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Military Readiness: A Clear Policy Is Needed to Guide Management of Frequently Deployed Units (Letter Report, 04/08/96, GAO/NSIAD-96-105).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the United States'
military readiness, focusing on the: (1) frequency of deployments in
recent years; (2) effects of increased deployment on combat readiness;
and (3) Department of Defense's (DOD) efforts to limit personnel
temporary (PERSTEMPO) deployment.

GAO found that: (1) Army and Air Force deployments have increased among
special forces, electronic warfare squadrons, and Patriot air defense,
and military police units; (2) the percentage of personnel deployed from
1987 to 1995 has increased from 2 to 6 percent for the Air Force and 5
to 9 percent for the Army; (3) the Navy and Marine Corps traditionally
deploy units at twice the rate of the other services and remain active
for at least half of the year; (4) peace operations, along with smaller
increases in joint activity, are the driving force behind increased
deployments; (5) DOD believes that deployments can be reduced by
eliminating redundant military training and combining or cancelling some
exercises; (6) the Status of Resources and Training System reports less
than one-third of frequently deploying units dropping below planned
readiness levels; (7) DOD is concerned about the nature of frequently
deploying units' personnel problems; (8) DOD statistics on personnel
readiness are not useful because they are inconsistent and are only
compiled at the major command level; and (9) high PERSTEMPO is likely to
continue unless DOD directs the services to set up goals and policies to
manage PERSTEMPO.

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

 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-96-105
     TITLE:  Military Readiness: A Clear Policy Is Needed to Guide 
             Management of Frequently Deployed Units
      DATE:  04/08/96
   SUBJECT:  Combat readiness
             Military training
             Military personnel
             Defense contingency planning
             Defense capabilities
             Human resources utilization
             Armed forces abroad
             Military operations
             Data integrity
             Military intervention
IDENTIFIER:  Israel
             Egypt
             Somalia
             Bosnia
             Asia
             JCS Status of Resources and Training System
             NATO Partnership for Peace Program
             JCS Exercise Program
             Patriot Air Defense System
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Report to Congressional Requesters

April 1996

MILITARY READINESS - A CLEAR
POLICY IS NEEDED TO GUIDE
MANAGEMENT OF FREQUENTLY DEPLOYED
UNITS

GAO/NSIAD-96-105

Military Readiness

(703096)


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

  CINC - Commander in Chief
  DOD - Department of Defense
  PERSTEMPO - personnel tempo
  SORTS - Status of Resources and Training System

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


B-271135

April 8, 1996

The Honorable Herbert H.  Bateman
Chairman, Subcommittee on Military Readiness
Committee on National Security
House of Representatives

The Honorable Robert K.  Dornan
Chairman, Subcommittee on Military Personnel
Committee on National Security
House of Representatives

This report addresses your concerns that the time military personnel
are spending away from home on deployments--commonly called personnel
tempo (PERSTEMPO)--has increased and is stressing portions of the
military community and adversely affecting readiness.\1 You asked
that we review (1) U.S.  forces' frequency of deployments in recent
years; (2) the effect of increased PERSTEMPO on the readiness of U.S. 
forces; and (3) Department of Defense (DOD) actions to mitigate the
impact of high PERSTEMPO, including efforts to create systems for
measuring PERSTEMPO. 


--------------------
\1 For the purposes of this report, a deployment is defined as any
period of time longer than 24 hours that a military unit spends away
from home for peace operations; humanitarian assistance or disaster
relief; counterdrug operations; joint or service-unique training; or
other activity.  Peace operations range from low-intensity
peacekeeping operations, such as military observer duty, to
high-intensity peace-enforcement operations. 


   BACKGROUND
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :1

The end of the Cold War and the evolution of a new security
environment have resulted in new operating realities for the U.S. 
military.  Amid significant reductions in the overall size of U.S. 
forces, defense budgets, and overseas presence, the U.S.  military
must continue to deploy its forces for traditional combat training
and simultaneously manage increased demands to deploy forces for
peace operations and other activities.  U.S.  military forces have
participated in peace operations for many years.  For example, the
United States has committed military personnel to the Multinational
Force and Observers since 1982 to ensure that Israel and Egypt abide
by the provisions of the Sinai Peace Treaty.  However, in recent
years, U.S.  participation in peace operations has grown.  In 1992
alone, the United States began deployments eventually totaling 26,000
personnel to Somalia, 3,000 to Bosnia, and 14,000 to Southwest Asia. 
The ongoing deployment to Bosnia is expected to involve over 20,000
troops. 

Congress and others have expressed concern about the overall impact
of peace operations on unit and personnel readiness.  Deployments for
some operations can impair unit and personnel combat training and
equipment readiness and divert funds from planned operations and
maintenance activities.  In other cases, however, deployments can
enhance the combat capabilities of units.  For example, such
deployments provide excellent experience in the tasks essential to
wartime proficiency for light infantry, supply, or other support
units. 


