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entitled 'Warfighter Support: DOD Has Made Progress, but Supply and 
Distribution Challenges Remain in Afghanistan' which was released on 
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United States Government Accountability Office: 
GAO: 

Report to Congressional Committees: 

October 2011: 

Warfighter Support: 

DOD Has Made Progress, but Supply and Distribution Challenges Remain 
in Afghanistan: 

GAO-12-138: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-12-138, a report to congressional committees. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

In fiscal year 2010, the Department of Defense (DOD) spent billions of 
dollars to move troops and materiel into Afghanistan, a mountainous, 
land-locked country with poorly developed infrastructure. The increase 
of 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan as of August 2010, along with 
thousands of civilians and contractors supporting U.S. efforts, have 
required further development of DODís already-complex distribution 
network to support and sustain U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. 

GAO conducted this review to assess distribution issues in 
Afghanistan, including (1) DODís oversight of distribution operations; 
(2) DODís performance in providing supplies and equipment; and (3) 
challenges that have affected DODís ability to provide supplies and 
equipment. We reviewed joint doctrine and DOD policies on 
distribution, analyzed DOD delivery data, and interviewed DOD 
officials in the United States and in the U.S. Central Command area of 
responsibility, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, Qatar, and 
Bahrain. 

What GAO Found: 

Although U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) has established some 
processes for oversight, it does not have full oversight of the 
distribution of supplies and equipment to the warfighter in 
Afghanistan. DODís distribution pipeline includes four legsó
intracontinental, intertheater, intratheater, and point of employmentó
and involves numerous organizations responsible for various aspects of 
the distribution process for delivering supplies and equipment to 
Afghanistan. TRANSCOM, as DODís Distribution Process Owner, is 
responsible for overseeing the overall effectiveness, efficiency, and 
alignment of DOD-wide distribution activities. However, as applied and 
interpreted by DOD, TRANSCOMís oversight role does not extend all the 
way to final delivery to warfighters at forward-based combat outposts. 
Instead, its oversight efforts terminate at major logistics bases in 
Afghanistan. The oversight from these bases to combat outposts is 
carried out at varying levels and without uniformity by U.S. Forces-
Afghanistan and its component services. As a result of this fragmented 
structure, TRANSCOM does not have the ability to conduct its oversight 
role all the way to final delivery to the warfighter, nor does it have 
the visibility over distribution performance from major bases to 
outposts necessary to fully oversee the effectiveness of the DOD-wide 
distribution system and coordinate potentially necessary improvements 
to the system. 

Figure: First Three Legs of Distribution: Intracontinental, 
Intertheater, and Intratheater: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustrated map] 

United States: Intracontinental; 
U.S. Central Command: Intertheater; 
Afghanistan: Intratheater. 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD joint doctrine. 

[End of figure] 

Figure: Final Leg of Distribution: Point of Employment: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustrated map] 

U.S. Central Command: to Point of Need in Afghanistan. 

Point of Need in Afghanistan: to Forward Operating Bases. 
Movements that extend beyond the point of need are handled by U.S. 
Forces-Afghanistan and the services. 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD joint doctrine. 

[End of figure] 

DOD has not always met delivery standards and timelines for shipments 
to major logistics bases in Afghanistan, and it cannot conduct a full 
assessment of its delivery performance for surface shipments due to 
incomplete data. DOD has more frequently met delivery standards for 
shipments transported by airlift than for shipments transported on 
surface routes, due in large part to the various difficulties in 
transporting cargo on surface routes through neighboring countries and 
inside Afghanistan. For example, from December 2009 through March 
2011, surface shipments of requisitioned supplies did not once meet 
the time-definite delivery standard that calls for 85 percent of 
shipments to arrive within 97 days of being ordered. In contrast, 
commercial air shipments from the United States met DODís delivery 
standard six times over that time frame. 

Figure: Number of Days to Deliver 85 Percent of Surface Supply 
Shipments to Afghanistan: 

[Refer to PDF for image: line graph] 

Time-definite delivery standard: 97 days. 

Month: December 2009;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 122 days. 

Month: January 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 125 days. 

Month: February 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 150 days. 

Month: March 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 183 days. 

Month: April 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 157 days. 

Month: May 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 136 days. 

Month: June 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 144 days. 

Month: July 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 151 days. 

Month: August 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 191 days. 

Month: September 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 188 days. 

Month: October 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 147 days. 

Month: November 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 157 days. 

Month: December 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 188 days. 

Month: January 20110;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 199 days. 

Month: February 2011;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 202 days. 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD data. 

[End of figure] 

Furthermore, data on DODís performance in meeting its required 
delivery dates are incomplete. Specifically, 42 percent of unit 
shipments and 19 percent of sustainment shipments with required 
delivery dates during 2008 through 2010 did not have a documented 
delivery date in DODís shipment database. As a result, the status of 
these shipments is not clear. For those shipments with complete data 
from 2008 through 2010, 42 percent of unit shipments and 63 percent of 
sustainment shipments arrived after their required delivery dates, 
with the majority of those arriving over 1 week late. Without accurate 
and complete data on when shipments are delivered, DOD lacks the 
information needed to assess its performance and to take actions to 
improve timely delivery of cargo to Afghanistan. 

Table: Delivery Status of Surface Shipments to Afghanistan: 

Delivery date not documented: 

Unit shipments: 
2008-2010: Number: 10,928; 	
2008-2010: Percent: 42%. 

Sustainment shipments: 
2008-2010: Number: 25,648;	
2008-2010: Percent: 19%. 

Delivered late: 

Unit shipments:	
2008-2010: Number: 6,396;	
2008-2010: Percent: 42%. 

Sustainment shipments:	
2008-2010: Number: 68,634;	
2008-2010: Percent: 63%. 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD data. 

[End of table] 

DOD has taken some steps to mitigate challenges in distributing 
materiel to forces operating in Afghanistan, but we identified several 
challenges that continue to hinder the Departmentís distribution 
efforts: 

*	DOD does not have adequate radio-frequency identification 
information to track all cargo movements into and within Afghanistan. 

*	DOD does not have a common operating picture for distribution data 
and integrated transportation systems in support of Afghanistan 
operations. 

*	Complex customs clearance processes in Afghanistan and Pakistan 
continue to delay shipments of supplies and equipment. 

*	DOD continues to face difficulties in collecting information on all 
incidents of pilferage and damage of cargo. 

*	DOD is not effectively tracking and managing cargo containers for 
Afghanistan operations. 

Collectively, these issues will likely continue to affect supply 
operations in Afghanistan and limit DODís oversight of the supply 
chain. As a result, DODís ability to identify and address gaps in 
distribution to support current deployments and redeployments, 
sustainment of deployed units, and any future drawdown efforts may be 
limited. 

GAOís Recommendations for Executive Action: 

Of the 15 recommendations GAO is making, DOD did not concur with the 
following four recommendations: 

GAO recommends DOD clarify its doctrine on how TRANSCOM is to oversee 
the overall effectiveness, efficiency, and alignment of DOD-wide 
distribution activities and to include the final leg of distribution. 
GAO also recommends TRANSCOM improve its distribution metrics by 
receiving and including data for shipments from major bases to 
outposts in Afghanistan. In addition, GAO recommends DOD develop the 
necessary policies and procedures to ensure a sufficient level of data 
is entered onto radio-frequency identification tags. 

DOD did not concur with the recommendations mentioned above and stated 
that, based on current guidance, TRANSCOM as Distribution Process 
Owner does not have oversight over the final leg of distribution and 
already tracks delivery standards for shipments to Afghanistan. DOD 
also stated that adequate policy and procedures exist for entering 
data onto radio-frequency tags. 

DODís approach of limiting the Distribution Process Ownerís oversight 
to only the first three distribution legs leaves a fragmented process 
without any comprehensive oversight or visibility over the entire DOD-
wide global distribution pipeline. In addition, although policy may be 
clear on what radio-frequency data is required, steps to ensure that 
requirements are met are not clearly implemented. As such, GAO 
continues to support these recommendations. 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO makes 15 recommendations for DOD to clarify its distribution 
policy, improve documentation of performance, and address several 
other challenges. DOD concurred or partially concurred with 11 of our 
recommendations, but did not concur with four recommendations. GAO 
continues to believe that DOD should implement our recommendations, 
and our rationale is discussed on the next page. 

View GAO-12-138 or key components. For more information, contact 
William M. Solis at (202) 512-8365 or solisw@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Background: 

TRANSCOM Does Not Have Full Oversight of the Distribution of Supply 
and Equipment to the Warfighter in Afghanistan: 

DOD Has Not Always Met Delivery Standards and Timelines, and Does Not 
Have Complete Data to Fully Assess Performance: 

DOD Continues to Face Several Challenges in Distribution Support for 
Afghanistan: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

Appendix II: Comments from the Department of Defense: 

Appendix III: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

Related GAO Products: 

Table: 

Table 1: Unit and Sustainment Surface Shipments (with a Required 
Delivery Date between 2008 and 2010) That Did and That Did Not Have a 
Documented Delivery Date in Afghanistan: 

Figures: 

Figure 1: First Three Legs of Distribution: Intracontinental, 
Intertheater, and Intratheater: 

Figure 2: Final Leg of Distribution: Point of Employment: 

Figure 3: Number of Days to Deliver 85 Percent of Surface Supply 
Shipments to Afghanistan: 

Figure 4: Number of Days to Deliver 85 Percent of Military Air Supply 
Shipments to Afghanistan: 

Figure 5: Number of Days to Deliver 85 Percent of Commercial Air 
Supply Shipments to Afghanistan: 

Figure 6: Unit and Sustainment Surface Shipments Delivered to 
Afghanistan That Met and Missed the Required Delivery Date: 

Figure 7: Global Distribution Pipeline: 

Figure 8: TRANSCOM Briefing Slide on Distribution Process Owner Span 
of Influence: 

Abbreviations: 

DOD: Department of Defense: 

RFID: radio-frequency identification: 

SDDC: Surface Deployment and Distribution Command: 

TRANSCOM: U.S. Transportation Command: 

[End of section] 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

[End of section] 

October 7, 2011: 

Congressional Committees: 

One of the most significant challenges the Department of Defense (DOD) 
and the military services face in Afghanistan is the timely delivery 
of supplies and equipment to the warfighter. Billions of dollars of 
supplies and equipment continue to be sent to Afghanistan to support 
current operations. DOD's distribution of supplies and equipment into 
and within Afghanistan is a complex process that involves many 
organizations and utilizes both surface and air modes of 
transportation over various routes. Afghanistan has been described as 
the "harshest logistics environment on earth." It is a mountainous, 
arid, land-locked country with poorly developed infrastructure, 
including few roads, no railway, and few airports with limited amounts 
of paved runways. The terrain and weather in Afghanistan and 
surrounding countries pose further challenges to transporting supplies 
and equipment. Roads are narrow and often unpaved; some have one-way 
traffic alternating daily, and some are treacherous mountain passes. 
Winter weather, avalanches, and flooding often create obstacles and 
can cause delivery delays. While DOD relies on a combination of air 
and surface transportation modes to move supplies and equipment into 
and within Afghanistan, these austere conditions make airlift a vital 
part of this process. 

In December 2009, the President reaffirmed the strategic goal in the 
March 2009 U.S. Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to disrupt, 
dismantle, and defeat extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan and 
prevent them from threatening the United States and its allies in the 
future. That same month, the President announced an additional 30,000 
U.S. troops would be sent to Afghanistan by August 31, 2010, bringing 
the number of U.S. military personnel to about 98,000, with some 
drawdown efforts to begin in July 2011. 

We have previously reported on logistics issues during contingency 
operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and DOD's supply-chain management 
continues to be a high-risk issue.[Footnote 1] For example, in 
December 2003, we noted the backlog of hundreds of pallets and 
containers of materiel at various distribution points due to 
transportation constraints and inadequate asset visibility, along with 
radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags not being effectively used 
to track materiel in transit to, within, and from Iraq.[Footnote 2] 
Also, in August 2005, we reported that the role of the Distribution 
Process Owner[Footnote 3] was not clearly defined and, as a result, 
accountability and authority for improving the distribution system 
remain unclear, and that the Distribution Process Owner's roles and 
responsibilities may overlap with those of other organizations that 
are involved in deployment and distribution.[Footnote 4] We 
recommended that the Secretary of Defense clarify the 
responsibilities, accountability, and authority between the 
Distribution Process Owner and Defense Logistics Executive, issue a 
directive to institute these clarifications, direct that improvements 
be made in DOD's logistics transformation strategy, and address 
underfunding of new communications and tracking systems. Most 
recently, in June 2010, we reported that DOD has taken some steps to 
improve its processes for distributing materiel to deployed forces but 
continued to face difficulties with transporting cargo through 
neighboring countries and within Afghanistan, limited airfield 
infrastructure, lack of full visibility over cargo movements, limited 
storage capacity at major logistics bases, difficulties in 
synchronizing the arrival of units and equipment, lack of coordination 
between the United States and other coalition forces for delivery of 
supplies and equipment, and low transportation priority for 
contractors.[Footnote 5] We noted DOD had recognized these challenges 
and had ongoing or planned efforts to mitigate some of them. A list of 
these and other related GAO products is included at the end of this 
report. 

Since our June 2010 report, DOD has continued to develop efforts to 
mitigate ongoing distribution challenges. For example, DOD has sought 
to mitigate storage capacity limitation at major logistic bases in 
Afghanistan by expanding bases at some locations. The Central 
Receiving and Shipping Point expansion plan at Bagram Airfield 
establishes a joint distribution-management center that will 
centralize all components of cargo movement and control, including 
RFID tagging. The expansion plan also consolidates working space for 
movement control teams, contractors, and supply support activities and 
creates outbound lanes for cargo and containers being moved off the 
base. As a result, according to DOD officials, the plan will improve 
storage capacity for both receiving and shipping points and will 
improve efficiencies at the distribution centers and supply support 
activities on base. Additionally, DOD has projects under way or 
completed to expand airfield capacity in Afghanistan, such as the ramp 
space built at Kandahar Airfield that can park an additional 10 
aircraft. With regards to cargo transportation, in order to mitigate 
the high costs of airlift, DOD has begun to use a multimodal 
distribution transportation process--that is, a combination of surface 
and air transportation--to deploy cargo into theater more quickly and 
efficiently. For example, in 2007 DOD began to replace most up-armored 
high mobility, multi-wheel vehicles with Mine-Resistant, Ambush-
Protected Vehicles to provide U.S. forces with significantly more 
protection against mines and improvised explosive devices. DOD sought 
to get the vehicles to Afghanistan in a relatively short time frame, 
thereby helping to reduce casualties. According to U.S. Transportation 
Command (TRANSCOM) data, directly airlifting more than 4,000 Mine-
Resistant, Ambush-Protected All Terrain Vehicles to theater would have 
cost approximately $700 million, and delivering the vehicles by 
sealift would have cost less but incurred as much risk and challenges 
associated with ground routes. But transporting the Mine-Resistant, 
Ambush-Protected All Terrain Vehicles by a combination of airlift and 
sealift cost about $300 million less than direct airlift and also 
helped to free up limited air assets and minimize damage, pilferage, 
and border crossings associated with ground routes. DOD has also 
conducted studies examining distribution challenges in Afghanistan. 
For example, according to DOD, U.S. Central Command requested the 
department form a Joint Surface Assessment Team to assess distribution 
in Afghanistan. This team was a multi-service and multi-agency team 
that deployed to Afghanistan for more than 30 days, studying all 
aspects of distribution. The study produced a detailed report that 
identified multiple challenges that were negatively affecting 
distribution with recommendations for improvement in Afghanistan. 

We conducted this review under the authority of the Comptroller 
General to conduct evaluations on his own initiative, in light of 
continuing congressional committee interest regarding DOD's progress 
and challenges in distributing supplies and equipment to Afghanistan. 
Our objectives for this review were to determine: (1) to what extent 
DOD has oversight of the distribution of supplies and equipment into 
and within Afghanistan; (2) to what extent DOD has provided the 
supplies and equipment needed to support operations in Afghanistan in 
accordance with DOD's established plans and timelines; and (3) what 
challenges have affected DOD's ability to provide the supplies and 
equipment needed to support operations in Afghanistan. 

To determine the extent to which DOD has oversight of the distribution 
of supplies and equipment into and within Afghanistan, we reviewed 
joint doctrine[Footnote 6] on logistics and the distribution of 
supplies and equipment and DOD guidance on the roles and 
responsibilities for TRANSCOM as the Distribution Process Owner, 
[Footnote 7] and interviewed officials at the strategic, operational, 
and tactical levels to understand DOD's distribution oversight. To 
determine the extent to which DOD has provided the supplies and 
equipment needed to support operations in Afghanistan in accordance 
with DOD's established plans and timelines, we reviewed DOD policy and 
guidance on performance metrics, analyzed delivery data for shipments 
of unit equipment and sustainment items to Afghanistan, and evaluated 
those data against DOD's time-definite delivery standards and required 
delivery dates. To determine what challenges have affected DOD's 
ability to provide the supplies and equipment needed to support 
operations in Afghanistan, we reviewed DOD, service, and combatant 
command policies, guidance, and assessments regarding the challenges 
identified in this report, and conducted site visits and interviewed 
DOD officials in the United States and in the U.S. Central Command 
area of responsibility, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, 
Qatar, and Bahrain. Appendix I provides additional details for the 
scope and methodology. 

We conducted this performance audit from April 2010 through June 2011 
in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 
These standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain 
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe 
that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

Background: 

DOD's supply chain comprises many subordinate organizations, which 
must operate as a global network to deliver timely logistics support 
to the warfighter. According to Joint Publication 4-09, the 
fundamental goal of the supply chain is to maximize force readiness 
while optimizing allocation of resources.[Footnote 8] DOD's 
distribution activities include deploying units and their equipment, 
such as vehicles and materiel owned by the unit and brought from the 
home station; delivering sustainment items, which are supplies such as 
food, water, construction materiel, parts, and fuel that are 
requisitioned by units already deployed; and executing the retrograde 
of repairable items, to support maintenance activities. 

DOD ships unit equipment and sustainment items to Afghanistan using a 
combination of surface and air routes. Most shipments are transported 
either by commercial sealift to Pakistan's seaports in Karachi and 
then trucked by contractors to Afghanistan or along the Northern 
Distribution Network by commercial sealift, trains, and trucks through 
Western Europe and central Asian countries into Afghanistan[Footnote 
9]. Military and commercial airlift are used to transport high-
priority supplies and equipment, as well as sensitive items, such as 
weapon systems and ammunition, into Afghanistan. Whether transported 
by surface or air, shipments arrive at major logistics bases in 
Afghanistan, which are military bases capable of handling large 
volumes of personnel and cargo, such as Bagram and Kandahar Airfields. 
DOD has established distribution metrics to assess its performance in 
providing timely delivery of unit equipment and sustainment items to 
major logistics bases. 

