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Combat Air Power: Assessment of Joint Close Support Requirements and Capabilities Is Needed (Chapter Report, 06/28/96, GAO/NSIAD-96-45).

GAO reviewed the military services' plans to upgrade their close support
weapons capabilities, focusing on the processes the Department of
Defense (DOD) uses to assess mission needs, capabilities, and
modernization proposals for the close support mission.

GAO found that: (1) over the next 6 years, the Army plans to spend
nearly $5.5 billion to develop and field more modern target acquisition
systems, the Marine Corps plans to spend $3.2 billion to remanufacture
AV-8B aircraft, and the Air Force plans to spend over $547 million to
upgrade its target acquisition and night operations capabilities; (2)
DOD has not determined the appropriate number and type of weapons needed
for the joint close support mission; (3) the services have taken actions
to enhance their close support capabilities without adequately
considering the capabilities of other weapons systems; (4) although DOD
instituted a joint warfighting capabilities assessment process in 1994,
a separate assessment of the close support mission has not yet been
made; and (5) without a comprehensive assessment of joint mission needs,
DOD cannot decide which modernization proposals should be funded.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-96-45
     TITLE:  Combat Air Power: Assessment of Joint Close Support 
             Requirements and Capabilities Is Needed
      DATE:  06/28/96
   SUBJECT:  Military procurement
             Air defense systems
             Advanced weapons systems
             Combat readiness
             Defense capabilities
             Helicopters
             Air warfare
             Tactical air forces
             Fighter aircraft
IDENTIFIER:  Apache Helicopter
             AH-64 Helicopter
             Multiple Launch Rocket System
             MLRS
             F/A-18 Aircraft
             AV-8B Aircraft
             F-16 Aircraft
             155mm Howitzer
             OH-58D Helicopter
             Kiowa Helicopter
             AH-1W Helicopter
             A-6E Aircraft
             Army Tactical Missile System
             Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared System for 
             Night Program
             Harrier Aircraft
             Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier Remanufacture Program
             Army Crusader System
             Longbow Apache Helicopter
             Army Advanced Field Artillery System
             Air Force F-16 Modernization Program
             Army AH-64 Apache Longbow Upgrade Program
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Report to Congressional Committees

June 1996

COMBAT AIR POWER - ASSESSMENT OF
JOINT CLOSE SUPPORT REQUIREMENTS
AND CAPABILITIES IS NEEDED

GAO/NSIAD-96-45

Combat Air Power

(701013)


Abbreviations
=============================================================== ABBREV

  ATACMS - Army Tactical Missile System
  ATHS - Automated Target Hand-off System
  CAS - Close Air Support
  DOD - Department of Defense
  GAO - General Accounting Office
  IDM - improved data modem
  JROC - Joint Requirements Oversight Council
  JWCA - Joint Warfighting Capabilities Assessment
  LANTIRN - Low-Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infra-Red for Night
  MDAP - Major Defense Acquisition Program
  MLRS - Multiple Launch Rocket System
  PPBS - Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System
  R&D - research and development
  RDT&E - research, development, test, and evaluation

Letter
=============================================================== LETTER


B-262230

June 28, 1996

Congressional Committees

Over the next 6 years, the military services plan to spend more than
$10.5 billion on aircraft and other weapons to improve their
formidable existing close support capabilities.  These plans,
however, come at a time of reduced defense budgets, force structure
reductions, and questions about the affordability of future defense
modernization programs. 

This report (1) discusses the aggregate capabilities of the military
services to provide close support and the extent to which those
capabilities continue to be modernized and enhanced and (2) evaluates
the processes the Department of Defense (DOD) uses to assess mission
needs, capabilities, and modernization proposals for the close
support mission.  This report contains a recommendation to the
Secretary of Defense that could improve DOD's requirements generation
process. 

This review was part of our broader effort to assess how DOD can
better adapt its combat air power to meet future needs.  We are
addressing this report to you because of your responsibilities for
the issues discussed and your interest in the subject. 

Richard Davis
Director, National Security
 Analysis

List of Congressional Committees

The Honorable Strom Thurmond
Chairman
The Honorable Sam Nunn
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Armed Services
United States Senate

The Honorable Ted Stevens
Chairman
The Honorable Daniel K.  Inouye
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate

The Honorable Floyd Spence
Chairman
The Honorable Ronald V.  Dellums
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on National Security
House of Representatives

The Honorable C.W.  Bill Young
Chairman
The Honorable John P.  Murtha
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on National Security
Committee on Appropriations
House of Representatives



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
============================================================ Chapter 0


   PURPOSE
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:1

Close support weapons fire on targets close to U.S.  ground forces
and, as a result, are likely to influence the outcome of a battle. 
The military services have significantly improved the capability of
their close support weapons since the 1980s and plan to spend more
than $10.6 billion on further improvements between fiscal years 1996
and 2001.  These plans however, come at a time of reduced defense
budgets, defense downsizing, and questions about the affordability of
future defense modernization programs.  This report (1) discusses the
aggregate capabilities of the military services to provide close
support and the extent to which those capabilities continue to be
modernized and enhanced; and (2) evaluates the processes the
Department of Defense (DOD) uses to assess mission needs,
capabilities, and modernization proposals for the close support
mission.  This review was part of GAO's broader effort to assess how
DOD can better adapt its combat air power to meet future needs. 


   BACKGROUND
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2

The services have developed a large number of weapons that can be
used for close support.  Some were developed specifically for the
close fire mission, while others were developed as multi-role weapons
that can also perform interdiction, reconnaissance, or
air-superiority missions.  Systems that can provide close support
include Army and Marine Corps cannon and rocket artillery and attack
helicopters; Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force fixed-wing aircraft;
and naval guns on surface ships.  These systems can be used against a
variety of close support targets, such as enemy troops; tanks and
other fighting vehicles; artillery; fortifications; command, control,
and communications systems; air defenses; and tactical logistical
support units. 

Close support is needed in a broad range of combat situations. 
Therefore, the close support system of choice will vary based on the
specific mission at hand, threat environment, time of day, weather
conditions, and proximity to forces needing support.  Artillery can
be fired at night and in all weather conditions.  Attack helicopters
can attack targets beyond the reach of close support artillery. 
Fixed-wing aircraft have greater speed and range than attack
helicopters and can fly at high altitudes to avoid air defense
systems.  The effectiveness of each system also varies against
specific types of targets. 

