Military Transformation:

DOD Needs to Strengthen Implementation of Its Global Strike Concept and Provide a Comprehensive Investment Approach for Acquiring Needed Capabilities

GAO-08-325: Published: Apr 30, 2008. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 2008.

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To increase the range of options available to the President, the Department of Defense (DOD) is taking steps to develop a portfolio of capabilities, referred to as global strike, to rapidly plan and deliver limited duration and extended range precision strikes against highly valued assets. GAO was asked to assess (1) whether DOD has clearly defined and instilled a common understanding and approach for global strike throughout the department, (2) the extent to which DOD has developed capabilities needed for global strike, and (3) the extent to which DOD has identified the funding requirements and developed an investment strategy for acquiring new global strike capabilities. GAO reviewed and analyzed plans and studies within DOD, the services, and several commands on global strike implementation and capabilities development.

DOD has taken a number of steps to implement its global strike concept and has generally assigned responsibilities for the planning, execution, and support of global strike operations. However, key stakeholders, particularly the geographic combatant commanders, have different interpretations of the concept, scope, range, and potential use of capabilities needed to implement global strike. Several factors affect the understanding and communication of DOD's global strike concept among key stakeholders, including the extent to which DOD has (1) defined global strike, (2) incorporated global strike into joint doctrine, (3) conducted outreach and communication activities with key stakeholders, and (4) involved stakeholders in joint exercises and other training involving global strike. GAO's prior work examining successful organizational transformations shows the necessity to communicate to stakeholders often and early with clear and specific objectives on what is to be achieved and what roles are assigned. Without a complete and clearly articulated concept that is well communicated and practiced with key stakeholders, DOD could encounter difficulties in fully implementing its concept and building the necessary relationships for carrying out global strike operations. DOD has underway or completed several global strike assessments to identify potential conventional offensive strike weapons systems, particularly those for prompt global strike, which would provide capabilities sometime after 2018. However, DOD has not fully assessed the requirements or coordinated improvements for related enabling capabilities that are critical to the planning and execution of successful global strike operations. These critical enabling capabilities include intelligence collection and dissemination, surveillance and reconnaissance, and command and control, communications, and battlefield damage assessment. Furthermore, DOD has not coordinated its efforts to improve these capabilities with potential offensive systems it intends to develop. Without fully assessing the enabling capabilities required or coordinating with other DOD studies, DOD might not make the best decision of which enabling capability to pursue in meeting global strike requirements. DOD has not yet established a prioritized investment strategy that integrates its efforts to assess global strike options and makes choices among alternatives given the department's long-term fiscal challenges. GAO's prior work has shown that a long-term and comprehensive investment approach is an important tool in an organization's decision-making process to define direction, establish priorities, assist with current and future budgets, and plan the actions needed to achieve goals. While DOD studies and officials recognize a need for a broad, holistic view of global strike development, DOD has not identified and assessed all global-strike-related capabilities and technologies and has not explained how its plans to link long-term studies to identify potential weapons systems will result in a comprehensive prioritized investment strategy for global strike.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, in consultation with the Director, Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation and the Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, to perform a comprehensive review of all capabilities being developed within DOD's Future Years Defense Program to determine the extent to which these capabilities contribute or can be leveraged for global strike and incorporate the results of this review into the development of a comprehensive prioritized investment strategy for global strike. The investment strategy should be updated, as needed, to adapt to changing circumstances to provide the most complete information on the range of capabilities needed for global strike and to determine an affordable and sustainable balance in its spending for current and future global strike investments.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In commenting on the steps taken to implement this recommendation, the DOD-IG stated that the department is basing future investment decisions on the Long Range Strike Family of Systems study. However, it is unclear from this statement, or from other documentation provided by Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, whether DOD conducted or plans to conduct a comprehensive review of the Future Years Defense Program, as GAO recommended. The other documentation provided by DOD does not state whether DOD has performed such a review.

