Force Structure:

Army Lacks Units Needed for Extended Contingency Operations

GAO-01-198: Published: Feb 15, 2001. Publicly Released: Feb 15, 2001.

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The National Military Strategy calls for U.S. forces to fight and win two nearly simultaneous major theater wars. Accordingly, the Army calculates its force structure requirements on the basis of this scenario. The strategy also calls for the Army to support operations in a series of concurrent contingencies and assumes that forces thus engaged will be withdrawn and redeployed if war occurs. The Army's difficulty in supporting contingency operations without repeatedly calling on some types of units has raised questions about whether forces structured to meet the two-war scenario can also support multiple peacetime contingency operations. GAO reviewed the Army's force planning process, known as Total Army Analysis 2007, to determine whether the Army's planned force structure will meet its contingency requirements. GAO found that the Army's force structure generally provides the number and types of units required to simultaneously carry out seven illustrative contingency operations requiring Army participation. However, it does not contain the number and types of units needed to meet the needs of five simultaneous contingencies lasting for more than six months and requiring force rotations. If Army forces continue to be called on to engage in such contingencies for long periods of time, it would seem prudent to have a force structure that is able to meet such needs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As part of its analysis of Total Army Analysis (TAA) 2007, GAO conducted a comparative analysis of the Army's newly identified contingency requirements and its planned force structure. GAO undertook this analysis because the Army, while quantifying the requirements for the illustrative contingencies, had not analyzed whether its planned force structure would be adequate to meet these needs. GAO found that the Army's planned force structure would provide most of the numbers and types of contingency operations required to simultaneously carry out seven illustrative contingency operations requiring Army participation (assuming that U.S. forces are not also engaged in a major theater war). However, GAO found that the Army's force structure would face a greater challenge in sustaining the seven illustrative contingency operations if these were to last more than 6 months and require rotational personnel. GAO identified shortfalls for about 25% of the types of units required for contingencies (i.e., insufficient units to meet rotational requirements). GAO believed that assessing the criticality of the shortfalls it identified would be an important first step that the Army could take to decide whether actions are needed to mitigate risks. Therefore, GAO recommended that the Secretary of the Army assess the criticality of the shortfalls GAO identified with respect to the Army's ability to carry out simultaneous contingency operations lasting more than 6 months. (Recommendation 1) If the Army determined that the risks associated with certain shortages require mitigating actions, GAO further recommended that the Secretary explore the range of options GAO outlined in its report. (Recommendation 2) In a letter to GAO dated June 13, 2003, the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Program Integration) responded that TAA-09 incorporated the requirement to execute Smaller Scale Contingencies (SCC) consistent with the National Security Strategy and the force planning/sizing guidance articulated in the Quadrennial Defense Review 2001, and the Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) 2004. (Note: This is current guidance, updated from that which was in effect at the time of GAO's report). Specifically, TAA-09 recognized the requirement to have the capability to execute four SSCs: one at the battalion task force level, one at the brigade task force level and two with division command and control, and other enablers with a subordinate brigade task force. The force structure associated with these requirements includes the requisite combat support and combat service support elements necessary to sustain the combat structure. This capability required 25,000 military manpower (out of approximately 1.2 million for active and reserve components, and civilians). This capability/requirement is fully resourced, there are no shortfalls. By conducting the analysis GAO recommended, the Army has implemented GAO's recommendations (1 and 2). The goal wasn't to prove the Army had shortfalls, but rather to conduct the analysis to determine if shortfalls did or did not exist, and to take appropriate action based on these results.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should assess the criticality of the shortfalls GAO has identified with respect to the Army's ability to carry out simultaneous contingency operations lasting more than 6 months.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As part of its analysis of Total Army Analysis (TAA) 2007, GAO conducted a comparative analysis of the Army's newly identified contingency requirements and its planned force structure. GAO undertook this analysis because the Army, while quantifying the requirements for the illustrative contingencies, had not analyzed whether its planned force structure would be adequate to meet these needs. GAO found that the Army's planned force structure would provide most of the numbers and types of contingency operations required to simultaneously carry out seven illustrative contingency operations requiring Army participation (assuming that U.S. forces are not also engaged in a major theater war). However, GAO found that the Army's force structure would face a greater challenge in sustaining the seven illustrative contingency operations if these were to last more than 6 months and require rotational personnel. GAO identified shortfalls for about 25% of the types of units required for contingencies (i.e., insufficient units to meet rotational requirements). GAO believed that assessing the criticality of the shortfalls GAO identified would be an important first step that the Army could take to decide whether actions are needed to mitigate risks. Therefore, GAO recommended that the Secretary of the Army assess the criticality of the shortfalls GAO identified with respect to the Army's ability to carry out simultaneous contingency operations lasting more than 6 months. (Recommendation 1) If the Army determined that the risks associated with certain shortages require mitigating actions, GAO further recommended that the Secretary explore the range of options GAO outlined in its report. (Recommendation 2) In a letter to GAO dated June 13, 2003, the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Program Integration) responded that TAA-09 incorporated the requirement to execute Smaller Scale Contingencies (SCC) consistent with the National Security Strategy and the force planning/sizing guidance articulated in the Quadrennial Defense Review 2001, and the Defense Planning Guidance 2004. (Note: This is current guidance, updated from that which was in effect at the time of our report). Specifically, TAA-09 recognized the requirement to have the capability to execute four SSCs: one at the battalion task force level, one at the brigade task force level and two with division command and control, and other enablers with a subordinate brigade task force. The force structure associated with these requirements includes the requisite combat support and combat service support elements necessary to sustain the combat structure. This capability required 25,000 military manpower (out of approximately 1.2 million for active and reserve components, and civilians). This capability/requirement is fully resourced, there are no shortfalls. By conducting the analysis GAO recommended, the Army has implemented GAO's recommendations (1 and 2). The goal wasn't to prove the Army had shortfalls, but rather to conduct the analysis to determine if shortfalls did or did not exist, and to take appropriate action based on these results.

