Reserve executes end strength management, assignments, utilization, classification procedures, and develops joint officer management programs for Air Force Reserve personnel. 2.4. The Director, Air National Guard executes end strength management, assignments, utilization, classification procedures, and develops joint officer management programs for Air National Guard personnel. .
AFI 38-101: An Air Force program element code accounts for resources, to include end strength, needed to provide a specific capability. Military end strength includes Regular Air Force officers, enlisted, and United States Air Force Academy cadets, Air Force Reserve officers and enlisted, and ANG officers and enlisted. Air Force Reserve and ANG end strength is further identified in the Future Year Defense Program by resource identification code as drill officer, drill enlisted, and Active Guard and Reserve officer and enlisted. The Air Force Reserve also has individual mobilization augmentee officer and enlisted resource identifier codes. AF/A1MP allocates programmed manpower resources by program element code, resource identification code, and country state code to the commands directing implementation of approved programs. Major commands and equivalents translate these manpower resources into manpower authorizations by updating the unit manpower document.
AFPD 38-1: In collaboration with the Chief of Air Force Reserve (AF/RE) and the Director of the Air National Guard (NGB/CF), the Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel, and Services (AF/A1) responsibilities include developing, coordinating, and executing Total Force manpower policies and procedural guidance for defining, managing, programming, and budgeting of Air Force manpower requirements and end strength.
AR 135-156: Under the provisions of 10 US Code § 12002 the authorized strength of the Army National Guard is 600,000 and of the Army Reserve is 980,000. Under the provisions of 10 US Code § 12004, the authorized strength of the Army reserve component general officers in an active status is limited to 207. Of these, 115 are authorized to the U.S. Army Reserve and 92 are authorized to the Army National Guard.
Under the provisions of 10 US Code § 12007 the Secretary of the Army shall distribute the number of reserve commissioned officers, other than commissioned warrant officers, authorized in each commissioned grade between those assigned to reserve units organized to serve as units and those not assigned to such units. The Secretary shall distribute the number who are assigned to reserve units organized to serve as units among the units of each reserve component by prescribing appropriate tables of organization and tables of distribution.
AR 570-4: HQDA, MACOMs and heads of activities will ensure that assigned and authorized strengths for headquarters activities do not exceed established ceilings.
Manpower allocation by HQDA in the Program and Budget Guidance (PBG) distributes Army military and civilian manpower authorized spaces to major Army commands (MACOMs) and operating agencies for reallocation to subordinate echelons. The PBG Manpower Addendum updates this distribution three times a year and provides additional program and distribution guidance for manpower programming and program execution. MACOMs and agencies make sub-allocations of manpower to lower echelons. MACOM commanders are responsible for reporting the end of the fiscal year actual military strength by Army management structure code (AMSCO) and management decision package (MDEP) for their assigned TDA and MTOE units.
OPNAVINST 1000.16K: : End strength shall be managed to prevent erratic dips or spikes for any FY period.
SECNAV distributes officers among competitive categories. Since authorized officer strength limits the number of officers in the Navy each year, it affects the number of promotions that can be made.
Marine Corps Policy
The Authorized Strength Report (ASR) — viewable in Total Force Structure Management System (TFSMS) — is published twice a year by the Total Force Structure Division (TFSD).
Marine Corps Order (MCO) 5311.1E, Total Force Structure Process (2015): Order provides policy and procedural guidance on the Total Force Structure Process (TFSP). The Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration (DC, CD&I) is the TFSP owner and "defines the policy, procedures, roles, responsibilities, and integration points" for the TFSP. Per the order, DC, CD&I develops and maintains USMC force structure and establishes the optimal allocation of resources in accordance with the Commandant's priorities.
MCO 5320.12H, Precedence Levels for Manning and Staffing (with Admin Change 2) (2019): Establishes the policy for manning levels of Marine Corps units. Includes enlisted and officer manning precedence levels via the Authorized Strength Report (ASR) and reflects how many billets the Marine Corps can afford to buy.
MCO 1200.15C, MOS System Modification Process (2009): Establishes standard procedures to be followed by Service-Level agencies responsible for developing and managing manpower, training, and force structure requirements in making MOS system modifications and the coordinating actions necessary to update Tables of Organization (T/Os) and manpower and training management plans, documents, and automated systems.