National Defense:

Integrated Approach to U.S. Air Defense of Central Europe Should Result in More Effective Mission Accomplishment

C-MASAD-81-18: Published: Sep 18, 1981. Publicly Released: Sep 18, 1981.

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The U.S. Army and the Air Force air defense forces stationed in central Europe share a joint mission and a combined North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) mission to defend the NATO central region airspace against an attack by the Warsaw Pact. In its review of this mission, GAO focused on critical issues needing Department of Defense (DOD) attention to improve the effectiveness of joint mission capabilities.

Critical issues associated with the performance of this joint mission include the following: (1) limited coordination within DOD to ensure the best mix of ground and air weapons to meet joint mission needs; (2) an inability to ensure that adequate resources are available to acquire and operate needed systems; (3) problems in identifying aircraft in a NATO environment so that a distinction can be made between enemy and friendly forces; (4) constraints on realism in air defense training and exercises in a NATO environment; and (5) shortcomings associated with new or improved U.S. air defense systems. If there is to be an adequate air defense capability to meet the Warsaw Pact threat of the 1980's, it is essential that DOD fully address these issues. Since about $34 billion remains to be spent on new or improved systems, it is also essential that an integrated, long-range air defense modernization plan be developed to determine what economies and efficiencies are possible.

Status Legend:

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

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should evaluate the full range of joint Army and Air Force weapon system options for the entire air defense mission, relating the cost and effectiveness of each major improvement in order of priority to specific near- and long-term limitations/shortcomings within the joint mission area.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should closely monitor the U.S. participation in NATO efforts to develop and field new cooperative aircraft identification equipment to ensure that NATO-wide introduction of interoperable equipment will be expedited.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should work toward revisions to the NATO central region Airspace Control Plan that will not restrict the use of air defense weapons and actively pursue needed revisions with our NATO allies, if appropriate.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should provide, on a continuing basis, more realistic air defense training and exercises with emphasis on representative, combined forces and equipment, aircraft identification procedures, command and control, and electronic warfare and countermeasures.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require preparation of an assessment of the Warsaw Pact threat to the NATO central European air defenses including aircraft, electronic countermeasures, chemical-biological, and tactical ballistic missile threats, together with the current and future combined air defense capabilities available to meet the threat. This assessment should be the common basis for all U.S. air defense studies and analyses.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should establish a workable coordination process under the control and direction of the Office of the Secretary of Defense to formulate the most appropriate air defense weapon system mixes needed to attain specified force levels for central Europe. This process should require preparation of a joint service/Office of the Secretary of Defense long-range air defense modernization plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should take the necessary steps to establish air defense as a single DOD mission category and ensure sufficient funding priority to meet both near-term and long-term mission needs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that an immediate evaluation is made of alternatives for increasing near-term airborne firepower capability such as: (1) maintaining F-4 aircraft in Europe because of their medium-range missile capability; (2) increasing operational unit flying hours for air defense training of F-4 and F-16 ground attack units; and (3) accelerating deployment of F-15 or F-16 aircraft to Europe.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

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