   RESULTS IN BRIEF
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :2

DOD cannot precisely measure the increase in deployments because,
until 1994, only the Navy had systems to track PERSTEMPO. 
Historically, the Navy and the Marine Corps have deployed at about
twice the rate of the other services, and their rates of deployment
have increased only slightly.  However, deployments of Air Force and
Army personnel have increased significantly in recent years.  These
increases have affected most heavily a small number of critical units
with unique specialties such as special forces units, electronic
warfare squadrons, Patriot air defense units, and military police. 
DOD estimates that the percentage of personnel deployed between 1987
and 1995 increased from about 2 percent to about 6 percent for the
Air Force and from about 5 percent to 9 percent for the Army. 

Our analysis of a group of high-deploying units over a 4-year period
showed that most had elements that were deployed for more than
one-half of each year.  Peace operations were the driving force
behind the increases, accompanied by smaller increases in joint
activities.\2

DOD officials believe that deployments could be reduced by
eliminating redundant military training and combining or canceling
some exercises.  Some training has already been reduced. 

Status of Resources and Training System (SORTS) reports indicate a
stable level of overall unit readiness during the 1990s.\3 According
to this measure, less than one-third of the high-deploying units we
reviewed dropped below planned readiness levels due to deployments,
and this impact was often short-lived.  However, SORTS does not
capture all the factors that DOD considers critical to a
comprehensive readiness analysis, such as operating tempo and
personnel morale.  In contrast to SORTS data, our visits to
high-deploying units and discussions with officials in major commands
revealed pronounced concerns about personnel problems such as
divorces, missed family events and holidays, and lowered retention. 
Also, although DOD compiles a large number of statistics on personnel
readiness, many of the statistics are not useful for depicting
conditions in the high-deploying units because they are not collected
consistently across the services or are compiled only at major
command levels.  Therefore, it is not possible to compare general
conditions in high-deploying units with those in other units.  Data
we could obtain on drug testing results and reports of spouse/child
abuse showed that rates in both areas were generally lower in the
high-deploying units than in others. 

The President, Congress, and DOD have taken a variety of actions to
study and address the increase in PERSTEMPO, and DOD is considering
additional recommendations.  However, DOD has not issued regulations
that could provide the guidance and discipline needed for long-term
management of PERSTEMPO.  There is no DOD-wide definition of a
deployment, and each service defines it differently.  DOD has not
directed the services to have goals or policies to limit PERSTEMPO,
and the services--with the exception of the Navy--have no clear
regulations on this issue.  Even though all services have systems to
measure deployment activity, there is little consistency in terms of
whether unit or individual data are collected and the statistics each
provides.  DOD officials believe that the high PERSTEMPO operating
environment is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.  As a
result, key units will likely continue to be stressed unless DOD and
the services agree on a basic framework for managing PERSTEMPO. 


--------------------
\2 Joint activities include joint training among the U.S.  services
and between U.S.  services and other nations' services as well as the
show of U.S.  force to promote regional stability, support required
by treaties with other nations, and other multinational activities. 

\3 This system measures the extent to which each unit possesses the
required resources and is trained to undertake its wartime missions. 


   INCREASES IN PEACE OPERATIONS
   AND JOINT ACTIVITIES FOCUSED ON
   A SMALL GROUP OF UNIQUE UNITS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :3

All services have experienced increased deployments since the late
1980s, with the Air Force and the Army absorbing the largest
percentage of changes.  However, a small group of units in each
service with unique skills in high demand absorbed most of the
impact.  Peace operations were the major reason for the increases,
with smaller increases for joint activities. 


      ALL SERVICES EXPERIENCE
      INCREASES
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.1

DOD cannot precisely measure the increase in deployments because,
until 1994, only the Navy had systems to track PERSTEMPO.  The
Defense Manpower Data Center attempted to reflect the level of
PERSTEMPO by matching personnel and pay records with readiness
information identifying units in a deployed status.\4 As shown in
figure 1, between 1987 and 1995 the percentage of personnel deployed,
as measured by the Center's data, increased for all services. 

   Figure 1:  Estimated Percent of
   Services Deployed (1987-95)

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Note:  Data from July 1990 through August 1991 was excluded to
eliminate effects of the Gulf War.  Marine Corps data for September
1991 through March 1992 was excluded due to inaccurate reporting of
family separation allowances. 

The change was particularly striking in the Air Force and the Army. 
As figure 1 shows, between the late 1980s and early 1995, Air Force
personnel deployed increased, on average, from about 2 percent of the
force to over 6 percent.  During the same period, the Army increased
the percent of its force deployed from an average of 5 percent to
about 8.5 percent.  One reason for the increase is that DOD's recent
drawdown has reduced not only the overall number of personnel in
these services but also their overseas presence.  Traditionally,
personnel in these services operated from bases in the United States
or from locations in Europe and elsewhere, where their families were
also located, with relatively few deployments.  Now, fewer personnel
are being asked to respond to more deployments, travel farther in
doing so, and leave their families while deployed. 

