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Combat Air Power: Joint Mission Assessments Needed Before Making Program and Budget Decisions (Testimony, 06/27/96, GAO/T-NSIAD-96-196).

GAO discussed the Department of Defense's (DOD) future combat air power
capabilities. GAO noted that: (1) DOD has added many new aircraft to its
fleet and has improved the capabilities of its remaining combat
aircraft; (2) DOD has made more of its aircraft capable of delivering
advanced munitions; (3) DOD does not believe that potential adversaries
possess the capabilities needed to prevent U.S. forces from achieving
their military objectives; (4) the United States and its allies are
cooperating to limit conventional arms transfers to certain nations; (5)
DOD has planned major aircraft modernization programs to achieve greater
combat capabilities; (6) DOD faces a major challenge in funding these
programs, since its budget is expected to decline over the next 6 years;
(7) DOD is proceeding with major air power programs without assessing
its joint mission requirements; (8) some aircraft modernization programs
would marginally improve existing capabilities at a very high cost; (9)
there are less costly alternatives that could be pursued to meet the
services needs; and (10) it is impossible to determine the necessity of
these investments without comparing mission requirements against
existing capabilities.

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

 REPORTNUM:  T-NSIAD-96-196
     TITLE:  Combat Air Power: Joint Mission Assessments Needed Before 
             Making Program and Budget Decisions
      DATE:  06/27/96
   SUBJECT:  Future budget projections
             Defense cost control
             Defense economic analysis
             Defense procurement
             Defense budgets
             Defense contingency planning
             Combat readiness
             Fighter aircraft
             Air warfare
             Defense capabilities
IDENTIFIER:  Persian Gulf War
             Soviet Union
             F-15E Aircraft
             F-16 Aircraft
             F/A-18 Aircraft
             Kiowa Helicopter
             Cobra Helicopter
             Apache Helicopter
             Tomahawk Cruise Missile
             Army Tactical Missile System
             Russia
             China
             Patriot PAC-3
             F-22 Aircraft
             F/A-18E/F Aircraft
             Comanche Helicopter
             Joint Strike Fighter
             Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile
             Joint Direct Attack Weapon
             Joint Standoff Weapon
             Air Force F-22 Program
             AMRAAM
             F/A-18C/D Aircraft
             F-15 Aircraft
             Super Cobra Helicopter
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Before the Subcommittee on Military Research and Development and
Military Procurement, Committee on National Security, House of
Representatives

For Release on Delivery
Expected at
1:00 p.m., EDT
Thursday,
June 27, 1996

COMBAT AIR POWER - JOINT MISSION
ASSESSMENTS NEEDED BEFORE MAKING
PROGRAM AND BUDGET DECISIONS

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

GAO/T-NSIAD-96-196

GAO/NSIAD-96-196T


(701096)


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

  CINC - Commander-in-Chief
  DOD - Department of Defense
  JCS - Joint Chiefs of Staff
  PGM - Precision Guided Munition

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

Mr.  Chairman and Members of the Subcommittees: 

I am pleased to be here today to discuss the challenges that the
Department of Defense (DOD) faces in ensuring effective combat air
power capabilities for the future.  My testimony is based on a
comprehensive report of the major issues related to U.S.  combat air
power that we expect to issue in September.  This report will
synthesize the findings from our reviews of six key air power mission
areas\1 conducted over the past
2 years and other recent reviews of individual weapon systems.  The
overall objective of our work was to determine whether the Secretary
of Defense has sufficient information from a joint perspective to
help him decide whether new air power investments should be made,
whether programmed investments should continue to be funded, and what
priority should be given to competing programs.  To provide context
for this assessment, we examined major changes in U.S.  air power
capabilities since the Persian Gulf War in relation to those of
potential adversaries. 

Today, I would like to make four points based on our work: 

1.  Although U.S.  aircraft inventories have declined since the Gulf
War, DOD has added many new aircraft to its fleet and has
qualitatively improved the capabilities of its remaining aircraft and
other air power assets.  As a result, DOD's current force remains
highly capable and is more capable in many areas than the larger Cold
War force. 

