Ballistic Missile Defense:
Actions Needed to Improve Training Integration and Increase Transparency of Training Resources
GAO-11-625, Jul 18, 2011
Since 2002, the Department of Defense (DOD) has spent over $80 billion on developing and fielding a Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) comprised of various land-and sea-based elements employed by multiple combatant commands and services. Since the time available to intercept a missile is short, integrating training among all organizations involved is important to connect seams where commands and elements must work together. In response to House Report 111-491 which accompanied H.R. 5136, GAO assessed the extent to which DOD has (1) developed a plan for integrating ballistic missile defense training across and among commands and multiple elements, and identified training roles, responsibilities, and commensurate authorities; and (2) identified and budgeted for the resources to support training. To do so, GAO analyzed DOD training instructions, plans, exercises, and budgets and assessed the extent to which the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the services have agreed on training cost estimates and funding responsibilities.
DOD has identified roles and responsibilities and developed training plans for individual ballistic missile defense elements and combatant commands, but has not developed a strategy for integrating training among ballistic missile defense organizations and elements in a manner that requires them to operate as they would in an actual engagement. A Joint Staff Instruction sets out tenets of joint training including "train the way you operate" and DOD guidance requires synchronization of training among the services and combatant commands. The services and combatant commands are conducting some integrating training--training across and among combatant commands and services--but our analysis of exercises shows that there may be some training gaps. For example, although some exercises included more than one combatant command, few included multiple live elements. GAO's guide for assessing training programs states that a training program should include an overall training strategy and an organization that is held accountable for achieving training goals. However, DOD has not developed an overall strategy that includes requirements and standards for integrating ballistic missile defense training because DOD has not clearly designated an entity to be responsible for integrating training across and among all organizations involved and provided it with the authority to do so. Without an overall strategy that includes requirements and standards for integrating training, DOD runs the risk that the organizations that need to work together may have limited opportunities to realistically interact prior to an actual engagement. DOD lacks visibility over the total resources that may be needed to support ballistic missile defense training since the funds are currently dispersed across MDA and the services, and some of the services' budget estimates do not separately identify ballistic missile defense training. A further complication is that agreements between MDA and the services on funding responsibilities and life-cycle cost estimates--which include training--have not been completed and approved for all elements. GAO compiled budget documents and data from various sources and estimated about $4 billion has been planned for ballistic missile defense training from fiscal years 2011 through 2016. However, some of the services' resources for ballistic missile defense training are not easily identifiable since some training is funded as part of a more comprehensive training program. GAO found examples of gaps between training requirements and budgeted resources, such as a $300 million requirement in the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense program that is not included in MDA's budget plans. DOD and MDA policies identify the need to complete cost estimates and funding responsibilities for elements as they are developed; however, there are no procedures or deadlines in place requiring that MDA and the services agree on funding responsibilities and complete training cost estimates before elements are fielded. As a result, DOD and congressional decision makers do not have a full picture of the resources that will be needed over time and risk training gaps. GAO recommends that DOD designate an entity with authority to develop a strategy for integrating training, and set a deadline to complete training cost estimates and funding agreements and report total BMDS training cost estimates. DOD generally concurred with the merits of our recommendations but did not commit to a timeframe for implementation.
- Review Pending
- Closed - implemented
- Closed - not implemented
Recommendations for Executive Action
Recommendation: To enhance DOD's ability to identify and resolve issues in integrating ballistic missile defense training across and among combatant commands and services and to improve training realism, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, should issue guidance that designates an entity to be responsible for integrating training across and among combatant commands and elements and provide that entity with the authority to develop an overall ballistic missile defense training strategy which includes specific requirements and standards for integrating training and identifying and resolving any gaps in capabilities to enhance integrating training across and among all tiers (or combatant commands and elements).
Agency Affected: Department of Defense
Comments: As of June 2012, The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in collaboration with the Joint Staff J-7, U.S. Strategic Command and the Services, had drafted a memorandum designating U.S. Strategic Command as the entity responsible for integrating and synchronizing joint BMD for the Department. This memorandum is still in draft and has not yet been signed by the Secretary of Defense.
Recommendation: To improve the transparency of the resources to support ballistic missile defense training requirements and to inform budget development, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force and the Director of the Missile Defense Agency to set a firm deadline to complete training cost estimates and element-specific agreements for elements already fielded and establish procedures that require the training cost estimates and element-specific funding agreements delineating funding responsibilities between MDA and the services be completed before additional elements are fielded.
Agency Affected: Department of Defense
Comments: DOD indicated that in June 2011 the department issued a memorandum on "Funding Responsibilities for Ballistic Missile Defense Systems Elements," to clarify its life cycle management guidance, but this guidance does not set specific deadlines for completing training cost estimates or element specific agreements and does not specify that agreements should address training responsibilities or costs.
Recommendation: To improve the transparency of the resources to support ballistic missile defense training requirements and to inform budget development, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force and the Director of the Missile Defense Agency to establish procedures that require annual development and reporting of the total BMDS training budget (i.e., all Missile Defense Agency and service costs for individual, unit, and sustainment training and combatant command and service exercise costs).
Agency Affected: Department of Defense
Comments: As of August, 2012 no action has been taken.