The Navy and the Marines experienced much smaller percentage
increases, but they were already deploying about two to three times
more than the other services.  In the late 1980s, about 11 percent of
the Navy's force was deployed at any given time.  By early 1995 this
figure had increased to about 14 percent.  Over the same period, the
Marine Corps increased the average of its force deployed from about
12 percent to 13 percent.  The Navy and the Marine Corps have always
had relatively high deployment rates.  Personnel in these services
have traditionally operated on cyclical deployment schedules on board
ships or at forward presence locations across the globe,
unaccompanied by their families.  Because of their forward-deployed
mode of operations, the Navy and the Marines were generally able to
respond to increased demands with forces already deployed. 


--------------------
\4 This analysis assumed that all members of a unit were deployed if
a certain percentage of its personnel were receiving family
separation allowances, which are paid to servicemembers away from
their families for over 30 days, or imminent danger pay. 


      UNITS IN SHORT SUPPLY
      HEAVILY TASKED
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.2

Increased deployments have fallen most heavily to a few types of
units with unique skills in high demand, such as special forces,
electronic warfare squadrons, Patriot air defense units, and military
police.  Many of these critical units are in short supply in the
active force, with much of the capability residing in the reserve
component.  For example, about 75 percent of the military's
psychological operations capability resides in the reserve component. 
We recently reported that the extended or repeated participation of
such units in peace operations could impede their ability to respond
to major regional contingencies because of the difficulty in quickly
disengaging and redeploying them.\5 DOD officials told us that the
services should periodically examine force structure to ensure that
frequently used capabilities are not contained primarily in the
reserves. 

DOD is examining the need to increase the number of some
high-deploying units.  According to the Commander in Chief (CINC) of
the European Command, the unified command responsible for operations
in Bosnia, the forces needed to fulfill the National Security
Strategy--that is, to be prepared to respond to two nearly
simultaneous major regional contingencies--and those needed for peace
operations like Bosnia are not necessarily the same.\6 The major
regional contingency scenario requires traditional combat forces,
while peace operations and other non-war activities draw heavily upon
the types of unique units that are few in number (those units
discussed above).  The CINC believed that the PERSTEMPO issue is
driven by this dichotomy and that current forces should be
reevaluated and realigned to address this problem.  The European
Commander also believed that better coordination of contingency
planning among CINCs could reduce the tasking of high PERSTEMPO
units.  Such planning is currently focused within each unified
command's sphere of operations and may not adequately account for
changes in one theater that can increase PERSTEMPO in others. 

Our analysis of high-deploying units shows that most had at least one
element, such as a company or detachment, deployed for over one-half
of each year from fiscal year 1992 through June 1995.  For example,
Air Force electronic warfare squadrons had at least one element
deployed an average of 313 days each year.  Marine support, ground
combat, and aviation units and Army support units had one or more
elements deployed, on average, at least 210 days annually during the
period.  Some individuals were deployed for even longer periods. 
Even when units return to their home station, individuals may have to
spend time away from their homes on other duty.  For example, some
sailors must provide ship security every fourth night on board ship. 

The amount of time deployed between 1992 and 1995 was stable or
increasing for most types of units we analyzed.  For example, the
Army military police units averaged about 160 days on deployment in
1992, but this figure had increased to an average of 172 days in 1995
(projected from third quarter figures).  The Navy was the only
service whose pace of deployments appeared to be abating.  For
example, deployments of the five nuclear submarines in our sample
dropped from an average of 210 days in 1992 to a projected average of
173 days in 1995.  According to officials at the submarine units we
visited, the number of submarines had not yet been reduced by the
drawdown, so the full complement of ships has been available to deal
with the demand.  However, officials were concerned that once the
number of submarines is reduced, which is expected in the next
several years, they would encounter the same difficulties as the
other services.  According to Navy officials, Navy PERSTEMPO has
recently been dropping to pre-Gulf War levels. 


--------------------
\5 Peace Operations:  Heavy Use of Key Capabilities May Affect
Response to Regional Conflicts (GAO/NSIAD-95-51, Mar.  8, 1995). 

\6 Each of the nine unified commands is responsible for supporting
and achieving U.S.  interests in its area of responsibility.  For
example, the European Command is responsible for most of Europe and
parts of the Middle East, and the Special Operations, Transportation,
and Space Commands are responsible for specific functional areas. 
The regional commands are responsible for planning and conducting
peace and other operations in their respective areas of
responsibility and for determining requirements and conducting joint
training. 


      PEACE OPERATIONS AND JOINT
      ACTIVITIES DRIVE INCREASE IN
      DEPLOYMENTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :3.3

In the high-deploying units we studied, most of the increased
deployments were for peace operations, particularly those of Air
Force and Army units.  However, after declining between 1992 and
1993, joint activities between the United States and other nations'
forces also increased during 1994-95. 