2.  With the end of the Cold War, U.S.  forces may face potential
adversaries far less capable than the former Soviet Union.  These
nations' forces are considerably smaller, older, and less capable
than U.S.  forces, and information suggests that they are likely to
be slow to improve their capabilities.  And, while isolated terrorist
actions cannot be ruled out, DOD believes that it is unlikely that
these nations could prevent U.S.  forces from achieving their
objectives in a military engagement. 

3.  As the nation attempts to achieve a balanced budget, DOD faces a
major challenge in seeking to finance all of its combat air power
investment programs.  At the same time, our work shows that some
programs would only marginally improve existing capabilities at a
very high cost.  Others may no longer be needed in view of the
changed security environment.  And, for some programs, less costly
alternatives could be pursued to meet identified needs. 

4.  Our work suggests that DOD is proceeding with major air power
programs without having sufficiently assessed its joint mission
requirements to meet post-Cold War needs.  Without such assessments,
the Secretary of Defense does not have the information needed to
render accurate assessments of the need for and priority of planned
investment programs. 

I would like to elaborate on each of these issues.  But before I
begin, I must tell you that to keep my testimony unclassified, I will
be more general than I would prefer.  This is particularly true in my
discussion of the capabilities of potential adversaries.  Also,
although our comprehensive report defines U.S.  air power more
broadly, my testimony today will focus primarily on fighter and
attack aircraft, attack helicopters, bombers, munitions employed by
combat aircraft, and long-range missiles. 


--------------------
\1 These include interdiction, air superiority, close support, air
refueling, suppression of enemy air defenses, and surveillance and
reconnaissance. 


   ALTHOUGH SMALLER, CURRENT U.S. 
   AIR POWER FORCES REMAIN HIGHLY
   CAPABLE
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:1

Despite downsizing, U.S.  forces remain highly capable.  While DOD
has reduced its number of combat aircraft, it has retired some older
aircraft while adding new aircraft and enhancing the capabilities of
existing aircraft.  These actions have yielded a force that, in many
areas, is more capable than the larger Cold War force. 

DOD's total inventory of combat aircraft has declined from about
8,200 in 1991 to about 5,900 in 1996 as shown in the following chart. 
The quantities shown include aircraft designated for operational
missions as well as aircraft set aside for testing and training. 



   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Source:  Departments of the
   Army, Navy, and Air Force.

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps fixed-wing fighter and attack
aircraft have been reduced the most--from about 6,200 in 1991 to
about 4,100 in 1996.  The services have achieved these reductions
primarily by retiring older aircraft that have been costly to operate
and maintain.  At the same time, they have added many newer model
aircraft--about 70 F-15E strike fighters, about 250 F-16
multi-mission fighters, and about 200 F/A-18 fighter and attack
aircraft.  These assets have bolstered U.S.  combat air capabilities. 

The total number of attack helicopters has only declined by 79.  This
smaller reduction is due to the fact that although 600 older AH-1
Cobras were retired, both the Army and the Navy have added newer more
capable helicopters.  These include about 150 Apache attack
helicopters and 300 OH-58D Kiowa Warrior armed reconnaissance
helicopters in the Army and about 70 Cobras in the Marine Corps. 

Although DOD now has fewer aircraft, many of the aircraft being
retained have been qualitatively improved.  For example, DOD has
improved the navigation, night fighting, target acquisition, and
self-protection capabilities of many aircraft and has made more
aircraft capable of delivering advanced munitions.  These were
capabilities that contributed significantly to the effectiveness of
tactical aircraft in the Gulf War.  DOD is also substantially
increasing its inventory of long-range missiles and precision-guided
munitions (PGM).  It is presumed that the growth in PGMs could reduce
the number of flights and aircraft needed to destroy designated
targets.  The following chart shows the added capabilities in these
areas since 1991. 



   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Note:  Long-range missiles
   include the Tomahawk cruise
   missile and the Army Tactical
   Missile System.  Night-fighting
   aircraft includes those
   designed to permit use of
   night-vision goggles and/or
   those equipped with infrared
   detection devices.  PGM
   capability refers to the
   ability of aircraft to
   autonomously employ
   precision-guided munitions
   using laser designators.

