Ineffective Program Planning and Uneconomical Utilization of Personnel Assigned to the Air Force Reserve Recovery Program

B-146831: Published: Jan 31, 1964. Publicly Released: Jan 31, 1964.

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The General Accounting Office has made a review of the Air Force Reserve Recovery Program. This review was made pursuant to the Budget and Accounting Act, 1921 (31 U.S.C. 53), and the Accounting and Auditing Act of 1950 (31 U.S.C. 67). We reviewed the development of program concepts and requirements, the establishment of Reserve recovery units, and the assignment of units to recovery airports. The review was made at Headquarters, United States Air Force; at Headquarters, Continental Air Command, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia; and at 8 Air Force Reserve Recovery Groups and 31 Air Force Reserve Recovery Squadrons at widely spread locations throughout the United States. The groups and squadrons reviewed represented about 15 percent of the paid drill strength of the Air Force Reserve Recovery Program. We also made brief visits to the Headquarters of the Strategic Air Command, the Air Defense Command, the Tactical Air Command, and the Military Air Transport Service.

The Air Force established Reserve Recovery Squadrons at 200 airports in the United States before ascertaining the needs of the major Air Force commands which these squadrons were intended to serve. As a result, over 100 of these squadrons either have been assigned since their formation in July 1961, or are being considered for reassignment, to airports that (1) are located in areas of high vulnerability to enemy attack, have inadequate facilities, or otherwise do not meet the needs of the major using Air Force commands, (2) are unreasonably long distances from the home cities of the units, thus reducing the units' capabilities to react quickly during an emergency, or (3) are already occupied by military units capable of performing the mission assigned to the recovery squadrons. Thus, because of ineffective program planning by the Air Force, more than half the Reserve Recovery Squadrons are of little value to the using commands in the event of an emergency. Furthermore, unless the Air Force can find some way of adequately utilizing these squadrons, more than half of some $30 million appropriated to date for the Recovery Program will have been largely wasted. This report shows also that the mission of providing ground support to aircraft dispersed from their home bases to less vulnerable airports during periods of increased tension was assigned to the Reserve Recovery Squadrons, although no critical need exists for their services at many dispersal sites and there is little assurance that reservists can effectively be used in this type of mission. The unlikelihood of effectively utilizing recovery units during a prehostility period to support dispersal of aircraft and aircrews was brought out during the Cuban crisis in October 1962, when the Air Force commands dispersed their aircraft with only minor assistance from recovery unit personnel, on a volunteer basis. We also found that the premature establishment of recovery units brought about the development of manning tables that were not based on the actual needs of the major using commands. As a consequence, the manning tables may include positions that are not likely to be necessary during periods of dispersal or recovery. To the extent that unneeded positions are filled or will be filled, the costs of drill pay and other expenses involved in training these personnel are largely wasted.

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