    Recommendation: If it is determined that the risks associated with certain shortages require mitigating actions, the Secretary of the Army should explore the the range of options GAO has outlined.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In its February 2001 report, GAO found that the Army's planned force structure would provide most of the numbers and types of units required to simultaneously carry out seven illustrative contingency operations requiring Army participation (provided U.S. forces are not also engaged in a major theater war). However, the Army's force structure would face a greater challenge in sustaining the seven illustrative contingency operations if these were to last more than 6 months and require rotational personnel. If this were to occur, the Army may have to call on some units repeatedly and deploy others well beyond its 6-month standard. In its recommendations GAO said that if the Secretary of the Army determines that the Army needs to authorize personnel for some units needed only for contingencies but not for the two-war scenario, the Secretary of Defense should either clarify whether authorizing personnel for such units is permitted under current Defense guidance or amend the guidance to permit this action. DOD agreed and said that future Defense guidance would allow the services to make certain contingency operations force requirements additive to the major theater war force requirements. DOD's most recent Defense Planning Guidance and the just released Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) fully implement GAO's report recommendation to DOD. The August 2001 Defense Planning Guidance says that DOD's new force sizing construct takes account, "for the first time," the many tasks to which the Armed Forces are assigned. Unlike previous force sizing constructs, the new construct explicitly calls for the force to be sized to warfighting missions, homeland defense and for the conduct of smaller-scale contingency operations. Likewise, the September 30, 2001, Quadrennial Defense Review states "the new planning approach requires the United States to maintain and prepare its forces for smaller-scale contingency operations," and DOD will "explicitly" plan to provide a rotational base for such forces. Furthermore, the QDR states that "DOD will ensure that is has sufficient numbers of specialized forces and capabilities to ensure that it does not overstress elements of the force when it is involved in smaller-scale contingency operations."

    Recommendation: If the Secretary determines that the Army needs to authorize personnel for some units needed only for contingencies but not for the two-war scenario, the Secretary of Defense should either clarify whether authorizing personnel for such units is permitted under current Defense guidance or amend the guidance to permit this action.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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