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Source:  Departments of the
   Army, Navy and Air Force.

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)


   FORCES OF POTENTIAL ADVERSARIES
   ARE LIMITED AND LIKELY SLOW TO
   IMPROVE
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2

Based on DOD data and information from other government sources, DOD
does not believe that potential adversaries possess the capabilities
needed to prevent U.S.  forces from achieving their military
objectives. 

Regarding offensive capabilities, although some potential adversaries
have significant numbers of aircraft, none has an inventory that
approaches that of U.S.  forces.  Also, their aircraft are generally
older and technologically inferior to U.S.  aircraft.  Some possess
significant quantities of conventional theater ballistic missiles,
however, these missiles are often relatively unsophisticated.  The
United States does not currently face a significant threat from enemy
cruise missiles, and such capabilities are not likely to increase
until the middle of the next decade, if at all. 

Regarding defensive capabilities, potential adversaries have few
modern fighters suitable for air defense.  The bulk of their forces
are older, less capable aircraft, and information suggests that they
will not be adding many modern aircraft.  Similarly, they generally
rely on older surface-based air defense systems for high-altitude
long-range defense.  It is believed that potential adversaries are
trying to improve their air defense capabilities by upgrading their
existing systems, purchasing more modern weapons, and using
camouflage and decoys.  But, DOD believes that, even with
improvements, it is unlikely that potential adversaries could prevent
U.S.  forces from achieving their objectives. 

Several factors are likely to inhibit these nations from improving
their capabilities quickly.  First, they lack the indigenous
capability to develop and produce the advanced systems that would
permit them to significantly enhance their capabilities.  Therefore,
advances will likely be confined to upgrades of existing equipment
and the possible acquisition of advanced systems from outside
sources. 

Second, worldwide arms transfers have fallen significantly in recent
years and are not expected to reach former levels any time soon. 
Unlike the former Soviet Union, Russia normally requires payment for
its weapons transfers.  As a result, its arms transfers fell from $29
billion in 1987 to only $1.3 billion in constant 1994 dollars.  From
1992 to 1994, Russia exported a total of 30 fixed-wing combat
aircraft to developing countries.  China has also reduced its arms
exports.  The following chart illustrates both the decline in the
international arms market between 1987 and 1994 and the dominance of
Western suppliers. 



   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Source:  1994-1995 World
   Military Expenditures and Arms
   Transfers, Arms Control and
   Disarmament Agency.

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Third, the United States and its allies are cooperating to limit
conventional arms transfers to certain nations.  For example, the
United Nations imposed sanctions on several nations in the 1990s. 
These sanctions prohibited the transfer of weapons or commercial
technology that could be used for military purposes to these nations. 
No measurable arms transfers were made to these nations after the
sanctions were imposed.  Similarly, 28 nations signed the Wassenaar
Arrangement in December 1995.  Under this arrangement, the major arms
producers agreed to refrain from exporting arms and dual-use
technology to certain nations.  In addition, the Missile Technology
Control Regime, created in 1987, is specifically designed to limit
the transfer of missiles, including cruise and theater ballistic
missiles, and related technology.  Taken together, the U.N. 
sanctions, the Wassenaar arrangement, and the Missile Technology
Control Regime pose obstacles to potential adversaries seeking to
acquire highly-capable weapons and advanced technology. 

Fourth, the high technology weapons that could seriously threaten
U.S.  air power are expensive, no matter what the source.  For
example, aircraft that are part of the original Eurofighter 2000
tactical aircraft contract are projected to cost about $75 million
each.  An advanced air defense system like the Patriot PAC-3 costs
over $100 million for each battery.  Given the state of the economies
of potential adversaries, it would be difficult for them to purchase
many high-cost systems. 

To summarize, although the use of air power assets in terrorist
actions cannot be ruled out as a potential danger, available
information suggests that no potential adversary possesses sufficient
capabilities to prevent U.S.  forces from achieving their objectives
in a military engagement.  Efforts by these countries to modernize
their forces will likely be inhibited by declines in the post-Cold
War arms market, national and international efforts to limit the
proliferation of conventional arms, and the high cost of advanced
weapons. 