Figure 2 illustrates the Air Force and the Army's steep growth in
deployments for peace operations.  Navy and Marine officials also
noted significant increases in peace operations, but both services
generally met increased requirements using units already on scheduled
deployments.  We were unable to develop detailed statistics on the
amount of time these services spent for peace operations because
detailed records were not available to isolate time spent on one
activity versus another during scheduled deployments. 

   Figure 2:  Peace Operations for
   High-Deploying Army and Air
   Force Units (fiscal years
   1992-95)

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Note:  Figures for 1995 are through the third quarter. 

Despite the increases in peace operations, the high-deploying units
continued to spend most of their time deployed for training,
scheduled forward deployments, or other traditional missions.  We
found no major reductions in the amount of time deployed for
training.  Throughout 1992-95, each service stayed within about 12
percentage points of its yearly averages for training deployments.\7
However, as shown in figure 3, after declining between 1992 and 1993,
joint activities began to increase somewhat in 1994 for the Air
Force, the Army, and the Marine Corps.  We were unable to separate
joint activities from the Navy Atlantic Fleet data on overall
training. 

   Figure 3:  Joint Activity in
   High-Deploying Units (fiscal
   years 1992-95)

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Note:  Figures for 1995 are through the third quarter. 

According to many of the CINCS, in addition to the increased
deployments for peace operations, there have been large increases in
joint activities since the end of the Gulf War.  In some commands
such activities have more than doubled.  These deployments involve
myriad actions, such as training exercises between U.S.  services and
those of other countries, computer simulation exercises,
intergovernmental and multinational requirements such as the show of
U.S.  force to promote regional stability, and support required by
treaties with other nations.  For example, Partnership for Peace is a
new type of exercise that emerged after the Gulf War.  This
initiative seeks to intensify military and political cooperation
throughout Europe and includes participation of North Atlantic Treaty
Organization countries and countries from eastern Europe and the
former Soviet Union.  According to DOD officials, no system tracks
all of these activities, and no standardized terminology
distinguishes them.  Consequently, individual contributions to the
increases are difficult to analyze precisely. 

Increased deployments are rooted in the changing national military
strategy.  According to DOD officials, the increased focus on
regional security and stability has been accompanied by increased
deployments for peace operations.  Many of these operations involve
an increasingly complex integration of diverse land, sea, and air
assets from U.S.  and other nations' military services, making joint
training increasingly important and spurring increased deployments
for joint activities.  However, the need for deployments for training
in each service's individual mission also continues unabated. 

DOD officials acknowledged that better balance and management of
these competing demands is needed, and DOD has begun to address this
need.  The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Exercise Program
annually administers about 200 activities, over two-thirds of which
have been focused on objectives other than joint training.\8 Program
officials told us that many joint training exercises involve small
groups of servicemembers, and they are attempting to reduce them by
combining or canceling some exercises.  Moreover, program officials
said they are continuing to develop joint mission essential task
lists to help integrate joint and service training tasks, which could
lead to less redundant training. 

At the request of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the
CINCs are also examining exercise plans to prevent redundant training
by consolidating, synchronizing, reducing participation in, or
canceling exercises.  Many of the CINCs and Joint Staff personnel
told us that the scope and duration of joint exercises, particularly
those involving ineffective large-scale exercises, are already being
reduced and many exercises are involving fewer people.  One CINC
reduced the number of scheduled exercises in his area from 112 in
fiscal year 1995 to 85 in fiscal year 1996 by combining smaller,
single-service exercises into larger, joint training exercises. 

According to DOD officials, many other deployments are generated by
intergovernmental and other demands outside the Chairman's program. 
These officials are developing definitions for all the various types
of activities to provide a better basis for analyzing such demands. 
Officials from the U.S.  Atlantic Command, which is responsible for
training, packaging, and deploying forces in response to requirements
identified by other CINCs, told us that DOD should have a policy
regarding the use of DOD assets and personnel to fulfill tasks
generated by other government agencies, such as the Department of
State.  DOD assistance is currently based on guidance and criteria
provided by the Office of the President and the Secretary of Defense,
and in response to requirements in support of the national security
strategy or decisions by the President or other officials in the
National Command Authorities.  Atlantic Command officials also
believe that DOD needs to establish a policy to improve discipline in
the long-term scheduling of exercises. 

More judicious management of deployments may also require cultural
adjustments in the services.  Commanders from the unit level through
major commands acknowledged that turning down deployment requests was
very difficult because they believed that doing so would reflect
negatively on the unit and/or on them.  The Army Special Forces
Commander, for example, recently acknowledged that the command "never
met a deployment opportunity that we didn't like" and challenged the
command to curb its traditional appetite for deployments.  In fact, a
number of officials were concerned that commanders in all the
services were competing for deployments to underscore the value of
their units during the current drawdown. 


--------------------
\7 Navy statistics are based on Atlantic Fleet ships only.  Detailed
breakdowns of Pacific Fleet ships were not available. 

