Army Readiness:

Readiness Improved for Selected Divisions, but Manning Imbalances Persist

GAO-02-98: Published: Dec 20, 2001. Publicly Released: Dec 20, 2001.

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In recent years, GAO has testified that personnel shortages, assignment priorities, and frequent peacekeeping deployments were undermining the combat readiness of the Army's five later-deploying divisions. In 2001, GAO reported on the Army Chief of Staff's manning initiative of October 1999, which seeks to ensure that all active Army units are assigned the numbers, grades, and skills needed to carry out wartime missions. Since then, terrorists have attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the Bush administration has formulated a new military strategy. These developments may change how, when, and where these divisions will be used--as seen in the deployment of soldiers from the 40th Infantry Division in Operation Enduring Freedom. As of June 2001 the five divisions reported they were ready and able to perform all or most of their combat missions. Enlisted personnel levels were at or near 100 percent of their authorization compared with 93 percent in March 1998. However, staffing imbalances persist for some combat support skills. Each division met its training requirements for combat missions. The amount of equipment on hand and the serviceability of that equipment indicated that the five divisions would be able to perform their combat missions. Army officials found it difficult to quantify the varied effects of peacekeeping operations on the five divisions' readiness.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In written comments on a draft of this report, the Department of Defense concurred with GAO's recommendation that the Secretary of the Army develop and implement a plan to address staffing imbalances for critical occupational specialties and that actions were underway to address the recommendations. At the time, the Department stated that the Army's manning initiative and programs and policies provide an effective plan for managing the distribution of soldiers in critical occupational fields. After the report's publication--and in response to demands associated with ongoing operations in Iraq--the Army has been converting its structure to a modular configuration. This change will alter manning levels and the Army believes this will create a predictable, but cyclical pattern.

    Recommendation: To address staffing imbalances for occupational specialties common to all its divisions, the Secretary of the Army should develop and implement a plan to address those imbalances in making staffing decisions affecting the divisions and monitor the Army's progress in alleviating the imbalances. The Army's plans should include a means to prioritize the distribution of skilled personnel not only among these divisions but also wherever they are needed in the Army.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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