In addition to the wide range of circumstances in which close support
may be needed, several other factors account for the extent of close
support capability in the force.  First, title 10 U.S.C.  and DOD
Directive 5100.1 spell out the broad missions for each of the
services.  To carry out these missions, each service acquires some
organic close support capability independent of the other services. 
For example, the Army acquires artillery and attack helicopters not
solely on the basis of its close support mission but also on the
basis of its broader responsibility "to defeat enemy land forces."
Second, under DOD's assignment of functions to the individual
services, all four services have a primary responsibility for
conducting close air support (CAS)--the fixed- and rotary-wing air
component of close support.  Third, some systems used for close
support missions have been assigned multiple roles and therefore have
not been developed solely on the basis of close support requirements. 
Finally, because close support needs may arise unexpectedly, each
service seeks a certain degree of independence in its capabilities
since there is no assurance that other services' weapons can be made
available to respond in time. 


   RESULTS IN BRIEF
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3

Collectively, the services' current mix of weapon systems constitutes
a formidable joint close support capability.  Nevertheless, the
services plan to invest more than $10.6 billion over the next 6 years
in weapons upgrades and enhancements to further add to this
capability.  Whether these investments represent the most
appropriate, cost-effective mix of weapon systems to meet close
support missions is unclear because each military service has
continued to propose enhancements to its capabilities without
adequate consideration of the capabilities of its other weapons or
those of other services. 

DOD's current assessment processes do not yield the information that
the Secretary of Defense needs to weigh the merits of
service-generated weapons acquisition and modernization proposals for
the close support mission.  The services generate their proposals
from a service rather than joint perspective and frequently consider
only weapons in the same general category in seeking potential
solutions to identified deficiencies. 

Nor do the Department's assessment processes enable the Chairman,
Joint Chiefs of Staff, to provide effective military advice to the
Secretary of Defense on the services acquisition and modernization
proposals for close support.  The Joint Requirements Oversight
Council (JROC) has only assessed modernization proposals involving
major weapon systems rather than the full range of weapons used for
close support.  Moreover, its assessments have been heavily
influenced by service-generated analysis.  Although a joint
warfighting capabilities assessment (JWCA) process was instituted in
1994 to support the JROC in its recommendations to the Chairman, a
separate assessment of the close support mission has not yet been
made.  Without a comprehensive assessment of joint mission needs and
existing capabilities for close support, the Chairman cannot provide
the independent military advice the Secretary needs in deciding which
systems should be funded, in what quantities they should be procured,
and what priority should be assigned to competing proposals. 


   PRINCIPAL FINDINGS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4


      SERVICES PLAN TO FURTHER
      IMPROVE THEIR CLOSE SUPPORT
      CAPABILITIES
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.1

Since the mid-1980s, the Army has increased its close support
capabilities by adding the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter and the
Multiple Launch Rocket System to its inventory.  The Apache can
locate and engage targets from long distances at night, and the MLRS
can fire 12 rockets nearly simultaneously at targets up to about 32
kilometers.  The Navy and Marine Corps have added improved targeting
capabilities on F/A-18 and AV-8B aircraft, making a portion of these
aircraft capable of navigating and identifying targets at night.  The
Air Force has added limited night capability to the A/OA-10 and has
designated some F-16 aircraft to provide CAS.  Some of these aircraft
are equipped to navigate and engage targets at night. 

Over the next 6 years, the Army plans to spend nearly $5.5 billion to
develop and field more modern artillery, aviation, and target
acquisition systems.  Over the same period, the Marine Corps plans to
spend about $3.2 billion to remanufacture AV-8B aircraft, install
night targeting capability on AH-1W Supercobra attack helicopter, and
develop a lightweight towed 155-millimeter howitzer.  The Air Force
plans to spend over $547 million to upgrade the target acquisition
and night operations capabilities of about 620 fixed-wing aircraft
for CAS.  While some of these upgrades may also enhance capabilities
in other mission areas, some, such as the upgrades to the Air Force
A/OA-10s, are designed specifically to improve close support
capabilities. 


      A COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT
      OF JOINT CLOSE SUPPORT
      MISSION NEEDS AND EXISTING
      CAPABILITIES IS NEEDED
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.2

DOD has not determined the appropriate number and type of weapons it
needs for the joint close support mission.  The lack of an overall
assessment of joint close support mission needs and existing
capabilities has allowed the services to individually improve their
close support capabilities without adequately considering the
potential contributions of their other weapons or those of other
services.  In May 1994, the Air Force decided to modify its A/OA-10
and some F-16 aircraft rather than procure a new aircraft solely for
CAS.  However, it made this decision without considering whether
attack helicopters and artillery could satisfy some or most of the
CAS requirement.  In its submission to the Commission on Roles and
Missions of the Armed Forces, the Army acknowledged that the added
firepower of rockets, artillery, and attack helicopters had
"substantially reduced the need for fixed wing fire support."
Improvements to artillery and attack helicopters now permit the Army
to engage targets that could formerly only be attacked by fixed-wing
aircraft. 

In May 1995, the Commission on Roles and Missions of the Armed Forces
noted that the current requirements determination and acquisition
system has resulted in individual services prematurely endorsing new
weapon systems without looking at other alternatives.  Although DOD's
acquisition system calls for the JROC to provide assessments to the
Secretary on major modernization programs, 9 of 12 modernization
programs proposed for close support were not assessed because they
are not considered major acquisitions.  The JROC recently expanded
its review process to include some non-major systems. 

In 1994, the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, established the JWCA
process to provide insight into issues involving joint warfighting
requirements and plans for recapitalization for selected joint
missions areas.  These assessment were expected to support the JROC
in developing its recommendations on joint requirements to the
Chairman.  JWCA working group members are drawn from the Office of
the Secretary of Defense, the military services, and regional
combatant command staffs. 

Under the JWCA process, assessment of joint close support needs and
capabilities was initially split between the ground maneuver and
joint strike assessment working groups, with the ground maneuver
working group responsible for integrating the results of the two
assessments.  However, according to joint staff officials, this
latter group encountered difficulties in organizing its effort and
after more than a year it was re-chartered before making any
recommendations.  Renamed the Land and Littoral Warfare JWCA, the
working group is expected to include assessment of joint close
support mission needs and capabilities. 

While the anticipated assessment could improve the information
available to the Secretary of Defense to weigh acquisition and
modernization proposals for close support, questions remain over how
the working group will interpret the scope of its work.  For example,
it is unclear what priority the working group will give to the close
support assessment and whether the assessment will include the full
range of weapon systems that can be used for this mission.  It is
also unclear whether the working group will address the question of
sufficiency--the mix and quantity of systems that are needed for the
overall close support mission.  Moreover, it is unclear how the
working group intends to overcome the problem of being too heavily
dependent upon service-generated analysis. 


   RECOMMENDATION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:5

To assist the Secretary of Defense in determining whether and which
proposed enhancements to close support systems should be funded, and
in what quantities and priority, GAO recommends that comprehensive
cross-service assessments of overall joint close support mission
needs, existing close support systems, and planned enhancements be
made on a routine basis.  Such assessments might be made within the
context of the JWCA process although alternative mechanisms might be
explored. 

