Reserve Forces:

Plans Needed to Improve Army National Guard Equipment Readiness and Better Integrate Guard into Army Force Transformation Initiatives

GAO-06-111: Published: Oct 4, 2005. Publicly Released: Oct 20, 2005.

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Recent military operations have required that the Army rely extensively on Army National Guard forces, which currently comprise over 30 percent of the ground forces in Iraq. Heavy deployments of Army National Guard forces and their equipment, much of which has been left overseas for follow-on forces, have raised questions about whether the Army National Guard has the types and quantities of equipment it will need to continue supporting ongoing operations and future missions. GAO was asked to assess the extent to which (1) the Army National Guard has the equipment needed to support ongoing operations and (2) the Army can account for Army National Guard equipment left overseas. GAO also assessed the Army's plans, cost estimates, and funding strategy for equipping Guard units under its modular and rotational force initiatives.

While deploying Army National Guard units have had priority for getting the equipment they needed, readying these forces has degraded the equipment inventory of the Guard's nondeployed units and threatens the Guard's ability to prepare forces for future missions at home and overseas. Nondeployed Guard units now face significant equipment shortfalls because (1) they have been equipped at less than war-time levels with the assumption that they could obtain additional resources prior to deployment and (2) current operations have created an unanticipated high demand for certain items, such as armored vehicles. To fully equip its deploying units, as of July 2005, the Army National Guard had transferred more than 101,000 pieces of equipment from its nondeployed units. As of May 2005, such transfers had exhausted the Guard's inventory of more than 220 high demand equipment items, such as night vision equipment, trucks, and radios. Further, as equipment requirements for overseas operations continue to evolve, the Army has been unable to identify and communicate what items deploying units need until close to their scheduled deployments, which challenges the Guard to transfer needed equipment quickly. To meet the demand for certain types of equipment for continuing operations, the Army has required Army National Guard units to leave behind many items for use by follow-on forces, but the Army can account for only about 45 percent of these items and has not developed a plan to replace them, as DOD policy requires. DOD has directed the Army to track equipment Guard units left overseas and develop replacement plans, but they have not yet been completed. The Army Guard estimates that since 2003 it has left more than 64,000 items, valued at more than $1.2 billion, overseas to support operations. Without a completed and implemented plan to replace all Guard equipment left overseas, Army Guard units will likely face growing equipment shortages and challenges in regaining readiness for future missions. Thus, DOD and Congress will not have assurance that the Army has an effective strategy for addressing the Guard's equipping needs. Although Army National Guard units are scheduled to convert to new designs within the Army's modular force by 2008, they are not expected to be equipped for these designs until at least 2011. The Army has not developed detailed equipping plans that specify the Guard's equipment requirements to transform to a modular force while supporting ongoing operations. As of June 2005, the Army estimated that it would cost about $15.6 billion to convert most of the Guard's units, but this estimate did not include all expected costs and the Army was unable to provide detailed information to support the estimate. In the short term, units nearing deployment will continue to receive priority for equipment, which may affect the availability of equipment needed for modular conversions. Until the Army fully identifies the Guard's equipment requirements and costs for both the near and long term, DOD and Congress will not be in a sound position to weigh the affordability and effectiveness of the Army's plans.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • 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: The Department of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to develop and submit to Congress a plan for the effective integration of the Army National Guard into its rotational force model and modular force initiatives. This plan should include an analysis of the equipment the Army National Guard's units will need for their missions in each phase of the rotation cycle.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation. The Army's 2009 Campaign Plan includes an annex that describes processes for implementing the Army Force Generation Model, including Army National Guard and Army Reserve Forces. The Army Modernization plan for 2010 discusses equipment for the rotational force generation model. Together, these two address the intent of the recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Department of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to develop and submit to Congress a plan for the effective integration of the Army National Guard into its rotational force model and modular force initiatives. This plan should include the specific equipment requirements, costs, timelines, and funding strategy for converting Army National Guard units to the modular force and the extent to which Guard units will have comparable types of equipment and equipment levels as the active modular units.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Since our report, the Army has taken steps to integrate the Army National Guard into its rotational modal and modular force initiatives. Specifically, the Army developed an annex to its Army Campaign Plan that specifies responsibilities and delegates actions for implementing its rotational force generation model, including the integration of reserve components into the rotational force, and the Army has converted the majority of Army National Guard combat forces into modular designs. The 2010 Army Equipping Plans make clear that all operating forces will receive similar equipment based on their position in the rotational force generation model rather than component.

    Recommendation: The Department of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to develop and submit to Congress a plan and funding strategy that addresses the equipment needs of the Army National Guard for the Global War on Terrorism and addresses how the Army will transition from short-term equipping measures to long-term equipping solutions. This plan should address the measures the Army will take to ensure it complies with existing DOD directives to safeguard reserve component equipment readiness and provide a plan to replace depleted stocks resulting from equipment transferred to the active Army, so that the Guard can plan for equipping the force for future missions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation. The Army sees its Campaign Plan as its plan for equipping the forces, although GAO would like to see more detail. DOD has approved plans to replace only a small portion of the equipment Army National Guard forces were directed to leave overseas. While the Army Campaign Plan sets a goal of fully equipping all Army forces, the plan does not fully identify resources or set timelines for achieving this goal. No change in this status is expected.

    Recommendation: The Department of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to develop and submit to Congress a plan for the effective integration of the Army National Guard into its rotational force model and modular force initiatives. This plan should include how the Army will manage implementation risks to modular forces if full funding is not provided on the expected timeline.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Since our report, the Army has taken steps to integrate the Army National Guard into its rotational modal and modular force initiatives. Specifically, the Army developed an annex to its Army Campaign Plan that specifies responsibilities and delegates actions for implementing its rotational force generation model, including the integration of reserve components into the rotational force, and the Army has converted the majority of Army National Guard combat forces into modular designs. Due to the continued urgency of supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Defense has decided to accept risk to its generating force and give priority to all operating forces regardless of component. The 2010 Army Equipping Plans makes clear that all operating forces will receive similar equipment based on their position in the rotational force generation model rather than component.

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