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DOD Reserve Components: Issues Pertaining to Readiness (Testimony, 03/21/96, GAO/T-NSIAD-96-130).

GAO discussed the readiness of armed forces reserve components. GAO
noted that: (1) reserve components provided crucial support and combat
functions in the Persian Gulf War and in various peacekeeping
operations; (2) the Army National Guard's combat forces far exceed
projected force requirements for two major regional conflicts, while the
Army has critical shortages in support functions; (3) none of the
enhanced brigades that it reviewed achieved the training proficiency
that the Army required for deployment within 90 days of mobilization;
(4) active-duty advisers assigned to National Guard brigades were
limited by an ambiguous definition of their role, poor management
communication, and difficult working relationships; (5) it is uncertain
that the Guard's mechanized infantry and armor brigades could deploy
within 90 days after mobilization; (6) while it has found that a
dedicated continental air defense force is no longer necessary to defend
North America against a long-range air threat, the Air Force has only
reduced its dedicated Air National Guard force for this mission from 180
aircraft to 150 aircraft; and (7) eliminating continental air defense
units and assigning their missions to existing units could save $1.8
billion from fiscal years 1997 through 2000.

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

     TITLE:  DOD Reserve Components: Issues Pertaining to Readiness
      DATE:  03/21/96
   SUBJECT:  Armed forces reserves
             Armed forces reserve training
             Combat readiness
             Defense contingency planning
             Military cost control
             Military operations
             Military aircraft
             Military downsizing
IDENTIFIER:  Persian Gulf War
             Desert Storm
             DOD Total Force Policy
             DOD Bottom-Up Review
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================================================================ COVER

Before the Subcommittee on Readiness, Committee on Armed Services
U.S.  Senate

For Release on Delivery
Expected at
2:30 p.m., EDT
March 21, 1996


Statement of Richard Davis, Director, National Security Analysis,
National Security and International Affairs Division




=============================================================== ABBREV

  DOD - Department of Defense
  GAO - General Accounting Office

============================================================ Chapter 0

Mr.  Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: 

I am pleased to be here today to discuss issues pertaining to the
readiness of the Department of Defense's (DOD) reserve components. 
When DOD adopted the Total Force policy in 1973, it intended to
better integrate the active and reserve forces so that they could
effectively carry out the U.S.  national security strategy.  The
strategy during the Cold War required that U.S.  forces be able to
meet the demands of a global conflict with the Soviet Union and the
Warsaw Pact.  Since the end of the Cold War, new regional dangers
have replaced the global Soviet threat, and reserve forces must adapt
to meet these new challenges.  Our work suggests that at least one
reserve component has not sufficiently adapted to the new challenges
and therefore may not be prepared to carry out its assigned missions. 
Our work also shows that too much force structure exists in some
areas, which results in an inefficient use of defense resources. 
These findings are significant because both DOD and Congress are
concerned with the long-term readiness of U.S.  forces and are
attempting to find the necessary funds within the defense budget to
modernize the force. 

My testimony discusses the following three specific areas.  We
believe changes in these areas could help achieve a more effective
force structure through better use of resources. 

  The Army National Guard has considerable excess combat forces at
     the same time that the Army has a substantial unfilled
     requirement for combat support units. 

  The ability of some Army National Guard combat brigades to be ready
     for early deployment missions to support the defense strategy is
     highly uncertain.  This uncertainty brings into question whether
     the roles and missions of the Army Guard need to be modified. 

  The Air National Guard has forces dedicated to the continental air
     defense mission.  This dedicated force is not needed today. 
     Considerable moneys could be available for other critical needs
     if the dedicated forces were eliminated and the mission was
     assigned to existing forces. 

I will discuss each of these issues in more detail, but first I want
to provide some information on the reserve components. 

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

The reserve components of the Army and Air Force include both the
National Guard and Reserves.  These components account for about 85
percent of the total reserve personnel and funding.  The Navy, Marine
Corps, and Coast Guard have only Reserves.  Because the Coast Guard
Reserve is such a small force--about 8,000 personnel in 1996--and is
under the Department of Transportation, we are not including it in
our discussion. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:1.1

Table 1 shows that all the reserve components have been reduced in
size since fiscal year 1990.  Except for the Marine Corps, the
components are projected to be reduced even further by fiscal year
2001.  Between fiscal years 1990 and 2001, the reserve components are
expected to decline by slightly more than 20 percent. 