To be useful to decisionmakers, these assessments should include a
determination of which existing capabilities should be retained,
modernized, or retired and in what quantities to ensure full joint
capability.  They should be broad enough to encompass all close
support capabilities--not just major weapon systems--and
service-generated analysis should be supplemented by other analytical
support, where independence is critical.  Because some systems have
multiple roles, the assessments need to recognize the contributions
of these systems to these other missions. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:6

DOD said that it partially concurred with GAO's recommendation.  DOD
also said that, as part of the JWCA process, it was currently
assessing the requirements and capabilities needed to win the close
battle and that it would assess current and future weapons necessary
for each service for the close battle during a future phase of its
deep attack weapons mix study. 


INTRODUCTION
============================================================ Chapter 1

As the experiences in Panama, the Persian Gulf War, and Somalia have
illustrated, U.S.  military forces can quickly be exposed to the
dangers of close combat.  To be successful, U.S.  ground troops
engaged in close combat with enemy forces need capable close
support--firepower against hostile targets that present an immediate
and serious threat to U.S.  ground forces operating close to enemy
forces.  In executing close support, the actions of supporting and
supported forces must be closely coordinated and integrated to avoid
fratricide. 

Close support is delivered primarily by mortars, artillery,
fixed-wing aircraft, attack helicopters, and naval guns.  CAS--the
air component of close support--is provided by Army, Navy, Marine
Corps, and Air Force fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.  Close
support targets generally include enemy troops, tanks, fighting
vehicles, fortifications, mortars, and artillery; they may also
include enemy command, control, and communications systems; air
defenses; and tactical logistical support units. 


   SERVICES HAVE DEVELOPED DIVERSE
   CLOSE SUPPORT SYSTEMS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:1

The services operate a large number and variety of close support
systems capable of engaging similar targets, including five types of
artillery, four types of attack helicopters, five types of fixed-wing
aircraft, and 5-inch naval guns on cruisers and destroyers.  One
aircraft was developed specifically for the close support mission,
while others are considered multi-role assets that can also be used
for other missions, such as interdiction, reconnaissance, or air
superiority.  The effectiveness of the individual weapons depends in
part on their specific capabilities and the availability of target
acquisition; command, control, communications and intelligence
systems; and logistical support. 

According to DOD officials, the systems that have been developed
provide the services with complementary capabilities that provide
flexibility to joint force commanders.  Several factors account for
the growth of close support systems across the services.  First,
title 10 U.S.C.  and DOD Directive 5100.1 spell out the broad
missions for each of the services.  To carry out these missions, each
service acquires some organic close support capability independent of
the other services.  For example, the Army acquires artillery and
attack helicopters not solely on the basis on its close support
missions but also on the basis of its broader responsibility "to
defeat enemy land forces." Second, under DOD's assignment of
functions to the individual services, all four services have a
primary responsibility for conducting CAS.\1 Third, some systems used
for close support missions can perform multiple roles and therefore
have not been developed solely on the basis of close support
requirements.  Fourth, changes in equipment and doctrine, such as the
development and use of Army attack helicopters as maneuver units,
have greatly altered the complexity and scope of warfighting
operations, including close support.  Finally, because the need for
close support may arise unexpectedly, each service seeks a certain
degree of independence in its close support systems since there is no
assurance that other services' weapons can be made available to
respond in time. 

Table 1.1 shows the inventory of service assets that can be used for
close support missions that existed in fiscal years 1990 and 1994 and
the inventory projected for fiscal year 2001.  Some of the assets
shown also perform other missions such as interdiction,
reconnaissance, or air superiority in addition to providing close air
support. 



                               Table 1.1
                
                  Inventory of Systems Used to Provide
                             Close Support


                                                    FY      FY      FY
System                  Service                   1990    1994  2001\a
----------------------  ----------------------  ------  ------  ------
105 mm towed howitzers  Army/USMC                  774    522\    450\
155 mm towed howitzers  Army/USMC                1,171     894     822
155 mm self-propelled   Army/USMC                1,932  1,884\  1,684\
                                                             b       b
8 inch self-propelled   Army/USMC                1,134   624\b       0
MLRS launchers          Army                       279     459     726
======================================================================
Total artillery                                  5,290   4,383   3,682
AH-1J/T/W               USMC                       118     170   169\c
AH-1F/S Cobra           Army                     1,034     677     379
AH-64 Apache            Army                       602     738     758
OH-58D Kiowa Warrior    Army                         0     175     546
======================================================================
Total attack                                     1,754   1,760   1,852
 helicopters
F/A-18                  Navy/USMC                  332   1,165   1,017
A-6E                    Navy/USMC                  337     181       0
AV-8B                   USMC                       169     200     174
F-16\d                  Air Force                1,613     741     825
A/OA-10                 Air Force                  639     381     366
======================================================================
Total fixed-wing                                 3,090   2,668   2,382
 aircraft
----------------------------------------------------------------------
\a These figures are DOD projections. 

\b The Marine Corps no longer maintains self-propelled howitzers. 

\c These are AH-1W Supercobra models. 

\d The Air Force considers all F-16s CAS-capable, and a majority of
F-16 units have CAS as one of several assigned missions. 

Close support is needed in a broad range of combat situations. 
Therefore, the system of choice will vary based on the specific
mission at hand, threat environment, time of day, weather conditions,
and proximity to forces needing support.  The strengths and
limitations of the various categories of systems are described below. 


--------------------
\1 Prior to 1993, the Army had not been assigned CAS as a primary
responsibility. 


      ARTILLERY
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:1.1

Artillery is used to provide close support for maneuver forces;
counterfire to attack enemy artillery, mortars, and air defense
systems; and interdiction fire to disrupt, delay, and destroy enemy
forces that are not yet in contact with friendly forces.  Artillery
can be fired at night and under all weather conditions.  The Army
operates 105-millimeter towed, 155-millimeter towed and
self-propelled, and 8-inch self-propelled howitzers and the Multiple
Launch Rocket System (MLRS), a mobile rocket artillery system capable
of firing 12 rockets that carry various munitions.  The Army plans to
retire its 8-inch howitzers in the near future.  The Marine Corps
uses the 155-millimeter towed howitzer for all combat missions.  The
maximum effective range of artillery is between 14.9 kilometers for
105-millimeter and 30 kilometers for 155-millimeter howitzers with
rocket-assisted projectiles, and 32 kilometers for the MLRS. 
According to some Army and Marine Corps ground force commanders,
artillery is a reliable and responsive close support weapon system. 


