The Army Needs To Improve Individual Soldier Training in Its Units

FPCD-81-29: Published: Mar 31, 1981. Publicly Released: Mar 31, 1981.

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In an attempt to reduce training costs and make training programs more specific, the Army has shifted its emphasis from the formal school environment to the operating unit and designated specific tasks to be taught at each level. Most training now takes place in Army units. Because of the growing concern about the training capability of the Army and the need to assess the fundamental policy changes of the training philosophy, GAO conducted a review of Army training. GAO reviewed the Army's individual skill training programs at 15 active units and administered questionnaires to soldiers throughout the Army.

Army trainers have been provided guidance which specifies what tasks soldiers must know as well as the performance conditions and standards for each task. However, the trainers are not teaching soldiers all tasks the Army considers critical for proper job performance and survival in combat. The Army has announced a series of programs designed to improve individual skill training effectiveness. GAO found that soldiers are not being fully trained because: (1) individual skill training does not receive enough emphasis at the battalion and company levels; (2) unit commanders do not take advantage of all available time to provide individual skill training; (3) aids specifically designed to enhance training are not used as extensively as they should be; (4) there is a shortage of experienced trainers; (5) personnel are constantly being rotated in and out of units; and (6) equipment, ammunition, and other training items often are not available for use in training. The Army should require specific and immediate action to improve unit level programs. The management oversight of training programs needs strengthening and the Army training philosophy should be evaluated.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should determine ways existing resources, including noncommissioned officers (NCO), can be better used to improve training. More specifically, alternative management techniques should be identified to reduce personnel turbulence, consolidate training to make better use of experienced trainers, and more rapidly prepare young NCO to be effective trainers.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should ensure that the Army implements an effective individual skill training program. GAO believes this can best be accomplished by requiring an independent organization to perform periodic assessments of training effectiveness within the Army and encourages the Secretary of the Army to consider using the Army Audit Agency for such assessments.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should emphasize to Army commanders the importance of unit skill training and should require commanders at the battalion level and above to ensure that primary trainers: (1) use the Soldiers Manual as their program criteria; (2) develop a training plan which provides for training in all Soldiers Manual tasks; (3) maintain job books for the soldiers they supervise so that training needs are documented; (4) use training extension course lessons in their training programs; (5) incorporate individual training into all phases of unit activity and make use of available slack time to provide opportunity training; and (6) use job books, SQT results, and Soldiers Manuals to develop training programs which provide training in those tasks where additional work is needed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should: (1) take action to see that the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans establishes a more effective Army-wide system to monitor the accomplishment of skill training provided to enlisted personnel; (2) require the Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) to evaluate fully the current individual skill training doctrine; and (3) require TRADOC to evaluate the effectiveness of the Battalion Training Management System.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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