Unit equipment and sustainment items may subsequently be transported 
from major logistics bases to outposts (i.e., forward operating bases 
or combat outposts) using a combination of surface and air 
transportation modes. Overall, there are about 17 major logistics 
bases and more than 300 outposts in Afghanistan. Within Afghanistan, 
cargo is moved to outposts primarily by means of host-nation, 
contractor-operated trucks, although military trucking assets are used 
in some instances. Additionally, high-priority and sensitive materiel, 
such as ammunition, that needs to be transported by air is loaded onto 
smaller aircraft and flown to outposts or air-dropped to units 
throughout the country. 

DOD established the intracontinental, intertheater, and intratheater 
legs of the distribution pipeline to coordinate and synchronize the 
fulfillment of joint force requirements from the point of origin to 
the point of need. DOD also established distribution from the points 
of need to the points of employment, which are hundreds of forward 
outposts and bases throughout Afghanistan.[Footnote 10] According to 
joint doctrine, distribution is a critical element of joint operations 
that synchronizes all elements of the logistic system to deliver the 
"right things" to the "right place" at the "right time" to support the 
geographic combatant commander.[Footnote 11] The geographic combatant 
commander determines the point of need, which can be a major aerial 
port or seaport of debarkation, an austere airfield, a sea base, or 
any forward location within the operational area (e.g., open fields, 
parking lots, highways). TRANSCOM serves as the DOD single manager for 
transportation (other than service-unique or theater-assigned assets) 
responsible for providing common-user and commercial air, land, and 
sea transportation and terminal management. 

TRANSCOM Does Not Have Full Oversight of the Distribution of Supply 
and Equipment to the Warfighter in Afghanistan: 

TRANSCOM does not have full oversight of the distribution of supply 
and equipment to the warfighter in Afghanistan. According to joint 
doctrine, DOD's distribution pipeline includes four legs involving 
numerous organizations responsible for various aspects of the 
distribution process for delivering supplies and equipment to 
Afghanistan. DOD guidance also states that TRANSCOM, as DOD's 
Distribution Process Owner, is responsible for overseeing the 
effectiveness, efficiency, and alignment of DOD-wide distribution 
activities. Although TRANSCOM has established processes for oversight 
of distribution of supplies and equipment for the first three legs, 
the execution of TRANSCOM's oversight across the entire DOD-wide 
global distribution pipeline, to include the fourth leg, is not 
clearly defined. According to TRANSCOM officials, it maintains some 
awareness over the final leg of distribution by working with U.S. 
Central Command. However, TRANSCOM officials stated this current 
structure can result in loss of visibility over warfighter 
requirements and loss of confirmation that the supplies and equipment 
were received. Joint doctrine has established that delivery within the 
fourth leg is not a joint responsibility, but rather a service-
specific responsibility, as designated by the geographic combatant 
commander. However, TRANSCOM's responsibilities, including as 
Distribution Process Owner, suggest a role in overseeing efficiency, 
alignment, and synchronization DOD-wide, throughout the global 
distribution pipeline, which includes the fourth leg.[Footnote 12] 
Without full oversight over all legs of the distribution process, 
TRANSCOM is limited in carrying out its assigned responsibility to 
oversee "the overall effectiveness, efficiency, and alignment of DOD-
wide distribution activities"[Footnote 13] in the first three legs and 
impeded in its broader role and responsibilities with respect to 
global distribution. 

DOD's Distribution Pipeline to Afghanistan Includes Four Legs 
Involving Numerous Organizations: 

As envisioned in joint doctrine,[Footnote 14] DOD's global 
distribution pipeline to Afghanistan includes four legs--
intracontinental, intertheater, intratheater, and point of 
employment.[Footnote 15] The first three legs are a joint 
responsibility between numerous organizations responsible for various 
aspects of the distribution process, as illustrated in figure 1 below. 
Responsibility for the fourth leg--point of employment--lies with U.S. 
Central Command and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and its subordinate units, 
as illustrated in figure 2 below. 

Figure 1: First Three Legs of Distribution: Intracontinental, 
Intertheater, and Intratheater: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustrated map] 

United States: Intracontinental; 
Intracontinental move to Point of Embarkation (POE): 
* Services, Defense Logistics Agency, General Services Administration, 
vendors. 

U.S. Central Command: Intertheater; 
Intertheater move to Point of Debarkation (POD): 
* TRANSCOM;
* U.S. Central Command. 

Afghanistan: Intratheater; 
Intratheater move from POD to Point of Need: 
* TRANSCOM; 
* U.S. Central Command 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD joint doctrine. 

[End of figure] 

* Intracontinental. This leg includes movement from the point of 
origin (e.g., originating warehouse or base) to a port of embarkation, 
such as a seaport or aerial port in the United States. Along this 
first leg of distribution, TRANSCOM's role includes monitoring the 
incoming supply and coordinating how items will move into theater once 
the suppliers have delivered it to the port of embarkation. DOD 
agencies tasked with providing the incoming supplies include the 
Defense Logistics Agency, the General Services Administration, Army 
Materiel Command, and commercial vendors. These suppliers arrange for 
delivery to the point of embarkation. TRANSCOM executes its role 
through a coordination cell at its headquarters at Scott Air Force 
Base, Illinois, where it aligns requirements with available 
transportation assets. To execute this role, it receives requirements 
from U.S. Central Command on theater needs and deadlines; it receives 
supplier updates on expected delivery dates; and gets reports on asset 
availability reports, from its component commands--Air Mobility 
Command, Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC), and 
Military Sealift Command--on what air and sea assets are available for 
lift. 

* Intertheater. This leg includes movement from the port of 
embarkation (e.g., aerial port or seaport in the United States) to the 
port of debarkation (e.g., aerial port or seaport) in the U.S. Central 
Command area of responsibility, such as in Pakistan, Kuwait, or Qatar. 
Along this second leg of distribution, TRANSCOM allocates and tasks 
its component commands to ship items via airlift, sealift, truck, or 
rail. 

* Intratheater. This leg includes movement from the port of 
debarkation to the designated point of need in theater (e.g., major 
logistics base like Bagram or Kandahar Airfields) in Afghanistan. 
Operation of the intratheater leg is the responsibility of the 
supported geographic combatant command. To coordinate and synchronize 
this leg of distribution, TRANSCOM partnered with U.S. Central 
Command, the Defense Logistics Agency, and Army Materiel Command to 
establish the Central Command Deployment and Distribution Operations 
Center. According to TRANSCOM officials, TRANSCOM's functional 
responsibilities end when the item has been delivered to the point of 
need, usually to a supply warehouse or other location at a major 
logistics base in Afghanistan. However, TRANSCOM acknowledged that 
although its functional responsibility ends at the point of need, as 
Distribution Process Owner, it must also coordinate and synchronize a 
global distribution tempo that is responsive to the requirements, 
capabilities, and military limitations extending to the point of 
employment. 

Figure 2: Final Leg of Distribution: Point of Employment: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustrated map] 

U.S. Central Command: to Point of Need in Afghanistan. 

Point of Need in Afghanistan: to Forward Operating Bases. 
Movements that extend beyond the point of need are handled by U.S. 
Forces-Afghanistan and the services. 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD joint doctrine. 

[End of figure] 

* Point of Employment. This leg includes movement from the point of 
need (e.g., major logistics base) to the point of employment (e.g., 
forward operating base or combat outpost). Joint doctrine has 
established that delivery to the hundreds of forward outposts and 
bases throughout Afghanistan is not a joint responsibility. Instead, 
Joint Publication 4-09 establishes that movement that extends beyond 
the point of need to the point of employment "is a service-specific 
responsibility as designated by the [geographic combatant commander]." 
[Footnote 16] In Afghanistan, this role is carried out by U.S. Forces-
Afghanistan and its subordinate units. According to DOD documentation, 
DOD has designated U.S. Forces-Afghanistan's subordinate sustainment 
command, Joint Sustainment Command-Afghanistan, as responsible for 
coordinating this last leg of distribution.[Footnote 17] 

The Execution of TRANSCOM's Responsibility for Oversight across All 
Four Legs of the Distribution Pipeline Is Not Clearly Defined: 

How TRANSCOM should execute its responsibility for oversight across 
the distribution pipeline is not clearly defined. In 2007, the Office 
of the Secretary of Defense, Undersecretary of Defense for 
Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, issued guidance regarding the 
role of TRANSCOM as DOD's Distribution Process Owner.[Footnote 18] 
According to the guidance, TRANSCOM is responsible for overseeing "the 
overall effectiveness, efficiency, and alignment of DOD-wide 
distribution activities, including force projection, sustainment and 
redeployment/retrograde operations" consistent with certain DOD 
directives.[Footnote 19] Joint doctrine provides a similar explanation 
of TRANSCOM's oversight role.[Footnote 20] According to DOD officials, 
the intent of the Distribution Process Owner policy and joint doctrine 
was for TRANSCOM to have oversight of the entire distribution pipeline 
from the warehouse to the warfighter.[Footnote 21] According to Office 
of the Secretary of Defense officials, the term "DOD-wide" encompasses 
the entire global distribution pipeline, including the fourth leg. 
Later, in comments provided after our analysis, DOD maintained that 
the Distribution Process Owner's responsibility extends only to the 
point of need. However, this interpretation and the above earlier 
statements demonstrate some degree of confusion within DOD. 
Ultimately, how TRANSCOM should execute its responsibility to oversee 
DOD-wide distribution activities, and its role in the global 
distribution pipeline, which itself includes the fourth leg, is not 
clearly defined. 

Because neither the Distribution Process Owner guidance nor joint 
doctrine explains clearly how TRANSCOM is to exercise oversight of the 
entire distribution pipeline, TRANSCOM has focused primarily on 
overseeing the effectiveness of the first three distribution legs. For 
example, to help carry out its responsibilities as Distribution 
Process Owner, TRANSCOM uses performance metrics to monitor the 
effectiveness of DOD's distribution system to deliver the right things 
to the right place at the right time. However, TRANSCOM tracks 
performance metrics--for example, time-definite delivery standards and 
required delivery dates--only for delivery to the point of need, or 
major logistics base, in Afghanistan. U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and its 
subordinate units track their own performance metrics--for example, 
whether host-nation trucks meet required load dates and required 
delivery dates--to assess the timeliness of delivery from the major 
logistics base to a forward operating base or combat outpost. However, 
DOD officials stated that U.S. Forces-Afghanistan does not report this 
performance assessment to TRANSCOM. Without regular reports from U.S. 
Forces-Afghanistan on delivery performance within Afghanistan, 
TRANSCOM is unable to measure the success of the entire distribution 
process and carry out its responsibility to oversee the effectiveness 
of DOD-wide distribution activities, even if limited to the first 
three legs of the global distribution pipeline. 

Furthermore, because TRANSCOM maintains oversight of only the first 
three distribution legs and not all of the way to the ultimate points 
of employment (e.g., forward operating bases or combat outposts), 
there is no single DOD entity with full oversight of the entire 
distribution pipeline. As a result, DOD has a limited ability to 
coordinate potentially necessary improvements in distributing 
equipment and supplies to the warfighter in Afghanistan. For example, 
TRANSCOM currently may not be able to identify and coordinate a 
response to shortages in transportation assets or delays in delivering 
cargo that occur at the theater level but also affect distribution in 
the other three legs. Additionally, lack of visibility and oversight 
of the point of employment may contribute to units reordering supplies 
and equipment that are already in transit, resulting in the use of 
additional transportation resources and capacity in an already 
constrained environment. If TRANSCOM maintained oversight through all 
four legs of the distribution pipeline, TRANSCOM would likely be 
better able to align and synchronize DOD distribution activities and 
capabilities to address systemwide challenges as they arise. As 
recently cited by the Commander of TRANSCOM, TRANSCOM's intended span 
of influence as Distribution Process Owner is "factory to foxhole." 
However, without clear guidance on how to achieve visibility, at a 
minimum, over all legs of the DOD distribution pipeline, TRANSCOM will 
likely continue in its limited oversight role.[Footnote 22] 

DOD Has Not Always Met Delivery Standards and Timelines, and Does Not 
Have Complete Data to Fully Assess Performance: 

DOD has not always met performance standards and timelines for 
shipments to major logistics bases in Afghanistan, and it cannot 
conduct a full assessment of its delivery performance for surface 
shipments due to incomplete data.[Footnote 23] DOD has more frequently 
met delivery standards for shipments transported by airlift than for 
shipments transported on surface routes, due in large part to the 
various difficulties in transporting cargo on surface routes through 
neighboring countries and inside Afghanistan. DOD has established two 
key performance metrics for delivery to major logistics bases--that 
is, military bases capable of handling large volumes of cargo--in 
Afghanistan. The first metric is time-definite delivery standards, 
which are applied only to sustainment shipments transported on surface 
and air routes; the second is required delivery dates, which are 
applied to both unit and sustainment shipments transported on surface 
routes. According to our analysis of DOD delivery data, sustainment 
shipments have not always met time-definite delivery standards from 
December 2009 through March 2011. Additionally, the extent to which 
unit and sustainment shipments have met required delivery dates is 
uncertain because data on DOD's performance are incomplete for many 
shipments. As a result, the status of these shipments is not clear. 
However, for those shipments with complete data from 2008 through 
2010, DOD has not always met its required delivery dates. 

DOD Has Not Always Met Time-Definite Delivery Standards for 
Sustainment Shipments: 

DOD has not always met time-definite delivery standards for shipments 
of sustainment items to supply warehouses at major logistics bases in 
Afghanistan. DOD has set a goal that 85 percent of requisitioned 
sustainment shipments--including repair parts, major end items, 
construction materials, and petroleum products--transported to 
Afghanistan meet established time-definite delivery 
standards.[Footnote 24] DOD assesses its performance in meeting the 85 
percent goal by measuring the time it takes from the requisitioning of 
an item to the item's delivery to a supply warehouse at a major 
logistics base in Afghanistan. According to DOD guidance, time-
definite delivery standards are designed to provide customers with the 
assurance that, in a specified level of probability, they will receive 
items ordered through DOD's logistics system in a definite period of 
time. The standards vary based on the mode of transportation used to 
deliver the shipments to Afghanistan: 85 percent of sustainment 
shipments transported on surface routes should arrive at a major 
logistics base's supply warehouse within 97 days of being ordered; 
shipments transported on military aircraft should arrive within 23 
days; and shipments transported on commercial aircraft should arrive 
within 14 days. As figures 3 through 5 show, DOD did not always meet 
its time-definite delivery standards from December 2009 through March 
2011, during which DOD increased the number of troops in Afghanistan 
by 30,000. 

Figure 3: Number of Days to Deliver 85 Percent of Surface Supply 
Shipments to Afghanistan: 

[Refer to PDF for image: line graph] 

Time-definite delivery standard: 97 days. 

Month: December 2009;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 122 days. 

Month: January 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 125 days. 

Month: February 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 150 days. 

Month: March 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 183 days. 

Month: April 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 157 days. 

Month: May 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 136 days. 

Month: June 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 144 days. 

Month: July 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 151 days. 

Month: August 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 191 days. 

Month: September 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 188 days. 

Month: October 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 147 days. 

Month: November 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 157 days. 

Month: December 2010;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 188 days. 

Month: January 20110;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 199 days. 

Month: February 2011;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 202 days. 

Month: March 2011;
Surface supply shipments from the United States: 202 days. 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD data. 

[End of figure] 

Note: According to DOD officials, the time-definite delivery standard 
went into effect in December 2009. 

* For surface shipments of sustainment items, DOD did not once achieve 
its goal of delivering 85 percent of shipments within 97 days of being 
ordered. On average, 36 percent of shipments met the time-definite 
delivery standard, and 85 percent of delivered shipments arrived 
within 165 days. According to DOD, delivery times for shipments 
transported both through Pakistan and along the Northern Distribution 
Network are measured against the 97-day delivery standard. In June 
2011, U.S. Central Command set a goal that 75 percent of cargo shipped 
to Afghanistan be transported along the Northern Distribution Network; 
however, DOD has not established a separate time-definite delivery 
standard for surface shipments along the Northern Distribution 
Network, which takes longer to transit than the surface routes through 
Pakistan. 

Figure 4: Number of Days to Deliver 85 Percent of Military Air Supply 
Shipments to Afghanistan: 

[Refer to PDF for image: line graph] 

Time-definite delivery standard: 23 days. 

Month: December 2009;
Military air supply shipments from the United States: 30; 
Military air supply shipments from outside the United States: 29. 

Month: January 2010;
Military air supply shipments from the United States: 34; 
Military air supply shipments from outside the United States: 31. 

Month: February 2010;
Military air supply shipments from the United States: 30; 
Military air supply shipments from outside the United States: 25. 

Month: March 2010;
Military air supply shipments from the United States: 46; 
Military air supply shipments from outside the United States: 28. 

Month: April 2010;
Military air supply shipments from the United States: 26; 
Military air supply shipments from outside the United States: 16 (met 
standard). 

Month: May 2010;
Military air supply shipments from the United States: 23 (met 
standard); 
Military air supply shipments from outside the United States: 19 (met 
standard). 

Month: June 2010;
Military air supply shipments from the United States: 32; 
Military air supply shipments from outside the United States: 37. 

Month: July 2010;
Military air supply shipments from the United States: 36; 
Military air supply shipments from outside the United States: 35. 

Month: August 2010;
Military air supply shipments from the United States: 40; 
Military air supply shipments from outside the United States: 28. 

Month: September 2010;
Military air supply shipments from the United States: 49; 
Military air supply shipments from outside the United States: 26. 

Month: October 2010;
Military air supply shipments from the United States: 48; 
Military air supply shipments from outside the United States: 35. 

Month: November 2010;
Military air supply shipments from the United States: 50; 
Military air supply shipments from outside the United States: 36. 

Month: December 2010;
Military air supply shipments from the United States: 46; 
Military air supply shipments from outside the United States: 22 (met 
standard). 

Month: January 20110;
Military air supply shipments from the United States: 40; 
Military air supply shipments from outside the United States: 22 (met 
standard). 

Month: February 2011;
Military air supply shipments from the United States: 44; 
Military air supply shipments from outside the United States: 29. 

Month: March 2011;
Military air supply shipments from the United States: 36; 
Military air supply shipments from outside the United States: 22 (met 
standard). 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD data. 

[End of figure] 

Note: According to DOD officials, the time-definite delivery standard 
went into effect in December 2009. 

* For military air shipments of sustainment items, DOD achieved its 
goal of delivering 85 percent of shipments within 23 days of being 
ordered one time for shipments from the United States and five times 
for shipments from outside the United States.[Footnote 25] On average, 
65 percent and 81 percent of military air shipments originating in the 
United States and outside the United States, respectively, met the 
time-definite delivery standard, and 85 percent of delivered shipments 
arrived within 38 and 28 days, respectively. 

Figure 5: Number of Days to Deliver 85 Percent of Commercial Air 
Supply Shipments to Afghanistan: 

[Refer to PDF for image: line graph] 

Time-definite delivery standard: 14 days. 

Month: December 2009;
Commercial air supply shipments from the United States: 14 (met 
standard); 
Commercial air supply shipments from outside the United States: 17. 

Month: January 2010;
Commercial air supply shipments from the United States: 11 (met 
standard); 
Commercial air supply shipments from outside the United States: 18. 

Month: February 2010;
Commercial air supply shipments from the United States: 13 (met 
standard); 
Commercial air supply shipments from outside the United States: 29. 

