Force Structure:

Joint Seabasing Would Benefit from a Comprehensive Management Approach and Rigorous Experimentation before Services Spend Billions on New Capabilities

GAO-07-211: Published: Jan 26, 2007. Publicly Released: Jan 26, 2007.

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Joint seabasing is one of several evolving concepts for projecting and sustaining forces without relying on immediate access to nearby land bases and could be the source of billions of dollars of investment. In future security environments, the Department of Defense (DOD) expects to encounter situations of reduced or denied access to areas of operation. Even where forward operating bases are otherwise available, their use may be politically undesirable or operationally restricted. GAO was asked to address the extent to which (1) DOD has employed a comprehensive management approach to joint seabasing, (2) DOD has developed a joint experimentation campaign plan for joint seabasing, and (3) DOD and the services have identified the costs of joint seabasing options. For this review, GAO analyzed joint requirements documents, experimentation efforts, and service acquisition plans.

While DOD has taken action to establish a joint seabasing capability, it has not developed a comprehensive management approach to guide and assess joint seabasing. GAO's prior work showed that sound management practices for developing capabilities include involving top leadership, dedicating an implementation team, and establishing a communications strategy. DOD is developing a joint seabasing concept and various DOD organizations are sponsoring seabasing initiatives. However, DOD has not provided sufficient leadership to guide joint seabasing development and service initiatives are outpacing DOD's analysis of joint requirements. DOD also has not established an implementation team to provide day-to-day management to ensure joint seabasing receives the focused attention needed so that efforts are effective and coordinated. Also, DOD has not fully developed a communications strategy that shares information among the organizations involved in seabasing. Without a comprehensive management approach containing these elements, DOD may be unable to coordinate activities and minimize redundancy among service initiatives. DOD has not developed a joint experimentation campaign plan, although many seabasing experimentation activities--including war games, modeling and simulation, and live demonstrations--have taken place across the services, combatant commands, and other defense entities. No overarching joint seabasing experimentation plan exists to guide these efforts because the U.S. Joint Forces Command has not taken the lead in coordinating joint seabasing experimentation, although it has been tasked with developing a biennial joint experimentation campaign plan for future joint concepts. While the U.S. Joint Forces Command is in the process of developing the plan, it is unclear the extent to which this plan will address joint seabasing or will be able to guide joint seabasing experimentation efforts. Without a plan to direct experimentation, DOD and the services' ability to evaluate solutions, coordinate efforts, and disseminate results could be compromised. While service development efforts tied to seabasing are approaching milestones for investment decisions, it is unclear when DOD will complete development of total ownership cost estimates for a range of joint seabasing options. Joint seabasing is going through a capabilities-based assessment process that is intended to produce preliminary cost estimates for seabasing options. However, DOD has not yet begun the specific study that will identify potential approaches, including changes to doctrine and training as well as material solutions, and produce preliminary cost estimates. DOD officials expect the study will not be complete for a year or more. Meanwhile, the services are actively pursuing a variety of seabasing initiatives, some of which are approaching milestones which will guide future program investments. Until total ownership cost estimates for joint seabasing options are developed and made transparent to DOD and Congress, decision makers will not be able to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of individual service initiatives.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In February 2011, DOD stated that the Seabasing Capabilities Based Analysis (CBA) Leadership Transition Terms of Reference states that leadership and accountability for developing a joint seabasing capability belongs to the Seabasing Executive Oversight Committee. Additionally, the Navy (N85) assumed responsibility from the Joint Staff for completing the Seabasing CBA and exercises.

    Recommendation: To assist decision makers in developing a comprehensive management approach to guide and assess joint seabasing as an option for force projection and sustainment in an antiaccess environment and integrate service initiatives, the Secretary of Defense should assign clear leadership and accountability for developing a joint seabasing capability and coordinating supporting initiatives to incorporate sound management principles into DOD's management of joint seabasing.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Although in 2007 the Department closed the recommendation and considered it premature to establish additional oversight at that time, in February 2011, DOD noted that, per the Seabasing Capabilities Based Analysis Leadership Terms of Reference, the Seabasing Executive Oversight Committee provides day-to-day management oversight over the Services, Combatant Commands, the JCS, and others involved in seabasing activities.