    Recommendation: The Secretary should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, to provide guidance on how the results of DOD studies to identify potential strike systems for global strike will be integrated into a comprehensive prioritized investment strategy for global strike, including a roadmap that shows the department's plans and schedules for developing and acquiring offensive strike and enabling capabilities to provide the most complete information on the range of capabilities needed for global strike and to determine an affordable and sustainable balance in its spending for current and future global strike investments.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In June 2012 DOD told us that the Long Range Strike-Family of Systems study was used by DOD leadership for making programmatic decisions for prompt global strike investments in the FY13 President's budget submission. DOD's FY13 budget documentation indicates that DOD's defense-wide account for global strike uses a national team that coordinates between the Services, Agencies and national research laboratories to pursue integrated portfolio objectives leading to the acquisition and operation of a CPGS system. According to the budget documentation, the defense-wide program office funds the design, development, and experimentation of boosters, payload delivery vehicles (PDVs), non-nuclear warheads, guidance systems, and mission planning and enabling capabilities, with the goal of competitive acquisition beginning in FY 2013 or 2014. In discussing the budget documentation with us, the DOD officer responsible for this review told us that the defense-wide program office functions as a source of guidance for the services on how to integrate the Family of Systems study's results into as comprehensive investment strategy, including a roadmap showing the plans and schedules for developing offensive strike and associated enabling capabilities. Based on these actions, DOD has implemented the intent of GAO's recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, in consultation with the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, and the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, to conduct a comprehensive assessment of enabling capabilities to identify (1) any specific global strike operational requirements and priorities, (2) when these capabilities are needed to support future offensive strike systems, and (3) what plans DOD has for developing and acquiring these capabilities. DOD should link this assessment with other assessments examining potential strike systems for global strike and those being conducted for any specific supporting capability area to ensure that it has the most complete information available when making decisions on future global strike investments to provide the most complete information on the range of capabilities needed for global strike and to determine an affordable and sustainable balance in its spending for current and future global strike investments

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: During our review, DOD identified critical global strike enabling capabilities, such as intelligence collection and dissemination, surveillance and reconnaissance, command and control, communications, and battlefield damage assessment. In a report, the DODIG reported that DOD is responding to our recommendation by evaluating requirements for these capabilities as part of a broader the Long Range Strike Family of Systems study. According to a key official from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, this study lays the groundwork for DOD to consider requirements for intelligence support, communications, battle damage assessment, and other enabling capabilities needed to support a conventional prompt global strike system. DOD's FY13 budget documentation indicates that the department's acquisition approach for prompt global strike includes developing mission planning and enabling capabilities. For example, in a fiscal year 2011 report to Congress, DOD assessed the adequacy of the intelligence that would be needed to support an attack involving the conventional prompt global strike concepts. DOD acknowledges that such assessments are at this time generic, and that a full assessment is need once the strike technologies are more fully developed. We believe that the department's actions reflect awareness of the need to assess enabling capabilities, and show sufficient momentum that would allow us to close this recommendation as implemented.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, in consultation with the Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command, to identify additional opportunities where global strike can be integrated into major joint exercises and other training activities to strengthen DOD's efforts to implement its global strike concept and improve communications and mutual understanding within DOD of the scope, range and use of capabilities, and the incidence of global strike operations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to our follow-up on this recommendation, U.S. Strategic Command indicated that the global strike mission is incorporated into the command's exercise program, including exercises that involve regional combatant commanders who have responsibility for military operations in different areas of the world. U.S. Strategic Command integrates global strike into both of its annual "Tier 1" exercises -- Global Thunder and Global Lightning. According to the DOD-IG's April 2012 DAMIS report, the global strike mission was incorporated as during the exercises with U.S. European Command's "Austere Challenge" exercise series in 2008. The command subsequently added that the global strike mission was integrated into the 2010 and 2011 "Austere Challenge" exercises, and that the command plans to integrate the mission into a combined exercise during fiscal year 2012 with U.S. Pacific Command ("Terminal Fury"). In addition, the command integrates global strike tactics, techniques, and procedures into its Basic Mission Area Training (conducted for newly assigned personnel) and numerous Integrated Mission Area Training events, which are conducted throughout the year, and can be done at any level from Operations Center to command-wide. Based on these actions, we are closing this recommendation is implemented.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, in consultation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Under Secretaries of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics and Policy, to establish an ongoing communications and outreach approach for global strike to help guide DOD's efforts to promote, educate, and foster acceptance of the concept among the combatant commands, military services, and other DOD organizations to strengthen DOD's efforts to implement its global strike concept and improve communications and mutual understanding within DOD of the scope, range and use of capabilities, and the incidence of global strike operations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The DODIG indicates that DOD completed action on this recommendation as of February 2011, based upon actions taken to promote communications and develop an outreach effort to communicate global strike initiatives and foster discussion. These actions include official DOD publications such as the 2009 Quadrennial Defense Review, 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, varoius congressional testimonies, and DOD Reports to Congress on Prompt Global Strike. Earlier, the DODIG reported that as the prompt global strike concept matures, US Strategic Command continues to socialize the mission and its required capabilities across DOD. However, we do not see that such activities are qualitatively different than those taken during our review, and which were documented in our report. Additionally, the DOD action officer on this review was unable to provide specific linkage of these actions to the GAO review. Therefore, we are unable to conclude that DOD implemented this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command, in consultation with the Under Secretaries of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics and Policy and the Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, to determine possible changes to existing joint doctrine or development of new joint doctrine that may be required to incorporate global strike operations, including the terminology and discussion of training, relationships, responsibilities, and processes for these operations, and initiate any subsequent doctrine development activities to strengthen DOD's efforts to implement its global strike concept and improve communications and mutual understanding within DOD of the scope, range and use of capabilities, and the incidence of global strike operations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DODIG indicates that doctrine development will occur after DOD has completed an internal Long Range Strike-"Family of Systems" study that is evaluating the capabilities needed for global strike. Once the study is complete, DOD will review joint doctrine to determine the extent to which new doctrine is needed, and whether existing doctrine needs to be updated. Such activities were to begin in conjunction with the FY12 or FY13 budget submission, according to the DAMIS comments. However, in June 2012, the DOD point-of-contact on GAO's review told us that DOD had yet to take action on the doctrine review, because the technologies and concepts for prompt global strike were not yet mature. GAO therefore can not consider this recommendation to be implemented.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, in consultation with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, to develop and approve a common, universally accepted joint definition for "global strike," and consistently incorporate this definition in global strike documents and joint doctrine to strengthen DOD's efforts to implement its global strike concept and improve communications and mutual understanding within DOD of the scope, range and use of capabilities, and the incidence of global strike operations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According U.S. Strategic Command, on April 8, 2010, the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command approved the following definition of "global strike:" "the ability to rapidly plan for and deliver extended-range attacks, limited in duration and scope achieve precision effects against adversary assets in support of national or commander theater objectives." Following this action, the command applied this definition in its planning manual for conventional operations and in the command's concept of operations for bomber forces, both published in December 2010. DOD also indicated that the command's definition has been accepted and is used by the Joint Staff, and as of December 2010 the command was awaiting acceptance of the definition in joint publications. Based on these actions, we believe that the DOD has reached consensus about the definition of the term, and therefore are closing this recommendation as implemented.