      ATTACK HELICOPTERS
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:1.2

Attack helicopters can destroy tanks and other armored vehicles with
precision-guided missiles.  They can also engage and suppress enemy
troops and artillery with rockets and cannon fire.  A majority of
Army and Marine Corps attack helicopters can identify and engage
targets at night, but their capabilities are limited by adverse
weather.  Attack helicopters can (1) be based near ground forces; (2)
loiter and be refueled and rearmed close to the area of close combat;
(3) be used to identify targets and control the fires of other CAS
aircraft, mortars, and artillery; and (4) engage targets well beyond
the range of artillery.  In the Persian Gulf War, Army attack
helicopters successfully conducted combat operations up to 315
nautical miles behind enemy lines.  The Army currently operates three
types of attack helicopters--the AH-1F/S Cobra, AH-64 Apache, and
OH-58D Kiowa Warrior--and the Marine Corps operates AH-1W
Supercobras.  The helicopters can be used for fire support or as
maneuver units.  Their effectiveness can be limited by adverse
weather, air defenses, and the inability to deliver heavy bombs. 


      FIXED-WING AIRCRAFT
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:1.3

Fixed-wing aircraft are able to engage a variety of close support
targets depending on the ordnance they carry.  However, because these
aircraft can carry heavier weapons, they are most appropriately used
against hardened targets.  Fixed-wing aircraft have greater speed and
range than attack helicopters and can fly at high altitudes to avoid
air defense threats.  However, they have more difficulty in
identifying and acquiring targets and providing accurate strikes from
higher altitudes.  Currently, only about 60 percent of fixed-wing
aircraft used by the services for CAS are able to operate at night. 
Fixed-wing aircraft effectiveness can also be limited by adverse
weather. 

The services currently use several aircraft to perform CAS--Air Force
A/OA-10s and F-16s, Navy F/A-18s and A-6Es, and Marine Corps F/A-18s
and AV-8Bs.  Of these aircraft, only the A/OA-10 was designed
specifically for CAS functions.  Some of these aircraft are also
capable of carrying out interdiction, reconnaissance, and air
superiority missions. 


      NAVAL GUNS
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:1.4

The Navy currently operates 5-inch, 54-caliber guns on cruisers and
destroyers for ship self-defense and ship-to-shore fire support of
Army and Marine Corps ground forces.  These guns, like artillery, are
able to fire at night and in all weather.  Accuracy of naval gunfire
is difficult to control because of the movement of ships in the water
and the wide dispersion of unguided 5-inch projectiles at extended
ranges.  Consequently, according to Navy and Marine Corps officials,
naval gunfire must be used judiciously to avoid fratricide.  The
Navy's current 5-inch guns can engage targets to a maximum range of
about 13 nautical miles. 


   OBJECTIVES, SCOPE, AND
   METHODOLOGY
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:2

This report (1) discusses the aggregate capabilities of the military
services to provide close support and the extent to which those
capabilities continue to be modernized and enhanced and (2) evaluates
the processes the Department of Defense (DOD) uses to assess mission
needs, capabilities, and modernization proposals for the close
support mission.  Although ground forces can use a number of
direct-fire weapons systems for close support, such as tank guns,
machine guns, and missiles, we focused our review on the primary
weapons used for close support:  artillery, attack helicopters,
fixed-wing aircraft, and naval guns. 

We reviewed DOD's and the services' requirements generation process
and our previous reports on the acquisition process.  We obtained
information from the Joint Staff on the development of the JWCA
process.  We also determined the number of close support
modernization programs that had been reviewed by the JROC and
obtained documents from the council pertaining to these programs. 

To assess the capabilities and characteristics of existing close
support systems, we reviewed technical manuals, doctrinal
publications, and service documents and held discussions with users
in operational units.  We discussed capabilities, force structure,
and operational issues with officials in the Office of the Secretary
of Defense, the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, the Offices
of the Army and Air Force Chiefs of Staff, and Marine Corps
Headquarters located in Washington, D.C.  We also reviewed service
and joint close support doctrine with officials from the Air Force's
Air Combat Command, the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, and the
Air Land Sea Applications Center in Hampton, Virginia; the Naval
Doctrine Commander, Norfolk, Virginia; and the Marine Corps' Combat
Development Command in Quantico, Virginia. 

To gain an understanding of how operational units plan for and use
close support, we observed (1) a Marine Corps fire support exercise
at the Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California; (2)
Navy close air support training at the Naval Strike Warfare Center,
Fallon, Nevada; and, (3) Air Force CAS and Army fire support training
at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana; and, at
the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California.  We interviewed
additional personnel including officials of the 18th Air Support
Group at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, and its detachment at
Fort Polk and the 57th Air Wing at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and
its detachment at Fort Irwin.  Representatives of the U.S.  Army
Field Artillery Center, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, provided us with
documentation on the use and employment of field artillery and
supporting systems. 

Active Army and Marine Corps infantry, artillery, and aviation units
provided operational perspectives on the performance and use of close
support, deficiencies and requirements, and training.  We visited the
headquarters and units of the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division, Fort
Stewart, Georgia; III Corps Artillery, Fort Sill, Oklahoma; XVIIIth
Airborne Corps and 82d Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina;
101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky; 2nd Marine
Expeditionary Force and 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North
Carolina; and the 2nd Marine Air Wing at Marine Corps Air Stations,
at Cherry Point and New River, North Carolina. 

To obtain the perspectives of unified commanders, we interviewed
officials from the staff of the Commander in Chief, U.S.  Central
Command, and Commander in Chief, U.S.  Special Operations Command,
MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Florida.  We also received written
comments regarding close support from the staff of the Commander in
Chief, U.S.Pacific Command, and the staff of the Commander in Chief,
U.S.  Forces, Korea. 

In reviewing some of DOD's planned modernization programs, we
developed information and issued separate reports on the Navy's plan
to upgrade guns on surface ships for the naval surface fire support
mission and on the Army and Marine Corps plan to develop a
lightweight 155-millimeter howitzer.  These and our other recent
reports on weapon systems used for close support are listed on the
last page of this report.  This list also includes references to two
earlier reports that discuss DOD's weapons acquisition process. 

We performed our review between June 1993 and October 1995 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 


SERVICES PLAN TO FURTHER IMPROVE
THEIR CLOSE SUPPORT CAPABILITIES
============================================================ Chapter 2

Collectively, the services' current mix of weapon systems constitutes
a formidable joint close support capability.  Since the early 1980s,
the services have significantly improved their close support
capabilities, and, between fiscal years 1996 and 2001, plan to spend
more than $10.6 billion to further improve existing capabilities.  Of
that amount, almost $5.5 billion will be used to upgrade AH-64 Apache
helicopters, radars, and fire support vehicles, and to develop the
Crusader 155-millimeter field artillery system.  Other improvements
include upgrades to Air Force A/OA-10s and some F-16s for the CAS
role, installing night targeting systems on Marine Corps AH-1W
Supercobra attack helicopters, and remanufacturing Marine Corps AV-8B
with improved capability to identify and acquire targets, especially
at night. 