                                Table 1
                    Size of DOD's Reserve Components

Reserve component                                 1990    1996    2001
----------------------------------------------  ------  ------  ------
Army National Guard                             436,96  373,00  367,00
                                                     5       0       0
Army Reserve                                    299,14  230,00  208,00
                                                     5       0       0
Air National Guard                              116,15  109,46  106,66
                                                     0       0       5
Air Force Reserve                               77,390  73,970  73,215
Naval Reserve                                   149,35  98,610  96,400
Marine Corps Reserve                            44,530  42,000  42,000
Total                                           1,123,  927,04  893,28
                                                   530       0       0
The Guard and Reserve comprised about 35 percent of DOD's total
military force in 1990, and they are projected to comprise about 38
percent of the force by the end of fiscal years 1996 and 2001. 
However, the active and reserve composition of each of the services
differs considerably.  For example, the Guard and Reserve are
projected to comprise slightly over 50 percent of the total Army for
fiscal years 1996 and 2001, but the Reserves are projected to
comprise less than 20 percent of the Naval and Marine Corps total
forces for the same years. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:1.2

According to DOD's fiscal year 1996 budget request, the reserve
components were projected to receive about 7 percent of total DOD
funding for fiscal years 1996 and 2001.  This percentage is slightly
higher than the percentage in 1990.  Table 2 shows the distribution
of funds by component for fiscal years 1990, 1996, and 2001. 

                                Table 2
                     Budgets for Guard and Reserve

                        ((Dollars in millions))

Reserve component                                 1990    1996    2001
----------------------------------------------  ------  ------  ------
Army National Guard                             $5,389  $5,541  $6,077
Army Reserve                                     3,166   3,213   3,368
Air National Guard                               3,320   4,044   4,585
Air Force Reserve                                1,726   2,296   2,504
Naval Reserve                                    2,534   2,182   2,427
Marine Corps Reserve                               393     452     521
Total                                           $16,52  $17,72  $19,48
                                                     8       8       2

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:1.3

The reserve components are expected to provide critical capabilities
that are projected to be needed for two major regional conflicts, the
military strategy articulated in DOD's 1993 bottom-up review. 
Examples of these capabilities are as follows: 

  The Army reserve components provide all or significant portions of
     many of the Army's support functions, including 100 percent of
     the forces that provide fresh water supply, over 95 percent of
     the civil affairs units, about 85 percent of the medical
     brigades, about 75 percent of the chemical defense battalions,
     and about 70 percent of the heavy combat engineer battalions. 

  The Air Force reserve components provide about 80 percent of aerial
     port units, over 60 percent of tactical airlift and air rescue
     and recovery units, and about 50 percent of aerial refueling

  The Naval Reserve contributes 100 percent of the heavy logistics
     support units, over 90 percent of the cargo handling battalions,
     and about 60 percent of the mobile construction battalions. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:1.4

The Gulf War was the first major test of the Total Force policy. 
Over 200,000 reservists served on active duty either voluntarily or
as a result of involuntary call-up.  Very few of the combat units in
the reserve components were called up for the war; however, the
support units were deployed extensively.  According to a study by the
Institute for Defense Analyses for DOD's Commission on Roles and
Missions, many reserve component combat and support units that were
deployed for the war demonstrated their ability to perform to
standard with little postmobilization training.\1 However, the
experience among the services was mixed, according to the study.  For
example, the Marine Corps called up and deployed more of its Reserve
combat units than the other military services, and the units carried
out their missions successfully.  The Air Force deployed few of its
reserve component combat forces, but the forces that were deployed
demonstrated that they could perform in a war, if needed.  The Army
did not deploy National Guard combat brigades that were associated
with active divisions because those divisions were deployed on short
notice and the Army believed the brigades needed extensive
postmobilization training. 

In a 1991 report, we stated that the three Army National Guard
brigades activated for the Gulf War were inadequately prepared to be
fully ready to deploy quickly.\2 Army officials have testified that,
although combat brigades were intended to participate in contingency
conflicts, the envisioned conflicts were not of the immediate nature
of the Gulf War.  We found that when the three brigades were
activated, many soldiers were not completely trained to do their
jobs; many noncommissioned officers were not adequately trained in
leadership skills; and Guard members had difficulty adjusting to the
active Army's administrative systems for supply and personnel
management, which were different from those the Guard used in
peacetime.  The activation also revealed that the postmobilization
training plans prepared by the three brigades during peacetime had
underestimated the training that would be necessary for them to be
fully combat ready. 

