Force Structure:

Projected Requirements for Some Army Forces Not Well Established

GAO-01-485: Published: May 11, 2001. Publicly Released: May 11, 2001.

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The Army has made progress developing a sound basis for its force structure requirements. It has improved the rigor of its analysis through more realistic scenarios and the integration of Army plans and initiatives. It has also expanded the analysis to include requirements for the entire Army. However, the weaknesses GAO identified suggest that the Army still lacks a sound basis for its institutional force requirements and the forces needed for the strategic reserve, domestic support, and homeland defense. GAO's analysis of the institutional force requirements casts doubt on their accuracy and, by extension, the accuracy of the shortfall that the Army identified in this element. By developing more accurate estimates of institutional forces, this shortfall might be entirely eliminated. A sound basis for requirements is also hampered by the lack of criteria for the strategic reserve, domestic support, and homeland defense element of the Army's force structure. A clearer definition of their missions is needed to accurately estimate the forces that will be required.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: To implement GAO's recommendation, DOD reports that comprehensive guidance to strengthen the manpower requirements determination process to include establishment, update, and review of all manpower standards and institutional requirements is contained in Department of Defense Directive 1100.4 "Guidance for Department of Defense Manpower Management", which has been approved and currently in effect. Explicit instructions detailing the manpower determination process will be published in a related Department of Defense Instruction (DODI) "Procedures for Manpower Management" currently under development. In addition, the Total Army Analysis process now incorporates the Army's Generating Force Requirements in its results. These requirements are primarily determined by the analysis provided by the Army's Manpower Analysis Agency, which is then integrated into the Total Army Analysis process.

    Recommendation: To improve the accuracy of the Army's force structure requirements, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to incorporate into future versions of the Total Army Analysis the results of completed Manpower Analysis Agency reviews to adjust requirements for the Base Generating Force and Engagement Force. Further, explore alternative means of expediting the completion of these studies at the remaining Army commands, whether by expanding the existing Manpower Analysis Agency team or through the use of contractor personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In our report, Force Structure: Projected Requirements for Some Army Forces Not Well Established (GAO-01-485, May 11, 2001), GAO recommended that the Army establish mission criteria to provide a firmer basis for its Strategic Reserve, Domestic Support, and Homeland Defense requirements. The risk of not setting criteria for these forces is that the Army may not have enough of these forces or the right types. Conversely, if too many forces have been committed for this purpose, the Army may be unnecessarily diverting forces to these missions that could be better used elsewhere. For example, at the time of our review, the Army reported it was experiencing a 45,000-position shortfall in its war-fighting force. DOD concurred with our recommendation, noting that the Army would integrate into its Total Army Analysis planning process the results of ongoing DOD reviews relating to Strategic Reserve, Homeland Security (Homeland Defense), and Domestic Support. In April 2003, DOD reported that the Army had completed action on our recommendation and that the FY04 budget contained force structure adjustments that would correct force imbalances. Examples cited by DOD included: an increase of one active Civil Affairs company and one active Psychological Operations company. The Army reported that it programmed more than 34K of these force structure changes in the FY04-09 Program Objective Memorandum (POM). The POM increased units for military police, military intelligence, special forces, chemical, civil affairs and psychological operations. The Army's detailed breakdown of the 34,018 additional spaces programmed for these forces each year from FY04 through FY09 is: 3,772; 10,755; 4,675; 6,185; 5,555; and 3,076. Army officials agree that these actions have created a substantial "cost avoidance" since the Army has been able to rebalance the force to create needed units, with minimal increases in authorized end strength. This is analogous to situations where the Army cancels an unneeded procurement and redirects the funds to more worthy projects, or in the business world, where a company redirects existing resources to achieve a greater output. In the Army's case, these new units provide increased capability to meet the challenges of the new strategic environment. We estimate the Army's cost avoidance over the next 5 years (for personnel costs) to be at least $3.437 billion. We base this estimate on the following factors: the Army's programmed and funded Phase I Restructuring plan consisting of 34,018 spaces; the number of spaces in each type of new unit broken down by officer and enlisted where feasible; and the average cost of an Army officer and enlisted soldier derived from the FY03 Execution Year of the President's Budget in FY04. We excluded costs associated with the 2,400 active end-strength increase. We also discounted savings achieved over the 5-year period from FY04 through FY08. Although we also obtained data from the Army that included the 3,076 buys that are planned for FY09, these figures were excluded from the estimated savings since they fell outside of our five-year time period for reporting savings. Our estimate of personnel costs did not include costs related to acquiring new soldiers (i.e. recruiting), training soldiers, transferring soldiers, or facilities costs(e.g. barracks) for new soldiers. Last, to demonstrate that these are significant force structure changes and that the Army will not be able to simply return soldiers to their previous units in a year or two, we obtained Army data on unit inactivations for FY04 through FY09. For FY04 these inactivations totaled 33 units consisting of 3,027 spaces. Inactivations planned for FY05 through FY09, total 366 units consisting of 65,364 spaces. According to the Army, these inactivations, which include the rebalancing initiative, as well as follow-on initiatives, are part of a major Army restructuring to divest cold war structure to better fight the war on terrorism.

    Recommendation: To improve the accuracy of the Army's force structure requirements, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to incorporate into future versions of the Total Army Analysis the establishment of mission criteria to provide a firmer basis for Strategic Reserve, Domestic Support, and Homeland Defense requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In its report "Force Structure: Projected Requirements for Some Army Forces Not Well Established", GAO recommended the Army establish a methodology for accurately portraying requirements for military technicians and other National Guard positions where one person is filling more than one requirement, thereby precluding a potential misunderstanding of the personnel needed in a future TAA. Per GAO's report recommendation, the Department of Defense revised its instruction 7730.64 Automated Extracts of Manpower and Unit Organizational Element Files. This newly revised instruction requires that each military service report billet level detail on every position in a unit to include specifying in the position reserve manpower type code whether a specific billet requires a reserve military technician as well as including a manpower mix criteria code which indicates those positions that are dual status billets. Since this instruction governs the type of billet information required to be maintained by each service, the Army will now be able to access information on its dual status billets in future TAA processes.

    Recommendation: To improve the accuracy of the Army's force structure requirements, Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to incorporate into future versions of the Total Army Analysis the establishment of a methodology for more accurately portraying requirements for military technicians and other National Guard positions, where one person is filling more than one requirement, thereby precluding a potential misunderstanding of the personnel needed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In its report "Force Structure: Projected Requirements for Some Army Forces Not Well Established" (GAO-01-485), GAO recommended that the Army consider converting military positions to civilian positions in instances where military positions have been allocated to commercial type activities that do not require military personnel. GAO recommended this action to mitigate the risks associated with a 45,000 position shortfall the Army was experiencing in its warfighting force. Converting positions from military to civilian (often referred to as "mil-civ conversion") would help free up military positions to meet other Army needs, such as shortfalls in support units included in the Army's warfighting force. The Army currently expects to return approximately 8,500 military spaces to the warfighting force by fiscal year 2009 as part of its modularity restructuring initiative. Upon its implementation, this initiative will result in a significant cost avoidance for the Army as it replaces higher cost service members with lower cost civilian employees and makes better use of service members, thereby avoiding costly end strength increases.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to examine the options GAO outlined to address the 45,000 position shortfall in the Army's war-fighting force within the context of costs and risks, and decide if mitigating actions should be taken. These actions include the accelerated conversion of National Guard forces to support forces, the conversion of military positions to civilian or contractor positions, and the consideration of how host nations could meet some unmet support needs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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