Month: March 2010;
Commercial air supply shipments from the United States: 14 (met 
standard); 
Commercial air supply shipments from outside the United States: 28. 

Month: April 2010;
Commercial air supply shipments from the United States: 14 (met 
standard); 
Commercial air supply shipments from outside the United States: 44. 

Month: May 2010;
Commercial air supply shipments from the United States: 14 (met 
standard); 
Commercial air supply shipments from outside the United States: 25. 

Month: June 2010;
Commercial air supply shipments from the United States: 18; 
Commercial air supply shipments from outside the United States: 21. 

Month: July 2010;
Commercial air supply shipments from the United States: 15; 
Commercial air supply shipments from outside the United States: 16. 

Month: August 2010;
Commercial air supply shipments from the United States: 15; 
Commercial air supply shipments from outside the United States: 43. 

Month: September 2010;
Commercial air supply shipments from the United States: 23; 
Commercial air supply shipments from outside the United States: 48. 

Month: October 2010;
Commercial air supply shipments from the United States: 23; 
Commercial air supply shipments from outside the United States: 29. 

Month: November 2010;
Commercial air supply shipments from the United States: 22; 
Commercial air supply shipments from outside the United States: 22. 

Month: December 2010;
Commercial air supply shipments from the United States: 24; 
Commercial air supply shipments from outside the United States: 20. 

Month: January 20110;
Commercial air supply shipments from the United States: 19; 
Commercial air supply shipments from outside the United States: 22. 

Month: February 2011;
Commercial air supply shipments from the United States: 17; 
Commercial air supply shipments from outside the United States: 20. 

Month: March 2011;
Commercial air supply shipments from the United States: 21; 
Commercial air supply shipments from outside the United States: 21. 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD data. 

Note: According to DOD officials, the time-definite delivery standard 
went into effect in December 2009. 

[End of figure] 

* For commercial air shipments of sustainment items, DOD achieved its 
goal of delivering 85 percent of shipments within 14 days of being 
ordered six times for shipments from the United States and zero times 
for shipments from outside the United States. On average, 80 percent 
and 72 percent of commercial air shipments originating in the United 
States and outside the United States, respectively, met the time- 
definite delivery standard, and 85 percent of delivered shipments 
arrived within 17 and 26 days, respectively. 

* Sustainment items delivered to supply warehouses at major logistics 
bases are either transported to or picked up by the customer who 
ordered the item. This additional delivery time is not measured 
against the time-definite delivery standards, which are set only for 
delivery to a major logistics base. 

* According to TRANSCOM, time-definite delivery standards were not met 
for a variety of reasons. For surface shipments, delivery standards 
were not met due to the challenges of transporting cargo through 
Pakistan and along the Northern Distribution Network, and also 
reception delays at supply warehouses resulting from high levels of 
incoming cargo and limited warehouse space and personnel. For air 
shipments, delivery standards were not met due to limited aerial port 
capacity and available slot times in Afghanistan; processing delays at 
aerial ports resulting from limited storage space for incoming cargo 
and available personnel to process the cargo; and occasional delays in 
building pallets at aerial ports in the United States because of low 
cargo volume for shipments to some locations in Afghanistan. DOD's 
stakeholders use this information to collaborate to address the causes 
for delays. For example, TRANSCOM and the other stakeholders meet on a 
monthly basis to discuss ways to improve DOD's performance in meeting 
the standards for sustainment shipments to Afghanistan. Efforts to 
improve distribution performance are essential, as delays in 
delivering requisitioned repair parts, major end items, and other 
supplies may negatively affect warfighters who are expecting those 
shipments to arrive in a definite period of time in order to conduct 
their missions. 

DOD Does Not Have Complete Data to Fully Assess Performance, although 
Available Data Show DOD Has Not Always Met Required Delivery Dates: 

Due to incomplete data in its shipment database, DOD cannot conduct a 
full assessment of its delivery performance in meeting required 
delivery dates--that is, the dates on which surface shipments are 
supposed to arrive at major logistics bases in Afghanistan. As DOD's 
Distribution Process Owner, TRANSCOM is responsible for overseeing the 
effectiveness of DOD-wide distribution activities. To assist in 
performing this oversight, TRANSCOM's component command, 
SDDC,[Footnote 26] maintains a database that tracks the required 
delivery dates and actual delivery dates for surface shipments to 
Afghanistan. Commercial carriers are responsible for electronically 
documenting when the delivery of a shipment occurs. However, as Table 
1 shows, 42 percent of unit surface shipments and 19 percent of 
sustainment surface shipments with required delivery dates in 2008 
through 2010 did not have a documented delivery date in the database. 

Table 1: Unit and Sustainment Surface Shipments (with a Required 
Delivery Date between 2008 and 2010) That Did and That Did Not Have a 
Documented Delivery Date in Afghanistan: 

Unit Surface Shipments: 

Delivery Date Documented; 
2008: 38%; 829; 
2009: 67%; 5,750; 
2010: 56%; 8,437; 
2008-2010: 58%; 15,016. 

Delivery Date not Documented: 
2008: 62%; 1,338; 
2009: 33%; 2,884; 
2010: 44%; 6,706; 
2008-2010: 42%; 10,928. 

Sustainment Surface Shipments: 

Delivery Date Documented: 
2008: 68%; 16,091; 
2009: 78%; 36,232; 
2010: 87%; 55,947; 
2008-2010: 81%; 108,271. 

Delivery Date not Documented: 
2008: 32%; 7,629; 
2009: 22%; 9,956; 
2010: 13%; 8,063; 
2008-2010: 19%; 25,648. 

Source: GAO analysis of SDDC data, as of March 2011. 

[End of table] 

As a result, the status of these shipments is not clear. According to 
SDDC, a very small number of these shipments were lost in transit due 
to pilferage or hostile attacks, and the vast majority of the 
shipments were delivered but not documented in the database. 

According to SDDC, it can request documentation to verify that a cargo 
shipment has been delivered, but it does not always do this and, when 
it does, SDDC does not always update its shipment database with the 
delivery date information. A TRANSCOM contract with commercial 
carriers that transport cargo to Afghanistan requires that the 
carriers provide delivery receipts for the recipient to sign upon 
delivery of cargo. In cases where SDDC wants to verify that delivery 
has occurred but the shipment database has not been updated with a 
delivery date, officials stated that SDDC can request the delivery 
receipt to show that the shipment was actually delivered, and whether 
it met the required delivery date. However, SDDC does not always 
request a delivery receipt to verify that those shipments in its 
database without a documented delivery date were actually delivered. 
Furthermore, even when receipts are requested to verify delivery, SDDC 
does not always update the shipment database with data on when the 
delivery occurred. Consequently, the database may continue to lack 
documentation that a shipment was delivered. 

Also according to SDDC, commercial carriers with contracts to 
transport cargo to Afghanistan do not always electronically document 
the delivery of a shipment. Carriers electronically document into 
their own databases when a shipment is delivered, and their databases 
subsequently upload that delivery data into the SDDC database. 
However, a carrier may be unable to deliver a shipment by the required 
delivery date due to various circumstances, identified by officials as 
including extreme weather, labor strikes, hostile attacks, or border-
crossing constraints. When this occurs, the carrier submits an 
electronic notification that the shipment cannot be delivered on time, 
and, in some circumstances, if authorized, the carrier may be released 
from its obligation to meet the required delivery date. According to 
SDDC, many carriers have indicated their belief that once they are 
released from their obligation to deliver the shipment by its required 
delivery date, they do not subsequently have to electronically 
document the delivery when it eventually occurs. As a result, the 
shipment database has not been updated by the carriers with the 
delivery dates for a substantial number of shipments to Afghanistan. 
In the next version of DOD's contract with commercial carriers, SDDC 
officials told us that they plan to require carriers to always 
electronically document when a shipment is delivered, even if a 
carrier cannot meet the shipment's required delivery date due to 
circumstances beyond its control. 

For shipments of unit equipment and sustainment items that did have 
complete delivery data, DOD did not always deliver those shipments by 
their required delivery dates. From 2008 through 2010, 42 percent of 
unit surface shipments and 63 percent of sustainment shipments with 
documented delivery arrived after their required delivery dates. 
During this time frame, DOD delivered substantially more sustainment 
shipments than unit shipments, and the number of sustainment shipments 
delivered after their required delivery dates increased from 36 
percent of total sustainment shipments in 2008 to 67 percent in 2010. 
Also over that time frame, the number of both unit and sustainment 
shipments increased each year, which corresponds with the increased 
number of U.S. military personnel deployed to Afghanistan. Figure 6 
shows DOD performance in meeting its required delivery dates for those 
shipments with a documented delivery date. 

Figure 6: Unit and Sustainment Surface Shipments Delivered to 
Afghanistan That Met and Missed the Required Delivery Date: 

[Refer to PDF for image: 8 pie-charts] 

Unit surface shipments: 

2008: 788 shipments; 
Met the required delivery date: 55% (432); 
Missed the required delivery date: 45% (356). 

2009: 5,315 shipments; 
Met the required delivery date: 65% (3,456); 
Missed the required delivery date: 45% (1,859). 

2010: 9,007 shipments; 
Met the required delivery date: 54% (4,826); 
Missed the required delivery date: 46% (4,181). 

2008-2010: 15,110 shipments; 
Met the required delivery date: 58% (8,714); 
Missed the required delivery date: 42% (6,396). 

Sustainment surface shipments: 

2008: 13,315 shipments; 
Met the required delivery date: 64%(8,520); 
Missed the required delivery date: 36% (4,795). 

2009: 35,475 shipments; 
Met the required delivery date: 34% (11,920); 
Missed the required delivery date: 66% (23,555). 

2010: 60,084 shipments; 
Met the required delivery date: 33% (19,800); 
Missed the required delivery date: 67% (40,294). 

2008-2010: 108,874 shipments; 
Met the required delivery date: 37% (40,240); 
Missed the required delivery date: 63% (68,624). 

Source: GAO analysis of SDDC data. 

Note: This figure includes only those shipments that had an 
electronically documented delivery date in the SDDC shipment database. 
These shipments were delivered during one of the three years shown in 
this figure, which may not have been the year of their required 
delivery date. For example, 829 unit shipments with a required 
delivery date in 2008 had a documented delivery date (see Table 1). 
However, only 788 unit shipments were recorded as delivered to 
Afghanistan in 2008, of which 776 shipments had a 2008 required 
delivery date. The remaining 53 unit shipments with a 2008 required 
delivery date were delivered after that year. 

[End of figure] 

* In 2008, 45 percent of unit shipments and 36 percent of sustainment 
shipments missed their required delivery dates. Of the late unit 
shipments, 35 percent were more than 1 week late, and 1 percent were 
more than 30 days late. Of the late sustainment shipments, 63 percent 
were more than 1 week late, and 20 percent were more than 30 days late. 

* In 2009, 35 percent of unit shipments and 66 percent of sustainment 
shipments missed their required delivery dates. Of the late unit 
shipments, 52 percent were more than 1 week late, and 13 percent were 
more than 30 days late. Of the late sustainment shipments, 83 percent 
were more than 1 week late, and 41 percent were more than 30 days late. 

* In 2010, 46 percent of unit shipments and 67 percent of sustainment 
shipments missed their required delivery dates. Of the late unit 
shipments, 66 percent were more than 1 week late, and 24 percent were 
more than 30 days late. Of the late sustainment shipments, 84 percent 
were more than 1 week late, and 47 percent were more than 30 days late. 

Units and their equipment often may be further transported from one of 
17 major logistics bases[Footnote 27] to one of the approximately 300 
forward operating bases or combat outposts, and sustainment items 
delivered to supply warehouses are either transported to or picked up 
by the customer who ordered them. This additional delivery time is not 
measured against the required delivery date, which is set only for 
delivery to a major logistics base. 

The unit and sustainment shipments that were delivered after their 
required delivery dates included several classes of supply and were 
delayed due to a variety of reasons. The majority of late unit 
shipments included major end items--such as large vehicles and 
materiel-handling equipment--and clothing, individual equipment, 
tools, and administrative supplies. For late sustainment shipments, 
the majority included construction materials; food, drink, health, and 
welfare items; and some major end items, such as large vehicles, 
materiel-handling equipment, and storage containers. These classes of 
supply were documented in DOD's surface shipment data as the types of 
cargo contained in the shipments delivered after their required 
delivery dates. According to SDDC officials, the class of supply 
documented as being contained in the late shipment may not be the only 
type of cargo contained in the shipment, but the documented class of 
supply was either the shipment's highest priority or its most 
expensive item. Thus, additional types of cargo may have been 
contained in the unit and sustainment shipments delivered after their 
required delivery dates, but at a minimum they contained the classes 
of supply listed above. According to SDDC, shipments delivered after 
their required delivery dates were delayed due to a variety of 
reasons, including restricted ability to cross the Pakistan-
Afghanistan border, delays in clearing customs procedures for entry 
into Afghanistan, backlogs at the northern border crossings into 
Afghanistan, delays in processing customs clearance through Uzbekistan 
along the Northern Distribution Network, substantial flooding in 
Pakistan in 2010, hostile attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and 
entry backlogs and delays at bases in Afghanistan. Officials stated 
that the limited ability of some bases in Afghanistan to receive large 
volumes of cargo shipments has caused DOD to use container yards 
outside of these bases to receive and store cargo until the base can 
receive the shipment. This additional holding time may cause a 
shipment to miss its required delivery date. Delays in delivering unit 
and sustainment shipments to Afghanistan could potentially have 
negative consequences for the warfighters who depend on those 
equipment and supplies to conduct their missions. 

Furthermore, without accurate and complete data on when shipments are 
delivered, DOD and its components lack the information necessary to 
assess its performance in meeting required delivery dates for 
shipments transported over surface routes, to maintain accountability 
of cargo shipments to Afghanistan, and to take corrective actions to 
improve supply management. For example, the analysis of DOD's 
performance in meeting required delivery dates from 2008 through 2010 
discussed above is incomplete, as that analysis does not and cannot 
assess DOD's performance in delivering surface shipments on time if 
those shipments do not have a documented delivery date. According to 
officials, SDDC assumes that shipments without a documented delivery 
date in the shipment database have been delivered after their required 
delivery date, but that status cannot be verified without a documented 
delivery date. In addition, SDDC cannot always be assured that 
delivery actually occurred, as the status of these shipments is 
unclear based on the data available in the shipment database. The 
ability to accurately assess delivery performance for and maintain 
accountability of these shipments is particularly important because, 
according to TRANSCOM data, almost two-thirds of cargo tonnage shipped 
to Afghanistan is transported by sea and then over ground routes 
through Pakistan or along the Northern Distribution Network. 

DOD Continues to Face Several Challenges in Distribution Support for 
Afghanistan: 

DOD continues to face several challenges in distribution support for 
Afghanistan. Specifically, these challenges include visibility over 
supplies and equipment into and within Afghanistan, integration of 
transportation information systems, clearing customs, collection and 
reporting of pilferage incidents, and container management. 

DOD Does Not Have Full Visibility over Surface Movements of Supplies 
and Equipment into and within Afghanistan: 

DOD does not have full visibility over surface movements of supplies 
and equipment into and within Afghanistan. We first reported on 
limited visibility of cargo in transit in June 2010, and DOD has taken 
several actions to address this issue. In order to gain visibility 
over surface movements, DOD utilizes, among other things, RFID 
technology. RFID technology transmits data from tags to readers. A tag 
can be attached to or embedded in an object to be identified, such as 
a product, case, or pallet. A reader scans the tag for data and sends 
the information to a database. While DOD has some efforts in place to 
mitigate in-transit visibility challenges and improve visibility over 
the distribution process, it still does not have full visibility over 
its cargo in transit to and within Afghanistan due to inadequate 
information on cargo movements. For example, visibility continues to 
be hampered by a limited infrastructure of RFID readers along surface 
routes to and within Afghanistan. Additionally, not all data entered 
onto RFID tags meet DOD policy requirements for both detail and 
accuracy, leaving personnel without adequate information on the 
contents of shipments, hindering their ability to effectively plan for 
the receipt and onward movement of cargo at bases. 

DOD has some efforts in place to mitigate in-transit visibility 
challenges. According to DOD, the department directed the formation of 
an Afghanistan In-Transit Visibility Joint Task Force to address the 
multiple visibility challenges related to the movement of equipment 
and supplies in Afghanistan. The task force reviewed, analyzed, and 
validated Afghanistan in-transit visibility requirements and 
recommended potential near-term solutions to improve shipments into 
and within Afghanistan. DOD also has a working group in place to 
improve visibility issues across the supply chain, and has continued 
to focus on increasing the use of tracking capabilities such as RFID 
tags attached to cargo containers or pallets, satellite tracking 
devices on trucks, and contractor reports to improve its visibility 
over cargo movements. For example, to increase the use of satellite 
tracking devices on host-nation trucks in Afghanistan, DOD has 
increasingly educated the truck drivers about the benefits of the 
tracking technology and the requirement to use the devices in certain 
contracts.[Footnote 28] As a result of DOD's efforts, the use of 
satellite tracking devices on host-nation trucks increased from 10 
percent in December 2009 to more than 90 percent in October 2010, 
according to DOD officials. Additionally, third-party logistics 
contractors are stationed in many locations along surface 
transportation routes throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan to collect 
information about DOD cargo in transit, and this practice helps fill 
in some of the data gaps in DOD's electronic visibility system. 
Contractors stationed at various points on the routes manually collect 
and provide real-time locality information on trucks transporting U.S. 
cargo that pass them. These reports include information about cargo 
damage, accidents, or attacks along the ground routes. The contractors 
communicate with truck drivers via mobile phones, and also make 
drivers call from land lines to verify their location information. 
Officials reported that this has helped DOD collect more accurate 
information about asset locations and incidents along the routes, and 
it is critical for maintaining visibility over cargo. 

Challenges remain, however, with the collection of detailed and 
accurate cargo data used to maintain visibility over supplies and 
equipment in theater. Collection of visibility data is a challenge due 
to limited visibility infrastructure along surface routes. For 
example, there are only 16 fixed RFID readers installed along the 
existing truck routes in Pakistan, and, according to DOD officials, 
there are no requirements regarding what routes the drivers must take 
to the border crossings. As a result, a truck's route may not fall 
within range of an RFID interrogator until it arrives at one of the 
border crossings into Afghanistan. Therefore, visibility provided by 
RFID tags becomes more sporadic once cargo moves out of the port of 
Karachi and along the ground routes into Afghanistan. The ability to 
maintain visibility using RFID tags throughout theater is 
inconsistent, even if a cargo truck passes an RFID interrogator. 
Officials stated that RFID tags lose battery power while in transit, 
and the batteries are sometimes stolen out of the tags. For example, 
in October 2010, a DOD check of RFID tags at the Hairaton border 
crossing found that 80 percent of RFID tags had batteries stolen out 
of them.[Footnote 29] A unit in Afghanistan stated that the RFID tags 
on some of their containers did not have the batteries put in 
correctly in the United States, and therefore provided no visibility 
from the time of their original shipment to Afghanistan. Additionally, 
DOD officials stated that connectivity to the RFID server may be 
limited at some bases in Afghanistan. The lack of visibility over 
supplies and equipment in transit to, within, and out of Afghanistan 
causes inefficient management of the flow of incoming trucks to 
logistics hubs and forward operating bases and impedes the safe, 
secure, and effective distribution of warfighter materiel within 
theater. DOD officials are aware of in-transit visibility challenges 
with RFID technology, and are currently exploring various options such 
as equipping U.S. military and host nation trucks with satellite 
transponders to improve visibility. 

