Navy Mine Warfare:

Plans to Improve Countermeasures Capabilities Unclear

NSIAD-98-135: Published: Jun 10, 1998. Publicly Released: Jun 10, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Navy's mine countermeasures efforts, focusing on the: (1) Navy's plans for improving mine countermeasures (MCM) capabilities; (2) status of current research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) programs; and (3) process the Department of Defense (DOD) used to prepare the annual certification required by Public Law 102-190.

GAO noted that: (1) the Navy has not decided on the mix of on-board and special purpose forces it wants to maintain in the future and committed the funding needed for developing and sustaining those capabilities; (2) this decision will determine the types and quantities of systems to be developed and their priority; (3) it also affects the schedule and cost of those developments and the design and cost of the platforms on which they will operate; (4) a final force structure decision will likely be determined by the level of resources the Navy decides to dedicate to the MCM mission in the future; (5) a few systems are scheduled for production decisions within the next 2 to 3 years, while other systems were not produced because the Navy never funded their procurement; (6) since 1992, the Navy has spent about $1.2 billion in RDT&E funds to improve its mine warfare capabilities; (7) however, this investment has not produced any systems that are ready to transition to production; (8) delaying factors include funding instability, changing requirements, cost growth, and unanticipated technical problems; (9) the Navy plans to spend an additional $1.5 billion for RDT&E over the next 6 years; (10) most officials interviewed said the annual certification process has served to increase the visibility of MCM requirements within DOD and the Navy, with positive results and should continue to be required; (11) however, as currently conducted, the annual certification process does not address the adequacy of overall resources for this mission, nor does it contain any measures against which the Navy's progress in enhancing its MCM capabilities can be evaluated; (12) the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staffs' review for resource sufficiency occurs after the Navy's budget proposals for its MCM program have been formalized; and (13) the review does not affect specific Navy MCM acquisition programs or overall MCM resource decisions.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999 extended the suggested certification requirement.

    Matter: The certification process has increased DOD's and the Navy's attention to the MCM mission. Since the certification requirement is scheduled to expire this year, Congress may wish to consider extending the annual certification requirement until the Navy has determined the mix of on-board and special purpose forces it will maintain in the future and has fielded effective, on-board MCM capabilities.

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Congress did not amend the certification process when it was extended through 2003. However, DOD said that the Navy's mine countermeasures capability is assessed annually by the Joint Staff and that the results of the assessment are provided to the Chairman and are used as input in the development of the President's budget.

    Matter: To strengthen the certification process, Congress may wish to consider amending the requirement to ensure that the participation by the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, occurs before the Navy's fiscal year budget is submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Secretary of Defense directed the Navy to sustain its special-purpose MCM forces until the organic capability was acquired.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to sustain the special purpose MCM forces until the Navy has demonstrated and fielded effective, on-board capabilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Joint Chiefs of Staff

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Secretary of the Navy, in conjunction with the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have established a process to determine the appropriate mix of organic and dedicated countermine assets.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, in conjunction with the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretary of the Navy, should determine the mix of on-board and special purpose forces DOD plans to maintain in the future and commit the funding deemed necessary for the development and sustainment of these desired capabilities.

    Agency Affected: Congress

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD completed the two assessments of the cost and effective mix of dedicated and organic mine countermeasures forces. The results were used to shape the fiscal year 2000 budget request and resulted in $719 million being added to the naval mine countermeasures in the FY2000 budget estimate submission across the FYDP over FY1999 resources levels.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, in conjunction with the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretary of the Navy, should determine the mix of on-board and special purpose forces DOD plans to maintain in the future and commit the funding deemed necessary for the development and sustainment of these desired capabilities.

    Agency Affected: Congress

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in conjunction with the secretaries of defense and the navy have established a process to determine the proper mix of organic and dedicated countermine assets.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, in conjunction with the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretary of the Navy, should determine the mix of on-board and special purpose forces DOD plans to maintain in the future and commit the funding deemed necessary for the development and sustainment of these desired capabilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

 

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