Key Issues > Military Force Sizing and Organization
defense icon, source: [West Covina, California] Progressive Management, 2008

Military Force Sizing and Organization

A changing security environment, the need to rebuild readiness after continual deployments since 9/11, ongoing commitments in Afghanistan, and fiscal pressures on the defense budget have all added to the Department of Defense’s (DOD) challenge of developing an affordable plan to resize and reorganize its forces to successfully conduct a wide range of missions now and in the future.

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After a decade of supporting military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, DOD is examining how best to size and organize forces to successfully undertake a wide range of potential future missions to address both conventional and unconventional threats within expected budgets. As more of its forces return from deployments in support of military operations and the security environment evolves, DOD intends to adjust its force structure and investment plans to

  • reduce the size of military forces while maintaining readiness for the full range of potential missions;
  • rebalance the presence of U.S. forces abroad, with a renewed focus on the Asia-Pacific region;
  • invest in existing and new capabilities needed to enhance its ability to respond to emerging threats such as countering weapons of mass destruction, defending against ballistic missiles, and operating effectively in cyberspace and environments where adversaries have the capability to deny U.S. access; and
  • expand the capacity of U.S. forces to engage in activities to build the security capability of partners.

DOD is examining potential tradeoffs among requirements across the joint force, ways to mitigate risks, and how to become more efficient. However, it has not yet decided on important force structure issues, such as the optimum mix of active and reserve forces or changes to its overseas posture, nor has it developed plans for how it will prioritize and link future investments to its strategic objectives. In addition, opportunities exist for DOD to expand the scope of its efforts to identify efficiencies among its organizations and programs. Examining alternatives to traditional approaches and effectively prioritizing investments will assist DOD in maximizing the use of available resources as it seeks to meet competing demands.

Looking for our recommendations? Click on any report to find each associated recommendation and its current implementation status.

Military Training:

Observations on Efforts to Prepare Personnel to Survive Helicopter Crashes into Water
GAO-14-615R:
Published: Jul 14, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 14, 2014.

Littoral Combat Ship:

Deployment of USS Freedom Revealed Risks in Implementing Operational Concepts and Uncertain Costs
GAO-14-447:
Published: Jul 8, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 8, 2014.

Defense Headquarters:

DOD Needs to Reevaluate Its Approach for Managing Resources Devoted to the Functional Combatant Commands
GAO-14-439:
Published: Jun 26, 2014. Publicly Released: Jun 26, 2014.

Surface Ships:

Navy Needs to Revise Its Decommissioning Policy to Improve Future Decision Making
GAO-14-412:
Published: Jun 11, 2014. Publicly Released: Jun 11, 2014.

Defense Headquarters:

Guidance Needed to Transition U.S. Central Command's Costs to the Base Budget
GAO-14-440:
Published: Jun 9, 2014. Publicly Released: Jun 9, 2014.

More Reports

Military Personnel:

DOD Needs to Take Further Actions to Prevent Sexual Assault during Initial Military Training
GAO-14-806:
Published: Sep 9, 2014. Publicly Released: Sep 9, 2014.

Active and Reserve Unit Costs:

DOD Report to Congress Generally Addressed the Statutory Requirements but Lacks Detail
GAO-14-711R:
Published: Jul 31, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 31, 2014.

Defense Research:

Improved Management of DOD's Technical Corrosion Collaboration Program Needed
GAO-14-437:
Published: May 29, 2014. Publicly Released: May 29, 2014.

Military Training:

DOD Met Annual Reporting Requirements for Its 2014 Sustainable Ranges Report
GAO-14-517:
Published: May 9, 2014. Publicly Released: May 9, 2014.

National Defense:

Army Modular Force Structure:

Defense Infrastructure:

In-Kind Projects Initiated during Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012
GAO-14-280R:
Published: Apr 9, 2014. Publicly Released: Apr 9, 2014.

Defense Efficiencies:

Action Needed to Improve Evaluation of Initiatives
GAO-14-134:
Published: Jan 17, 2014. Publicly Released: Jan 17, 2014.

Homeland Defense:

Action Needed to Improve Cost Reporting for DOD's Aerospace Control Alert Mission
GAO-13-785:
Published: Sep 9, 2013. Publicly Released: Sep 9, 2013.

Defense Management:

DOD Should Enhance Oversight of Equipment-Related Corrosion Projects
GAO-13-661:
Published: Sep 9, 2013. Publicly Released: Sep 9, 2013.
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