Two practical examples of tooth-to-tail ratio in our military
Example one (1): Suppose the ratio is ten to one. That means if we have 5,000 trigger pullers on the ground somewhere, we have another 50,000 supporting them with beans, bullets, and bandaids. Getting their motor vehicles fuel is a good example. They don’t have to always be “in theater”, but certainly do exist somewhere.
Example two (2): When deploying a military unit, there is either the traditional method of three to one, that is 1/3 (including the support troops (tooth-to tail types) are deployed and “working”, 1/3 are in the home bastion manning and training to make them most capable when later deployed, and the last 1/3 are reequipping, remanning, and retraining, often after a previous deployment. The second method is to just send what we have, and hope that works out OK for any deployment the unit goes through, and for whatever length the deployment sorts out to be. This situation often occurs when we just don’t have enough to do the “1/3 method” in sufficient numbers.
Now keep in mind, deployed militaries have to sleep and eat, provide security, and go to the doctors, too. So at best, usually only 1/3 are available routinely for “work”. The other 2/3’s are sleeping, eating, providing security, or getting ready to go to work.