\8 See our report entitled Military Capabilities:  Stronger Joint
Staff Role Needed to Enhance Joint Military Training
(GAO/NSIAD-95-109, July 6, 1995). 


   DOD UNABLE TO MEASURE THE FULL
   IMPACT OF DEPLOYMENTS ON
   READINESS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :4

DOD systems are inadequate to assess the full impact of high
PERSTEMPO on readiness.  Although unit readiness reports indicated a
stable level of readiness during the 1990s, the high-deploying units
we visited voiced pronounced concern that some personnel have been
stressed to their saturation point, with attendant concerns about
difficulties in family life and lowered retention rates.  The SORTS
reports do not capture all the factors that DOD considers critical to
a comprehensive readiness analysis, and indicators of personnel
readiness--such as retention rates--are generally not available in
the form needed to analyze stress on individual units. 


      SORTS REPORTS INDICATE
      READINESS IS STABLE
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.1

We and the Defense Science Board recently reported that readiness of
the overall force has remained generally stable during the 1990s,
despite the high level of deployments.\9 However, these reports raise
concerns that the high rate of deployments was reducing readiness in
a small number of units.  Our analysis of SORTS reports for a sample
of high-deploying units yielded similar results.  During the past 5
years, deployments--particularly unscheduled ones--were a primary
cause of a reduction in readiness below planned levels in 22 of the
78 units (28 percent) analyzed, as seen in table 1.\10



                                Table 1
                
                   High-Deploying Units Experiencing
                 Readiness Reductions From Deployments
                         (Mar. 1990-Mar. 1995)

                                             Units with
                                                reduced     Percent of
Service                      Total units      readiness          total
-------------------------  -------------  -------------  -------------
Army                                  33             12             36
Navy                                  13              0              0
Air Force                             14              7             50
Marine Corps                          18              3             17
======================================================================
Total                                 78             22             28
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Source:  GAO analysis of DOD readiness reports and discussions with
unit and service officials. 

Most of the affected units were in the Army and the Air Force.  In
the Air Force, about one-half the units analyzed experienced reduced
readiness during the 5-year period analyzed.  About one-third of the
Army units experienced reductions.  Many of the declines were of
short duration and were caused by shortages of personnel; increased
consumption of spare parts, which resulted in shortages; and reduced
training opportunities associated with the high pace of deployments. 

Service officials pointed out that factors other than deployments can
have as much, or more, influence on reported readiness levels.  For
example, Army and Marine Corps officials noted that shortages of
noncommissioned officers in certain job skills were affecting many
units. 


--------------------
\9 Military Readiness:  Data and Trends for January 1990 to March
1995 (GAO/NSIAD-96-111BR, Mar.  4, 1996) and Report of the Defense
Science Board Task Force on Readiness, June 1994. 

\10 Readiness was considered reduced when a unit's C-level ratings
dropped below those planned by the services.  SORTS reports assess
the status of unit personnel, equipment, and training in terms of
five overall C-levels.  C-1, for example, indicates that the unit
possesses the resources and training to undertake its full wartime
mission. 


      CONCERNS ABOUT READINESS NOT
      REFLECTED IN AVAILABLE
      REPORTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.2

During our visits to 29 of the high-deploying units, there was
pronounced concern about the impact of high PERSTEMPO on
servicemembers and families in all the services except the Navy. 
Unit officials and personnel told us that while many were
experiencing personal and career hardships as a result of the high
rate of deployments, they expected to be deployed for some period of
the year and most were coping with the stress.  Officials said,
however, that some had almost reached their saturation point and that
further increases could create significant retention, substance
abuse, and family problems. 

Unit personnel described a variety of stresses on individuals and
families, such as difficulties in financial management for many young
servicemembers and missing the birth of children and their birthdays
as well as Christmas and other holidays.  Many spoke of retention
problems and high divorce rates in high-deploying units.  On an Air
Force quality-of-life survey conducted in May 1995, more than
one-third of Air Force officers and enlisted personnel who responded
noted deployment-related impacts on their personal lives and
finances.  A similar proportion reported career hardships such as
difficulty in obtaining professional military education.  Army air
defense unit officials concluded from a unit-conducted survey that
soldiers and spouses were unhappy with frequent deployments. 
Conducted at the end of a deployment to Southwest Asia, this survey
indicated that about 27 percent of the married personnel believed
their marriages could be in serious jeopardy if the unit deployed
again in the year following its return.  About 40 percent of the
respondents indicated that they had decided to "get out of the Army"
during the deployment. 