   DOD FACES CHALLENGES IN
   MODERNIZING ITS COMBAT AIR
   FORCES
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3

Although U.S.  air power capabilities are already
substantial--particularly in relation to the threat, DOD has planned
major air power modernization programs in some areas to attain even
greater capabilities.  These modernization plans center on several
very expensive aircraft development programs--the Navy's F/A-18E/F
fighter/attack aircraft; the Air Force's F-22 air superiority
fighter; the Army's Comanche armed reconnaissance helicopter; and the
Joint Strike Fighter. 

Table 1 summarizes the estimated costs of DOD's major air power
modernization programs.  We have not included the Joint Strike
Fighter in this table because the program is still being defined and
cost estimates are preliminary.  However, current plans are to
develop and procure about 2,800 new aircraft for the Air Force, Navy,
and Marine Corps.  According to DOD, the unit flyaway cost of the
Joint Strike Fighter is expected to range from about $29 million to
$40 million (expressed in 1996 dollars) depending on the service
model procured and the contractor selected.  If these plans proceed,
the Joint Strike Fighter would become DOD's costliest aircraft
modernization program. 



                                Table 1
                
                   Estimated Costs of Major Air Power
                  Investment Programs (as of Dec. 31,
                                1995)\a

                    (Then-year dollars in billions)

                                          Throug    FY 1997 to
                                            h FY        end of
Program                                     1996       program   Total
----------------------------------------  ------  ------------  ------
F/A-18E/F                                   $4.9         $76.1   $81.0
F-22                                        14.0          56.1    70.1
Longbow Apache                               1.9           6.4     8.3
Comanche\b                                   3.1          41.7    44.8
B-1 bomber modifications                     1.3           2.5     3.8
AV-8B remanufacture                          0.5           1.8     2.3
Weapons\c                                   23.9          20.9    44.8
======================================================================
Total                                      $49.6        $205.5  $255.1
----------------------------------------------------------------------
\a Excludes Joint Strike Fighter. 

\b Data as of June 1996. 

\c Includes Tomahawk, Longbow Hellfire, and Advanced Medium Range
Air-to-Air Missiles; Army Tactical Missile System; Joint Direct
Attack Munitions; and Joint Stand-Off and Sensor-Fused Weapons. 

Source:  Departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force. 

DOD faces a major challenge in attempting to pay for all of the
programs as planned.  To illustrate, annual funding to procure new
planned fighter aircraft alone would need to average about $8 billion
in real terms at least through 2014.  This appears to be unrealistic. 
The defense budget has been declining in real terms since 1985, and
both the administration and the Congress project relatively flat top
line defense budgets in real terms over the next 6 years.  As the
nation attempts to achieve a balanced budget, it may be difficult to
increase overall defense spending. 

In advising the Secretary of Defense on DOD's plans, the Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended last year that the Secretary
increase annual procurement funding to $60 billion by 1998 to better
recapitalize U.S.  military forces.  This compares to the fiscal year
1997 procurement budget request of $39 billion.  In making this
recommendation, he noted that tactical aircraft procurement plans
call for much greater than expected resources in the outyears.  The
Secretary has said that he will attempt to achieve the needed funding
for modernization by seeking higher funding levels from the Congress
and by achieving savings from outsourcing, acquisition reform, and
infrastructure reductions.  But, as noted, higher defense budgets
appear unlikely, and savings from outsourcing and acquisition reform
are uncertain.  Moreover, we recently reported that DOD has not yet
projected any significant net infrastructure savings through fiscal
year 2001.\2

To put the current funding dilemma into perspective, it should be
noted that the current level of investment that DOD plans is more
consistent with the former Cold War era than with the current
security environment.  Based on our analysis of defense spending
trends and projections, we have concluded that DOD plans to spend
almost as much over the next 18 years to execute its current plans
for fighter aircraft as it spent over the last
18 years of the Cold War.  One has to ask:  With the Cold War ended,
should the United States be spending as much on tactical aircraft
over the next
18 years as it did during the massive defense build-up of the early
to mid-1980s? 

To summarize, DOD has planned investments that are unachievable
within likely future budgets and appear to be inconsistent with the
current security environment.  As I will discuss in the following
sections, there are good reasons for DOD to reconsider a number of
its planned investments.  If it were to modify its current plans, the
mismatch between programs and budget could be reduced. 