During this period, the Army fielded the Apache attack helicopter,
MLRS, and Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).  It also improved
fire control systems for these weapons.  The Navy improved the night
navigation and attack capabilities of its F/A-18 aircraft.  The
Marine Corps made improvements in the night attack capabilities of
some AV-8B aircraft and began using the M-198 155-millimeter
howitzer.  The Air Force retained the A/OA-10 for CAS and equipped
some F-16 aircraft with navigation and targeting systems to perform
CAS at night. 


   SOME CLOSE SUPPORT CAPABILITIES
   HAVE IMPROVED SIGNIFICANTLY
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:1

Some close support capabilities have improved significantly since the
1980s.  In the mid-1980s, the Army began fielding the AH-64 Apache
attack helicopter.  The Apache is able to fire laser-guided Hellfire
missiles against armored targets at long ranges, carries a
30-millimeter cannon, and can locate and engage targets at night. 

In 1983, the Army began fielding the MLRS primarily to destroy enemy
artillery and rocket launchers.  In 1990, the Army began fielding
ATACMS, a long-range precision-guided missile fired from MLRS
launchers.  The range of ATACMS is triple that of conventional MLRS
rockets and cannon artillery.  Even though ATACMS is not used
specifically for close support, it provides the Army with the
capability of destroying targets that could ultimately influence the
close battle.  Each MLRS launcher can fire two ATACMS.  In 1993 the
Army began fielding its M109A6 155-millimeter Paladin self-propelled
howitzer.  The Paladin is a major modification of existing M109A2/3
howitzers, which the Army fielded in the 1970s.  Unlike other
self-propelled howitzers, the Paladin is equipped with a fire control
system that allows each howitzer to locate and orient itself, making
it more effective than unmodified and older self-propelled or towed
howitzers.  The Army plans to field approximately 890 Paladin systems
by the end of fiscal year 2000. 

The ability of the Air Force to provide CAS has also improved over
the past decade.  Even though the Air Force lost longer range CAS
aircraft by retiring the A-7s in the early 1990s, it now employs
A/OA-10s and multi-role F-16s for CAS.  The A/OA-10, specifically
designed for CAS, is able to carry a large amount of ordnance, can
loiter in the battle area for up to 1.7 hours, and was designed to
survive light air defenses at low altitudes.  F-16s have greater
speed and are able to engage targets from higher altitudes than
either A/OA-10 or A-7 aircraft.  In addition, some F-16s are equipped
with Low-Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infra-Red for Night
(LANTIRN) systems, which allow F-16 pilots to navigate and identify
targets at night. 

The Marine Corps has also improved its close support capabilities. 
It reduced its artillery force structure by nearly 50 percent since
1988 by retiring its 155-millimeter and 8-inch self-propelled
howitzers that had been used for general support, and the
105-millimeter towed howitzers that had been its primary direct
support weapon.  The Marines now use the M-198 155-millimeter towed
howitzer for both direct and general support.  The M-198 provides
more range and lethality than 105-millimeter howitzers and is easier
to transport than the self-propelled howitzers it replaced.  The
Marine Corps also upgraded its AV-8B Harrier aircraft used primarily
for CAS.  The AV-8B is capable of vertical/short takeoff and landings
and can perform CAS, interdiction, and air-to-air operations.  In the
early 1990s, the Marine Corps installed night capability on 66 of the
day-attack version of the AV-8Bs and installed both night capability
and an air-to-ground radar on an additional 28 day-attack aircraft. 
The Marine Corps is remanufacturing 72 day-attack aircraft into
radar/night attack aircraft.  The final projected inventory includes
36 day-attack, 56 night-attack, and 99 radar/night-attack aircraft. 

The Navy has improved close support capabilities by installing
navigation and targeting forward-looking infrared pods on F/A-18s. 
These pods will enable it to locate and engage targets at night. 


   SERVICES PLAN EXTENSIVE
   MODERNIZATION OF CLOSE SUPPORT
   CAPABILITIES
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:2

Between fiscal years 1996 and 2001, the services plan to spend more
than $10.6 billion to improve a number of weapons systems that can be
used for close support.  Some of these weapons can also be used for
other combat missions, such as interdiction, reconnaissance, and air
superiority.  Table 2.1 shows the specific modernization plans and
projected costs. 



                               Table 2.1
                
                 Service Plans and Projected Costs for
                Modernizing Close Support Capabilities,
                         Fiscal Years 1996-2001

                         (Dollars in millions)

                                                   Procuremen
Modernization plans  Service                  R&D           t    Total
-------------------  --------------------  ------  ----------  -------
AV-8B                Marine Corps            92.8     2,191.8  2,284.6
 Remanufacture\d
250 F-16 Block 40    Air Force               80.3       189.7    270.0
 CAS upgrades
373 A/OA-10 CAS      Air Force               52.1       225.1    277.2
 upgrades
AH-1W                Marine Corps           529.0       215.0    744.0
 Modification\a
AH-64D Longbow\d     Army                    28.9     3,148.7  3,177.6
Lightweight 155-     Army and               126.2        99.8    226.0
 millimeter           Marine Corps
 howitzer\d
Crusader Field       Army                  1,977.          \b  1,977.5
 Artillery System\d                             5
Upgrades to          Army                    71.0       125.4    196.4
 counterbattery
 radars
Bradley fire         Army                    55.2        85.0    140.2
 support team
 vehicle
Fielding of M109A6   Army                               349.7    349.7
 Paladin howitzer\d
Upgrades to MLRS\c   Army                   116.5       704.7    821.2
Naval surface fire   Navy                   204.2          \b    204.2
 support\d
======================================================================
Total                                      3,333.     7,334.9  10,668.
                                                7                    6
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Source:  Our analysis of service data. 

\a Includes service life extension program for 75 percent of existing
force. 

\b Procurement will not commence until after fiscal year 2001. 

\c These upgrades include an extended range rocket. 

\d GAO reports on these systems are listed on the last page of this
report. 

The Army is in the process of modifying AH-64 Apaches with several
systems, including a Longbow millimeter wave radar and a
radio-frequency Hellfire missile.  The millimeter-wave radar is able
to detect, classify, and prioritize stationary and mobile targets, a
capability that the current Apache radar does not have.  The Army
believes that the Longbow Apache will significantly increase its
attack helicopter capabilities.  It plans to begin fielding the
Longbow Apache in fiscal year 1997.  The radio-frequency Hellfire is
a version of the existing missile that incorporates a seeker for
locking onto targets.  It will provide pilots with a capability to
fire self-guiding missiles at targets at longer ranges than the
current missile. 