Members of one Air Force electronic warfare squadron we visited were
so stressed by deployments that one wrote to Members of Congress and
the Chief of Staff of the Air Force asking for relief due to his
concerns about the safety of the squadron.  Three of its seven
aircraft had been deployed to Bosnia nearly continuously since July
1993.  With nearly half its aircraft still in Bosnia, the squadron
was unexpectedly tasked to send two more aircraft to Haiti for 2
weeks in September 1994 and three to Saudi Arabia in mid-October
1994.  At the same time, the squadron was asked to complete a planned
move to a new base.  Efforts were made to bring back individuals to
accompany their families during the move, but spouses were upset when
some servicemembers were redeployed within 48 hours of arrival at the
new base.  These deployments harmed morale and degraded the unit
training program and overall readiness.  An Air Force investigation
of the incident concluded that the squadron would need 8 to 12 months
to regain its prior level of training proficiency.  Although a
portion of the squadron's aircraft continued to be used for missions,
the Chief of Staff directed a portion of the squadron's aircraft to
be protected from deployments until the unit had recovered. 
According to Air Force officials, the squadron had largely recovered
by November 1995. 

These concerns, however, generally were not reflected in the
personnel readiness statistics that we reviewed.  To supplement SORTS
data, DOD and the services developed a large number of statistics on
personnel readiness, such as retention, spouse and child abuse, drug
abuse, divorces, and court-martials.  However, many statistics are
not collected consistently across the services or are aggregated at
major command and/or servicewide levels only, preventing comparisons
of conditions in individual units with others.\11 We also found
little agreement among the services as to which indicators are the
best measures of personnel readiness. 

We did, however, obtain data comparing retention in our Navy sample
of units with those Navy-wide.  Personnel retention rates in the
sampled units were 6 to 15 percentage points lower than overall Navy
levels between 1991 and June 1995.  These results are consistent with
Center for Naval Analyses reports conducted in 1992 and 1994, which
found that more time at sea reduces retention rates for enlisted
personnel.\12 The Navy was the only service that maintained this data
at the unit level.  The other services aggregated their retention
data at major commands and above. 

The Defense Manpower Data Center prepared a special analysis
comparing reports of (1) positive drug tests and (2) spouse and child
abuse in our sample of units with servicewide rates between 1991 and
1994.  In general, rates in both areas were lower in the
high-deploying units than in the services as a whole.  DOD is
developing a central registry for all reports of child and spouse
abuse with standardized data elements for collection of case
information.  The central registry is expected to be fully
implemented in 1996. 


--------------------
\11 Our report Military Readiness:  DOD Needs to Develop a More
Comprehensive Measurement System (GAO/NSIAD-95-29, Oct.  27, 1994)
raises similar concerns. 

\12 Implications of Changes in Time Spent at Sea (CAB 94-19, Mar. 
1994); Personnel Tempo of Operations and Navy Enlisted Retention (CRM
91-150, Feb.  1992). 


   DOD IS TAKING ACTION, BUT
   REQUIREMENTS FOR MANAGING
   PERSTEMPO ARE UNCLEAR
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :5

The President, Congress, and DOD have recognized the problems
generated by increases in PERSTEMPO and have taken steps to address
them.  In addition, DOD is considering a number of recommendations
intended to mitigate PERSTEMPO problems.  However, DOD policy on
PERSTEMPO is unclear in many areas. 


      ACTIONS UNDERWAY TO MANAGE
      HIGH PERSTEMPO
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.1

In May and July 1994, the President signed a new Presidential
Decision Directive and national security strategy that included
policies designed to make U.S.  involvement in peace operations more
selective.  For example, one policy sets forth specific standards of
review to help determine when the United States should participate or
support peace operations, including whether the role of U.S.  forces
is tied to clear objectives and an identified end point.  It also
states that the primary mission of the U.S.  armed forces remains to
be prepared to fight and win two nearly simultaneous regional
contingencies. 

Legislation has also been introduced in Congress to address the
impact of high PERSTEMPO.  For example, in the National Defense
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996, Congress recognizes that
excessively high PERSTEMPO for military personnel degrades unit
readiness and morale and can adversely affect unit retention.  The
act encourages DOD to continue improving techniques for defining and
managing PERSTEMPO with a view toward establishing and achieving
reasonable PERSTEMPO standards for all military personnel. 

DOD and the services have also taken actions to better manage high
PERSTEMPO.  In addition to the actions taken to reduce deployments by
better integrating joint and service training requirements, the Joint
Staff has drafted the global military force policy.  This policy is
designed to help guide decisions to use units few in number but high
in demand for peace operations and other types of deployments.  The
policy will outline the impact that successively higher levels of
deployment have on unit maintenance, training, and other readiness
areas.  DOD officials hope to finalize the policy during the spring
of 1996.  DOD is also developing a new Joint Personnel Asset
Visibility System, which uses electromagnetic identification cards to
track personnel assigned to Joint Task Force operations.  In
addition, PERSTEMPO is discussed at the Joint Monthly Readiness
Review, which provides a venue for input from both the services and
the CINCs on readiness assessments. 

DOD and the services are using the reserves to relieve active duty
units and lower PERSTEMPO.  For example, the Air Force used reserves
to relieve highly stressed squadrons in Europe, and the Marine Corps
used reserve rifle companies to relieve active duty Marines in
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  According to DOD officials, the success of
this approach is dependent on (1) better identification of and
planning for requirements, (2) flexibility in the training and use of
reservists, and (3) programming the funding to meet needs. 