--------------------
\2 Defense Infrastructure:  Budget Estimates for 1996-2001 Offer
Little Savings for Modernization (GAO/NSIAD-96-131, Apr.  1996). 


   MAJOR AIR POWER INVESTMENT
   DECISIONS ARE NOT BASED ON
   JOINT ASSESSMENTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4

Our work shows that DOD is proceeding with major air power programs
without having sufficiently assessed its joint mission requirements
to meet post-Cold War needs.  Without such assessments, the Secretary
of Defense does not have the information needed to determine the need
for and priority of planned investments.  In our mission reviews, we
found that major force structure and program decisions had been made
without completed analyses of the services' joint qualitative and
quantitative requirements and aggregate capabilities to conduct these
missions.  As a result, a definitive answer as to whether planned
investments are needed is not clear.  However, past GAO work and
information developed on our six mission reviews suggest that DOD
should reexamine some planned investments for several reasons. 

First, current forces in some mission areas already provide combatant
commanders with formidable, often overlapping and redundant
capabilities.  The total inventory of assets that can be used to
interdict enemy ground targets illustrates this condition.  As shown
by table 2, each of the services have extensive inventories of
weapons that can be used for interdiction. 



                                Table 2
                
                DOD's Multiple Assets to Interdict Enemy
                             Ground Targets

                                                                  1996
Service                         Category    Asset            Inventory
------------------------------  ----------  --------------  ----------
Air Force                       Fixed-      F-15E                  203
                                wing
                                aircraft

                                            F-16                 1,450

                                            F-117                   54

                                            A/OA-10                369

                                            B-1B                    95

                                            B-2                     17

                                            B-52                    66

Navy and                        Fixed-      A-6E                    63
Marine Corps                    wing
                                aircraft

                                            AV-8B                  184

                                            F-14A/D                323

                                            F/A-18                 806

                                Helicopter  Cobra                  176
                                s

                                Missiles    Tomahawk             2,339

Army                            Helicopter  Apache                 798
                                s

                                            Cobra/Kiowa            758
                                            Warrior

                                Missiles    ATACMS               1,456
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Source:  Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. 

Based on our analysis of DOD's targeting data, the services
collectively have at least 10 ways to hit 65 percent of the thousands
of expected ground targets in two major regional conflicts.  In
addition, service interdiction assets can provide 140 to 160 percent
coverage for many types of targets.  Despite numerous overlapping
interdiction capabilities, DOD is investing about $200 billion to
provide new and enhanced interdiction capabilities over the next 15
to 20 years.  This figure excludes the Joint Strike Fighter program,
which will further enhance these capabilities. 

Second, we believe that programs initiated in response to Cold War
threats should not proceed without being reexamined in light of the
changed security environment.  For example, the Air Force initiated
the F-22 program in 1981 to meet the projected Soviet threat of the
mid-1990s.  Under this program, the Air Force would acquire 438 new
F-22 air superiority fighter aircraft.  Now, instead of confronting
thousands of modern Soviet fighters, U.S.  air forces are likely to
confront potential adversaries having few fighters that could
successfully challenge the F-15--the U.S.  frontline fighter. 
Similarly, the Air Force procured B-1B bombers during the 1980s to
acquire long-range, nuclear-capable aircraft as quickly as possible. 
With the Cold War requirement for nuclear-capable bombers reduced,
DOD now plans to spend $2.5 billion to modify its fleet of 95 B-1B
bombers to deliver conventional weapons.  This investment is being
made despite the already substantial capability to destroy ground
targets through other means.  The annual operation and support cost
of the B-1B fleet is $920 million. 

Third, there appear to be less costly alternatives to some highly
expensive modernization programs.  For these expensive programs, the
payoff in terms of added mission capability--considering the
investment required--does not appear to be "clear and substantial" as
mandated by the National Military Strategy.  For example, the Navy
F/A-18E/F's expected range, carrier recovery payload, and
survivability--key areas that DOD cited in justifying the
F/A-18E/F--will be only marginally improved over that of the less
costly F/A-18C/D model.  Cost estimates for these planes vary widely
depending on what costs are included.  However, we have recently
reported that, based on the Marine Corps' decision not to purchase
the F/A-18E/F, the unit recurring flyaway cost of this aircraft could
rise to as much as $53 million.  This compares to an estimated unit
cost of $28 million for the F/A-18C/D, which has been improved in
capability. 