Another development that will improve the Army's capability to
perform close support in the future is the Crusader, a self-propelled
155-millimeter field artillery system that is intended to achieve
ranges of up to 50 kilometers--20 kilometers more than the current
family of 155-millimeter self-propelled artillery.  In addition, the
Army expects Crusader to be more mobile, lethal, and accurate than
existing howitzers.  The Army plans to field Crusader in fiscal year
2005. 

Other planned Army improvements include (1) upgrading the fire
support team vehicle used to carry personnel responsible for
coordinating artillery fire and CAS for infantry units to a Bradley
chassis, (2) upgrading MLRS launchers to improve response time and
developing an extended range MLRS rocket that can hit targets up to
50 kilometers, and (3) upgrading counterbattery radars used to detect
the location of enemy artillery. 

The Air Force plans to improve its fixed-wing CAS capabilities, by
providing, among other things, night capability and a digital
data-burst communications system, known as the improved data modem
(IDM), to its A/OA-10 aircraft.  IDM will allow CAS pilots to receive
more accurate and timely targeting information from ground-based and
airborne forward air controllers who are responsible for controlling
CAS strikes.  In addition, the Air Force plans to upgrade 250 F-16
Block-40 aircraft with an improved data modem, night vision goggles,
compatible cockpit lighting, and modified LANTIRN navigation and
targeting pods. 

The Navy is continuing to improve its F/A-18s.  It is in the process
of installing a more capable radar on F/A-18Cs and plans to
incorporate the radar on F/A-18E/F models.  The Navy is also planning
to improve its ability to provide naval surface fire support from
surface ships. 

The Marine Corps is in the process of upgrading its AH-1W Supercobra
attack helicopter for night capability as part of a three-phased
upgrade program.  The night targeting system includes a targeting
forward looking infra-red system and a laser-designator rangefinder
that will enable pilots to employ precision-guided munitions, such as
Hellfire missiles, and designate targets for other close support
systems.  The Marine Corps process of remanufacturing day-attack
AV-8B aircraft to radar/night-attack aircraft will improve their
ability to identify and acquire targets at night.  In addition, the
Marine Corps has finished developmental testing of the Automated
Target Hand-off System (ATHS), which is expected to become available
in January 1997.  ATHS is similar to the Air Force's IDM and will
allow ground-based and airborne forward air controllers to send
targeting information digitally to CAS pilots. 


A COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF
JOINT CLOSE SUPPORT MISSION NEEDS
AND EXISTING CAPABILITIES IS
NEEDED
============================================================ Chapter 3

DOD's current assessment processes do not yield the information that
the Secretary of Defense needs to weigh the merits of
service-generated weapons acquisition and modernization proposals for
the close support mission.  The services generate their proposals
from a service rather than joint perspective and frequently consider
only weapons in the same general category in seeking potential
solutions to identified deficiencies.  Nor do the Department's
assessment processes enable the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, to
provide effective military advice to the Secretary of Defense on the
services acquisition and modernization proposals for close support. 
Unless comprehensive assessments of joint mission needs and existing
capabilities for close support are conducted on a routine basis, the
Chairman cannot provide the strong independent military advice the
Secretary needs in deciding which service proposals should be funded,
in what quantities they should be procured, and what priority should
be assigned to competing proposals. 


   OTHER SERVICES' CAPABILITIES
   HAVE NOT BEEN ADEQUATELY
   CONSIDERED
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:1

Proposals to acquire and modernize close support weapons have not
been based on a comprehensive assessment of joint close support
requirements and capabilities.  Instead, the services have advanced
proposals based on their authority to organize, train, and equip for
their broad roles and functions.  Based on this perspective, the
services have focused on unique mission needs or unique weapons
system capabilities. 

Within any single service, competition among weapons systems is
generally limited to a single category of weapons, such as attack
helicopters, artillery, or fixed-wing aircraft.  Although the
services routinely conduct detailed analyses of deficiencies in their
specific combat capabilities, potential solutions are normally
limited to consideration of weapons in the same general category. 

For example, in 1993, the Marine Corps conducted a mission area
analysis of fire support requirements and established a requirement
for a lighter-weight 155-mm towed howitzer to replace the current
155mm towed howitzer, the M-198, to improve ground- and air-mobility
of artillery.  While this mission analysis included a general
discussion of the role of mortars, attack helicopters, fixed wing
aircraft, and naval gunfire systems, it did not consider
non-artillery solutions to address the deficiencies.  The study did
not examine whether close support systems used by other services
could be used or adopted by the Marine Corps. 

Similarly, in May 1994, the Air Force decided to upgrade existing
A/OA-10, and F-16 aircraft for the CAS mission as a more cost
effective solution to procuring a new aircraft solely for CAS.  In
reaching this decision, the Air Force did not consider whether the
growing capabilities of Army attack helicopters and artillery could
mitigate the need for all or some of the proposed upgrades. 


   THE JROC HAS EXERCISED ONLY
   LIMITED OVERSIGHT OF CLOSE
   SUPPORT ACQUISITION PROGRAMS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:2

The JROC--a senior advisory body to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff--is responsible for validating service-generated mission
needs and weapons acquisition proposals.  However, the JROC's
oversight of close support systems has not included the full range of
weapons used for close support but rather has been limited to
oversight of major acquisition programs.  Moreover, although a new
process for assessing joint warfighting capabilities was introduced
in 1994, a separate assessment of joint close support needs and
capabilities has not yet been made. 


      JROC REVIEWS HAVE BEEN
      LIMITED TO MAJOR ACQUISITION
      PROGRAMS
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:2.1

As outlined in its charter, the JROC is expected to

  -- review and approve the military need for all potential major
     defense acquisition programs;

  -- assess joint warfighting capabilities;

  -- assess military requirements for defense acquisition programs;
     and,

  -- assign joint priorities among major programs meeting valid
     requirements. 

In overseeing the requirements generation process and in determining
mission need, the JROC is expected to emphasize the need to reduce
parallel and duplicate development efforts.  The JROC's charter also
states that, in conducting reviews of military needs and acquisition
programs, it should emphasize the need to eliminate unnecessary
duplication in service programs. 

