Military Readiness:

Management of Naval Aviation Training Munitions Can Be Improved

GAO-01-840: Published: Jul 27, 2001. Publicly Released: Jul 27, 2001.

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During the last several years, senior Navy officials have testified before Congress on the effects of shortages in training resources on the readiness of aviation units. This report examines one of these resources--ordnance for air-to-ground training--to assess the potential for enhancing Navy and Marine Corps tactical aviation unit readiness by improving training ordnance management. The availability of Navy and Marine training ordnance depends on an accurate requirements determination process, a procurement program that supports identified needs, and an allocation process that puts the right amount of ordnance where it is needed for training. The Navy program has problems with all three of these elements. Neither the Navy nor Marine Corps provides request data that reflect the training needs identified in its training instruction. Although both services have linked their ordnance requirements to readiness in their training instructions, neither services' request indicates that its instruction serves as the basis for identifying its needs. GAO believes each service has the knowledge and ability to develop more accurate and justifiable training ordnance requirements. Training ordnance shortages limit the amount of training and exercises aircrews can carry out and reportedly affect their proficiency in certain tasks. The shortages also extend the period of time when units are at lower readiness levels and force them to make a last-minute "rush" to achieve readiness just before deployment. This increases the risk that units may not be sufficiently prepared if they suddenly are needed for an unexpected deployment.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Navy has designated the Marine Forces-Atlantic and Marine Forces-Pacific as major claimants in the ordnance requirements determination process.

    Recommendation: To improve the availability of training ordnance in tactical aviation units, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to designate the Marine Forces-Atlantic and Marine Forces-Pacific as major claimants in the ordnance requirements determination process to increase the visibility of Marine requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has agreed to use the requirements as determined in the training and readiness instructions as the basis for ordnance funding decisions.

    Recommendation: To improve the availability of training ordnance in tactical aviation units, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to allocate ordnance on the basis of the documented training requirements identified in the Navy and Marine Corps training instructions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Navy and Marine Corps air wings now require each Type Command to review ordnance requests for accuracy and to endorse the requests before forwarding them to their respective fleet for inclusion in the budget process.

    Recommendation: To improve the availability of training ordnance in tactical aviation units, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to require Marine and carrier air wings to include, along with their training ordnance request, an exception report detailing the reason(s) for requests that differ substantially from the ordnance requirements identified in the training instructions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD did not agree to develop guidance that instructs personnel on how to determine ordnance needs. GAO still believes this to be a valid recommendation.

    Recommendation: To improve the availability of training ordnance in tactical aviation units, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to develop guidance for fleet use that provides a standardized methodology for determining training ordnance requirements and train the appropriate personnel in the use of that guidance to help ensure that accurate and reliable data are submitted by units in the ordnance requirements determination process.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has updated Navy and Marine Corps training instructions so that they reflect the ordnance needed for "typical" predeployment collective training exercises.

    Recommendation: To improve the availability of training ordnance in tactical aviation units, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to update the Navy and Marine Corps training and readiness instructions so that they are comprehensive and identify the ordnance needed for regularly scheduled pre-deployment exercises.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has agreed to include requirements for regularly scheduled training exercises in its training ordnance requirements and to identify Navy funding for training ordnance in its ordnance procurement request.

    Recommendation: To improve the availability of training ordnance in tactical aviation units, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to direct the Navy and Marine Corps to identify the amount of its ordnance procurement request that is for the war reserve stockpile and the amount that is for training. If the amount requested for training is less than the training requirement, the services should explain how training readiness will be maintained without the required training ordnance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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