Defense Management:

Munitions Requirements and Combatant Commander's Needs Still Require Linkage

GAO-05-765R: Published: Aug 12, 2005. Publicly Released: Aug 12, 2005.

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In October 2002 we reported that inadequate linkage existed between near-term munitions needs of the combatant commanders and the purchases made by the military services. The Department of Defense (DOD) concurred with our recommendations and took steps to address them by rewriting the overarching DOD Instruction for determining munitions requirements. Related to our ongoing work on prepositioned stocks, we assessed whether DOD's efforts thus far and initiatives planned for the future will ensure the required linkage since successful implementation of operational war plans is contingent on the availability of the right mix and quantity of munitions. To make our assessment, we obtained and analyzed information from cognizant organizations within DOD, Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), Headquarters and subordinate units of the Military Services, and U.S. Forces Korea (USFK). We conducted our analysis of DOD's munitions requirements process in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.

While the revised DOD Instruction established requirements to create the needed linkage between the combatant commander's munitions needs and the military services procurement decisions, limited implementation has been achieved. The Instruction, which was revised in October 2003, in response to our recommendation, identified key timeline dates and requirements for each of the DOD organizations involved in the process. The Instruction was modified to create a linkage between the combatant commander's munitions needs and the purchasing decisions of the military services. However, this linkage did not occur because there has been little, if any, compliance by DOD organizations with the Instruction's requirements. Our recent assessment of prepositioned munitions supporting the operational war plan of USFK revealed that key timeline dates were missed and required coordination with USFK was not accomplished. For instance, threat reports developed by the Defense Intelligence Agency that are used to identify key targets were late. As a result, USFK officials told us they had to identify target lists based on dated information. DOD officials stated that the specific timeline and other requirements were not met because formal communication links needed to ensure compliance were not established. The department recognizes that further changes are needed and is revising the Instruction a second time. Our review of the current draft Instruction raises two concerns. First, the draft Instruction does not include additional oversight and control criteria to ensure compliance by all organizations involved in the munitions requirement process. Second, the draft Instruction does not require combatant commander participation in risk assessments performed prior to and after the Program Objective Memorandum (POM) submission occurs. Combatant commanders are in the best position to identify the impact of not having munitions needed to support the operational plan. Non-compliance by any of the myriad of organizations involved in the munitions requirements process could result in procurement decisions that will not support operational war plans and impact the war fighter's ability to execute them. Based on our follow-up efforts and analysis, this letter includes recommendations to ensure that there is adequate linkage between combatant commanders' munitions needs and the purchases made by the military services.

Status Legend:

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  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To ensure that there is adequate linkage between combatant commanders' munitions needs and the purchases made by the military services, the Secretary of Defense should direct the incorporation of oversight and control measures into DOD Instruction 3000.4 to ensure that all organizations involved in the munitions requirement process fully comply with all requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Undersecretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) issued a memorandum on March 9, 2009 staffing the recommendation for action with an estimated completion date expected by the end of 2009. A contact at the DOD Inspector General's office confirmed that the intent was to update DoD Instruction 3000.4 "DoD Munitions Requirements Process (MRP)" by the end of the calendar year. The updated regulation was signed on September 24, 2009.

    Recommendation: To ensure that there is adequate linkage between combatant commanders' munitions needs and the purchases made by the military services, the Secretary of Defense should direct combatant commander to participate in pre- and post Program Objective Memorandum risk assessments.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Undersecretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) issued a memorandum on March 9, 2009 staffing the recommendation for action with an estimated completion date expected by the end of 2009. A contact at the DOD Inspector General's office confirmed that the intent was to update DoD Instruction 3000.4 "DoD Munitions Requirements Process (MRP)" by the end of the calendar year. The updated regulation was signed on September 24, 2009.

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