According to DOD officials, detailed data about the contents of cargo 
shipments are critical for in-transit visibility, and can be used as 
evidence of cargo content when other documentation is missing. U.S. 
Army Forces Command policy indicates that RFID tags are to be written 
with sufficiently detailed data about the shipment's cargo to enable 
the identification and handling of shipments.[Footnote 30] U.S. 
Central Command guidance corroborates this policy, stating that 
content-level detail is to be provided in accordance with the current 
DOD RFID tag data specifications.[Footnote 31] Containers and pallets 
reconfigured during transit must have the RFID tag data updated by the 
organization making the change to accurately reflect the new contents, 
according to U.S. Central Command policy.[Footnote 32] 

Not all data entered onto RFID tags meet these policy requirements for 
both detail and accuracy, however. Officials told us that units 
sometimes do not report sufficiently detailed data on the contents of 
containers on RFID tags. For example, an official at a supply yard in 
Afghanistan stated that individual cargo items are frequently not 
documented on RFID tags. Because not all cargo is tagged with detailed 
data required by U.S. Central Command policy, forward-deployed units 
have limited visibility and control over their materiel's critical 
inbound movements, as well as receipt and onward movements. This may 
result in backlogs of trucks trying to access the bases and delays in 
customer receipt of cargo. Similarly, sometimes reported cargo data 
are inaccurate. As noted above, U.S. Central Command guidance 
indicates that changes made to containers and pallets during transit 
must be recorded on RFID tag updates by the organization making the 
change, to accurately reflect the new contents. However, DOD officials 
in Afghanistan stated in November 2010 that approximately 40 percent 
of the RFID tags on cargo bound for one base in theater had incorrect 
or incomplete data "burned" onto them. Officials stated that one 
reason the data are not entered completely or accurately is lack of 
training: personnel are unaware of RFID requirements. Although Army 
Forces Command guidance notes that RFID tag training for unit movement 
officers is normally provided by installation and brigade movement 
personnel and RFID training programs are available, units may not be 
trained on how to properly use RFID tags to maintain visibility, 
according to DOD officials. 

Without adequate visibility tools and data, the arrival of trucks 
delivering cargo to bases cannot be effectively monitored or metered 
by DOD personnel or contractors. It is difficult to track equipment in 
transit within Afghanistan because there is little visibility in 
theater or information provided about the arrival or delay of supplies 
or equipment, and the arrival of trucks delivering cargo to bases 
cannot be effectively monitored by DOD personnel or contractors, 
resulting in long wait times at base entry control points. Because of 
space constraints, only a certain number of trucks can be allowed on a 
base at a time. If the available space is filled with incoming trucks, 
trucks awaiting entry onto the base must wait outside the base until 
space is available for them to enter. This may leave cargo more 
vulnerable to pilferage as trucks sit outside base gates for extended 
periods. Further, units may not know that their cargo has arrived, or 
that items in their shipments are missing. For example, an official 
stated a contractor truck took two weeks to bring supplies for his 
task force to Bagram from Kabul, in part because the truck kept 
getting turned away at the gate to the base. The task force was not 
aware of this issue due to lack of visibility over the cargo's 
transit. Officials in Kandahar stated that a convoy of contractor 
trucks languished for weeks in the staging lot because no one talked 
to the customer receiving the cargo, and the customer was unaware the 
trucks were at the entry control point. Additionally, units sometimes 
requisition the same items repeatedly because they do not have 
visibility over cargo. For example, DOD officials in Afghanistan 
stated that a Stryker Brigade Combat Team was reportedly reordering 
approximately 5 percent of its requisitions for repair parts because 
visibility was lost during the distribution process. Additionally, DOD 
officials in Afghanistan stated that even when a unit is aware that 
cargo has arrived on the base, customers may not be available to 
receive cargo, and materiel handling equipment may not available to 
transport it to its final destination. 

DOD Has Not Fully Integrated Transportation Information Systems: 

DOD and its components have many transportation information systems 
and processes to track the movement of supplies and equipment to 
Afghanistan, but these systems are not fully integrated into a user- 
friendly common operating picture. Joint doctrine indicates that 
optimum integration of information systems and their data is critical 
to the effectiveness and efficiency of global distribution operations 
to enable improved situation awareness and management 
processes.[Footnote 33] Under DOD guidance, TRANSCOM is responsible 
for integrating deployment-related automated data processing systems. 
Further, a March 2011 memo from the Secretary of Defense on DOD 
efficiency initiatives directs TRANSCOM to submit implementation plans 
to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for approving the 
designation of TRANSCOM as DOD's lead proponent for in-transit 
visibility to synchronize initiatives and eliminate duplication and 
nonstandard practices among separate DOD components. However, DOD 
officials at both the headquarters and tactical levels stated that 
while cargo transportation data are being captured and can be obtained 
by DOD's numerous systems and processes, these data systems are not 
integrated into a user-friendly common operating picture that can be 
accessed by personnel at each of the strategic, operational, and 
tactical levels of distribution. As a result, personnel may not know 
which of the numerous information systems could provide them with the 
information they are looking for, and so do not always have access to 
the in-transit visibility data they need. 

For example, the Joint Operation Planning and Execution System is used 
by the Joint Staff and other components to monitor, plan, and execute 
the deployment and redeployment of units and their equipment in 
association with joint operations. The Global Air Traffic Execution 
System is used by the Air Force for automated airlift cargo and 
passenger processing, and to provide in-transit visibility data. The 
In-Transit Visibility for Surface Deployment and Distribution Cargo 
system is used by TRANSCOM and SDDC to track the status of surface 
shipments transiting through Pakistan or along the Northern 
Distribution Network. The Integrated Booking System--Container 
Management Module provides information on the location of government 
and carrier-owned containers, and the Radio Frequency In-transit 
Visibility system provides users with the latest information on the 
location of cargo with a RFID tag. Due to the difficulties in 
receiving in-transit visibility information from RFID tags on cargo 
transiting Pakistan, SDDC receives daily reports from its commercial 
carriers and contractor personnel on the ground in Pakistan and 
summarizes them in a spreadsheet format. For cargo transported between 
locations in Afghanistan, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and its subordinate 
units have separate systems and processes for tracking the location of 
transiting cargo. Additionally, deployed Army units can use the Battle 
Command Sustainment Support Structure to view the supply stockage 
levels in warehouses and track the movement of supplies as they travel 
through the distribution systems via air, land, and sea. According to 
DOD, in September 2010 DOD directed the Battle Command Sustainment 
Support Structure-Node Management to become the joint theater 
distribution common operating picture. Finally, commercial carriers 
used by DOD to transport cargo have their own information systems that 
often link into established DOD systems. 

Although these systems and processes provide DOD with a vast amount of 
data on where supplies and equipment are in the distribution pipeline, 
they are not fully integrated into a user-friendly common operating 
picture that can be accessed by all personnel at the strategic, 
operational, and tactical levels. For example, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan 
and its subordinate units use many separate systems and processes to 
track cargo delivery between locations in Afghanistan, but these 
systems are not integrated into a common operating picture accessible 
to personnel at all levels of the distribution system. According to 
several units deployed to Afghanistan, their logistics personnel often 
had difficulties obtaining in-transit visibility data to determine the 
location of their unit equipment or requisitioned sustainment items. 
Officials stated that the systems to which they had access or of which 
they were aware did not always provide the information they were 
looking for. Officials also stated that while other systems may have 
been able to provide the necessary data, they either did not know 
about them or were not trained in using them. 

DOD has made efforts to integrate transportation systems, but these 
efforts do not provide a common operating picture across all 
distribution levels and services. TRANSCOM has attempted in the past 
to integrate all of the major strategic distribution-related systems, 
and efforts are underway to transition to a new integrated system. 
TRANSCOM's Global Transportation Network was designed to interface 
with the many DOD distribution systems and provide its customers with 
a single system to access in-transit visibility data for strategic 
movement. According to officials, however, the Global Transportation 
Network has inherent design flaws that have kept it from interpreting 
and presenting in-transit visibility data in a common format. To 
remedy this problem, TRANSCOM and the Defense Logistics Agency have 
been developing the Integrated Data Environment/Global Transportation 
Network Convergence, which will replace the Global Transportation 
Network. Officials stated that this new system will provide users with 
improved access to distribution data, and that the system reached its 
initial operating capability in 2008 and is currently progressing 
towards full operating capability. However, it will focus mainly on 
strategic distribution systems, without integrating all of the 
operational and tactical systems necessary to provide personnel with a 
true common operating picture. In addition, the Army has developed the 
Army Theater Common Operating Picture, which officials stated is a 
central system fed by multiple other systems to maintain visibility 
over equipment requirements, equipment sourcing options, and the 
status of equipment delivery to the units. However, this system is 
used primarily by the Army and does not incorporate information from 
transportation systems managed by other components and services. 

Without transportation systems that are fully integrated and able to 
provide timely access to in-transit visibility data for cargo at all 
points of the supply chain, DOD personnel cannot have comprehensive 
visibility over the supplies and equipment transported to and within 
Afghanistan. Units in Afghanistan told us that they often do not know 
whether their requisitioned cargo is en route, where the cargo is 
located if so, or when the cargo would arrive. Units have often taken 
valuable time to contact various personnel who could help identify 
where their cargo was, and in some cases the uncertainty has led units 
to re-requisition supplies and equipment, even though their original 
requisition may have been in-transit. Without an accessible, user- 
friendly common operating picture that integrates the various 
transportation systems, DOD runs the risk of expending valuable time 
and resources because of uncertain asset location. In addition, having 
such a large number of systems that are not integrated creates the 
risk of having duplicative efforts in collecting, maintaining, and 
presenting in-transit visibility data. 

DOD Continues to Face Delays Due to Customs Clearance Processes: 

DOD continues to face delays due to the customs clearance processes in 
Pakistan and Afghanistan. To expedite the customs clearance processes 
and reduce overall shipping time and delays, DOD has agreements, 
procedures, and personnel in Pakistan and Afghanistan to coordinate 
the customs process. However, due to lengthy and complex customs 
processes, missing clearance documentation and inconsistent customs 
practices, and lack of training for DOD shipping personnel on how to 
complete customs paperwork, DOD cargo shipments continue to be delayed. 

To expedite the customs clearance processes and reduce overall 
shipping time and delays, a Status of Forces Agreement between 
Afghanistan and the United States indicates that the United States may 
import into and export out of Afghanistan any personal property, 
equipment, supplies, and materials required to implement the 
agreement, exempt from customs duties, taxes, or other charges 
assessed within Afghanistan.[Footnote 34] According to an SDDC 
informational handbook, proper documentation must be submitted on each 
shipment for review by the Afghan Customs and Revenue Department (a 
subordinate agency to the Afghan Ministry of Finance) in order to 
obtain customs clearance and an approved exemption certificate that 
certifies the shipment is exempt from customs duties and taxes. SDDC 
is the DOD entity primarily responsible for managing the customs 
clearance processes for DOD cargo transported through Pakistan and 
Afghanistan. DOD also has established a customs cell in the U.S. 
embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, to facilitate the import of all U.S. 
military fuel and the import and export of all U.S. military cargo. 
The customs cell regularly meets with carrier representatives and 
shipping expediters to exchange customs clearance documentation. 

In addition to its customs agreements and personnel, DOD has 
established customs and export processes. Since there is no DOD 
presence on the Pakistan Ground Line of Communication, cargo 
expediters at the U.S. Consulate in Karachi expedite customs clearance 
documentation from Pakistan Customs, the National Logistics Cell, 
[Footnote 35] and other entities. When U.S. military cargo shipments 
arrive at the cargo ports in Karachi, Pakistan, cargo is unloaded and 
staged in cargo-holding yards awaiting customs clearance. According to 
DOD officials, contract carriers submit paperwork guaranteeing the 
safe passage of cargo through Pakistan into Afghanistan, which is 
critical for enabling customs expediters in the U.S. consulate to 
quickly process cargo in conjunction with the Government of Pakistan. 
Once the cargo is booked, the shippers issue a packing list, which 
Pakistani expediters confirm with DOD. Additionally, according to DOD 
officials, SDDC is required to issue custom clearance request letters; 
however, DOD officials stated this important step in the customs 
clearance process is often missed and the reasons are unknown. Once 
all shipping documentation is collected, shippers and expediters enter 
customs data into the Pakistan Automated Customs Computerized System, 
which is used exclusively for U.S. government cargo. 

DOD recently introduced a new export process to reduce overall 
shipping times and delays for retrograde or redeployment cargo coming 
out of Afghanistan. Previously, according to SDDC, the U.S. government 
had to obtain a certificate of exemption before the cargo could be 
moved from its base in Afghanistan to the Pakistan border. The 
certificate had to be processed through the Afghan Ministry of Foreign 
Affairs and Customs offices, a process that averaged 43 days. Under 
the new export process, as described in guidance regarding import and 
export of SDDC cargo, just before the cargo is transported, a border-
crossing memo issued by SDDC is sent to the customs office and to 
officials at the border-crossing point to authorize the border 
crossing. Once the cargo has left its base in Afghanistan, the 
contract carrier applies for a tax and duty exemption certificate. The 
carrier has 21 days from the date of the border-crossing memo to apply 
for exemption and must submit an exemption form and supporting 
documentation. According to DOD officials, the new export procedures 
are expected to reduce the number of processing days for exemption 
certificates; to allow cargo to depart Afghanistan according to U.S. 
military priority; and to expedite cargo shipments from Afghanistan to 
the ports in Pakistan. 

Although DOD has taken steps to expedite customs processes, challenges 
remain with clearing customs in Pakistan and Afghanistan due to 
lengthy and complex customs processes. In Afghanistan, customs 
officials must complete lengthy customs paperwork manually due to the 
complexity of the processes and the limited electronic infrastructure. 
According to guidance issued by the SDDC liaison officer at the U.S. 
embassy in Kabul on customs clearance request operations, every DOD 
contractor or carrier that imports or exports goods to or from 
Afghanistan must submit several documents to the embassy liaison 
office, among which are a completed Tax Exemption Form, or Muaffi 
Nama, which is purchased from the customs department and stamped by 
the liaison officer; a transportation Bill of Lading for cargo 
transiting via ship, or an Airway Bill for cargo arriving via air, or 
a similar document for cargo that has only traveled over land; the 
original invoice; a packing list if cargo is not listed on the 
invoice; an original customs clearance request; and a certificate of 
origin for certain cargo. The liaison officer publishes a Diplomatic 
Note to show the Afghan Customs office that the liaison officer 
certifies the goods are for the exclusive use of the U.S. government. 
After stamping and signing the Diplomatic Note, all the documents are 
returned to the carrier to be taken to the Afghan Ministry of Foreign 
Affairs and then to the Afghan Ministry of Finance customs department 
for stamps and signatures from officials in those offices. The customs 
paperwork requires many signatures from specific individuals and 
transfers among various locations in the Foreign Affairs and Finance 
customs offices. Once these documents are stamped and signed, the 
shipment can cross the border and goes to a customs clearing house. 
From there, if the documents are at the clearing house and are 
correct, the shipment can be released for final delivery. According to 
the guidance, it is the responsibility of the importing party to 
ensure that the required documentation is provided to the liaison 
office. A DOD official in Afghanistan stated that clearing customs 
paperwork for cargo export takes approximately 38 days, but may take 
as long as 55 days. 

The customs clearance process for Afghanistan is also affected by 
missing clearance documentation and inconsistent customs practices. 
According to the customs clearance request guidance, it is the 
responsibility of the contract carrier to ensure that the required 
documentation is provided to the liaison office. Department of State 
commercial shipping instructions annexed to the guidance note that 
commercial shippers are responsible for ensuring that drivers carrying 
U.S. government cargo are in possession of all paperwork required to 
clear customs. However, commercial carriers do not always provide 
complete, accurate customs paperwork, according to a DOD official. 
Incomplete data fields or inaccurate paperwork submissions delay the 
customs process because paperwork must be resubmitted, which restarts 
the processing timeline. For example, according to SDDC, contract 
carriers are required to have cargo and shipping documents with 
matching information, such as cargo container number, in order to 
clear customs but carriers do not always fulfill this requirement, 
which causes delays with cargo crossing the border. Because border 
crossing officials do not have all properly completed paperwork 
available to match with cargo, the driver and his cargo are forbidden 
from crossing the border and delivering the cargo, creating time 
delays for resolving the customs issue and delivering the cargo to its 
final destination. In addition to missing paperwork, inconsistent 
customs practices also present challenges to the process. According to 
DOD officials, customs and border officials operate on their own time 
frames to process paperwork and clear cargo, and DOD's influence and 
control over customs clearance processing in Pakistan and Afghanistan 
is limited. An SDDC handbook for units deploying to or returning from 
Afghanistan advises units that "there is nothing [they] can say [and] 
nobody [they] can talk to in order to 'push' paperwork through the 
Afghanistan Ministries." Additionally, border crossing officials do 
not always accept cargo through customs without intervention, even 
with the proper paperwork. For example, a contract carrier 
transporting export cargo for a task force in Afghanistan was denied 
permission to cross the border by the Pakistan Frontier Corps, 
necessitating DOD officials' intervention to address the issue so that 
the cargo could be allowed to pass. 

Another factor affecting customs clearance is that not all DOD 
shipping personnel are adequately trained on the customs processes, 
according to DOD officials. If customs paperwork is not completed 
properly by units responsible for shipping the cargo, cargo throughput 
is impeded. For example, DOD officials in Afghanistan stated that in 
November 2010, large amounts of retrograde cargo were sitting at 
Kandahar waiting to be shipped out of Afghanistan, delayed in part by 
the lack of proper documentation. Other DOD officials in Afghanistan 
added that units lack basic understanding in completing customs 
paperwork. Such backlogs and lack of training on how to clear customs 
properly may be problematic for future drawdown from Afghanistan. 

DOD's Current Process for Collecting and Reporting Information on 
Pilferage and Damage of Supplies and Equipment Does Not Capture All 
Incidents: 

DOD's current process for collecting and reporting information on 
pilferage and damage of supplies and equipment while in transit 
remains a challenge. According to DOD officials, approximately 0.8 
percent of all cargo items have been pilfered since 2007 while in 
transit. This rate is calculated using the reported number of 
transportation discrepancy reports created and submitted by units to 
document loss or damage to government-owned cargo while it is in 
transit. Although DOD has taken measures to reduce the incidence of 
pilferage and has policies in place for pilferage data collection and 
reporting, DOD's process for collecting information on pilferage and 
damage of cargo is not capturing all incidents. 