    Recommendation: To assist decision makers in developing a comprehensive management approach to guide and assess joint seabasing as an option for force projection and sustainment in an antiaccess environment and integrate service initiatives, the Secretary of Defense should establish an overarching, dedicated implementation team to provide day-to-day management oversight over the services, combatant commands, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and others involved in joint seabasing to incorporate sound management principles into DOD's management of joint seabasing.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In March 2007, the Department stated that the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS)process, Joint Capabilities Boards, and the Joint Requirements Oversight Council provide for communication between the Joint Staff, all four services, the Combatant Commands, and OSD. However, in February 2011, the Department noted that the Seabasing Executive Oversight Committee is the primary communications method among the services, Combatant Commands, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This group meets regularly to discuss movement in the Functional Solutions Analysis Teams, development of doctrine, progress of acquisition programs, and all other joint seabasing activities across DOD.

    Recommendation: To assist decision makers in developing a comprehensive management approach to guide and assess joint seabasing as an option for force projection and sustainment in an antiaccess environment and integrate service initiatives, the Secretary of Defense should develop and implement a communications strategy to ensure communication between and among the services, combatant commands, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and to provide information on all joint seabasing activities across DOD to incorporate sound management principles into DOD's management of joint seabasing.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Joint Capabilities Document includes some key elements for an experimentation plan. For example, the Analytic Enabling Package (AEP), Appendix G: Joint Experimentation Recommendations and DOTMLPF Recommendations, Appendix H: Modeling and Simulation Way Ahead, and Appendix I: Proposed Functional Solutions Analysis (FSAs), all put forth aspects of the experimentation plan. In February 2011, DOD stated that the Seabasing Executive Oversight Committee is providing leadership and the Navy (N85) is responsible for completing the Seabasing Capability Based Analysis and experiments.

    Recommendation: To better guide joint seabasing experimentation and inform decisions on joint seabasing as an option for force projection and sustainment in an antiaccess environment, the Secretary of Defense should direct the U.S. Joint Forces Command to lead and coordinate joint seabasing experimentation efforts, under the purview of the joint seabasing implementation team. U.S. Joint Forces Command should be responsible for developing and implementing a joint seabasing experimentation campaign plan to guide the evaluation of joint seabasing. Such an experimentation plan should include a clear focus and objectives for joint seabasing that encompass near-, mid-, and long-term experimentation plans.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to DOD, in May 2009, a Joint Requirements Oversight Council Memorandum approved the Joint Capabilities Document, which recommended that the Joint Staff, in conjunction with the Services, the Combatant Commanders, and OSD, develop and implement a joint experimentation plan.

    Recommendation: To better guide joint seabasing experimentation and inform decisions on joint seabasing as an option for force projection and sustainment in an antiaccess environment, the Secretary of Defense should direct that the services collaborate with the U.S. Joint Forces Command in developing, implementing, and using the joint seabasing experimentation campaign plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Joint Staff maintains a Seabasing Knowledge Management Portal, which will be transitioned to another entity as the Joint Staff transitions responsibility of the Seabasing Capabilities Based Analysis to the Navy (N85). Additionally, in February 2011, DOD noted that the Seabasing Executive Oversight Committee provides day-to-day management oversight over the Services, Combatant Commands, the JCS, and others involved in seabasing activities, and that they meet regularly to discuss all joint seabasing activities across DOD.

    Recommendation: To better guide joint seabasing experimentation and inform decisions on joint seabasing as an option for force projection and sustainment in an antiaccess environment, the Secretary of Defense should direct that the services utilize and contribute to the U.S. Joint Forces Command's knowledge management portal by providing their observations, insights, results, and planned activities to the portal for use by the joint seabasing experimentation community.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In February 2011, DOD noted that, the Seabasing Executive Oversight Committee (SEOC) provides day-to-day management oversight of the seabasing community and the Navy (N85) assumed responsibility from the Joint Staff (J-8) for completing the Seabasing Capabilities Based Analysis and exercises. The SEOC meets regularly to discuss, among other things, movement in the Functional Solutions Analysis Teams and progress of acquisition programs. When the Functional Solutions Analyses are complete, the total ownership cost estimates are developed for each proposed solution as part of the Department's Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution and DOD 5000 Acquisition processes.