Less costly alternatives to the Army's Comanche helicopter also
appear to exist.  According to Army program officials, the total
estimated program cost of the Comanche program is about $45 billion. 
Yet three existing helicopters--the Marines' Super Cobra and the
Army's Longbow Apache and Kiowa Warrior already perform many of the
functions that would be assigned to the Comanche.  The Super Cobra
can already fulfill armed reconnaissance and attack missions, and
planned enhancements will increase its speed and rate of climb.  The
Longbow Apache performs many of the missions intended for the
Comanche.  Many users believe the lethality, low observability,
deployability, and speed of the Kiowa Warrior when combined with
certain upgrades or doctrinal changes would resolve many of the
deficiencies the Comanche is expected to resolve. 

In short, a definitive answer as to the necessity of planned
investments is not possible without knowing how aggregate service
capabilities match up against joint warfighting requirements. 
However, based on our work, we believe that DOD's planned investments
may be adding little military capability in some mission areas and,
in fact, may not be warranted by the current and projected security
environment.  The extremely high cost of air power investments makes
it important for DOD to reexamine each program in relation to joint
requirements and existing capabilities and within the context of the
post-Cold War environment. 


   DECISIONS ON AIR POWER PROGRAMS
   AND PRIORITIES REQUIRE
   COMPREHENSIVE JOINT ASSESSMENTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:5

Through key legislation, the Congress has sought to better integrate
the military services, provide a channel for independent military
advice to the Secretary of Defense, and strengthen the joint
orientation of the Department.  Although DOD has improved its joint
orientation in many respects, the services continue to heavily
influence defense decisions, particularly those related to
investments in weapons.  Military advice from a joint perspective is
important to help the Secretary objectively weigh the merits not only
of combat air power but also of other defense programs. 

The Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of
1986 made the Chairman, JCS responsible for providing military advice
from a joint perspective to the Secretary of Defense.  As principal
military adviser to the Secretary, the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of
Staff (JCS) is expected to advise the Secretary on the requirements,
programs, and budgets of the military services.  The act directs the
Chairman to (1) provide advice on the priorities of requirements
identified by the regional commanders in chief (CINC), (2) determine
the extent to which service program recommendations and budget
proposals conform with the CINCs' priorities, (3) submit alternative
program recommendations and budget proposals within projected
resource levels to achieve greater conformance with these priorities,
and (4) assess the military requirements for defense acquisition
programs.  The National Defense Authorization Acts for Fiscal Years
1993 and 1996 further directed the Chairman, JCS to examine how DOD
might eliminate or reduce duplicative capabilities and authorized
him, through the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, to assess
military needs from a joint warfighting military perspective. 

Although progress is being made, we believe that the Chairman, JCS
needs to do more to effectively carry out these responsibilities. 
For example, DOD established a joint warfighting capabilities
assessment process, under which assessment teams are examining issues
related to 10 selected mission areas.  Established in 1994 to support
the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, these assessment teams have
identified ways to improve joint warfighting and have proposed other
operational improvements.  However, the teams so far have had little
impact in reducing unneeded overlaps and duplication in existing
capabilities.  Also, they have not been directed to delve into more
controversial issues related to U.S.  air power, such as assessing
alternative ways to modernize U.S.  air power capabilities. 

The Department must conduct broader, more comprehensive assessments
if the Secretary is to have the information he needs to make the
difficult tradeoff decisions that may be required.  At a minimum, we
believe that such assessments should, for each mission area,

  -- assess total joint warfighting requirements;

  -- inventory aggregate service capabilities, including the full
     range of available assets;

  -- compare aggregate capabilities to joint requirements to identify
     excesses or deficiencies, taking into consideration existing
     U.S.  capabilities and those of potential adversaries;

  -- assess the relative merits of retiring alternative assets,
     reducing procurement quantities, or canceling acquisition
     programs where excesses exist or where substantial payoff is not
     clear; and

  -- determine the most cost-effective means to satisfy deficiencies. 