DOD has taken steps to reduce the incidence of cargo pilferage along 
supply routes. To reduce the incidence of pilferage, DOD established a 
Pilferage Deterrence Cell in Kuwait to serve as the single point of 
contact for pilferage information, carrier and contract compliance, 
and transportation discrepancy reports. Accordingly, the Pilferage 
Deterrence Cell, in concert with all stakeholders, maintains pilferage 
tracking data, establishes unit and carrier compliance procedures, 
identifies pilferage instances and locations, and assists with the 
submission of reports of cargo pilferage or damage. Through this cell, 
DOD seeks to improve unit compliance with the transportation 
discrepancy action process and the sharing of actionable pilferage 
data. U.S. Central Command has also established Task Force Guardian to 
mitigate pilferage of containers transported through Pakistan. 
According to DOD officials, this task force reports directly to U.S. 
Central Command and includes policy and guidance to units on exactly 
what can and cannot be shipped through Pakistan. 

Transportation Discrepancy Reports Are Used to Capture Information on 
Pilferage: 

DOD policies prescribe detailed processes for collecting information 
about pilferage and damage of cargo using transportation discrepancy 
reports. Transportation discrepancy reports are DOD's system of record 
to capture the extent of pilferage and recoup funds from commercial 
carriers for the cost of pilfered items, where possible. 
Transportation discrepancy reports are used to report, investigate, 
and process discrepancies in shipments involving loss or damage. They 
are also used to support claims against contract carriers so that DOD 
can endeavor to recoup costs of cargo lost or damaged in transit. Both 
DOD-wide and service-specific policies are in place that require the 
use of transportation discrepancy reports to report cargo 
discrepancies. For example, DOD's Defense Transportation Regulation 
describes procedures and responsibilities for reporting transportation 
discrepancies with cargo movement.[Footnote 36] SDDC also provides a 
handbook that explains procedures for completing transportation 
discrepancy reports and assists units in completing the process. Army 
guidance for property accountability also specifies actions to be 
taken by transportation and property officers and other officials when 
supply and transportation discrepancies occur in shipments of Army 
property[Footnote 37]. According to the SDDC handbook on the 
transportation discrepancy report process, units are required to 
report damage or loss of cargo in transit in the distribution system 
via the submission of transportation discrepancy report[Footnote 38]s. 
Transportation discrepancy reports are created and submitted by units 
to document loss or damage to government-owned cargo while it is in 
transit to its final destination in the distribution process. Commands 
rely on subordinate units to report pilferage by means of 
transportation discrepancy reports. 

Despite DOD policies and efforts in place to collect and report 
pilferage, however, challenges exist with units completing 
transportation discrepancy reports in a timely manner, providing DOD 
with comprehensive pilferage information, and reporting and tracking 
of all pilferage and damage data. The transportation discrepancy 
report process, as described in the SDDC handbook, has 11 steps and 
involves coordination among various DOD entities, including customer 
units; SDDC; contract carriers; investigative service entities, such 
as the Army Criminal Investigative Division and Naval Criminal 
Investigation Service; the 831st Transportation Battalion; and Ocean 
Cargo Clearing Authority-Southwest Asia. Officials from several units 
said the transportation discrepancy report process is very time-
consuming to complete, due in part to its complexity. As a result, 
units do not always complete transportation discrepancy reports and 
pilferage is underreported. Officials from one unit stated they 
believe that approximately 10 percent of containers processed through 
Kandahar have been pilfered, but the reported pilferage rate is much 
lower. 

Proper Completion of Transportation Discrepancy Reports Is a Challenge: 

According to DOD guidance, units must collect documentation to support 
evidence of pilferage and damage in order to complete the 
transportation discrepancy report. According to the SDDC handbook, 
information required to complete a transportation discrepancy report 
includes the photographs of damaged cargo if the transportation 
discrepancy report concerns damage; packing lists that denote which 
items are missing or damaged; statements from personnel present when 
the discrepancy was discovered; and any investigative reports on the 
incident.[Footnote 39] However, DOD personnel reported that they are 
not always able to obtain all documentation because it is missing or 
no longer available. For example, one unit said that was not always 
possible to provide proper documentation for transportation 
discrepancy reports because the cargo container packing lists that 
detail the contents within the container were not always available. 
Another stated that incomplete or inaccurate shipping documentation 
made it difficult to provide investigators with necessary information 
about the cargo. Another unit official told us that transportation 
personnel in his unit did not photograph damaged cargo containers that 
had been broken into, so no photographic evidence of pilferage was 
obtained. 

We also found that there is limited incentive for units to complete 
transportation discrepancy reports. First, the priority of a unit's 
mission may exceed the priority of completing a transportation 
discrepancy report, and personnel do not have time to complete the 
process. For example, officials from one unit in Afghanistan indicated 
that cargo was pilfered during a unit move en route to its deployed 
location in Afghanistan; however, only 5 percent of that pilferage was 
reported because taking the time to complete transportation 
discrepancy reports was not as high a priority for the unit as 
conducting its mission on the ground. Second, a unit may be able to 
conduct its mission even if it is missing some supplies or equipment. 
For example, one task force official in Afghanistan stated that 
approximately 7 percent of the brigade's containers that were 
transported through Pakistan arrived empty or nearly empty of cargo. 
However, the official said that because the unit's missions kept 
changing once it arrived in theater, there was no effect on the task 
force's missions from the loss of supplies and equipment, so 
transportation discrepancy reports were not filled out for all missing 
cargo items. Officials added that they may not recoup missing 
equipment as a result of submitting transportation discrepancy 
reports, and that replacements of missing equipment are not 
necessarily received in time for the unit's deployment. 

Although SDDC has recently provided some training, not all unit 
transportation officials may have had training in preparing 
transportation discrepancy reports, making it more difficult to 
complete the process accurately and quickly. SDDC has developed a 
theater-specific handbook that explains the purpose and process of 
completing transportation discrepancy reports, but that resource is 
not provided to units until after pilferage or damage has been 
identified and the unit has notified SDDC of the incident. 
Furthermore, personnel may not receive training on how to initiate or 
complete a transportation discrepancy report prior to deployment. Some 
officials stated that, because they had not received guidance on 
preparing transportation discrepancy reports, they were unsure of whom 
to contact to initiate transportation discrepancy reports once they 
discovered pilferage had occurred. One official stated that a pre-
deployment briefing would have been helpful because units would have 
known about the transportation discrepancy reports process and how to 
complete it, as well as what documentation and points of contact they 
would need to have to complete a transportation discrepancy report. 

In addition to units not filling out transportation discrepancy 
reports, another challenge to the collection and reporting of 
pilferage is the incomplete reporting and tracking of all pilferage 
and damage data. As previously mentioned, pilferage rates are 
calculated using the completed number of transportation discrepancy 
reports. There are other types of reports, such as host-nation 
trucking complaints, that contain information regarding damage and 
pilferage but are not included in DOD's pilferage/damage calculation. 
For example, complaint forms are used to collect detailed information 
about property damaged or pilfered, whether the truck was missing any 
necessary equipment, and what the effect was on the receiving unit's 
mission. 

As a result of inaccurate or incomplete reporting and tracking of all 
pilferage and damage of supplies and equipment in transit in support 
of Afghanistan operations, DOD does not have full awareness about the 
extent to which pilferage and damage of supplies and inventory impede 
operations in Afghanistan. Because transportation discrepancy reports 
are not completed for all instances of cargo loss and not all types of 
pilferage or damage reports are included in the calculation, accurate 
measurements of loss (both cargo amount and cost) are underreported. 
Additionally, if units do not submit transportation discrepancy 
reports, the department's ability to receive financial reimbursements 
from contract carriers for lost items may be limited. Unit officials 
stated that greater emphasis from commanders is needed on the 
transportation discrepancy report process for improvements to be made, 
which would result in more accurate reporting and better awareness of 
the challenges presented by pilferage in Afghanistan. 

Challenges Remain with Tracking and Managing the Flow of Cargo 
Containers: 

Container management has been a long-standing challenge for DOD during 
its contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Between 2003 and 
2010, over $700 million was spent on container management for both 
Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, including 
detention costs and container buyouts.[Footnote 40] A December 2010 
Army Audit Agency audit of the effectiveness of container management 
in support of the drawdown of Iraq operations found that although the 
command established policies and procedures to identify, inspect, and 
repair containers in Iraq, responsible personnel did not always comply 
with inspection policies or update container information in the U.S. 
Central Command container-management system of record. Furthermore, 
sufficient methods were not in place to track or validate container 
condition status. 

DOD is currently undertaking efforts to improve container management. 
DOD has a global container-management policy in place that provides 
guidance on the efficient and effective use of containers during 
contingency operations in order to improve the management and use of 
cargo containers in theater.[Footnote 41] The policy assigns roles and 
responsibilities of container management to various DOD entities. For 
example, TRANSOM must oversee the overall efficiency, effectiveness, 
and interoperability of the global container-management program; 
develop processes and procedures and oversee containers owned by or 
leased from contract carriers during contingency operations; and 
verify and fund detention costs and other claims in conjunction with 
other DOD entities, forwarding claims and invoices to the appropriate 
military department for reimbursement. The supported combatant 
commands are responsible for providing effective, efficient receipt, 
movement, and return of containers entering theater and for 
establishing plans for returning containers to the appropriate manager 
(military or contract carrier) as quickly as possible to mitigate 
detention costs. Additionally, DOD's Defense Transportation Regulation 
details responsibilities, procedures, and guidelines for managing and 
controlling DOD's intermodal equipment system, which includes DOD-
owned and DOD-leased containers, contractor-owned containers, and 
container services.[Footnote 42] According to the regulation, 
commanders of bases and commands overseas will provide container 
information in DOD systems according to established procedures. 
However, DOD personnel stated that TRANSCOM has no authority over the 
containers in theater, as container management in theater is the 
responsibility of U.S. Central Command. Accordingly, U.S. Central 
Command released a letter of instruction in March 2010 outlining 
theater-specific container-management policies and procedures that 
emphasize keeping detention costs within established standards; 
maintaining accountability of all containers in theater; and using an 
inventory-management program to ensure integrity of container data. 
[Footnote 43] According to DOD officials, U.S. Central Command is 
currently updating the letter of instruction to emphasize further 
accountability of containers and documentation by users in theater. 

In addition to policies and guidelines to help DOD manage cargo 
containers, in December 2010 DOD also held a container-management 
summit that focused on detention costs, movement of containers into 
and out of forward operating bases in theater, proper maintenance of 
government-owned containers to maintain military standards, and 
container buyouts. Various entities participating such as the U.S. 
Central Command, Transportation Command, SDDC, Joint Sustainment 
Command-Afghanistan, and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan hold weekly meetings 
to track issues with container management and discuss container 
inventory in Afghanistan. 

Personnel are also deployed in Afghanistan to assist units with 
managing their cargo containers. Container-management teams are 
deployed to bases in Afghanistan such as Bagram Airfield to train 
personnel on how to use container-management systems, identify methods 
to reduce container detention costs, and to identify empty containers, 
which can be used to ship cargo out of Afghanistan. SDDC's 831st 
Deployment and Distribution Support Battalion also has deployment and 
distribution support teams located at various forward operating bases 
in Afghanistan to help unit cargo managers implement best container- 
management practices. Additionally, DOD is currently establishing 
civilian teams to conduct reviews of container condition, tagging, and 
disposition in theater. The goal is to start at hubs in Afghanistan 
and then move to the forward operating bases to account for all 
containers and promote continuity of container management in all 
locations. To help improve tracking and management in accordance with 
the U.S. Central Command letter of instruction, efforts are currently 
underway to inventory container numbers and locations in theater in 
order to return containers to proper owners. 

Inconsistent reporting and tracking of containers in container- 
management systems remains a challenge. DOD currently uses two 
separate systems, the Army Container Asset Management System and the 
Integrated Booking System/Container Management Module, to track cargo 
containers. The first system is a web-based software application used 
by the Army and other services to track container location and status, 
and is the primary container-management system for tracking the Army's 
containers. From the Army Container Asset Management System, personnel 
can conduct studies on Army container status, location, and 
disposition from data entered into the system manually by its users. 
The U.S. Central Command theater uses the Integrated Booking 
System/Container Management Module as its container-management system. 
It provides a snapshot of both government-owned and contract carrier-
owned containers in theater as users download reports. The system also 
estimates detention costs for containers that are not returned to 
their owners prior to the end of the lease period. According to the 
Defense Transportation Regulation regarding container management, DOD 
components must ensure commonality and interoperability of intermodal 
equipment and infrastructure--to include information systems--between 
the components and commercial industry.[Footnote 44] DOD guidance 
assigns TRANSCOM responsibility for ensuring that all DOD intermodal 
container systems are interoperable across DOD and with commercial 
industry, including associated information systems. The guidance also 
assigns TRANSCOM responsibility for developing, publishing, and 
implementing transportation procedures for intermodal, common-use 
container systems, including the tracking systems, for other than 
service-unique or theater-assigned assets.[Footnote 45] Both military 
units and contract carriers in theater enter their container data into 
the system. DOD has been working on integrating the two systems to 
provide overall visibility of container status, location, and 
availability. A link between the two different systems was created in 
summer 2008 in order to integrate the data in the separate systems 
into each other and to denote data inaccuracies in the systems. 
However, the link does not work, leading to challenges with container-
management information dissemination among all stakeholders, such as 
data gaps in container information. To date, personnel from the 
various DOD data systems entities are continuing to work together to 
correct issues with the link and to improve container-management 
capabilities across all services. 

In addition to the lack of integration of container tracking systems, 
cargo container information provided by personnel in theater is also 
limited. Although U.S. Central Command policy outlines procedures for 
inputting key container data,[Footnote 46] information about 
containers, such as location, condition, and owner (e.g., government 
or contract carrier), is not communicated to commands from supported 
entities and personnel in theater. Also, personnel in Afghanistan do 
not always provide container managers in the United States information 
to help manage container flow into and around various bases in 
theater, such as information about container status and location. As a 
result, DOD's ability to track and manage cargo is further limited. 

Logistics personnel do not always have adequate training on how to 
manage containers in theater and provide all necessary information to 
container-management stakeholders. According to DOD officials, a 
container manager must be assigned to each unit, and container- 
management training for designated personnel is available from SDDC. 
However, an official stated that container managers are not 
necessarily designated before they deploy into theater. As a result, 
container managers are assigned after deployment into Afghanistan and 
may not have taken appropriate training prior to deploying, which may 
limit their awareness of container management policies, procedures, 
and tracking requirements. Additionally, DOD officials stated that 
container-management teams in theater do not have adequate resources, 
such as personnel, to meet their goals. The lack of complete container 
tracking information in DOD container-management systems results in 
gaps in tracking data. Consequently, without effective management of 
cargo containers, DOD has limited visibility over containers in 
Afghanistan and could continue to accrue unnecessary container 
detention and related costs. 

Conclusions: 

Despite the challenges of shipping military supplies and equipment 
into a mountainous, land-locked country with poorly developed 
infrastructure, DOD has improved its ability to distribute cargo and 
support the warfighter in Afghanistan. Specifically, increases in 
storage capacity on bases, expansion of airfield infrastructure, and 
improvements in visibility have all contributed to enhancing DOD's 
ability to deliver much-needed supplies and equipment to deployed 
units in Afghanistan. However, the fragmented nature of DOD's chain of 
command for distribution to Afghanistan ultimately limits visibility, 
control, and accountability for items needed by the warfighter. 
Furthermore, DOD's lack of full oversight of performance metrics for 
delivery to the warfighter in Afghanistan limits its ability to 
identify where delays in the distribution system exist and to take 
corrective actions to improve DOD's logistics response time. Finally, 
challenges related to the visibility of cargo, data systems, customs 
processes, cargo pilferage and damage, and container management have 
hindered the distribution of supplies and equipment to the warfighter 
and will continue to do so until they are fully addressed. 
Collectively, these issues will likely continue to affect operations 
in Afghanistan and limit DOD's visibility and oversight of the supply 
chain. Until these challenges are addressed, DOD's ability to identify 
gaps and make improvements in the timely distribution of much-needed 
supplies and equipment to support current deployments, redeployments, 
and sustainment of deployed units may be limited. 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

To enable TRANSCOM to carry out its Distribution Process Owner 
responsibility to oversee the overall effectiveness, efficiency, and 
alignment of DOD-wide distribution activities, and to include delivery 
from major logistics bases to outposts in Afghanistan, we recommend 
that the Secretary of Defense direct: 

* the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and 
Logistics, to revise the instructions for the Distribution Process 
Owner, and the Joint Staff to revise Joint Publication 4-09, to 
provide clear guidance on how TRANSCOM is to oversee the overall 
effectiveness, efficiency, and alignment of DOD-wide distribution 
activities, to include the fourth leg of distribution; 

* U.S. Central Command to direct U.S. Forces-Afghanistan to provide 
regular reports to TRANSCOM on delivery performance for shipments 
within Afghanistan; and: 

* the Commander of TRANSCOM to incorporate the delivery performance 
reports from U.S. Forces-Afghanistan into the command's review of 
distribution metrics, in order for TRANSCOM to measure the performance 
of DOD's entire distribution system. 

To ensure that DOD can accurately assess its delivery performance for 
and maintain accountability of cargo shipments to Afghanistan, we 
recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct the Commander of 
TRANSCOM to develop an ongoing, systematic approach to (1) identify 
the reasons why delivery dates for delivered shipments are not 
documented and implement corrective actions to improve the 
documentation of delivered shipments and (2) investigate cases of 
undelivered shipments to determine their status and update the 
database with the most current information. 

To enable DOD to gain better visibility over cargo in transit using 
RFID technology, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct 
U.S. Central Command to (1) develop necessary policies and procedures 
to ensure that content-level detail is entered onto RFID tags; (2) 
implement required data-entry training for all deploying units; and 
(3) ensure that periodic inspections of data entries are performed. 

To enable DOD to gain more comprehensive visibility over the status of 
supply and equipment, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense 
direct TRANSCOM, in consultation with the combatant commands, the 
military services, and other DOD distribution stakeholders, to (1) 
evaluate the feasibility and costs of alternative approaches for 
developing a single user-friendly common operating picture that 
integrates transportation systems from the strategic, operational, and 
tactical levels and that is accessible by personnel at each of these 
levels to provide timely in-transit visibility data and (2) select and 
implement a cost-effective approach for improving visibility. 

To enable DOD to expedite its processes for delivery of cargo to its 
final destination, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct 
SDDC to develop and implement training for units on customs processes 
for export cargo to instill best practices for documenting cargo 
according to customs policies, which may mitigate customs clearance 
delays that cause cargo backlog. 

To enable DOD to gain better visibility over the incidence and cost of 
pilferage and damage of cargo in transit to, within, and out of 
Afghanistan, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct: 

* U.S. Central Command to require units to complete mandatory training 
on how to report, document, and complete a transportation discrepancy 
report; and: 

* TRANSCOM to include host-nation truck complaints in the reported 
pilferage and damage calculation. 

