Military Training:

Management Actions Needed to Enhance DOD's Investment in the Joint National Training Capability

GAO-06-802: Published: Aug 11, 2006. Publicly Released: Aug 11, 2006.

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The Department of Defense (DOD) established its Training Transformation Program to ensure combatant commanders that forces deploying to their theaters have had experience operating jointly. The centerpiece of this effort is the Joint National Training Capability (JNTC) initiative, which accounts for 84 percent of the $2 billion the department plans to invest by 2011 to provide a persistent global network that will increase the level of joint training. GAO assessed the extent to which (1) JNTC has improved the ability of the services and combatant commands to train jointly, (2) the reserve components are benefiting from the JNTC initiative, and (3) the Joint Forces Command has developed an accreditation process to facilitate program goals. To address these objectives, GAO obtained and analyzed key DOD and JNTC documents. GAO also reviewed and analyzed 5 of 16 events selected in 2005 as JNTC training events, and observed 2 of those events firsthand.

The extent to which the JNTC initiative is improving joint training overall is unclear because DOD has not yet assessed the program's results; however, GAO's review of five JNTC-enhanced training events found indications of some joint training improvements. Prior GAO work and the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report have stressed the importance of performance metrics to gauge program success. While DOD's initial training transformation assessment set a basic framework for measuring future program performance, DOD has not developed a strategy to evaluate the overall impact of the JNTC initiative that includes metrics, time frames, and processes for gathering data. Without such a plan, DOD will not know whether the money invested in the initiative will produce desired results or maximize the benefit for the investment. Reserve units have participated in JNTC training events, but the unique training needs of the reserve components have not been fully considered because Joint Forces Command has not established an ongoing working relationship with them. The Training Transformation Strategic Plan recognizes that the reserve components face unique training requirements and circumstances that must be considered. However, the command has not established a liaison position for any of the reserve components and has not included the reserve components in working groups and planning sessions, as it has done with the active service components and the combatant commands. Until the command incorporates the reserves more fully into the JNTC initiative, the reserve components will continue to have limited ability to enhance their joint training skills. The Joint Forces Command has begun to develop an accreditation process to facilitate the JNTC initiative's goals, but it has not emphasized new and emerging missions, taken steps to ensure that accredited joint tasks will continue in future training rotations, or incorporated the National Guard. The 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report declares that training transformation should emphasize new and emerging mission areas, such as irregular warfare and combating weapons of mass destruction. The Joint Forces Command has allowed services and combatant commands to nominate existing training programs to be accredited, but these programs may not reflect the priorities established in the Quadrennial Defense Review Report because nomination guidance does not emphasize the need to accredit programs that will improve proficiency in new and emerging mission areas. Further, no training programs specific to the National Guard are currently being considered for accreditation. Until the department establishes nomination guidance and reaccreditation standards and includes the National Guard in the accreditation process, JNTC events may not reflect DOD's training priorities, the services may not continually incorporate JNTC enhancements into their training exercises, and the National Guard will continue to have limited ability to enhance its joint training skills.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to DOD documentation, in January 2007, JFCOM determined that its plan to reevaluate programs on a 3-year recurring basis was neither sustainable nor necessary. Instead, DOD reported that the experience gained during the first round of over twenty accreditation and certification visits led it to develop a new concept to use in determining which accredited and certified programs need to be reevaluated. Accredited program reevaluations are designed to review additional tasks, which may be (1) tasks not already associated with an accredited joint training program but which are high priority, including those directed in the Strategic Planning Guidance, and (2) joint tasks that have been re-prioritized based on changing world events or emerging doctrine and/or tactics, techniques, or procedures. The criteria JFCOM is using to consider which programs it recommends for reevaluation includes: changes to program's joint context; and changes in technology, new capabilities, doctrine, and emergent operational requirements. Based on JFCOM's recommendation, the Operational Management Team approves the list for accredited program reevaluations. Furthermore, according to March 2007 DOD documentation, the accreditation effort has expanded the breadth and depth of the program's joint training context by expanding the Modified Universal Joint Tasks that can be included in training programs. By establishing criteria to use in determining which programs should be reevaluated, DOD has met the intent of our recommendation and the department should be in a better position to ensure that service and combatant command training programs continuously incorporate and expand upon previously accredited joint training tasks and that a recurring, consistent, realistic joint training environment exists for all units participating in future rotations of accredited joint training programs.