Conducting assessments in this way could help the Secretary of
Defense better decide what priority should be given to competing
programs, whether programmed investments should continue to be
funded, and whether new investments should be made. 


   CONCLUSIONS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:6

In conclusion, I would underscore that we believe that it is
important that DOD make air power investments that are matched to
identified needs.  Funds spent on programs that add little needed
capability at very high cost when existing capabilities may already
be sufficient to meet future challenges are, in our opinion, funds
not well spent. 

To be in a position to make sound investment decisions, DOD needs to
closely examine both its combat air power force structure and its
modernization plans, which are rooted in the Cold War era.  The high
cost of modernizing the force requires that DOD seek the greatest
value in its investments given current budget projections. 
Overlapping and often redundant air power capabilities provide
combatant commanders with desirable operational flexibility to
respond to a wide variety of circumstances.  The question is whether,
in the post-Cold War era, the United States needs, or can afford, the
current levels of overlap and redundancy. 

The Secretary needs better information from a joint perspective to
help decide what priority should be given to competing programs,
whether programmed investments should continue to be funded, and
whether new investments should be made.  The urgent need for such
assessments is underscored by the reality that enormous outlays will
be required in the not-too-distant future to finance DOD's combat air
power programs as currently planned. 

Our work has led us to conclude that the Secretary of Defense needs
broader more comprehensive assessments in key mission areas if he is
to make the difficult decisions that he is likely to face.  However,
certain long-standing obstacles must be overcome if the key
challenges related to air power are to be met head on.  The Chairman,
JCS must be a strong advocate for the joint perspective as the
Goldwater-Nichols legislation intended.  The interests of the U.S. 
military as a whole must be placed above the interests of the
individual services.  And, if circumstances change and program
adjustments are needed, the Secretary and the Chairman, JCS must be
willing to challenge the strong proponents that develop around major
acquisition programs.  If DOD is to shape its force smartly within
the bounds of likely budgets, existing levels of redundancy in
capability must be questioned, and no program, once begun, should be
considered irreversible. 


-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:6.1

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

SELECTED GAO REPORTS RELATED TO THIS TESTIMONY

Navy Aviation:  F/A-18E/F Will Provide Marginal Operational
Improvement at High Cost (GAO/NSIAD-96-98, June 1996). 

Combat Air Power:  Assessment of Joint Close Support Requirements and
Capabilities Is Needed (GAO/NSIAD-96-45, June 1996). 

Combat Air Power:  Reassessing Plans to Modernize Interdiction
Capabilities Could Save Billions (GAO/NSIAD-96-72, May 1996). 

Combat Air Power:  Funding Priority for Suppression of Enemy Air
Defenses May Be Too Low (GAO/NSIAD-96-128, Apr.  1996). 

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

Aircraft Requirements:  Air Force and Navy Need to Establish
Realistic Criteria for Backup Aircraft (GAO/NSIAD-95-180, Sept. 
1995). 

B-2 Bomber:  Status of Cost, Development, and Production
(GAO/NSIAD-95-164, Aug.  1995). 

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

Weapons Acquisition:  Precision Guided Munitions in Inventory,
Production, and Development (GAO/NSIAD-95-95, June 1995). 

Comanche Helicopter:  Testing Needs to Be Completed Prior to
Production Decisions (GAO/NSIAD-95-112, May 1995). 

Tactical Aircraft:  Concurrency in Development and Production of F-22
Aircraft Should Be Reduced (GAO/NSIAD-95-59, Apr.  1995). 

Cruise Missiles:  Proven Capability Should Affect Aircraft and Force
Structure Requirements (GAO/NSIAD-95-116, Apr.  1995). 

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

Tactical Aircraft:  F-15 Replacement Is Premature as Currently
Planned (GAO/NSIAD-94-118, Mar.  1994). 

Strategic Bomber:  Issues Relating to the B-1B's Availability to
Perform Conventional Missions (GAO/NSIAD-94-81, Jan.  1994). 


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