Although the JROC's charter would appear to warrant and encourage
comprehensive cross-service assessments of warfighting requirements
and capabilities, we found that JROC assessments have been limited. 
Until recently, the JROC has not included reviews of weapons
acquisition programs other than those considered to be major
programs.\1 Because the majority of modernization programs fall
outside the major program definition, most service initiatives have
not been subject to the Council's assessment.  Only 3 of the 12 close
support modernization programs that we reviewed--the Air Force's F-16
CAS modernization program, the Army's AH-64 Apache Longbow upgrade
program, and the Army's Crusader field artillery system--were
classified as major programs and thereby subject to JROC examination. 
The other 9 programs, with estimated costs totaling $5.2 billion for
fiscal years 1996 through 2001, were not reviewed.\2

We also found that JROC has relied heavily on narrowly focused
service-generated assessments of needs and alternative solutions in
making its determinations on the validity of requirements.  The
Commission on Roles and Missions noted in its 1995 report that this
high reliance on service staff analysis runs counter to the intent of
the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of
1986 to increase Joint Staff independence. 


--------------------
\1 A major defense acquisition program (MDAP) is a program with
estimated research, development, test, and evaluation expenditures of
more than $300 million (FY-1990 dollars), or procurement expenditures
of more than $1.8 billion (FY-1990 dollars), or other program
designated as a MDAP by the Undersecretary of Defense for
Acquisition. 

\2 Based on a broader interpretation of its mandate, the JROC
recently began including some additional service plans and programs
in its assessments, although it remains unclear to what extent JROC's
assessments will be broadened. 


      JOINT WARFIGHTING CAPABILITY
      ASSESSMENTS OFFER PROMISE
      BUT MAY BE TOO NARROW
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:2.2

The JWCA process was established in 1994 in conjunction with a
broader interpretation of the JROC's charter that included
assessments of joint warfighting capabilities.  According to the
Joint Chiefs of Staff policy guidance, the JWCA process is intended
to support the Chairman's need for assessments made from a joint
warfighting perspective.  By examining each of the services'
capabilities in specific joint mission areas, such as air
superiority, surveillance and reconnaissance, and fire support, the
JWCA working groups expect to gain insight into issues involving
joint warfighting mission needs and the services' plans for
modernizing forces in support of those requirements.  The JWCA
assessments, which are to be made on a continuous basis, are intended
to support the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in providing
independent advice to the Secretary of Defense on the services'
acquisition and modernization proposals. 

Until recently, assessments of the close support mission had been
split between the ground maneuver and joint strike assessment areas,
with the ground maneuver working group assessing ground-based close
support along with other ground maneuver functions, and the joint
strike group assessing CAS capabilities along with other strike
functions such as interdiction.  The ground maneuver working group
was to have been responsible for integrating the two assessments for
purposes of evaluating overall close support capabilities,
requirements, and modernization proposals.  However, the ground
maneuver working group spent more than a year organizing its task and
was reorganized before it had produced any recommendations.  In late
1995, this group was renamed the Land and Littoral Warfare JWCA. 

Although the JWCA charged with assessing close support should
theoretically provide improved understandings of joint warfighting
requirements and existing capabilities, the results thus far have
been disappointing.  For example, this JWCA has yet to address the
types of capability and the number of weapons needed to meet joint
close support requirements; the types, capabilities, and number of
close support weapons currently operated by the services and their
joint effectiveness; and the effectiveness and affordability of
alternative force mixes. 

According to its director, the Land and Littoral Warfare JWCA has
just begun an assessment of the services' close support capabilities
and requirements with a goal of influencing the Chairman's Program
Recommendations for fiscal year 1998.  This JWCA working group hopes
to be in a position to recommend which systems, among the various
ones proposed by the services, should be developed and/or modernized
for the joint close support mission.  The working group will develop
assessment models based on the strategy and scenarios of the current
Defense Planning Guidance. 

While the anticipated assessment could improve the information
available to the Secretary of Defense to weigh acquisition and
modernization proposals for close support, questions remain over how
the working group will interpret the scope of its work.  For example,
it is unclear what priority the working group will give to the close
support assessment and whether the assessment will include the full
range of weapon systems that can be used for this mission.  It is
also unclear whether the working group will address the question of
sufficiency--the mix and quantity of systems that are needed for the
overall close support mission.  Moreover, it is unclear how the
working group intends to overcome the problem of being too heavily
dependent upon service-generated analysis. 


   AIR FORCE-ARMY DEBATE OVER CAS
   ILLUSTRATES NEED FOR
   COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF
   REQUIREMENTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:3

The continuing debate between the Air Force and the Army over the
role of fixed-wing aircraft for CAS illustrates the need for a
broader assessment of requirements and capabilities.  While both
services acknowledge that the Army's need for fixed wing CAS has
diminished, DOD has not determined how many and what mix of aircraft
are needed.  This is important because the Air Force plans to spend
about $547 million to upgrade 623 fixed wing aircraft specifically
for CAS.  An assessment of overall close support requirements and
capabilities may identify what quantity of fixed-wing aircraft are
needed to carry out CAS. 


      IMPROVEMENTS IN OTHER
      WEAPONS HAVE REDUCED
      REQUIREMENTS FOR FIXED-WING
      CAS
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:3.1

In its submission to the Commission on Roles and Missions of the
Armed Forces, the Army acknowledged that the added firepower of
rockets, artillery, and attack helicopters had "substantially reduced
the need for fixed wing fire support." The Air Force told the
Commission that the number of fixed-wing CAS sorties flown to support
ground troops has declined significantly since the Korean War. 
Moreover, the Air Force expects the demand for fixed-wing CAS to
further decline as attack helicopter capabilities improve.  The Air
Force stated that attack and scout helicopters operating in close
coordination with ground units are the optimum team for CAS and that
fixed-wing aircraft should only be used for emergency back up.  The
Air Force suggested that the Army could provide its own close air
support with attack helicopters and that the Army should be assigned
CAS as a primary mission.  The Air Force also proposed that its CAS
role be downgraded from a primary to a collateral function.  In
connection with this proposal, the Air Force favored eliminating
A/OA-10 aircraft from its inventory. 

The Army recognized that the need for fixed-wing CAS has declined
over time but opposed the Air Force's proposal to downgrade Air Force
CAS responsibilities.  The Army noted that while the need for fixed
wing CAS has declined, it remains an important capability especially
in early entry operations, under circumstances when close support
targets exceed the range of land-based systems, and/or when special
munitions, such as heavy and/or precision-guided bombs, are required. 
An Army roles and missions official told us that the Army is more
concerned that the Air Force retain primary responsibilities for CAS
than it is about what kinds of aircraft the Air Force intends to use. 
While the Army supports CAS as a primary function of the Air Force,
it considers the types and quantities of the aircraft to be the
prerogative of the Air Force. 

In December, 1994, following a change in the Air Force Chief of
Staff, the Air Force reversed its September 1994 position and told
the Commission that it believes that fixed-wing CAS is still required
and that it therefore intends to retain primary CAS responsibilities
and the means to execute them.  As a result, the Air Force is now
committed to retaining A/OA-10 aircraft and to modernizing A/OA-10
and F-16 aircraft for the CAS role.  Although the Air Force had
planned to retire all of its A/OA-10s as early as fiscal year 2002,
it now plans to maintain 316 of these aircraft in its force structure
through fiscal year 2028. 