To enable DOD to better manage its processes for managing and using 
cargo containers, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct 
the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and 
Logistics, to: 

* select a single container-management system for all DOD entities and 
contract carriers to track container status; and: 

* create, implement, and enforce reporting requirements and procedures 
for tracking containers in theater. 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with five 
of our recommendations and partially concurred with six 
recommendations. Although DOD acknowledged that several challenges 
remain, DOD did not concur with three of our recommendations due to 
DOD's view, based on current guidance, that TRANSCOM as Distribution 
Process Owner does not and should not have any oversight over the last 
leg of distribution -between the logistics hubs in Afghanistan and the 
warfighter. DOD also did not concur with one recommendation because 
the Department believes that adequate policy and procedures already 
exist regarding content-level RFID requirements. DOD also noted that 
our review occurred during the recent 30,000 troop surge and stated 
that although it failed to meet time definite delivery standards 
during this period, its ability to increase stocks on hand in 
Afghanistan was a reflection of a robust supply network not hampered 
by delivery timelines. However, the scope of our analysis of DOD's 
distribution performance, as we reported, included a period of two 
years prior to initiating the latest surge of 30,000 troops and 
several months after it was completed. Moreover, we believe the mere 
fact that DOD was able to increase inventories in theater does not 
necessarily mean that the supplies were actually delivered to the 
warfighter within needed time frames. 

Moreover, as discussed below, we believe DOD's view that TRANSCOM as 
Distribution Process Owner should not have any oversight over the last 
leg of distribution indicates confusion within and outside of DOD 
regarding TRANSCOM's role, including as Distribution Process Owner. In 
several instances, this view conflicts with language within DOD's 
Joint Publication 4-09 and DOD Directive 5158.04; TRANSCOM's 
responsibility under the President's 2011 Unified Command Plan for 
synchronizing planning for global distribution operations in 
coordination with the combatant commands and services; and statements 
made to us and publicly by TRANSCOM regarding the purpose, role and 
span of influence of the Distribution Process Owner. In addition, 
DOD's approach of limiting the Distribution Process Owner's oversight 
to only the first three distribution legs leaves a fragmented process 
without any comprehensive oversight or visibility over the entire DOD-
wide global distribution pipeline. More generally, we are concerned 
that DOD's comments indicate that the Department does not fully 
recognize the significant challenges that confront its global 
distribution system in supporting operations in Afghanistan and that 
only limited progress will be made to address the problems we 
identified in this report, many of which are systemic issues that have 
been reported over the past several years by GAO and other 
organizations. For example, a recent report by the Defense Business 
Board highlighted some of these logistics challenges DOD currently 
faces, including the lack of end-to-end asset visibility, the lack of 
interoperability among information systems, numerous "hand-offs" 
between organizations, and weak governance across the logistics 
enterprise.[Footnote 47] DOD's written comments are reprinted in 
appendix II. 

DOD did not concur with our recommendation to clarify current doctrine 
on TRANSCOM's oversight role as Distribution Process Owner to include 
the fourth leg of distribution. In its comments, DOD stated that the 
Distribution Process Owner's authority and oversight responsibility 
extends to the point of need, not to the point of employment and that 
this distinction is clearly made in the Joint Logistics (Distribution) 
Joint Integrating Concept (JL(D) JIC) and promulgated throughout 
doctrine and policy by way of reference to this concept. However, we 
maintain that language in the Joint Publication 4-09, DOD Directive 
5158.04, the President's 2011 Unified Command Plan, the Joint 
Logistics (Distribution) Joint Integrating Concept, and the other 
doctrine and policy documents suggests a role for TRANSCOM, as 
Distribution Process Owner or more broadly under its mission as a 
combatant command, to oversee activities within the global 
distribution pipeline across all four legs of distribution. For 
example: 

* Joint Publication 4-09 states that "global distribution is the 
process that coordinates and synchronizes fulfillment of joint force 
requirements from point of origin to point of employment [see figure 1 
below]. The ultimate objective of this process is the effective and 
efficient support of the joint force mission. Global distribution 
doctrine provides both a theoretical and practical approach to 
delivering joint operations support. Fundamentally, this approach 
recognizes that effective and efficient fulfillment of joint 
operational requirements is dependent on the deliberate coordination 
and synchronization of multiple logistic processes. USTRANSCOM, as the 
[Distribution Process Owner], must coordinate and synchronize a joint 
distribution tempo that is responsive to the requirements, 
capabilities, and military limitations in the [operational area].Ó 
That coordination and synchronization across the global distribution 
pipeline may be difficult to execute because, as stated in DOD's 
written comments, TRANSCOM's Distribution Process Owner 
responsibilities end at the point of need, not the point of the 
employment. 

Figure 7: Global Distribution Pipeline: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustration] 

Global Distribution: 

Joint Distribution: 

Point of Origin: Movement form Garrison or Point of Supply: 
Leg: Intracontinental; 
Function: Services/DLA. 

POE: Strategic Movement; 
Leg: Intertheater; 
Function: USTRANSCOM. 

POD: Theater Movement and Distribution; 
Leg: Intratheater; 
Function: GCC. 

Point of Need: 
Function: GCC Svc Comp; 
Tactical Movement and Distribution; 
Point of Employment. 

Legend: 

CCDR: combatant commander; 
DLA: Defense Logistics Agency; 
GCC: geographic combatant commander; 
Gov: government; 
JFC: joint force commander; 
POD: point of debarkation; 
POE: port of embarkation; 
Svc: Service; 
USTRANSCOM: United States Transportation Command. 

Source: DOD Joint Publication 4-09 Distribution Operations. 

[End of figure] 

* DOD Directive 5158.04, which provides guidance on TRANSCOM 
generally, defines a process owner as "the head of a DOD Component 
assigned a responsibility by the Secretary of Defense when process 
improvement involves more than one Military Service or DOD Component. 
The process owner has the responsibility for sustaining and improving 
processes, creating new processes where appropriate, and being 
accountable for their outcomes. Process owners advocate improvements 
for and across all DOD Components for effectiveness, efficiency, and 
alignment relevant to a particular process.Ó As previously mentioned, 
DOD's written comments stated that TRANSCOM's Distribution Process 
Owner responsibilities end at the point of need and do not extend 
along the fourth leg of distribution to the point of employment. Even 
if DOD defines the process in question as terminating at the point of 
need, restricting the DPO's awareness of the fourth leg altogether may 
impede its ability to effectively advocate improvements for and across 
all DOD components, at any stage of global or joint distribution. 
Furthermore, the Directive is unclear as it directs TRANSCOM as 
Distribution Process Owner to "oversee the overall effectiveness, 
efficiency, and alignment of DOD-wide distribution activities, 
including force projection, sustainment, and redeployment/retrograde 
operations" but does not clearly define what "DOD-wide" means. As we 
said in our report, OSD officials stated during our review that it 
includes all four legs of the global distribution pipeline, but DOD's 
written comments indicate that this is not the case. Not including the 
fourth leg of distribution fragments the distribution process, making 
it difficult for TRANSCOM to execute its process owner 
responsibilities to "advocate improvements for and across all DOD 
Components for effectiveness, efficiency, and alignment relevant to a 
particular process." 

* The President's 2011 Unified Command Plan states that TRANSCOM "is 
responsible for synchronizing planning for global distribution 
operations and will do so in coordination with other combatant 
commands, the Services, and, as directed, appropriate government 
agencies," which suggests coordination is necessary with DOD 
components across the global distribution pipeline, even if only for 
planning purposes. Specific responsibilities listed include advocating 
for global distribution capabilities, further indicating that TRANSCOM 
would be well-served with some degree of awareness--at the very 
minimum--of the processes, successes, and gaps in the fourth leg of 
the global distribution pipeline. The lack of coordination with DOD 
components involved in the fourth leg of distribution fragments the 
distribution process, making it difficult for TRANSCOM to execute its 
responsibility for synchronizing planning for global distribution 
operations as stated in the Unified Command Plan. In addition, the 
Plan states that TRANSCOM, as Distribution Process Owner, is 
responsible for "coordinating and overseeing the DOD distribution 
system to provide interoperability, synchronization, and alignment of 
DOD-wide, end-to-end distribution" and for "developing and 
implementing distribution process improvements that enhance the 
Defense Logistics and Global Supply Chain Management System." While we 
acknowledge that DOD has defined "end-to-end" in doctrine to terminate 
at the point of need, the Unified Command Plan also uses the term "DOD-
wide," which some officials believed included all four legs. At a 
minimum, the language and officials' statements, as discussed below, 
suggest some degree of confusion over the extent of TRANSCOM's role 
with respect to global distribution and interaction with components 
across DOD. 

* The Joint Logistics (Distribution) Joint Integrating Concept states 
that TRANSCOM, as Distribution Process Owner, has responsibility to 
coordinate and synchronize the Joint Deployment and Distribution 
Enterprise. It defines this Enterprise's mission as including the 
execution of global joint distribution operations in support of joint 
force commanders and calls for an Enterprise capable of providing 
prospective joint force commanders with the ability to rapidly and 
effectively move and sustain selected joint forces in support of major 
combat operations or other joint operations. For TRANSCOM to more 
effectively coordinate and synchronize the Enterprise to meet joint 
force commander requirements, it would benefit from having an 
awareness of distribution requirements and processes in the fourth 
leg, from the point of need to the point of employment. Even though 
the Joint Deployment and Distribution Enterprise is limited to end-to-
end distribution (i.e., to the point of need), an awareness of success 
and issues within the fourth leg could be useful, if not necessary. 
[Footnote 48] 

Further, DOD's position with regard to Distribution Process Owner 
oversight also conflicts with the intent of the Distribution Process 
Owner as presented in statements made to us and publicly by TRANSCOM. 
For example: 

* In written responses to our questions regarding Distribution Process 
Owner responsibilities, TRANSCOM stated that although Joint 
Distribution responsibility ends at the point of need, the 
Distribution Process Owner must coordinate and synchronize a global 
distribution tempo that is responsive to the requirements, 
capabilities, and military limitations extending to the point of 
employment: 

* During an April 2011 hearing before the Senate Armed Services 
Committee, the TRANSCOM commander stated that the Secretary of Defense 
"gave the Distribution Process Owner [DPO] influence over the entire 
supply chain, from factory to foxhole." The commander's written 
statement also stated that "the ability of the U.S. to project and 
sustain our forces over global distances is one of our nation's 
greatest asymmetric advantages. Our success depends on our ability to 
synchronize deployment distribution planning and execution across DOD, 
the regional Combatant Commands, the Services and our coalition and 
interagency partners. To that end, upon the President's approval, 
USTRANSCOM is poised to assume an additional Unified Command Plan 
(UCP) mission as the 'Global Distribution Synchronizer.' In 
collaboration with our partners, this new mission will enable us to 
shape the distribution environment and gain greater access to 
distribution lanes that cross multiple theaters to project and sustain 
forces globally". 

* TRANSCOM's current Distribution Process Owner website states that 
the Distribution Process Owner's vision is to "synchronize and deliver 
unrivaled, full-spectrum, deployment and distribution solutions". 
Further, the site also provides briefings that identify the 
Distribution Process Owner's span of influence as being from the point 
of acquisition through to the point of effect, which DOD now defines 
as the point of employment. See figure 2 below for TRANSCOM's graphic 
on the Distribution Process Owner span of influence as provided in its 
USTRANSCOM 101 Briefing. 

Figure 8: TRANSCOM Briefing Slide on Distribution Process Owner Span 
of Influence: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustration] 

Transforming Distribution: 

DPO Span of Influence: 
* Synchronize Logistics Information Systems; 
* Achieve End to End Visibility; 
* Enterprise Infrastructure; 
* Coordinate Vendor Activities; 
* Align Distribution Processes. 

Vendor/PBL Activities: 

Acquisition: Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (DLA Services); 
Storage: (DLA Services/USTRANSCOM); 
Intertheater Movement: (USTRANSCOM); 
Theater Stock positioning and Movement; returns: 
(USTRANSCOM/COCOMs/DLA/Services); 
Tactical Movement and Distribution to Point of Effect: 
(COCOMs/DLA/Services). 

Source: U.S. TRANSCOM. 

[End of figure] 

Since the Distribution Process Owner's span of influence extends to 
the point of employment in the above graphic, the Distribution Process 
Owner should, at minimum, be aware of and maintain visibility over the 
delivery of supplies and equipment within the fourth leg of 
distribution. Moreover, DOD's interpretation that the Distribution 
Process Owner's oversight does not extend across the battlefield to 
the point of employment leaves DOD with a fragmented distribution 
system that provides no single entity with visibility and oversight 
over the entire DOD-wide global distribution pipeline. Such an absence 
of comprehensive visibility and oversight limits DOD's ability to 
measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the entire process, 
influence change across the spectrum of DOD's operations, and ensure 
no unnecessary overlap exists among the numerous organizations 
responsible for executing global distribution. For example and as we 
discussed in our report, the lack of complete visibility over 
shipments to Afghanistan can lead units to requisition the same items 
repeatedly because they do not know where their items are in the 
distribution pipeline, and there is currently no single DOD 
organization with the comprehensive oversight and visibility necessary 
to help prevent this from occurring. Given the challenges that DOD has 
faced and likely will continue to face, we continue to believe the 
department should implement our recommendation to clarify current 
doctrine on TRANSCOM's oversight role as Distribution Process Owner 
and to include the fourth leg of distribution. 

DOD did not concur with our recommendations to direct U.S. Central 
Command, and subsequently U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, to provide regular 
reports to TRANSCOM on delivery performance for shipments within 
Afghanistan, and to direct TRANSCOM to incorporate those delivery 
performance reports into the command's review of distribution metrics. 
DOD stated that it disagreed with our recommendation for U.S. Central 
Command to provide performance reports to TRANSCOM for the reasons 
cited in their comments on our first recommendation, which we 
summarize above. Further, DOD stated that TRANSCOM already tracks time-
definite delivery standards for shipments to Afghanistan. We continue 
to believe that TRANSCOM would better be able to carry out its 
responsibilities both as DOD's Distribution Process Owner and in the 
broader context (e.g., in its role of synchronizing planning for 
global distribution operations) by receiving and reviewing regular 
reports from U.S. Forces-Afghanistan on delivery performance for 
shipments along the fourth leg of distribution - from the point of 
need to the point of employment in Afghanistan - since awareness of 
performance in the fourth leg can inform performance in the first 
three legs and throughout the distribution system. TRANSCOM uses 
performance metrics to monitor the effectiveness of DOD's distribution 
system to deliver the right things to the right place at the right 
time. For example, DOD stated in its written comments that TRANSCOM 
tracks time-definite delivery standards for shipments to theater. 
However, as we described in our report, time-definite delivery 
standards apply only to shipments as they travel the first three legs 
of distribution to the point of need, but are not applied to shipments 
that are further transported along the fourth leg - from the point of 
need to the point of employment. Rather, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and 
its subordinate units separately track their own performance metrics 
to assess the timeliness of shipment delivery from the point of need 
to the point of employment, and DOD officials stated that U.S. Forces-
Afghanistan does not report this performance assessment to TRANSCOM. 
DOD's written comments stated that TRANSCOM's Distribution Process 
Owner responsibilities end at the point of need, but TRANSCOM cannot 
be effective in carrying out its responsibilities in the first three 
legs if it has no awareness into the operations and performance of the 
fourth leg. Additionally, this interpretation of the Distribution 
Process Owner roles and responsibilities results in fragmentation, as 
no one DOD entity oversees--has visibility into--the performance of 
the global distribution pipeline. Until this issue is addressed, DOD 
will be unable to effectively measure the success of the first three 
legs of the distribution system, maintain awareness of the performance 
of the entire distribution system, and ensure that supplies and 
equipment are being delivered timely to the warfighter at the point of 
employment. Therefore, we continue to believe that DOD should 
implement our recommendation to have TRANSCOM receive and review 
regular reports from U.S. Forces-Afghanistan on delivery performance 
along the fourth leg of distribution within Afghanistan. 

DOD concurred with our recommendations to develop an ongoing, 
systematic approach to identify the reasons why delivery dates for 
delivered surface shipments are not documented in the SDDC database 
and implement corrective actions to improve the documentation of 
delivered surface shipments, and to develop an ongoing, systematic 
approach to investigate cases of undelivered surface shipments to 
determine their status and update the database with the most current 
information. DOD stated that it concurred with directing TRANSCOM to 
implement our recommendations to the point of need, or major logistics 
base in Afghanistan. We agree with DOD's interpretation of our 
recommendations, which, as we discuss in our report, are applied to 
TRANSCOM's existing metrics for surface shipments delivered by SDDC's 
contracted commercial carriers to major logistics bases in Afghanistan 
and do not apply to surface shipments beyond that point. However, DOD 
did not provide any details as to how and when it will implement our 
recommendations. To ensure that DOD can accurately assess its delivery 
performance for and maintain accountability of surface shipments to 
Afghanistan, it is important that DOD identify specific actions with 
milestones for implementation for developing an ongoing, systematic 
approach to improve the documentation of delivered surface shipments 
in the SDDC database and to investigate cases of undelivered surface 
shipments, especially in light of the large number of surface 
shipments without a documented delivery date in the SDDC database that 
we discuss in our report. 

DOD did not concur with our recommendation that the Secretary of 
Defense direct U.S. Central Command to develop necessary policies and 
procedures to ensure that content-level detail is entered onto radio 
frequency identification (RFID) tags. The Department stated that 
adequate policy and procedures already exist regarding content-level 
RFID requirements. As stated in our report, GAO acknowledges that DOD 
has established various policies and procedures regarding content- 
level RFID requirements. However, as we reported, issues remain with 
DOD personnel entering in the content-level data required by this 
guidance. For example, as stated in our report, DOD officials in 
Afghanistan cited that approximately 40 percent of the RFID tags on 
cargo bound for one base in theater had incorrect or incomplete data 
"burned' onto them. While policy may be clear on what is required, 
steps to ensure that these requirements are met are not clearly 
implemented. As such, we continue to support our recommendation that 
DOD develop the necessary policies and procedures to ensure that RFID 
data requirements established in current policy is enforced. 

DOD partially concurred with our recommendation that the Secretary of 
Defense direct U.S. Central Command to implement required data entry 
training for all deploying units. The Department acknowledged the need 
to emphasize existing training, and determine why troops are not 
employing the training they receive, and concurred that enforcement of 
data entry policies, revised training and resourcing of mobile 
training teams would be beneficial. DOD did not concur with tasking 
U.S. Central Command for this requirement, stating the Command is not 
sourced or required to provide this training, and that training is the 
responsibility of the services. We agree that DOD's proposed action to 
direct the services to re-evaluate the training for deploying units 
would be a major step in addressing this recommendation. However, we 
believe that U.S. Central Command can coordinate with the Services on 
training specifications and requirements necessary to conduct the 
Command's missions, and to ensure that training is provided to units 
assigned to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. 

DOD partially concurred with our recommendation that the Secretary of 
Defense direct U.S. Central Command to ensure that periodic 
inspections of RFID data entries are performed. While the Department 
acknowledged the need to periodically inspect RFID data and that U.S. 
Central Command has a role in ensuring compliance, it stated that 
primary responsibility has been assigned to TRANSCOM, which is 
currently monitoring and reporting violations. We agree that TRANSCOM 
should have a role in implementing any actions to address this 
recommendation. However, U.S. Central Command in-transit visibility 
regulations provided to GAO describe specific RFID data requirements 
and policies for cargo shipped into the U.S. Central Command area of 
responsibility, including requirements for content-level cargo data to 
be recorded on RFID tags. We believe that, as owner of the theater and 
author of the regulation, U.S. Central Command has responsibility to 
ensure that its policies and regulations are being implemented. 

