Force Structure:

Army Needs to Provide DOD and Congress More Visibility Regarding Modular Force Capabilities and Implementation Plans

GAO-06-745: Published: Sep 6, 2006. Publicly Released: Sep 6, 2006.

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The Army considers its modular force transformation its most extensive restructuring since World War II. Restructuring units from a division-based force to a modular brigade-based force will require an investment of over $52 billion, including $41 billion for equipment, from fiscal year 2005 through fiscal year 2011, according to the Army. Because of broad congressional interest in this initiative, GAO prepared this report under the Comptroller General's authority and assessed (1) the Army's progress and plans for equipping modular combat brigades, (2) progress made and challenges to managing personnel requirements of the modular force, and (3) the extent to which the Army has developed an approach for assessing the results of its modular conversions and the need for further changes to designs or implementation plans.

The Army is making progress in creatingactive and National Guard modular combat brigades while fully engaged in ongoing operations, but it is not meeting its equipping goals for active brigades and has not completed development of an equipping strategy for its new force rotation model. This raises uncertainty about the levels to which the modular brigades will be equipped both in the near and longer term as well as the ultimate equipping cost. The Army plans to employ a force rotation model in which units nearing deployment would receive required levels of equipment while nondeploying units would be maintained at lower readiness levels. However, because the Army has not completed key details of the equipping strategy--such as defining the specific equipping requirements for units in various phases of its force rotation model--it is unclear what level of equipment units will have, how this strategy may affect the Army's equipment funding plans, and how well units with low priority for equipment will be able to respond to unforeseen crises. While the Army has several initiatives under way to meet its modular force personnel requirements in the active component, it faces challenges in achieving its modular restructuring without permanently increasing its active component end strength above 482,400, as specified by the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review. The Army plans to increase its active combat force but doing so without permanently increasing its overall active end strength will require the Army to eliminate or realign many positions in its noncombat force. The Army has made some progress in reducing military personnel in noncombat positions by converting some to civilian positions and pursuing other initiatives, but Army officials believe future initiatives may be difficult to achieve and could lead to difficult trade-offs. Without information on the progress of these initiatives and what risks exist if the Army's goals are not met, Congress and the Secretary of Defense lack the information they need to understand challenges and risks. Finally, the Army does not have a comprehensive and transparent approach to measure progress against its modularity objectives, assess the need for further changes to modular designs, and monitor implementation plans. While GAO and DOD have identified the importance of establishing objectives that can be translated into measurable metrics that in turn provide accountability for results, the Army has not established outcome-related metrics linked to most of its modularity objectives. Further, although the Army is analyzing lessons learned from Iraq and training events, the Army does not have a long-term comprehensive plan for further analysis and testing of its modular combat brigade designs and fielded capabilities. Without performance metrics and a comprehensive testing plan, neither the Secretary of Defense nor Congress will have full visibility into how the modular force is currently organized, staffed, and equipped. As a result, decision makers lack sufficient information to assess the capabilities, cost, and risks of the Army's modular force implementation plans.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Since the Secretary of Defense announced in early 2007 that the active Army would be expanding by 65,000 soldiers from FY 2007 through FY 2013 the condition behind our recommendation has significantly changed. This additional manpower was requested by the Army in part to build another six Brigade Combat Teams as well as an unspecified number of support brigades. The additional manpower was also requested to address some MOS shortages within the operational force as well as the TDA and TTHS accounts that have now been deemed too low under the Army's proposed 482.4K force structure. These decisions are now being vetted within the Army's Force Management Review process. It is too early to know whether the additional manpower will completely address all of the Army's force structure issues we identified, but since the original conditions behind our recommendation have changed the recommendation no longer applies as originally written.

    Matter: Given the significant cost and far-reaching magnitude of the Army's plans for creating modular forces, Congress may wish to consider requiring the Secretary of Defense to provide the information outlined in our recommendations including the status of the Army's personnel initiatives and an assessment of how the Army will fully staff its modular operational combat force and manage the risk to its noncombat force structure.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: No change in status

    Matter: Given the significant cost and far-reaching magnitude of the Army's plans for creating modular forces, Congress may wish to consider requiring the Secretary of Defense to provide the information outlined in our recommendations including details about the Army's equipping strategy and an assessment of the operational risk associated with this equipping strategy.

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: No change in status

    Matter: Given the significant cost and far-reaching magnitude of the Army's plans for creating modular forces, Congress may wish to consider requiring the Secretary of Defense to provide the information outlined in our recommendations including the Army's plan for assessing its progress toward achieving the benefits of modularity, plans and milestones for conducting further evaluation of modular unit designs, and a testing plan for conducting comprehensive assessments of the modular force as it is being implemented.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Army nonconcurred with this recommendation and has not provided a testing plan as part of the Army's Campaign Plan.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should provide a testing plan as part of its Army Campaign Plan that includes milestones for conducting comprehensive assessments of the modular force as it is being implemented so that decision makers--both inside and outside the Army--can assess the implications of changes to the Army force structure in terms of the goals of modular restructuring. The results of these assessments should be provided to Congress as part of the Army's justification for its annual budget through fiscal year 2011.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Army partially concurred with our recommendation to establish performance metrics to measure progress toward meeting the goals for modular units. To date the Army has not established these performance metrics.

    Recommendation: To improve information available for decision makers on progress of the Army's modular force implementation plans, the Army should develop and provide the Secretary of Defense and Congress with a comprehensive plan for assessing the Army's progress toward achieving the benefits of modularity to include specific, quantifiable performance metrics to measure progress toward meeting the goals and objectives established in the Army Campaign Plan, and plans and milestones for conducting further evaluation of modular unit designs that discuss the extent to which unit designs provide sufficient capabilities needed to execute National Defense Strategy and 2006 QDR objectives for addressing a wider range of both traditional and irregular security challenges.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The recently announced decision to expand the size of the Army by 74,400 soldiers from FY 2007 through FY 2013 will change the condition GAO originally reported. At the time of GAO's report, the Army was attempting to reduce its end strength back to a 482.4K level from approximately 512.4K and GAO expected the Army would face significant challenges in executing its plans. Since the Army's increased end strength level changes the condition GAO originally reported, this recommendation will no longer apply.

    Recommendation: In order for decision makers to have the visibility needed to assess the Army's ability to meet the personnel requirements for its new modular operational forces while simultaneously managing the risk to its noncombat forces, the Army should develop and provide the Secretary of Defense and Congress with a report on the status of its personnel initiatives, including executable milestones for realigning and reducing its noncombat forces, and an assessment of how the Army will fully staff its modular operational combat force while managing the risk to its noncombat supporting force structure.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Army concurred with this recommendation in their response to our draft report. The Army contends that it considers this information as part of its biannual equipping conference. However, the Army has not yet provided information to the Secretary of Defense and Congress which includes the level of detail in GAO's recommendation.

    Recommendation: In order for decision makers to better assess the Army's strategy for equipping modular combat brigades, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to develop and provide the Secretary of Defense and Congress with details about the Army's equipping strategy, to include the types and quantities of equipment active component and National Guard modular units would receive in each phase of the force rotation model, including how these amounts compare to design requirements for modular units, and an assessment of the operational risk associated with this equipping strategy.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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