Having spent considerable time with officers from all services, I have noticed the following:
-- Marine officers seems to be the most selfless and pragmatic; they exemplify the can-do team player. They focus on getting the job done, are respectful, and will listen to you (whoever you are) if you ideas make sense. If I were choosing a team, I'd pick marines to be on it.
-- Air Force officers are the most civilianized. In fact, many of them come off as civilians who just happen to wear a blue suit. Like the Marines, they are easy to work with and tend not be full of themselves. They also tend to be more flexible and open to new thinking than the other services. In many was, the Army and AF are polar opposites.
-- The Army officers tend to be suprisingly intelligent. Many times, the Army officers are actually brighter than those from other services (something I didn't expect). On the flip side, they tend to be arrogant, very rank conscious, and rigid in their thinking. They will also never ask for help--this is (apparently) considered to be a badge of shame. Lastly, they will always give tons of responsibility to the Army guy to build them up--sometimes more than they can handle. If you are an AF officer in an Army-run org, you will always get the short end of the stick.
Navy -- Naval officers tend to be full of themselves and tough to work with. You always hear them use the term "naval officer" with reverence. They definitely consider themselves to be better than the other services. And they are better--at scheming. They are also able to produce surprisingly good results. In fact, it is kind of a paradox. Personally, I wouldn't give a wad of spit for some of the naval officers I've met. Yet, at the end of the day, you have to admit they do a heck of a job. Methinks it is because the Navy is better at skirt bureaucracy than the other services when it stands in the way of getting the job done. [This is the definitely not true of either the AF or Army].
These are pretty good insights and I largely agree. The Army believes that it has an edge when it comes to joint staff operations because of its training, experience, and broad view of combat operations. It views the other services as more narrowly and more technically focused. The Army, which can never fight on its own, believes that because of that fact, they can better forge the integrated joint force that today's battlefield requires.
As one of an older generation who has lots of opportunities to watch officers/noncommissioned officers/enlisted of all of the services in action in today's fight, I must say that I see lots of very capable and very motivated folks doing a great job. Much better at almost everything than was my generation.
I am a former Navy enlisted man. Naval officers are a bit pompous all right.
I think this has something to do with it. A captain of a destroyer for instance. A destroyer wages war in three dimensions, on the surface against other ships and shore installations, under the surface in anti-submarine warfare, and in the air, anti-aircraft.
The captain must be highly trained in three dimensional warfare, plus the normal operation of a ship, plus the command of all men aboard.
The Air Force is one dimensional, same with the Army, except for anti-aircraft units.
It is apples and oranges to compare the command of, say an Army company, and an equal number of men on a destroyer.
Not putting the other services down, nobody does the Air Force or Army's job better than they. Just offering a reason why Naval officers seem so, as you put it, "full of themselves and tough to work with.