DOD partially concurred with our recommendations to evaluate the 
feasibility and costs of alternative approaches for developing a 
single, user-friendly common operating picture that integrates 
transportation systems from and is accessible at the strategic, 
operational, and tactical levels, and to select and implement a cost- 
effective approach for improving in-transit visibility. DOD stated 
that it has identified Battle Command Sustainment Support Structure--
Node Management as Afghanistan's single, user-friendly common 
operating picture that integrates transportation information at the 
strategic, operational, and tactical levels. This system was 
designated as such following several assessments by TRANSCOM, U.S. 
Forces-Afghanistan, and the Afghanistan In-Transit Visibility Task 
Force. Further, according to DOD, in March 2011 the Joint Rapid 
Acquisition Cell validated a joint urgent operational needs statement 
to support enhancements to the system. DOD stated that given the 
Department's progress, there is no need to direct TRANSCOM to evaluate 
alternative approaches for a common operating picture. Additionally, 
DOD stated that the Afghanistan In-Transit Visibility Task Force has 
identified 52 separate requirements to improve in-transit visibility 
processes. According to DOD, 36 tasks have been completed to date, 
including recommended changes to policies, processes, contracts, 
existing in-transit visibility capabilities, enforcement of data 
quality standards, and systems integration. DOD added that the Task 
Force continues to conduct periodic senior level executive summits to 
maintain focus in this area. We acknowledge in our report that DOD 
directed the Battle Command Sustainment Support Structure--Node 
Management to become the joint theater distribution common operating 
picture, and we agree that DOD's designation of this system as the 
single common operating picture for all levels of distribution, 
coupled with a validated joint urgent operational needs statement to 
support enhancements to the system, are positive steps in addressing 
our recommendations. However, the system has not been fully 
implemented, and its capability to provide comprehensive integration 
of strategic, operational, and tactical level transportation systems, 
and to be accessible by personnel at all three of those levels, has 
not yet been evaluated. Additionally, DOD did not provide timelines 
for full implementation of the common operating picture or the 
enhancements identified in the joint urgent operational needs 
statement. In order to fully address our recommendations, we believe 
it will be necessary for DOD to establish and follow a plan with 
milestones for fully implementing the common operating picture with 
necessary enhancements and to ensure that the Battle Command 
Sustainment Support Structure--Node Management cost-effectively 
provides a single, user-friendly common operating picture to provide 
timely in-transit visibility data. It will be particularly important 
to demonstrate success in establishing this common operating picture 
given the large number of transportation systems and prior attempts by 
DOD components, combatant commands, and military services to integrate 
these systems, as discussed in our report. Finally, we acknowledge in 
our report the efforts to improve visibility that have been completed 
and are still ongoing by the Afghanistan In-Transit Visibility Task 
Force and other DOD organizations. We agree that the Task Force's 
efforts to improve visibility are a step in the right direction and 
encourage the Task Force and other DOD organizations to continue to 
focus their attention on implementing a single, user-friendly common 
operating picture for in-transit visibility data. 

DOD concurred with our recommendation to develop and implement 
training for units on customs processes for export cargo to instill 
best practices for documenting cargo according to customs policies. 
The Department acknowledged the need to improve training on customs 
processes for cargo export, although DOD stated that there is 
currently no evidence that customs delays are directly impacting 
support to U.S. Forces-Afghanistan. While DOD's comments did 
acknowledge the need for better training on customs processes, it did 
not provide any actions it planned to take to address this issue. 
Furthermore, as noted in our report, we found that customs delays have 
impacted the warfighter in Afghanistan. Specifically, DOD officials 
stated that customs delays caused by inaccurate customs paperwork, 
inconsistent application of customs policies, and other reasons delay 
cargo shipments to and from Afghanistan. DOD also stated that military 
services are responsible for training, but that TRANSCOM (via SDDC) 
also has a training role when their Deployment and Distribution 
Support Teams are deployed to various hubs and forward operating bases 
to assist redeploying units. Given DOD's acknowledgment that TRANSCOM 
(via SDDC) has a training role in addition to the military services, 
we believe that TRANSCOM (via SDDC) and the services both play a role 
in ensuring units are adequately trained and that customs procedures 
are consistently followed. Due to its role in DOD-wide surface 
transportation and its provision of in-theater customs process 
training at various major logistics bases and forward operating bases, 
we believe SDDC--in coordination with the services--would be the 
appropriate command responsible for ensuring all units are effectively 
trained on customs procedures to minimize transportation delays. DOD 
further stated that U.S. Central Command chartered a "Customs Working 
Group" to improve Afghan customs operations over the last year. While 
we agree that the efforts by the working group to improve customs 
operations are important, we are recommending that DOD train units on 
the customs process in order to leverage these improvements. 

DOD partially concurred with our recommendation to require units to 
complete mandatory training on how to report, document, and complete a 
transportation discrepancy report. The Department acknowledged the 
need to improve training on the transportation discrepancy report 
process, but did not concur with tasking U.S. Central Command for this 
requirement, stating that training is the responsibility of the 
military services. While we agree that the military services have a 
significant role in developing and implementing any training to 
address our recommendations, we continue to believe that U.S. Central 
Command has the ability to coordinate with the services on training 
specifications and requirements necessary to conduct the Command's 
missions, and to ensure that training is provided to units assigned to 
the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Additionally, 
although DOD acknowledged need for improvement, it did not discuss 
what steps the Department would take to implement our recommendation. 
However, DOD stated that TRANSCOM (via SDDC) has taken steps to 
significantly streamline the transportation discrepancy report 
process, including the following: transportation discrepancy report 
documentation requirements have been reduced from twenty to six pages; 
SDDC produced a transportation discrepancy report handbook that units 
receive prior to redeployment; and SDDC has a cell located in 
Afghanistan which helps units complete the transportation discrepancy 
report process. Additionally, DOD stated that SDDC plans to automate 
the transportation discrepancy report process in the Global Freight 
Management Identification System; development is scheduled to begin by 
February 2012. During the course of our review, we did not find 
evidence that the reduction of paperwork requirements improved 
submission of transportation discrepancy reports, as the 
transportation discrepancy process described in the SDDC handbook 
still has 11 steps which DOD officials in Afghanistan stated are 
"complex and time-consuming." Additionally, our report notes that some 
documentation the SDDC handbook identifies as required for 
transportation discrepancy reports is not always possible to obtain, 
or is inaccurate or incomplete. We also acknowledged in our report 
that SDDC has developed a theater-specific handbook that explains the 
process of completing a transportation discrepancy report, but 
testimonial evidence gathered by GAO from officials in Afghanistan 
states that the handbook is not provided to units until after 
pilferage or damage has been identified and the unit has notified SDDC 
of the incident. Furthermore, some officials stated that, because they 
had not received guidance on preparing transportation discrepancy 
reports, they were unsure of who to contact to initiate transportation 
discrepancy reports once they discovered pilferage had occurred, 
indicating they were unaware that an SDDC cell in Afghanistan is 
available to assist them with completing transportation discrepancy 
reports. Given these findings, we continue to believe that it is 
important for DOD to ensure that deploying units receive training on 
how to accurately initiate and complete a transportation discrepancy 
report. 

DOD partially concurred with our recommendation to include host nation 
truck complaints in the reported pilferage and damage calculation. DOD 
acknowledged the need to implement this recommendation, but did not 
concur with tasking TRANSCOM because U.S. Central Command and U.S. 
Forces-Afghanistan administer host nation contracts from the point of 
need to the point of employment. DOD indicated that the recommendation 
would be more appropriately directed at U.S. Central Command. While 
DOD acknowledged the need to implement our recommendation, the 
Department did not discuss the steps it would take to implement it or 
when implementation would take place. We agree that U.S. Central 
Command and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan should be involved in addressing 
this issue, given their role in managing the truck contracts for 
transportation between the point of need and the point of employment 
within Afghanistan. However, in order for DOD to have a complete 
picture of the incidents of pilferage and damage of shipments to and 
within Afghanistan, we believe TRANSCOM should incorporate data from 
host nation trucking shipments into its reports to provide a more 
complete assessment of cargo pilferage and damage in the U.S. Central 
Command theater. 

DOD concurred with our recommendations to select a single container 
management system for all DOD entities and contract carriers to track 
container status, and to create, implement, and enforce reporting 
requirements and procedures for tracking containers in theater. DOD 
stated that its Joint Intermodal Working Group is taking steps to 
develop and implement a single container management system to better 
track and report on containers. DOD also stated that it has published 
container management policy and that TRANSCOM, as manager of the 
intermodal container program, is coordinating with the military 
services and combatant commanders through the Joint Intermodal Working 
Group to improve container management procedures. We continue to 
believe that DOD will need to work with all applicable stakeholders to 
enforce reporting requirements and procedures to enable DOD to better 
manage its cargo containers. 

We are sending copies of this report to interested congressional 
committees and the Secretary of Defense. This report will be available 
at no charge on GAO's website, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. 

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please 
contact me at (202) 512-8365 or by e-mail at solisw@gao.gov. Contact 
information for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public 
Affairs may be found on the last page of this report. GAO staff who 
have made major contributions to this report are listed in appendix 
III. 

Signed by: 

William M. Solis, Director: 
Defense Capabilities and Management: 

List of Committees: 

The Honorable Carl Levin: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable John McCain: 
Ranking Member: 
Committee on Armed Services: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Joseph Lieberman: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Susan Collins: 
Ranking Member: 
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Howard McKeon: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Adam Smith: 
Ranking Member: 
Committee on Armed Services: 
House of Representatives: 

The Honorable Jason Chaffetz: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable John F. Tierney: 
Ranking Member: 
Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign 
Operations: 
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: 
House of Representatives: 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

To determine the extent to which the Department of Defense (DOD) has 
oversight of the distribution of supplies and equipment into and 
within Afghanistan, we reviewed prior GAO reports on DOD's supply 
chain and distribution efforts; joint doctrine,[Footnote 49] which 
provides the framework for how logistics are to be delivered to 
support joint operations across the range of military operations; DOD 
guidance on the roles and responsibilities for the U.S. Transportation 
Command (TRANSCOM) as the Distribution Process Owner; and U.S. Central 
Command and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan guidance on the distribution of 
supplies and equipment to Afghanistan. We also obtained documentation 
from and interviewed officials with the Under Secretary of Defense for 
Acquisition, Technology and Logistics; the Joint Staff; the Department 
of the Army; TRANSCOM and its service component commands, Surface 
Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) and Air Mobility Command; 
U.S. Central Command and its Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps 
component commands; the Central Command Deployment and Distribution 
Operations Center; the Defense Logistics Agency; and U.S. Forces- 
Afghanistan and its subordinate units, including the Joint Sustainment 
Command-Afghanistan. 

To determine the extent to which DOD has provided the supplies and 
equipment needed to support operations in Afghanistan in accordance 
with DOD's established plans and timelines, we obtained and reviewed 
DOD policy and guidance on performance metrics for the delivery of 
unit equipment and sustainment items to Afghanistan. We also obtained 
data and documentation from and interviewed officials with the Under 
Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics; the 
Joint Staff; the Department of the Army; TRANSCOM and its component 
commands, SDDC and the Air Mobility Command; U.S. Central Command and 
its Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps component commands; the Defense 
Logistics Agency; and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and its subordinate 
units, including the Joint Sustainment Command-Afghanistan. To 
evaluate DOD's performance in meeting its time-definite delivery 
standards, we obtained and analyzed data on how long it took to 
deliver sustainment items by surface, military air, and commercial air 
to major logistics bases in Afghanistan from December 2009 through 
March 2011, and compared those performance data against the standards. 
We assessed the reliability of the data by reviewing related 
documentation, interviewing and obtaining written comments from 
knowledgeable officials, and testing the data for obvious errors and 
completeness, and determined that the data were sufficiently reliable 
for our purposes. To evaluate DOD's performance in meeting required 
delivery dates, we obtained and analyzed data from SDDC's shipment 
database on the actual delivery dates for surface shipments of unit 
equipment and sustainment items to major logistics bases in 
Afghanistan from 2008 through 2010, and compared shipments' actual 
delivery dates to their required delivery dates. We assessed the 
reliability of the data by reviewing related documentation, 
interviewing and obtaining written comments from knowledgeable 
officials, and testing the data for obvious errors and completeness. 
We determined that although the data were incomplete and subject to 
the limitations discussed in this report, they were sufficiently 
reliable to evaluate DOD's performance in meeting required delivery 
dates for those shipments that had a documented delivery date in the 
shipment database. 

To determine what challenges have affected DOD's ability to provide 
the supplies and equipment needed to support operations in 
Afghanistan, we reviewed prior GAO reports on DOD's supply chain and 
distribution efforts; DOD, service, and combatant command policies and 
guidance on in-transit visibility data collection, transportation 
information systems, customs procedures, cargo pilferage and damage 
reporting requirements and processes, and container management; and 
DOD assessments on the challenges it faces in distributing supplies 
and equipment to Afghanistan via air and surface routes. We conducted 
site visits at various locations in the United States and in the U.S. 
Central Command area of responsibility, including Afghanistan, 
Pakistan, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain. We also obtained documentation 
from and interviewed officials with the Under Secretary of Defense for 
Acquisition, Technology and Logistics; the Joint Staff; the Department 
of the Army; TRANSCOM and its service component commands, SDDC and Air 
Mobility Command; U.S. Central Command and its Army, Air Force, and 
Marine Corps component commands; the Central Command Deployment and 
Distribution Operations Center; the Defense Logistics Agency; U.S. 
Forces-Afghanistan and its subordinate units, including the Joint 
Sustainment Command-Afghanistan; and several units deployed during our 
visit to Afghanistan. 

We conducted this performance audit from April 2010 through June 2011 
in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain 
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe 
that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: Comments from the Department of Defense: 

Due to publishing the final report in fiscal year 2012, the GAO report 
number has been changed from GAO-11-694 to GAO-12-138. 

Assistant Secretary Of Defense: 
Logistics And	Materiel Readiness: 
3500 Defense Pentagon: 
Washington, DC 20301-3500: 

September 8, 2011: 

Mr. William Solis: 
Director, Defense Capabilities and Management Team: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
44( G Street, N.W. 
Washington, DC 20548: 

Dear Mr. Solis: 

This is the Department of Defense (DoD) response to the GAO Draft 
Report, GAO-11-694, "Warfighter Support: DoD Has Made Progress, But 
Supply and Distribution Challenges Remain in Afghanistan," dated July 
8, 2011 (GAO Code 351492). The Department concurs with comment on five 
of GAO's recommendations, partially concurs with six recommendations, 
and non-concurs with four recommendations. Our partial or non-
concurrence is primarily due to the GAO recommendations that 
contradict Doll policy or doctrine, and we believe our current policy 
or doctrine provides the necessary support to our warfighters. 
Detailed comments on the report recommendations are enclosed. 

As GAO's draft report indicates, the Department has made great strides 
in improving distribution operations in Afghanistan.	It is important 
to note that GAO's audit occurred during the recent 30,000 troop 
surge. While DoD failed to meet time definite delivery standards in 
Afghanistan during this timeframe. remarkably, USFOR-A was 
simultaneously able to increase ration stocks from 30 to more than 60 
days and fuel stocks from 30 to 45 days of supply on hand. This 
unprecedented growth reflects a robust supply network, not hampered by 
delivery timelines. 

We acknowledge that several challenges remain. The Department is 
striving to ensure that we meet each of these challenges in the most 
timely, efficient and effective manner in order to ensure the best 
possible support to our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. 

The Department appreciates the opportunity to comment on this audit. 
Should additional information be required, my point of contact is 
Colonel Michael J. Cashner at mike.cashner@osd.mil, or 703-601-4461, 
extension 107. 

Sincerely, 

Alan F. Estevez: 

Enclosure: As stated. 

[End of letter] 

GAO Draft Report Dated JULY 8, 2011:
GAO-11-694 (GAO Code 351492): 

"Warfighter Support: DOD Has Made Progress, But Supply And 
Distribution Challenges Remain In Afghanistan" 

Department Of Defense Comments To The GAO Recommendations: 

Recommendation 1: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and 
Logistics to revise the instructions for Distribution Process Owner 
and the Joint Staff to revise Joint Publication 4-09 to provide clear 
guidance on how U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) is to oversee 
the overall effectiveness, efficiency, and alignment of DoD-wide 
distribution activities, to include the fourth leg of distribution. 

DoD Response: Non-concur. 

DoD non-concurs with the recommendation to revise Joint Publication 
(JP) 4-09 and the instructions for the DPO, to include the fourth leg 
of distribution. The DPO's authority and oversight responsibility 
extends to the point of need, not to the point of employment.
This distinction is clearly made in the Joint Logistics (Distribution) 
Joint Integrating Concept (JL(D) JIC) and promulgated throughout 
doctrine and policy by way of reference to the JL(D) JIC. 

DoD Instruction 5158.06 defines the roles and responsibilities of the 
DPO and establishes the scope of "end to end" distribution as origin 
to point of need (not point of employment) in accordance with the 
JL(D)JIC. 

Analysis of these documents, combined with the responsibilities of the 
Services under Title 10 of the United States Code, supports the 
position that distribution from the point of need to the point of 
employment is the responsibility of the Regional Combatant
Commander/Joint Forces Commander, Service Components and Services ó not
USTRANSCOM. 

Recommendation 2: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the U.S. Central Command to direct U.S. Forces-Afghanistan to 
provide regular reports to USTRANSCOM on delivery performance for 
shipments within Afghanistan. 

DoD Response: Non-concur. 

DoD non-concurs with the need for USCENTCOM to provide USTRANSCOM 
metrics relating to the fourth leg of distribution for the reasons 
cited above. 

Recommendation 3: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Commander of USTRANSCOM to incorporate the delivery 
performance reports from U.S. Forces-Afghanistan into the command's 
review of distribution metrics, in order for USTRANSCOM to measure the 
performance of DoD's entire distribution system. 

DoD Response: Non-concur. 

DoD non-concurs with the need for USCENTCOM to provide USTRANSCOM 
metrics. USTRANSCOM already tracks Time Definite Delivery Standard 
metrics that include Logistics Response Time from requisition receipt 
in the Defense Automatic Addressing System to item receipt in theater 
via a D6S transaction. 

Recommendation 4: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Commander of USTRANSCOM to develop an ongoing, systematic 
approach to identify the reasons why delivery dates for delivered 
shipments are not documented and implement corrective actions to 
improve the documentation of delivered shipments. 

DoD Response: Concur with comment. 

DoD concurs with directing USTRANSCOM to perform this task for 
deliveries up to (but not exceeding) the RCC/JFC designated point of 
need. 

Recommendation 5: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Commander of USTRANSCOM to develop an ongoing, systematic 
approach to investigate cases of undelivered shipments to determine 
their status and update the database with the most current information.
DoD Response: Concur with comment DoD concurs with directing 
USTRANSCOM to perform this task up to the point of need. 