The services continuously monitor retention levels of individuals and
job specialties, and the Army and the Air Force already have or plan
to offer bonuses and increase the number of personnel in some
high-deploying units, such as air defense artillery or airborne
warning and control system units.  The Air Force has sought relief
from the taskings for airborne warning and control system units to
catch up on lost training opportunities.  It has also instituted its
Palace Tenure System, which helps ensure that support taskings are
balanced across their entire force.  The Navy has adopted a revised
training strategy tailored to the new requirements and expects to
reduce the days deployed for training up to 10 percent for ships
underway.  The Navy has also reorganized the fleets and established a
permanent Western Hemisphere Group to more efficiently fulfill
Caribbean, counternarcotics, and South American commitments. 


      PERSTEMPO REQUIREMENTS ARE
      UNCLEAR, AND SERVICE SYSTEMS
      ARE INCONSISTENT
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.2

It is difficult for DOD to determine the actual time that either
military personnel or their units are deployed.  This information is
important to planning and managing contingency operations.  Although
all services now have systems to measure PERSTEMPO, each service has
different (1) definitions of what constitutes a deployment, (2)
policies or guidance for the length of time units or personnel should
be deployed, and (3) systems for tracking deployments (see table 2). 



                                Table 2
                
                 Service Deployment Measurement Systems

                                                            Marine
Measurement             Army        Navy        Air Force   Corps
----------------------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------
Definition of           7 days or   56 days or  1 day or    10 days or
deployment:             more        more        more        more away
                                                            from home
                                                            station

Policy or regulation    No policy,  Yes,        No policy,  No policy,
limiting deployments:   but goal    policy      but         but goal
                        of no       limits      maximum     of no
                        single      deployment  desired     single
                        deployment  s to 180    level of    deployment
                        over 179    days/6      120 days    over 6
                        days        months      per year    months

System tracking         Unit and    Unit only   Major       Unit only
capabilities            individual              weapon
                                                systems
                                                and
                                                individual
----------------------------------------------------------------------
As noted on table 2, the Army defines a deployment as a movement
during which a unit spends 7 days (3 days for Special Forces) or more
away from its home station.  However, deployments to combat training
centers, which generally last about 3 weeks, are not counted.  In
contrast, the Marine Corps defines a deployment as any movement from
the home station for 10 days or more, including a deployment for
training at its combat training center. 

DOD is currently considering several recommendations made by its
PERSTEMPO Working Group and a Defense Science Board task force.\13
For example, these reports recommend that (1) a Joint Staff readiness
and training oversight panel oversee joint exercises and service
inspection activities to help reduce deployment demands and (2) the
CINCs establish plans for the rotation of units and personnel
involved in operations that exceed 6 months.  DOD and European
Command officials said that they do not plan to rotate the combat
units in Bosnia after 6 months.  Rather, they will stay as long as
needed, up to 364 days.  However, they will receive a rest and
relaxation break after 179 days.  According to these officials,
rotating units in and out of Bosnia is costly and could cause
operating inefficiencies. 

The Defense Science Board report also recommends that DOD issue a
single formula for counting deployed time among the services:  1 day
away equals 1 day deployed.  In this regard, the report of the
Working Group recommended that the services continue to refine their
PERSTEMPO systems but, at a minimum, permit a computation of averages
for length of deployment, time between deployments, percent of time
deployed, and percent of inventory deployed--at the unit or
individual skill level. 

One key issue in the decision of whether and how much to standardize
PERSTEMPO systems is the need for flexibility to accommodate the
unique nature of each service's missions and deployment practices. 
In this regard, officials in the U.S.  Special Operations Command
told us that they have developed their own PERSTEMPO system because
of concerns that the various service systems do not reflect the
unique demands placed on Special Forces personnel.  U.S.  Atlantic
Command officials believed that all services should be required to
track PERSTEMPO by unit to help them make better decisions concerning
unit deployments.  Similarly, European Command officials called for
DOD to direct a single method to identify which units are tasked,
including an objective goal for PERSTEMPO management. 

The Working Group's June 1995 report noted that the services had a
number of concerns in this regard, including concerns that

  -- such systems and thresholds could erode traditional service
     roles and usurp service responsibilities,

  -- such thresholds may lead to unmanageable restrictions on unit
     and individual deployability, and

  -- such systems may require an unnecessary and expensive level of
     detail. 

The PERSTEMPO Working Group is finalizing its second study and is due
to report in the near future.  The report will address whether
current deployment measurement systems are appropriate and provide
overall conclusions on the status of PERSTEMPO today as well as
recommendations for further courses of action. 


--------------------
\13 Report of the PERSTEMPO Working Group, June 1995; Report of the
Defense Science Board Task Force on Quality of Life, October 1995. 