    Recommendation: To assist decision makers in evaluating the costs of joint seabasing options against the capabilities that joint seabasing could provide the joint warfighter as a means for force projection and sustainment in an antiaccess environment, the Secretary of Defense should direct the implementation team or other appropriate entity to synchronize development of total ownership cost estimates for the range of joint seabasing options so decision makers have sufficient information to use in making investment decisions on service seabasing initiatives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Joint Capabilities Document includes some key elements for an experimentation plan. For example, the Analytic Enabling Package (AEP), Appendix G: Joint Experimentation Recommendations and DOTMLPF Recommendations, Appendix H: Modeling and Simulation Way Ahead, and Appendix I: Proposed Functional Solutions Analysis (FSAs), all put forth aspects of the experimentation plan. In February 2011, DOD stated that the Seabasing Executive Oversight Committee is providing leadership and the Navy (N85) is responsible for completing the Seabasing Capability Based Analysis and experiments.

    Recommendation: To better guide joint seabasing experimentation and inform decisions on joint seabasing as an option for force projection and sustainment in an antiaccess environment, the Secretary of Defense should direct the U.S. Joint Forces Command to lead and coordinate joint seabasing experimentation efforts, under the purview of the joint seabasing implementation team. U.S. Joint Forces Command should be responsible for developing and implementing a joint seabasing experimentation campaign plan to guide the evaluation of joint seabasing. Such an experimentation plan should include a near-term plan for joint seabasing experimentation that includes events for the next fiscal year, participants, timelines, and resources that will be used to support the events.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Joint Capabilities Document includes key elements for an experimentation plan. For example, the Analytic Enabling Package (AEP), Appendix G: Joint Experimentation Recommendations and DOTMLPF Recommendations, Appendix H: Modeling and Simulation Way Ahead, and Appendix I: Proposed Functional Solutions Analysis (FSAs), all put forth aspects of the experimentation plan. The plan recommends a wide range of joint activities including wargaming, modeling and simulation, live demonstrations, and other forums.

    Recommendation: To better guide joint seabasing experimentation and inform decisions on joint seabasing as an option for force projection and sustainment in an antiaccess environment, the Secretary of Defense should direct the U.S. Joint Forces Command to lead and coordinate joint seabasing experimentation efforts, under the purview of the joint seabasing implementation team. U.S. Joint Forces Command should be responsible for developing and implementing a joint seabasing experimentation campaign plan to guide the evaluation of joint seabasing. Such an experimentation plan should include a spectrum of joint experimentation activities that include wargaming, comprehensive modeling and simulation, live demonstrations, workshops, symposiums, and analysis.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Joint Capabilities Document includes some key elements for an experimentation plan. For example, the Analytic Enabling Package (AEP), Appendix G: Joint Experimentation Recommendations and DOTMLPF Recommendations, Appendix H: Modeling and Simulation Way Ahead, and Appendix I: Proposed Functional Solutions Analysis (FSAs), all put forth aspects of the experimentation plan. In February 2011, DOD stated that the Seabasing Executive Oversight Committee is providing leadership and the Navy (N85) is responsible for completing the Seabasing Capability Based Analysis and experiments.

    Recommendation: To better guide joint seabasing experimentation and inform decisions on joint seabasing as an option for force projection and sustainment in an antiaccess environment, the Secretary of Defense should direct the U.S. Joint Forces Command to lead and coordinate joint seabasing experimentation efforts, under the purview of the joint seabasing implementation team. U.S. Joint Forces Command should be responsible for developing and implementing a joint seabasing experimentation campaign plan to guide the evaluation of joint seabasing. Such an experimentation plan should include a data collection and analysis plan to capture and evaluate results.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In February 2011, the Department stated that the Seabasing Executive Oversight Committee (SEOC) is the primary communications method among the services, Combatant Commands, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The SEOC meets regularly to discuss movement in the Seabasing Functional Analysis Teams, development of doctrine, progress of acquisition programs, and all other joint seabasing activities across DOD. Additionally, the Navy (N85) is responsible for completing the Seabasing Capabilities Based Assessment and exercises.

    Recommendation: To better guide joint seabasing experimentation and inform decisions on joint seabasing as an option for force projection and sustainment in an antiaccess environment, the Secretary of Defense should direct the U.S. Joint Forces Command to lead and coordinate joint seabasing experimentation efforts, under the purview of the joint seabasing implementation team. U.S. Joint Forces Command should be responsible for developing and implementing a joint seabasing experimentation campaign plan to guide the evaluation of joint seabasing. Such an experimentation plan should include a method for communicating observations, results, upcoming activities, and feedback across the joint seabasing experimentation community.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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