    Recommendation: The Secretary should direct the Deputy Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Deputy's Advisory Working Group, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, and Director for Program, Analysis, and Evaluation, to determine the appropriateness of using a portfolio management approach for global strike to align its investments with strategic goals and performance measures and provide a sound basis to justify the commitment of resources, develop a prioritized investment strategy, and manage development and acquisition of global strike capabilities to provide the most complete information on the range of capabilities needed for global strike and to determine an affordable and sustainable balance in its spending for current and future global strike investments.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: ?In responding to this recommendation, the DOD-IG indicated that as of March 2009, DOD had included prompt global strike as one of several candidate capabilities considered in the Force Application Capability Portfolio Management process during the FY 10-15 Program and Budget Review. The DOD-IG statement indicated that DOD believed this approach provided an additional useful perspective for on-going assessments and decision-making on resource allocation. However, DOD did not provide any documentation to indicate that it followed this approach, or whether it currently continues to do so. Rather, DOD reported that it had completed an internal Long Range Strike-Family of Systems study in 2012 that evaluated the prompt global strike capabilities, and other capabilities need to locate, identify, track, engage, disrupt, and destroy targets in a timely manner. However, DOD has not provided evidence that the this study either adopted a portfolio management approach, or made a recommendation that long-range strike capabilities be managed that way. Additionally, DOD provided budget justification materials to demonstrate that the department had adopted a portfolio management approach. Although these materials provide some details of specific prompt global strike technologies being considered for development, they do not indicate whether the department has aligned project outcomes with strategic goals and performance measures, developed a prioritized investment strategy, or taken other related steps as GAO recommended. Therefore we are closing this recommendation as not implemented.

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