    Recommendation: To further enhance the quality of joint training and to increase the benefits of the JNTC initiative for the reserve components, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to establish reaccreditation standards and criteria that will ensure that a recurring, consistent, realistic joint training environment exists for all units participating in accredited joint training programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to DOD documentation, in January 2007, JFCOM established criteria to reevaluate accreditation programs that focus on new and emerging missions. According to a JFCOM official, while DOD has not refined its accreditation guidelines for the services and combatant commands to follow when nominating programs for future accreditation, DOD documentation shows that JFCOM has established criteria to reevaluate accredited training programs that focus on new and emerging missions. The reevaluations are designed to review additional tasks, which may be (1) tasks not already associated with an accredited joint training program but which are high priority, including those directed in the Strategic Planning Guidance, and (2) joint tasks that have been re-prioritized based on changing world events or emerging doctrine and/or tactics, techniques, or procedures. As a result, JFCOM recommends programs for reevaluation that take into account new and emerging missions. According to DOD documentation, JFCOM is leading the effort to mitigate shortfalls in previously accredited training programs; many of these shortfalls are associated with irregular warfare, complex stabilization operations, combating weapons of mass destruction, and information operations. Consequently, JFCOM is addressing these shortfalls/training gaps with its reevaluation process; thus, meeting the intent of our recommendation. As of July 2008, DOD has identified 665 training gaps. Of those 665 training gaps, DOD has already identified solutions for 525 of these gaps. With the criteria JFCOM developed to guide the reevaluation process, DOD will be in a better position to ensure that the joint training initiatives reflects DOD's training priorities on new and emerging threats.

    Recommendation: To further enhance the quality of joint training and to increase the benefits of the JNTC initiative for the reserve components, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to establish guidelines for the services and combatant commands to follow when nominating programs for future accreditation that reflect the importance of new and emerging missions, as emphasized by DOD's 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In March 2007, DOD reported that it had finalized an agreement between JNTC and the National Guard Bureau stating that the Joint Forces Command will hire, train, and resource a National Guard representative and funding for this hiring was put in place. DOD also stated that joint training requirements of the reserve components within the military services are adequately addressed through its existing liaison structure. With the addition of a JNTC National Guard representative liaison officer, Joint Forces Command should be in a better position to incorporate the reserve components' unique training needs into the JNTC initiative's joint training enhancements, which in turn will allow reserve component forces to be better prepared to face the full range of responsibilities they are called upon to perform both at home and abroad.

    Recommendation: To further enhance the quality of joint training and to increase the benefits of the JNTC initiative for the reserve components, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Joint Forces Command to establish liaison officers for the reserve components and include representatives from the reserve components as active participants in JNTC working groups and planning sessions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In February 2007, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness developed the Training Transformation 2007 Block Assessment Execution Plan. The plan included elements that met the intent of our recommendation such as metrics, time frames, and processes to be used to collect data for the 2007 assessment. Consequently, DOD's 2007 assessment should provide information that will allow DOD to determine whether the money invested in the initiative improved the ability of the services and combatant commands to train jointly and to what extent the funds invested will maximize the benefit for the investment.

    Recommendation: To further enhance the quality of joint training and to increase the benefits of the JNTC initiative for the reserve components, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to fully develop a strategy for the next training transformation assessment to evaluate the overall impact of the JNTC initiative's implementation on joint training, including time frames, outcome-oriented performance metrics, roles and responsibilities, and outcomes.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to a JFCOM official, DOD's current JNTC accreditation process allows all services and combatant commanders to nominate programs for accreditation and/or certification. JFCOM reviews the nominations and selects the training programs and/or sites to be accredited or certified based on established criteria. The criteria include: perceived gains from adding jointness to the training environment ("biggest bang for the buck") and throughput, the number of multi-service and joint units that can be trained. The military services are responsible for nominating reserve component programs (including the National Guard) for accreditation and/or certification. The first location, primarily dedicated to the National Guard, was certified in fiscal year 2007. The Air Force nominated the Air National Guard's Distributed Training Operations Center for certification. Subsequently, JFCOM certified the National Guard site and included funding for it in its fiscal year 2008 program execution plan dated November 19, 2007. The funding provided by JFCOM will expand the site's joint capabilities with JNTC enhancements. According to a JFCOM official, JFCOM will continue to evaluate nominated programs and sites, including those associated with the National Guard, for accreditation and/or certification based on the stated criteria. By JFCOM accrediting and certifying National Guard training programs and sites, DOD will be in a better position to ensure that the National Guard will experience realistic overseas and domestic joint operational training environments portrayed by JNTC enhancements.

    Recommendation: To further enhance the quality of joint training and to increase the benefits of the JNTC initiative for the reserve components, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to expand the accreditation process to include National Guard training programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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