Recommendation 6: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense 
direct U.S. Central Command to develop necessary policies and 
procedures to ensure that content-level detail is entered onto radio 
frequency identification (RFID) tags. 

DoD Response: Non-concur. 

Adequate policy and procedures already exist regarding content-level 
RFID requirements: 

* USTRANSCOM is providing a monthly list of "RHO violators" to the 
Military Services which is a management tool to enforce proper RFID 
application. 

* An Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and 
Logistics memorandum, dated July 30, 2004 identified the content level 
data requirements for both sustainment and unit shipments. 

* USCENTCOM Regulation 700-4, dated June 1, 2011 establishes policy and
procedures for cargo transiting the USCENTCOM area of responsibility. 

* March 22, 2011 Army Forces Command (USFORSCOM) Operations Order
which was followed by a May 31, 2011 message from the Deputy Commander 
of USFORSCOM to all Army units, reiterating RFID requirements. 

Recommendation 7: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense 
direct U.S. Central Command to implement required data entry training 
for all deploying units. 

DoD Response: Partially concur. 

DoD non concurs with tasking USCENTCOM for this requirement. USCENTCOM 
is not sourced or required to provide this training. Training is a 
Service responsibility under Title 10 of U.S. Code. As a result, 
Marine and Army Forces Commands (MARFORCOM and FORSCOM, respectively) 
have internal policies and orders that direct deploying units to meet 
this requirement. 

DoD acknowledges the need to emphasize existing training, and 
determine why troops are not employing the training they receive. We 
concur that enforcement of data entry policies, revised training and 
resourcing of mobile training teams would be beneficial. DoD will 
direct the Services to re-evaluate their current training programs. 

Recommendation 8: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense 
direct U.S. Central Command to ensure that periodic inspections of 
RFID data entries are performed. 

DoD Response: Partially concur. 

DoD acknowledges the need for periodic inspections of RFID data, but 
directing USCENTCOM is not necessary. The DoD is already taking steps 
to identify RFID violations. Although CENTCOM has a role in ensuring 
compliance, DoD assigned primary responsibility to USTRANSCOM who is 
monitoring and reporting violators. 

Recommendation 9: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense 
direct USTRANSCOM, in consultation with the combatant commands, the 
military services, and other DoD distribution stakeholders, to 
evaluate the feasibility and costs of alternative approaches for 
developing a single user-friendly common operating picture that 
integrates transportation systems from the strategic, operational, and 
tactical levels and is accessible by personnel at each of these levels 
to provide timely in-transit visibility data. 

DoD Response: Partially concur. 

The DoD has already identified the Battle Command Sustainment Support 
System-Node Management (BCS3-NM) as Afghanistan's single, user-
friendly common operating picture (COP) that integrates transportation 
information at the strategic, operational and tactical levels. In 
March, 2011, the Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell (JRAC) validated a Joint
Urgent Operational Needs Statement (JUONS) to support BCS 3 
enhancements for a logistics COP. Given the Department's progress, 
there is no need to direct USTRANSCOM to evaluate alternative 
approaches for a COP. The Department designated BCS3-NM as the 
Afghanistan COP after several assessments by the Afghanistan ITV Task 
Force, USTRANSCOM and USFOR-A. 

Recommendation 10: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense 
direct USTRANSCOM, in consultation with the combatant commands, the 
military services, and other DoD distribution stakeholders, to select 
and implement a cost-effective approach for improving visibility. 

DoD Response: Partially concur. 

USTRANSCOM is the DoD lead proponent for in-transit visibility. The 
DoD has already taken steps to improve in-transit visibility.
In August 2010, the Department established the Afghanistan ITV Task 
Force which identified 52 separate requirements to improve ITV 
processes.	To date, 36 tasks have been completed including recommended 
changes to policies, processes, contracts, existing ITV capabilities, 
enforcement of data quality standards, and systems integration.
The ITV Task Force continues to conduct periodic senior level 
executive summits to maintain focus in this area. 

Recommendation 11: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense 
direct Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) to develop 
and implement training for units on customs processes for export cargo 
to instill best practices for documenting cargo according to customs 
policies, which may mitigate customs clearance delays that cause cargo 
backlog. 

DoD Response: Concur with comment. 

DoD acknowledges the need for better training of units on customs 
processes for export cargo, While USCENTCOM is responsible for 
developing customs clearance procedures for posting in the Defense 
Transportation Regulation (DTR), the Military Services are responsible 
for training. USTRANSCOM (via SDDC) also has a training role when their
Deployment and Distribution Support Teams are deployed to various hubs 
and forward operating bases to assist redeploying units. 

USCENTCOM recently chartered a "Customs Working Group" which has made 
significant strides in improving Afghan customs operations over the 
last year. There is currently no evidence that customs delays are 
directly impacting support to USFOR-A. 

Recommendation 12: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense 
direct U.S. Central Command to require units to complete mandatory 
training on how to report, document, and complete a transportation 
discrepancy report. 

DoD Response: Partially concur. 

DoD acknowledges the need to improve training on the transportation 
discrepancy report (TDR) process. However, training is a Military 
Service responsibility. 

USTRANSCOM (via SDDC) has taken steps to significantly streamline the 
TDR process. Since February, 2011 TDR documentation requirements have 
been reduced from 20 to 6 pages. Subsequently, SDDC produced a user 
friendly TDR handbook that units now receive prior to redeployment. 
SDDC also has a cell located in Afghanistan which helps units complete 
the TDR process. SDDC plans to automate the TDR process in the Global 
Freight Management Identification System; development is scheduled to 
begin by February 2012. 

Recommendation 13: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense 
direct USTRANSCOM to include host nation truck complaints in the 
reported pilferage and damage calculation. 

DoD Response: Partially Concur. 

DoD non-concurs with tasking USTRANSCOM because USFOR-A and USCENTCOM 
administer host nation contracts from the point of need to the point 
of employment. 

The DoD acknowledges the need to include host nation truck complaints 
in the overall USCENTCOM pilferage and damage calculation and will 
task accordingly. 

Recommendation 14: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and 
Logistics to select a single container management system for all DoD 
entities and contract carriers to track container status. 

DoD Response: Concur with comment. 

The DoD's Joint Intermodal Working Group (JIWG) is already taking 
steps to develop and implement a single container management system. 
Joint container management training is also a key element in 
successfully tracking container status. 

Recommendation 15: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and 
Logistics to create, implement, and enforce reporting requirements and 
procedures for tracking containers in theater. 

DoD Response: Concur with comment. 

DoD concurs that improvements in container tracking and reporting are 
necessary. AT&L has already published container management policy in 
DoDI 4500.57, "Transportation and Traffic Management." USTRANSCOM, as 
the manager of the intermodal container program, is coordinating with 
the Military Services and Combatant Commanders through the JIWG to 
improve container management procedures. This includes implementing a 
single container management system to enable better tracking and 
reporting of containers. 

[End of section] 

Appendix III: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

William M. Solis, (202) 512-8365 or solisw@gao.gov: 

Staff Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the contact named above, key contributors to this 
report include Cary Russell, Assistant Director; Tara Copp; Lisa 
McMillen; Geoffrey Peck; Hia Quach; Steve Pruitt; Terry Richardson; 
Michael Shaughnessy; Yong Song; Amie Steele; and Cheryl Weissman. 

[End of section] 

Related GAO Products: 

Warfighter Support: Preliminary Observations on DOD's Progress and 
Challenges in Distributing Supplies and Equipment to Afghanistan. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-842T]. Washington, 
D.C.: June 25, 2010. 

The Strategic Framework for U.S. Efforts in Afghanistan. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-655R]. Washington, D.C.: June 15, 
2010. 

Afghanistan's Security Environment. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-613R]. Washington, D.C.: May 5, 
2010. 

Iraq and Afghanistan: Availability of Forces, Equipment, and 
Infrastructure Should Be Considered in Developing U.S. Strategy and 
Plans. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-380T]. 
Washington, D.C.: February 12, 2009. 

Defense Logistics: DOD Has Begun to Improve Supply Distribution 
Operations, but Further Actions Are Needed to Sustain These Efforts. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-05-775]. Washington, D.C.: 
August 11, 2005. 

Information Security: Radio Frequency Identification Technology in the 
Federal Government. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-05-551]. Washington, D.C.: May 27, 
2005. 

[Defense Logistics: Preliminary Observations on the Effectiveness of 
Logistics Activities during Operation Iraqi Freedom. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-04-305R]. Washington, D.C.: December 
18, 2003. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] GAO, DOD's High-Risk Areas: Observations on DOD's Progress and 
Challenges in Strategic Planning for Supply Chain Management, 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-929T] (Washington, 
D.C.: July 27, 2010). 

[2] GAO, Defense Logistics: Preliminary Observations on the 
Effectiveness of Logistics Activities during Operation Iraqi Freedom, 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-04-305R] (Washington, 
D.C.: December 18, 2003). 

[3] The responsibilities of the Distribution Process Owner--a role 
designated to U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) by DOD--include 
overseeing the overall effectiveness, efficiency, and alignment of DOD-
wide distribution activities, including force projection, sustainment, 
and redeployment operations. 

[4] GAO, Defense Logistics: DOD Has Begun to Improve Supply 
Distribution Operations, but Further Actions are Needed to Sustain 
These Efforts, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-05-775] 
(Washington, D.C.: August 11, 2005). 

[5] GAO, Warfighter Support: Preliminary Observations on DOD's 
Progress and Challenges in Distributing Supplies and Equipment to 
Afghanistan, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-842T] 
(Washington, D.C.: June 25, 2010). 

[6] See, for example, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Pub. 4-0, Joint 
Logistics (July 18, 2008); Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Pub. 4-09, 
Distribution Operations (Feb. 5, 2010). 

[7] See, for example, Department of Defense Instruction 5158.06, 
Distribution Process Owner (DPO) (July 30, 2007). (Hereinafter cited 
as DODI 5158.06.) 

[8] See Joint Pub. 4-09 at I-11. 

[9] In May 2009, DOD began using an alternative surface route, known 
as the Northern Distribution Network, which relies on contracted 
ships, railways, and trucks to transport nonlethal sustainment items 
like construction materiel through western European and central Asian 
countries into Afghanistan. There are two main routes within this 
network: one starts at the Latvian port of Riga or the Estonian port 
of Tallinn and connects with Afghanistan via Russia, Kazakhstan, and 
Uzbekistan; the second route starts at the Georgian port of Poti, 
bypasses Russia, and reaches Afghanistan through the terrains of 
Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. 

[10] The point of employment is a physical location designated by the 
commander at the tactical level where force employment, emplacement, 
or commodity consumption occurs. 

[11] Joint Pub. 4-09 at I-1. 

[12] Following our analysis, DOD stated in comments on this report, 
based on the Joint Logistics (Distribution) Joint Integrating Concept, 
DOD Instruction 5158.06, and responsibilities of the Services under 
Title 10 of the United States Code, that the Distribution Process 
Owner's authority and oversight responsibility extends to the point of 
need, not to the point of employment. However, as we explain in our 
response to DOD comments, this position indicates confusion within DOD 
regarding TRANSCOM's role, including its responsibilities as 
Distribution Process Owner, as demonstrated by statements made to GAO 
and publicly by TRANSCOM and DOD officials regarding the purpose, 
role, and span of influence of the Distribution Process Owner. This 
explanation of guidance also contrasts with language within other 
guidance, including Joint Publication 4-09, DOD Directive 5158.04, and 
the 2011 Unified Command Plan. Moreover, DOD's approach of limiting 
the Distribution Process Owner's oversight to only the first three 
distribution legs yields fragmentation within the DOD-wide global 
distribution pipeline and hinders its capacity to fulfill its 
responsibilities within the first three legs of the global 
distribution pipeline. 

[13] DODI 5158.06, ß 5.4.1. 

[14] Joint Pub. 4-09. 

[15] Although joint doctrine does not name the fourth leg, merely 
noting that it extends beyond the point of need to the point of 
employment, we use the term "point of employment" to refer to the 
final leg, as it was a term that was used during discussions with DOD. 

[16] Joint Pub. 4-09 at I-12. 

[17] In its comments on our report, DOD indicated that TRANSCOM's role 
as Distribution Process Owner does not extend to the point of 
employment, ending instead at the point of need. As explained 
previously and elaborated upon in our response to DOD's comments, this 
interpretation and the resulting impairment of visibility over the 
final leg indicates confusion and fragmentation in the global 
distribution system as a whole and impedes TRANSCOM's ability to 
fulfill its responsibilities in the first three legs. 

[18] See DODI 5158.06. 

[19] DODI 5158.06, ß 5.4.1. The provision references Department of 
Defense Directives 5158.04, pertaining to TRANSCOM, and 4500.09E, 
pertaining to transportation and traffic management. 

[20] Joint Publication 4-09 describes the responsibility as 
"overseeing the overall effectiveness, efficiency, and alignment of 
DOD-wide distribution activities, including force projection (force 
movement), sustainment, and retrograde operations." Joint Pub. 4-09 at 
I-5. 

[21] This oversight role is in contrast to TRANSCOM's functional role 
in the actual movement of supplies, which only extends to the point of 
need. 

[22] Although DOD indicated in comments that TRANSCOM's role as the 
Distribution Process Owner ends at the point of need, this 
interpretation contrasts with language in guidance, such as Joint 
Publication 4-09, DOD Directive 5158.04, and the 2011 Unified Command 
Plan, that suggests a broader role for TRANSCOM with respect to the 
global distribution pipeline. For further discussion, see our response 
to DOD comments in the Agency Comments and Our Evaluation section of 
the report. 

[23] A "shipment," as discussed in this section, may include a 
container, pallet, or other large cargo unable to fit into a container 
or on a pallet that is transported to Afghanistan on surface or 
airlift assets. 

[24] Although guidance provides some information on time-definite 
delivery standards, the specific time-definite delivery standards for 
Afghanistan and other locations were, according to TRANSCOM, developed 
and agreed upon by DOD's major distribution stakeholders--for example, 
TRANSCOM and its component commands, Defense Logistics Agency, the 
geographic combatant commands, and the military services. DOD's major 
distribution stakeholders execute their assigned legs of the supply 
chain and work jointly to meet the time-definite delivery standards, 
while TRANSCOM monitors DOD's performance in meeting the standards. 

[25] Requisitioned sustainment items may be sourced and transported 
from various DOD and commercial supply facilities across the world. 
According to officials, DOD attempts to source requisitioned items as 
close as possible to the customer in order to reduce wait time. For 
military and commercial air shipments of sustainment items, DOD 
measures performance in meeting time-definite delivery standards for 
shipments originating in the United States and also for those 
originating outside the United States. 

[26] SDDC is the Army component command of TRANSCOM responsible for 
surface transportation of cargo, to include transportation on sea, 
roads, and rail. SDDC contracts with commercial carriers to deliver 
supplies and equipment to Afghanistan through Pakistan and along the 
Northern Distribution Network. 

[27] According to SDDC, commercial carriers contracted by SDDC 
transport unit and sustainment shipments to 17 major logistics bases 
in Afghanistan. 

[28] The Statement of Work for the Host Nation Trucking contract 
requires the use of an in-transit visibility management system. 
Private trucking contractors operating under the Afghan Host Nation 
Trucking Contract carry the majority of U.S. supplies and equipment 
within Afghanistan. 

[29] Hairaton is a border crossing between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan 
where cargo transported along the Northern Distribution Network may 
enter Afghanistan. 

[30] Army Forces Command Operations Center G3 Order, Use of Active 
RFID Tags for CONUS and OCONUS Shipments (Mar. 22, 2011). 

[31] U.S. Central Command guidance states that content-level detail 
comprises two components: asset-level detail (i.e., data elements that 
describe the asset) and content-level detail--data elements that 
minimally identify each level of a complete shipment entity (a single 
shipment unit or a consolidated shipment). U.S. Central Command 
Regulation 700-4, Logistics Automatic Identification Technology and In-
Transit Visibility (Jan. 23, 2006). 

[32] See id. 

[33] Joint Pub. 4-09 at II-3. 

[34] See Agreement Regarding the Status of United States Military and 
Civilian Personnel of the U.S. Department of Defense Present in 
Afghanistan in Connection with Cooperative Efforts in Response to 
Terrorism, Humanitarian and Civic Assistance, Military Training and 
Exercises, and Other Activities, U.S.-Afg., Sept. 26, 2002, Dec. 12, 
2002, and May 28, 2003, Temp. State Dep't No. 03-67. 

[35] The National Logistics Cell is a company in Pakistan engaged in 
transportation infrastructure development, provision of freight 
services, and management of border terminals and strategic inland dry 
ports. It exclusively operates the Karachi ports. The company also 
handles international freight transiting Pakistani ports and offers 
warehousing facilities to the United Nations World Food Program, 
UNICEF, and other organizations. 

[36] Defense Transportation Regulation 4500.9-R-Part II, Cargo 
Movement, chapter 210 (June 2008). 

[37] Army Regulation 735-5, Policies and Procedures for Property 
Accountability (Feb. 28, 2005). 

[38] Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, Transportation 
Discrepancy Report (TDR) Handbook, ver. 1 (August 2010). 

[39] The relevant chapter of the Defense Transportation Regulation 
lists the bill of lading, delivery receipt, and shipping document as 
minimum documentation needed to support a transportation discrepancy 
report, while other items--such as photographs--are listed as 
additional documentation, as needed. See Defense Transportation 
Regulation 4500.9-R-Part II, Cargo Movement, chapter 210, table 210-4 
(June 2008). 

[40] Detention costs may accumulate if the container is commercially 
owned and not returned to the carrier within a specified time period. 
Container buyouts occur when DOD purchases commercial containers to 
reduce detention costs. 

[41] Deputy Secretary of Defense Memorandum, Global Container 
Management Policy (Dec. 18, 2009). 

[42] Defense Transportation Regulation 4500.9-R-Part VI, chapter 601 
(Apr. 18, 2011). 

[43] See United States Central Command Letter of Instruction, 
Container Management Policy (Mar. 22, 2010). 

[44] Defense Transportation Regulation 4500.9-R-Part VI, chapter 601: 
Intermodal Container and System 463L Asset Management and Control 
(Apr. 18, 2011). 

[45] See Department of Defense Instruction 4500.57, Transportation and 
Traffic Management (Mar. 18, 2008). 

[46] See United States Central Command Letter of Instruction, 
Container Management Policy (Mar. 22, 2010). 

[47] Defense Business Board, Global Logistics Management (July 21, 
2011). 

[48] For example, Joint Publication 4-09 notes that, although the 
Joint Deployment and Distribution Enterprise "provides logistic 
solutions to the joint forces commander to minimize seams in the joint 
distribution pipeline from the point of origin through the point of 
need," it also "complements, interacts with, and augments Service or 
[joint force commander]-unique theater distribution responsibilities 
and capabilities to ensure distribution is coordinated and 
synchronized all the way to the point of employment." Joint Pub. 4-09 
at I-8. 

[49] Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Pub. 4-0, Joint Logistics (July 18, 
2008). 

[End of section] 

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