From a retired Navy guy:
I was in the Navy from 1994 to 1999 and I can attest to everything that Mac Owens mentions. Doing more with less was, of course, everyone’s buzz word, but you would be absolutely amazed at the levels that this would reach. My ship, a Spruance Class Destroyer, had three gas turbine generators to run our engineering plant, and we were lucky if two (the minimum required) were working in the first four years I was onboard. The third was mostly used as spare parts. Because of reductions in force, our Captains (actually holding the rank of Commander) were so concerned about their advancement position that they would volunteer for every underway opportunity, and gave their junior officers no opportunity to learn for themselves. They would have to inform the captain of the smallest, most routine things (a ship within 3000 yards) and had no authority to make decisions. Our ship was the best in the squadron, performance-wise, but there was no pride because the captain only viewed it as a way to improve his chances for advancement. It was excellence by decree. I have never seen such a large group of broken men in my life. Turnover among our best and brightest was amazing. Among our E-5’s, two of the top three in 1999 (myself included) separated from the Navy at the end of their enlistments, and the numbers throughout were probably well over 50%. And I was in personnel, so I had it easy! I almost reenlisted after 9/11, and felt guilty for being out and not being able to serve when my country needed me (my wife and I were awaiting notification that a child had been placed with us from Korea), and I often wonder what it would be like to serve a Commander-in-Chief that I respected. What a novel concept.