Military Training:

Actions Needed to Assess Workforce Requirements and Appropriate Mix of Army Training Personnel

GAO-11-845: Published: Sep 20, 2011. Publicly Released: Sep 20, 2011.

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To support ongoing operations, the Army gives priority to providing personnel to its operating forces over its support organizations, including Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).TRADOC performs various functions, such as developing warfighting doctrine and providing training. To help manage its workforce, TRADOC has taken certain actions, such as relying more on contractors and reassigning other staff to be instructors. In a February 2010 memorandum, the TRADOC Commander stated that because of various factors TRADOC's ability to successfully perform its core competencies and functions was increasingly at risk. House Armed Services Committee report 111-491 directed GAO to evaluate the availability of Army trainers. GAO assessed the extent to which TRADOC has (1) identified the number and type of personnel needed to carry out its training mission and (2) evaluated the impact of its workforce management actions on the quality of training. GAO interviewed key Army and TRADOC officials and reviewed relevant doctrine, guidance, curricula, personnel requirements data, and training survey results.

TRADOC annually determines its requirements for key training positions, but limitations exist in its underlying approach, such as the use of outdated personnel requirements models. From fiscal years 2005 through 2011, TRADOC's requirements for instructors, training developers, and training support personnel have remained relatively steady while the student workload has increased by about a third. To determine personnel requirements, TRADOC uses various models involving formulas that rely on a range of assumptions and inputs. Army guidance requires Army commands to update models at least every 3 years, but TRADOC has not updated its model for determining the number of instructors it needs since 1998. As a result, assumptions and inputs used in the model may not reflect changes in how training is currently provided, such as the greater use of self-paced computerized learning in place of classroom instruction. Such changes could affect the number of instructors required to teach a course. In addition, TRADOC has used the same number, with minor modifications, for training developer requirements for the last 3 fiscal years. TRADOC officials recognize that using the same number for training developer requirements is not a valid approach and that an updated model is needed; however, they are unsure when they will be able to update the model. Lastly, TRADOC has not conducted an assessment to determine the optimum mix of military, Army civilian, and contractor personnel to use to execute its training mission. Without the benefit of models that are updated to more closely reflect current training conditions and without conducting a mix analysis, TRADOC does not have a sound basis for accurately identifying the number and types of personnel needed for key training personnel and making the most cost-effective use of training resources. TRADOC has taken various workforce management actions in order to execute its training mission, but its quality assurance program does not collect certain information needed to evaluate the impact of these actions on the quality of training. Among other things, TRADOC has increased the number of students that an instructor teaches, relied on more contractors as instructors, and reassigned doctrine and training developers to serve as instructors. Through surveys and other tools, TRADOC evaluates factors such as students' knowledge of course materials and whether an instructor is teaching from the curriculum, but it does not systematically collect the data needed to evaluate the impact of changing the student to instructor ratio or the type of instructor on the quality of training. TRADOC officials expressed mixed views about the impact of using contractors on the quality of training. Some believed that more military trainers are needed because these personnel have the knowledge and credibility gained from combat experience to teach soldiers. While others stated that contractors provide the same quality of training as military personnel. GAO noted that TRADOC's use of doctrine and training developers to serve as instructors is among the factors that have led to a backlog in updating doctrine and curricula, which could affect the quality of training. GAO recommends that TRADOC establish a plan to (1) update its personnel requirements models, doctrine, and curricula; (2) complete a personnel mix assessment; and (3) establish metrics to evaluate its workforce management actions. DOD concurred with the recommendations.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To ensure that TRADOC is requesting the appropriate number and mix of personnel to serve as instructors, training developers, and training support personnel, the Secretary of the Army should direct TRADOC to establish metrics within its quality assurance program to enable TRADOC to evaluate how its workforce management actions, such as increasing reliance on contractors, affect the quality of training and use the data collected from these metrics to make adjustments to training as needed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To ensure that TRADOC is requesting the appropriate number and mix of personnel to serve as instructors, training developers, and training support personnel, the Secretary of the Army should direct TRADOC to perform an assessment to determine the right mix of military, civilian, and contractor personnel needed to accomplish the training mission and make necessary adjustments to the current mix.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To ensure that TRADOC is requesting the appropriate number and mix of personnel to serve as instructors, training developers, and training support personnel, the Secretary of the Army should direct TRADOC to develop a plan with specific implementation milestones to update its personnel requirements models for training personnel, including (1) updating models for instructors and training developers and (2) developing models for field training and classroom setup personnel not covered in the training support personnel model, and adjust requirements accordingly.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To ensure that soldiers are being trained on the most current and recent information, the Secretary of the Army should direct TRADOC to establish a plan to enable TRADOC to develop, review, and update doctrine and curricula by (1) setting additional priority areas beyond initial military training on which doctrine and training developers should focus and (2) identifying timelines by which these reviews should be completed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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