   RECOMMENDATIONS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :6

To provide the oversight and guidance needed for long-term management
of PERSTEMPO, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense

  -- identify key indicators that provide the best measures of
     deployments' impact on personnel readiness and adjust existing
     databases to allow research comparing these indicators in high
     PERSTEMPO units, skill groups, or weapon systems to other such
     groups and

  -- issue DOD regulations that guide service management of PERSTEMPO
     by (1) establishing a DOD-wide definition of deployment; (2)
     stating whether each service should have a goal, policy, or
     regulation stipulating the maximum amount of time units and/or
     personnel may be deployed; and (3) defining the minimum data on
     PERSTEMPO each service must collect and maintain. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :7

In a meeting to discuss the Department's comments on a draft of this
report, DOD officials said they generally agreed with our findings
and recommendations.  In written comments on the draft report (see
app.  II), DOD said that it has taken, and will continue to take,
numerous initiatives to manage PERSTEMPO.  Also, DOD said that it
will be considering recommendations made in the PERSTEMPO Working
Group's report that is due to be published in the near future. 


   SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :8

To assess the frequency of deployments and their impact on readiness,
we focused our analyses on about 80 high-deploying active duty units
in the four services and the Special Operations Command (see app.I). 
At our request, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force provided us
with a list of
68 combat and support units that were the highest deployers in the 5
types of units most frequently deployed.  The Marine Corps did not
have the historical data to identify units with particularly high
deployment rates.  Instead, we used a group of 18 Corps-identified
units representing a cross-section of Marine units.  We obtained
deployment histories for 83 of these units and complete SORTS
readiness histories for 78 of the units.  For these units, we
analyzed available readiness-related statistics and conducted case
study visits to 29 judgmentally selected units.  The case study units
were selected to provide broad coverage of the types of units in each
service as well as geographical diversity. 

To determine the frequency of deployments in recent years, we relied
primarily on an analysis performed by the Defense Manpower Data
Center, based on a special database approximating the frequency of
deployments by measuring family separation and imminent danger pay. 
We did not verify the Center's data.  We supplemented this data with
deployment histories collected directly from the high-deploying units
and information from a recently created Joint Staff database.  We
also discussed the status of efforts to measure PERSTEMPO with each
service and the Joint Staff. 

We assessed the impact of high PERSTEMPO on readiness through a
two-tiered process.  We assessed readiness of the overall force at
the unit level by using our recently completed analysis of force
readiness.  We also compared SORTS ratings for the high-deploying
units from 1991 to 1995 with profiles of targeted ratings.  We then
compared ratings below expected levels with unit explanations of
degradations in readiness, supplementing this analysis with
discussions at the major command level.  To assess the impact of
deployments on individual readiness, we reviewed available literature
and held discussions with individual service and unit officials. 
Because there was no agreement regarding the best indicators of the
impact of deployments on individuals and because of data limitations,
our work in this area was limited to data on spouse and child abuse
and positive drug tests from the Defense Manpower Data Center and
Navy data on retention. 

To review DOD actions to mitigate the impact of high PERSTEMPO, we
reviewed DOD reports and held discussions with DOD, service, and unit
officials. 

We conducted our review from May 1995 to January 1996 in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards. 

We are sending copies of this report to the Chairmen, Senate and
House Committees on Appropriations, Senate Committee on Armed
Services, and House Committee on National Security, and to the
Secretaries of Defense, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. 
Copies will also be made available to others upon request. 

The major contributors to this report are listed in appendix III.  If
you or your staff have questions about this report, please call me on
(202) 512-5140. 

Mark E.  Gebicke
Director, Military Operations
 and Capabilities Issues


TYPES OF UNITS INCLUDED IN OUR
SAMPLE OF HIGH-DEPLOYING UNITS
=========================================================== Appendix I


         ARMY
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:0.0.1

Special Forces/Rangers
General support (quartermaster, field services,
 and general supply)
Air defense artillery/Patriot batteries
Military police
Mechanized infantry


         NAVY
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:0.0.2

Tank landing ships
Perry-class frigates
Ticonderoga-class cruisers
Spruance-class destroyers
Burke-class destroyers
Nuclear-powered fast attack submarines


         AIR FORCE
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:0.0.3

Special operations squadrons
Airborne warning and control system squadrons
Electronic jamming squadrons
Reconnaissance squadrons


         MARINE CORPS
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:0.0.4

Fighter attack squadrons
Harrier attack squadrons
Electronic warfare squadrons
Light attack helicopter squadrons
Infantry battalions
Communications battalions
General support (maintenance and engineering)
 and battalions/squadrons
Light armored reconnaissance battalions
Aviation command and control group




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


MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS REPORT
========================================================= Appendix III

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

Sharon A.  Cekala
Charles J.  Bonanno, Jr.
Jose M.  Pena, III

ATLANTA FIELD OFFICE

John W.  Nelson
John H.  Pendleton
Gerald L.  Winterlin

*** End of document. ***