Megan McArdle has a decent write-up about the Peacetime Military. It's not bad, and from the perspective of someone on the outside looking in, it's pretty damn good.
However, what's missing is the perspective of the inside looking out.
The Peacetime Military is generally a smaller military. Less spots to fill, and more people to fill them. Think the 90's, when we had scores of Company Grade officers getting forced out, or more often as not leaving after making Captain or Major once they see who's in charge and what their chances are.
So less positions, more people competing for those positions, and since this is peace-time, we can't really judge you on how effective you are in combat. We can only judge you based on your Evaluation Reports and track record in training.
Which means that the risk-averse politician rules the roost.
That was what I saw happen in the 90's. The boot-lickers, the ass-kissers, and the zero-defect-menality morons were the ones getting promoted. The commanders who demanded spit-polished boots in the field, because looking good was more important than actually doing your damn job kept getting promoted up, while the risk-takers, the guys who would possibly make a mistake but get up, dust themselves off and learn from it were either forced out or left of their own volition.
That means when the flying fecal matter impacts the rotating air-movment device, the people in charge, all up and down the chain, are the ass-kissing politicians who may or may not know what the hell to do once the lead starts to fly.
So how do you solve this? Hell if I know. This isn't just an American phenomenon, after all. Other than having actual war fighters in charge, people who understand combat and what it takes? And after a while, those people filter out. We went from 1975 to 1991 without any major mobilization. That's three quarters of a military career right there. The remainders from Viet Nam in Senior positions were mostly gone, and the folks taking their place hadn't really done any heavy fighting.
And think about how many flag officers Obama has gotten rid of lately. All that experience, gone. All that knowledge, gone. All that wisdom, gone. And in their place? People who aren't going to rock the boat, because you can ensure that to a completely political man like Obama, who has accomplished absolutely nothing on his own outside of politics, the political is all he cares about, especially in the people that he picks for leadership positions.
It's a lesson that will have to be learned repeatedly, over and over and over, until the Final Day. Politicians make lousy leaders, in all aspects of life. And the Peacetime Military gets taken over by politicians bit by bit, until the next war, when the politicians get weeded out for a short time.