      BUDGET IMPLICATIONS OF
      FIXED-WING CAS DEBATE COULD
      BE SIGNIFICANT
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:3.2

A broad assessment of joint CAS requirements leading to
recommendations on the appropriate numbers, types, and mix of
fixed-wing requirements could result in substantial budgetary savings
depending on the outcome of the assessment.  In 1994 the
Congressional Budget Office estimated that about $1.9 billion could
be saved over 5 years if the Air Force retired all A/OA-10 aircraft. 
Similarly, the Air Force told the Commission on Roles and Missions of
the Armed Forces that if it retired all of its A/OA-10s, it could
save approximately $5.8 billion in procurement, RDT&E, operation and
maintenance, and other indirect costs between fiscal years 1995-2001. 

The potential loss of the A/OA-10s would force the Army to rely more
on its attack helicopters for CAS than it has in the past.  If the
Air Force eliminated its A/OA-10s, its multi-role F-16s would become
the Air Force's primary CAS aircraft.  Accordingly, any assessment of
fixed-wing CAS requirements would need to consider the impact that
increased use of F-16s for CAS would have on the capability of this
aircraft to conduct other missions, such as interdiction. 


   CONCLUSION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:4

Collectively, the services' current mix of weapon systems constitutes
a formidable joint close support capability.  Nevertheless, the
services plan to invest about $10.6 billion over the next 6 years in
weapons upgrades and enhancements to further add to this capability. 
Whether these investments represent the most appropriate,
cost-effective mix of weapon systems to meet close support missions
is unclear because each military service has continued to propose
enhancements to its capabilities without adequate consideration of
the capabilities of its other weapons or those of other services. 

Moreover, the Department's assessment processes do not enable the
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, to provide effective military advice
to the Secretary of Defense on the services acquisition and
modernization proposals for close support.  The JROC has only
assessed modernization proposals involving major weapon systems
rather than the full range of weapons used for close support. 
Moreover, although a joint warfighting assessment process was
instituted in late 1994 to support the JROC in its recommendations to
the Chairman, a separate assessment of the close support mission has
not yet been made.  Unless comprehensive assessments of joint mission
needs and existing capabilities for close support are conducted on a
routine basis, the Chairman cannot provide the independent military
advice the Secretary needs in deciding which systems should be
funded, in what quantities they should be procured, and what priority
should be assigned to competing proposals. 


   RECOMMENDATION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:5

To assist the Secretary of Defense in determining whether and which
proposed enhancements to close support systems should be funded, and
in what quantities and priority, we recommend that comprehensive
cross-service assessments of overall joint close support mission
needs, existing close support systems, and planned enhancements be
made on a routine basis.  Such assessments might be made within the
context of the JWCA process although alternative mechanisms might be
explored. 

To be useful to decisionmakers, these assessments should include a
determination of which existing capabilities should be retained,
modernized, or retired, and in what quantities to ensure full joint
capability.  They should be broad enough to encompass all close
support capabilities--not just major weapon systems--and
service-generated analysis should be supplemented by other analytical
support, where independence is critical.  Because some systems have
multiple roles, the assessments need to recognize the contributions
of these systems to these other missions. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:6

DOD partially agreed with GAO's recommendation but stated that (1)
the land and littoral warfare JWCA is conducting a comprehensive
assessment of the fire support requirements and capabilities for the
close battle; (2) the Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System
(PPBS)--together with data from the JWCA and other DOD
studies--provides leaders with the information they need to make the
determinations cited in our report; and, (3) the assessments
currently underway and planned are sufficiently broad in scope, and
diverse in sources of analytical data to ensure that service
parochialism is held in check and the necessary degree of purity of
data and process is being preserved. 

We recognize the JWCA process as a positive approach that may lead to
improved assessment of existing close support capabilities and
service-generated requirements.  We continue to believe, however,
that to be of most use to decisionmakers, the assessment process must
deal directly with the issue of sufficiency--that is, the mix and
quantity of systems needed to ensure full capability.  Accordingly,
we believe that ongoing and future assessments should include
recommendations on which close support systems should be developed,
modernized, retained, or retired. 

Based on our discussions with members of JWCA working groups, we are
not as optimistic as DOD that service influence over the requirements
generation process is being held in check.  The Commission on Roles
and Missions of the Armed Forces recently concluded that DOD's
current management processes allow the services to develop and field
weapons without a DOD-wide assessment of the need for these weapons. 
Thus, the Commission appears to support our contention that
service-generated analyses of requirements should be routinely
challenged by service-independent analyses of DOD-wide requirements. 

The full text of the DOD's comments appears in appendix I. 




(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix I
COMMENTS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF
DEFENSE
============================================================ Chapter 3



(See figure in printed edition.)


MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS REPORT
========================================================== Appendix II

NATIONAL SECURITY AND
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS DIVISION,
WASHINGTON, D.C. 

Jess T.  Ford, Associate Director
Carol R.  Schuster, Associate Director
Richard J.  Price, Assistant Director
Anton G.  Blieberger, Evaluator-in-Charge
Robert H.  Goldberg, Senior Evaluator

NORFOLK FIELD OFFICE

R.  Gaines Hensley, Assignment Manager
Connie W.  Sawyer, Jr., Senior Evaluator

RELATED GAO PRODUCTS

Navy Aviation:  AV-8B Harrier Remanufacture Strategy Is Not the Most
Cost-Effective Option (GAO/NSIAD-96-49, Feb.  27, 1996). 

Army and Marine Corps M198 Howitzer:  Maintenance Problems Are Not
Severe Enough to Accelerate Replacement System (GAO/NSIAD-96-59, Dec. 
27, 1995). 

Longbow Apache Helicopter:  System Procurement Issues Need to Be
Resolved (GAO/NSIAD-95-159, Aug.  24, 1995). 

Naval Surface Fire Support:  Navy's Near-Term Plan Is Not Based on
Sufficient Analysis (GAO/NSIAD-95-160, May 19, 1995). 

Army Armored Systems:  Advanced Field Artillery System Experiences
Problems with Liquid Propellant (GAO/NSIAD-95-25, Nov.  2, 1994). 

Army Aviation:  Modernization Strategy Needs to be Reassessed
(GAO/NSIAD-95-9, Nov.  21, 1994). 

Weapons Acquisition:  A Rare Opportunity for Lasting Change
(GAO/NSIAD-93-15, Dec.  1992). 

Major Acquisitions:  DOD's Process Does Not Ensure Proper Weapons Mix
for Close Support Mission (GAO/NSIAD-92-180, Apr.  17, 1992). 


*** End of document. ***