About 140,000 of the 200,000 reservists called up for the Gulf War
were from the Army reserve components, and most of those individuals
were in support units.  We reported in 1992 and testified in 1993
that the Army had difficulty providing adequate support forces.\3 In
our testimony, we stated that the Army used a large portion of some
types of support units, such as heavy and medium truck units and
water supply companies, and totally exhausted its supply of other
units, even though it had deployed only about one-quarter of its
combat divisions. 

\1 Reserve Component Roles, Mix, and Employment, Institute For
Defense Analyses, May 1995. 

\2 National Guard:  Peacetime Training Did Not Adequately Prepare
Combat Brigades for Gulf War (GAO/NSIAD-91-263, Sept.  24, 1991). 

\3 Operation Desert Storm:  Army Had Difficulty Providing Adequate
Active and Reserve Support Forces (GAO/NSIAD-92-67, Mar.  10, 1992)
and Army Force Structure:  Attention Needed to Ensure an Ample Supply
of Ready Support Forces (GAO/T-NSIAD-93-1, Apr.  20, 1993). 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:1.5

Reserve component personnel have been involved in virtually every
contingency operation since the Gulf War.  For example, over 1,300
Army Reserve and National Guard personnel were activated for Uphold
Democracy in Haiti to replace individuals deployed from home
stations, provide transportation and logistics, and bolster special
operations capabilities such as civil affairs.  The Air Force relied
on reserve component volunteers to provide airlift, aerial refueling,
and operational relief of fighter squadrons for Provide Promise and
Deny Flight in Bosnia and Provide Comfort in Iraq.  Marine Corps
reservists provided security for refugee camps at Guantanamo Bay, and
Naval reservists participated in Caribbean operations to intercept
refugee vessels. 

Thousands of reservists have participated in recent peace operations. 
For example, the President, using his Selected Reserve Callup
authority, authorized the activation of up to 4,300 reservists to
support operations in Bosnia.  As of February 22, 1996, 3,475
reservists had been mobilized, and according to DOD Reserve Affairs
officials, the first reserve rotation is in place.  Additionally,
about 960 volunteers have been deployed.  Our recent work on the use
of volunteers has shown that they have had the necessary skills and
qualifications to perform their jobs and have performed well. 

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

Last week we reported that the Army National Guard's combat forces
far exceed projected requirements for two major regional conflicts.\4
Army National Guard combat forces consist of 8 divisions, 15 enhanced
brigades, and 3 separate combat units.\5

Today, about 161,000 Guard personnel are in these combat units,
including about 67,000 in the 15 enhanced brigades.  We stated that
the Guard's eight combat divisions and three separate units are not
required to accomplish the two-conflict strategy, according to Army
war planners and war planning documents that we reviewed.  The Joint
Chiefs of Staff have not assigned these divisions and units for use
in any major regional conflict currently envisioned in DOD planning
scenarios.  Moreover, although the Joint Chiefs of Staff have made
all 15 enhanced brigades available for war planning purposes, the
planners have identified requirements for less than 10 brigades to
achieve mission success in a war.  According to DOD documents and
Army officials, the excess forces are a strategic reserve that could
be assigned missions, such as occupational forces once an enemy has
been deterred and rotational forces.  However, we could find no
analytical basis for this level of strategic reserve. 

State and federal laws generally authorize the Guard to provide
military support to state authorities for certain missions, such as
disaster relief.  Support skills, such as engineering and military
police, are most often needed for state missions.  The Guard
primarily supplements other state resources for these missions. 
According to a recent study by RAND's National Defense Research
Institute,\6 the Guard has used only a small percent of its total
personnel over the last decade to meet state requirements. 

At the time of our review, the Army was studying alternatives to
redesign the Guard's combat structure to meet critical shortages that
the Army had identified in its support capabilities.  The Army's most
recent analysis projects a shortage of 60,000 support troops,
primarily in transportation and quartermaster units.  Furthermore, a
recent Joint Chiefs of Staff exercise concluded that maintaining
sufficient support forces is critical to executing the two-conflict
strategy.  DOD's Commission on Roles and Missions concluded in its
report that reserve component forces with lower priority tasks, such
as the Guard's eight combat divisions, should be eliminated or
reorganized to fill shortfalls in higher priority areas.\7 The
Commission also reported that, even after filling the shortfalls, the
total Army would still have more combat forces than required and
recommended that these forces be eliminated from the active or
reserve components. 

