National Defense:

DOD's Overseas Infrastructure Master Plans Continue to Evolve

GAO-06-913R: Published: Aug 22, 2006. Publicly Released: Aug 22, 2006.

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In 2004, President Bush announced what was described as the most comprehensive restructuring of U.S. military forces overseas since the end of the Korean War. Soon thereafter, the Department of Defense (DOD) issued a report titled Strengthening U.S. Global Defense Posture. This report defined the key tenets of the integrated global presence and basing strategy, which outlines troop and basing adjustments overseas. Although the strategy is intended to make the overseas posture of the United States more flexible and efficient, it will require new facilities costing billions of dollars, some of the cost to be borne by the United States and some by other nations. As plans for overseas basing began to emerge, the Senate Appropriations Committee expressed concern about the use of military construction funds for projects at overseas bases that may soon be obsolete or closed because of changes being considered by DOD and the military services. Accordingly, the Senate report accompanying the fiscal year 2004 military construction appropriation bill directed DOD to prepare detailed, comprehensive master plans for changing infrastructure requirements at U.S. military facilities in each of the overseas regional commands. The Senate report directed the master plans to identify precise facility requirements and the status of properties being returned to host nations. Additionally, the Senate report stated that the plans should identify funding requirements as well as the division of funding responsibilities between the United States and host nations. The Senate report also directed us to monitor the master plans developed and implemented for the overseas regional commands and to provide the congressional defense committees with assessment reports each year. For this report, we assessed the Office of the Secretary of Defense's (OSD) most recent guidance to overseas regional commands and its use in developing the overseas master plans DOD submitted to Congress on April 27, 2006. This report discusses the extent to which the 2006 overseas master plans (1) complied with reporting requirements and provided information in a complete, clear, and consistent manner; (2) reflected how U.S. overseas defense basing strategies and requirements have changed since last year; and (3) reflected the challenges DOD faces in the implementation of the plans.

The 2006 master plans generally exceeded the reporting requirements established by Congress and--by addressing most of the recommendations for improving the plans from last year--they are more complete, clear, and consistent than last year's plans, although limitations exist in the information provided on fiscal year 2007 funding required for individual military construction projects. The master plans also reflected changes in overseas basing strategies and requirements that occurred since last year. It was apparent that OSD and the regional commands worked to incorporate key changes associated with the continuing evolution of U.S. overseas basing strategies into the plans before they were provided to Congress. This year specifically, the master plans provided a much better description of the challenges DOD faces in implementing the master plans. For example, all of the plans addressed the uncertainties associated with host nations and recent agreements, and generally dealt with environmental concerns and training limitations, where they existed.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The fiscal year 2008 overseas master plans explained how other relevant and related defense plans and activities could potentially affect implementation of the master plans in terms of infrastructure and funding requirements. For example, the PACOM plan's description of its force beddown plans are linked to the military buildup on Guam and the CENTCOM plan's description of its increased troop strength and facilities footprint in Iraq and Afghanistan are linked to ongoing operations in support of the global war on terror.

    Recommendation: To further enhance future comprehensive master plans and facilitate annual review and oversight by Congress and other users, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to revise OSD's guidance to require overseas commands to explain how other relevant and related defense plans and activities, including those involving base realignment and closure implementation and Iraq operations, affect implementation of their master plans in terms of infrastructure and funding requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: PACOM's fiscal year 2008 overseas master plan addressed this issue by describing training limitations in Japan, including limitations involving bombing and live fire training ranges, the effects of airspace access restrictions in Japan on C-130 training, and how noise and land use sensitivities and maneuver area limitations in Okinawa required U.S. forces to deploy to other Pacific Rim locations to supplement their training. The plan also discussed efforts by U.S. Forces Japan and the Government of Japan to engage in bilateral discussions to address training shortfalls and explore solutions.

    Recommendation: To further enhance future comprehensive master plans and facilitate annual review and oversight by Congress and other users, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to ensure that the Pacific Command explains how it plans to address existing training limitations in its area of responsibility and the potential effects of those limitations on infrastructure and funding requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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