Force Structure:

Actions Needed to Improve DOD's Ability to Manage, Assess, and Report on Global Defense Posture Initiatives

GAO-09-706R: Published: Jul 2, 2009. Publicly Released: Jul 2, 2009.

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In its ongoing global realignment of U.S. forces and installations, the Department of Defense (DOD) plans to reduce the number of troops permanently stationed overseas, consolidate overseas bases, and establish a network of smaller forward locations with limited personnel. Realigning the U.S. overseas posture involves closing obsolete and redundant bases, constructing new facilities costing billions of dollars, and ensuring that other needed infrastructure is in place to support realigned forces and missions. These significant changes to force structure both in the United States and overseas are being implemented to enhance operational efficiencies and ensure access during future contingency operations. DOD requests for overseas military construction projects extend around the world including Europe, the Pacific, Southwest Asia, and Central America. For fiscal year 2010, DOD requested approximately $1.5 billion, or 7 percent, of the regular military construction request for overseas military construction. The Congress has supported the DOD's efforts to reassess and realign its overseas posture to better respond to emerging security challenges, but the Senate Appropriations Committee has expressed concerns about the department's ability to effectively manage and accomplish such an ambitious program as well as the fidelity of the global basing plan given the rapidly changing global security environment.

The Department of Defense has taken positive steps toward establishing an integrated process to assess and adjust global defense posture; however, we identified two shortcomings in the department's approach. First, DOD has not reported on global posture matters in a comprehensive manner. DOD strategic planning guidance defines global defense posture in terms of three elements: host nation relationships, DOD's facilities and military presence in country, and DOD activities overseas. Stakeholders we contacted described global defense posture in terms of their primary functions, such as U.S. Southern Command's reference to conducting military operations in coordination with interagency partners or the U.S. Navy's depiction of posture in terms of where its maritime platforms and assets are stationed around the world. However, OSD Policy officials acknowledged DOD's global posture reports have emphasized only initiatives that have a direct impact on facility requirements, because the congressional direction to produce the report emphasized military construction costs. As a result, Congress may not have the full context in which to consider DOD's global posture requirements. Second, geographic combatant commands have not established a consistent approach to monitor initiative implementation, assess progress, and periodically report on results because DOD has not yet developed global posture implementation guidance. DOD strategic planning guidance issued in 2008 requires each geographic combatant command to produce a theater campaign plan and specific posture requirements for its given area of responsibility. These plans and posture requirements are to be updated annually, and posture requirements will continue to be modified based on these plans. Because of the potentially significant operating and support costs that future locations may entail, the services resist assuming management and funding responsibilities for them. DOD has not fully defined or reported total costs for DOD's global posture strategy. DOD's 2008 Report to Congress estimates the total cost for all global defense posture initiatives at $9 to $12 billion, which is essentially unchanged from the amount reported in 2004. DOD's cost estimate for the 2008 Report to Congress was based on the data used to develop the DOD fiscal year 2009 budget request. Approximately $3.4 billion of DOD's estimate covers funding from fiscal year 2007 through fiscal year 2013. The remainder of the $9 to $12 billion cost estimate is allocated to an unspecified period beyond 2013. However, the DOD's cost estimate likely understates the total costs associated with restructuring DOD's global posture, because it does not report the total cost of each initiative, assumptions about host nation support, the full share of U.S. obligations, or sustainment costs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The 2010 U.S. Global Defense Posture Report to Congress includes all of the information DoD agreed to provide, including a definition of global defense posture and a complete list of posture locations with lead Service identification for each. A copy of the report was provided. Global posture is defined in section 1; appendices A through E list posture locations and lead Service designations.

    Recommendation: To build on the steps taken by DOD toward establishing an integrated process to assess and adjust global defense posture and more fully report on progress and costs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to modify the annual DOD Global Defense Posture Report to Congress to include the following elements: (1) a definition of global defense posture and how this is applied in identifying initiatives in the report; (2) a comprehensive list of all locations that fall under the definition; (3) the identification of lead service responsibilities to manage and fund each location; and, (4) a total cost estimate to complete each initiative, including expected U.S. government funding and anticipated host nation contributions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD suggested that internal guidance establishes criteria and assigns lead service responsibility; however, our ongoing U.S. Central Command work indicates that DOD is still having issues with reporting fully on global defense posture progress and costs.

    Recommendation: To build on the steps taken by DOD toward establishing an integrated process to assess and adjust global defense posture and more fully report on progress and costs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to establish criteria and a process for selecting and assigning lead service responsibilities for future locations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD provided the recommended guidance in CJCSI 3110.01H 10 June 2011 D-1 Enclosure D of the 2010 Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP). This guidance reflects lessons learned since the inception of the theater campaign planning construct. Global Defense Posture processes continue to mature and will be incorporated into subsequent revisions of the JSCP.

    Recommendation: To build on the steps taken by DOD toward establishing an integrated process to assess and adjust global defense posture and more fully report on progress and costs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to develop guidance, in conjunction with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, requiring the geographic combatant commands to establish an approach to monitor initiative implementation, assess progress, and report on results.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) provides the common DOD definition of global defense posture: "There are three key elements to our defense posture: forward-stationed and rotationally deployed forces, capabilities, and equipment; a supporting overseas network of infrastructure and facilities; and a series of treaty, access, transit, and status-protection agreements and arrangements with allies and key partners." The QDR report also provides a framework for a global force posture that is cooperative and regionally tailored through five guiding principles: 1) Forward-stationed and rotationally deployed U.S. forces continue to be relevant and required. 2) The Department's defense posture will balance the need for a permanent overseas posture that assures allies and partners of U.S. commitments with the need for a flexible ability to respond to contingencies, emerging threats, and global security needs in distant theaters. 3) The U.S. will balance the need for assured access to support ongoing operations with the risk of introducing fragility into its lines of communication. 4) America's defense posture should provide a stabilizing influence abroad and be welcomed by the host nation. 5) America's defense posture will continuously adapt to changes in the strategic environment. Deliberate, ongoing assessment of national interests, military requirements, and the strategic environment should guide U.S. global defense posture planning.

    Recommendation: To build on the steps taken by DOD toward establishing an integrated process to assess and adjust global defense posture and more fully report on progress and costs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to issue guidance establishing a definition and common terms of reference for global defense posture.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OUSD(C) provided a copy of guidance in a budget exhibit format. The explanation included with the exhibit states that a specific budget exhibit is required to identify all funding which supports the Department's Global Defense Posture (GDP) initiatives. Individual appropriation lines must be included with each GDP initiative.

    Recommendation: To build on the steps taken by DOD toward establishing an integrated process to assess and adjust global defense posture and more fully report on progress and costs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense Comptroller to develop a requirement and appropriate guidance for constructing an estimate of total global defense posture costs, which reflects the basic characteristics of a credible cost estimate as discussed in GAO's Cost Estimating Guide.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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