The end of the Cold War and budgetary pressures have provided both
the opportunity and the incentive to reassess defense needs.  Because
the Guard's combat forces exceed projected war requirements and the
Army's analysis indicates a shortage of support forces, we believe it
is appropriate for the Army to study the conversion of some Guard
combat forces to support roles.  Therefore, in our recent report, we
recommended that the Secretary of the Defense, in conjunction with
the Secretary of the Army and the Director of the Army National
Guard, validate the size and structure of all the Guard's combat
forces and that the Secretary of the Army prepare and execute a plan
to bring the size and structure in line with validated requirements. 
We also recommended that, if the Army study suggests that some Guard
combat forces should be converted to support roles, the Secretary of
the Army follow through with the conversion because it would satisfy
shortages in its support forces and further provide the types of
forces that state governors have traditionally needed.  Moreover, we
recommended that the Secretary of Defense consider eliminating any
Guard forces that exceed validated requirements.  DOD fully concurred
with our recommendations. 

\4 Army National Guard:  Validate Requirements for Combat Forces and
Size Those Forces Accordingly (GAO/NSIAD-96-63, Mar.  14, 1996). 

\5 The enhanced brigade concept, described in the 1993 Report on the
Bottom-Up Review, became effective on October 1, 1995.  The concept
provides for 15 separate brigades that are required to be ready to
deploy at the Army's highest readiness level within 90 days of
mobilization.  According to the report, these brigades are to receive
more training and resources than those provided to the Guard's other
combat forces. 

\6 Assessing the State and Federal Missions of the National Guard,
RAND, 1995. 

\7 Report of the Commission on Roles and Missions of the Armed
Forces, Department of Defense, 1995. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3

In the aftermath of the Gulf War, the Army adopted a new training
strategy that was designed to prepare combat brigades to deploy
within 90 days of mobilization.  The strategy refocuses peacetime
training goals on proficiency at the platoon level and below, rather
than up through the brigade level, for mission-essential tasks and
gunnery.  The strategy also includes efforts to improve individual
job and leader training and implements a congressionally mandated
program that assigned 5,000 active Army advisers to the brigades. 

In June 1995, we reported on 7 of 15 brigades that were scheduled to
become enhanced brigades.\8 We selected these seven brigades because
they were roundout or roundup brigades to active component divisions
and had received preference for training and resources.\9

They had also been required to be ready to deploy at the Army's
highest readiness level within 90 days of mobilization.  Therefore,
their deployment criteria did not change when they became enhanced

We reported on the readiness status of the seven combat brigades
during 1992 through 1994, the first 3 years the new training strategy
was tested, focusing on whether (1) the new strategy had enabled the
brigades to meet peacetime training goals, (2) the advisers assigned
to the brigades were working effectively to improve training
readiness, and (3) prospects for having the brigades ready for war
within 90 days were likely.  For the most part, none of the brigades
came close to achieving the training proficiency sought by the Army. 
The brigades were unable to recruit and retain enough personnel to
meet staffing goals, and many personnel were not sufficiently trained
in their individual job and leadership skills.  Even if the brigades
had made improvements in individual training, their 23-percent
personnel turnover rate would quickly obliterate such gains. 
Collective training was also problematic.  In 1993, combat platoons
had mastered an average of just one-seventh of their
mission-essential tasks, compared with a goal of 100 percent, and
less than one-third of the battalions met gunnery goals.  Although
gunnery scores improved for four brigades in 1994, the brigades
reported no marked improvement in the other key areas. 

The adviser program's efforts to improve training readiness were
limited by factors such as (1) an ambiguous definition of the
advisers' role; (2) poor communication between the active Army,
advisers, brigades, and other National Guard officials, causing
confusion and disagreement over training goals; and (3) difficult
working relationships.  The relationship between the active Army and
the state-run Guard was characterized by an "us and them" environment
that could undermine prospects for significant improvement in the
brigades' ability to conduct successful combat operations. 

We also reported that it was highly uncertain whether the Guard's
mechanized infantry and armor brigades could be ready to deploy 90
days after mobilization.  Models estimated that the brigades would
need between 68 and 110 days before being ready to deploy.  However,
these estimates assumed that the brigades' peacetime training
proficiency would improve to levels near those envisioned by the
training strategy, thus shortening postmobilization training.  One
model, which included the possibility that the strategy's goals would
not be met, estimated that as many as 154 days would be required to
prepare the brigades to deploy. 

In commenting on our report in April 1995, DOD generally agreed with
our conclusions, however, DOD said it was too early in the
implementation of the initiatives to evaluate improvement in the
brigades' readiness. 

In February 1996, we obtained the latest information on the enhanced
brigades' training proficiency from the Army's U.S.  Forces Command. 
According to Command officials, some of the same problems we
identified in our report continue to exist and the enhanced brigades
have not reached platoon-level proficiency.  Specifically, the
officials told us that the brigades experienced training difficulties
during 1995, which precluded the units from being validated at
platoon-level proficiency.  Some of the problems that had a negative
impact on unit training were (1) low attendance by personnel at
annual training, (2) shortages in junior and senior enlisted
personnel and officers, and (3) severe deficiencies in individual
skills proficiency.  For example, one brigade reported that 36
percent of its soldiers were not qualified in their individual
military occupational skills.  Despite the problems, Command
officials said some brigades are improving, however, they have
minimal data to support that position. 

The training situation with the enhanced brigades calls into question
whether the current strategy of deploying National Guard combat
brigades within 90 days is realistic. 

\8 Army National Guard:  Combat Brigades' Ability to Be Ready for War
in 90 Days Is Uncertain (GAO/NSIAD-95-91, June 2, 1995). 

\9 Roundout brigades are National Guard units designated to fill out
active component divisions to the standard mobilization configuration
of three brigades.  Roundup brigades are National Guard units
designated to augment active component divisions beyond the standard
three-brigade configuration. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4

The continental air defense mission evolved during the Cold War to
detect and intercept Soviet bombers attacking North America via the
North Pole.  This mission is carried out primarily by dedicated Air
National Guard units.  In his 1993 report on roles and missions, the
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had determined that the United
States no longer needed a large, dedicated continental air defense
force.\10 Consequently, the Chairman recommended that the dedicated
force be significantly reduced or eliminated and that existing active
and reserve general purpose forces be tasked to perform the mission. 
The Secretary of Defense agreed with the Chairman's recommendations
and directed the Air Force to reduce the dedicated force but retain
the mission primarily as an Air Force reserve component
responsibility.  To date, the Air Force has not aggressively
implemented the Chairman's or the Secretary of Defense's
recommendations.  Rather, the Air Force continues to keep a dedicated
force for the air defense mission and has reduced the force by less
than 20 percent. 

We reported in May 1994 that a dedicated continental air defense
force was no longer needed because the threat of a Soviet-style air
attack against the United States had largely disappeared.\11 As a
result of the greatly reduced threat, the air defense force had been
focusing its activities on air sovereignty missions.  However, those
missions could be performed by active and reserve general purpose and
training forces because they had comparable or more capable aircraft,
were located at or near most existing continental air defense bases
and alert sites, and had pilots capable of performing air sovereignty
missions or being trained to perform such missions.  We stated that
implementing the Chairman's recommendations could result in
significant savings.  The amount of savings would depend on whether
the dedicated air defense units were disbanded or assigned another

The Air Force reduced its dedicated Air National Guard force from 180
to 150 aircraft.  We do not believe this reduction is in line with
the Chairman's recommendation.  Moreover, we believe that retaining
150 dedicated aircraft would unnecessarily drain operation and
maintenance funds.  We asked the Congressional Budget Office to
estimate the savings from the 1995 defense plan if all the air
defense units were disbanded and their missions assigned to existing
units.  On the basis of a force of 150 aircraft, the office estimated
a total savings of about $1.8 billion from fiscal years 1997 through

\10 Roles, Missions, and Functions of the Armed Forces of the United
States, February 1993. 

\11 Continental Air Defense:  A Dedicated Force Is No Longer Needed
(GAO/NSIAD-94-76, May 3, 1994). 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.1

Mr.  Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement.  I would be
happy to address any questions you or other members of the
subcommittee may have. 

*** End of document. ***