Countervailing Strategy Demands Revision of Strategic Force Acquisition Plans

MASAD-81-35: Published: Aug 5, 1981. Publicly Released: Aug 5, 1981.

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GAO undertook a review of the major issues concerning the effect of recent changes in U.S. deterrence strategy on the performance requirements of strategic command, control, and communications systems.

Although countervailing strategy appeared in the fiscal years 1980 and 1981 Department of Defense (DOD) annual reports, and Presidential Directive 59 was signed in July 1980, GAO found various interpretations within DOD of the objectives of countervailing strategy, and there is no agreement on the weapon systems performance characteristics or the command, control, and communications capabilities needed to carry out the strategy. GAO also identified weapon system performance needed to meet the requirements of countervailing strategy. To meet these objectives, U.S. forces must have appropriate combinations of characteristics, including: (1) survivable, endurable, and flexible command, control, and communications systems that permit effective control over the forces continuously throughout a conflict; (2) weapon systems which can survive Soviet attacks; (3) endurance or continued readiness over a protracted period; (4) assured penetration of warheads to targets; (5) precision strike capability; and (6) timeliness, or capability to be launched and arrive on target in a short timeframe. The current Triad forces were not designed to carry out the employment strategy that has evolved through the 1970's. Some programs approved through fiscal year 1980 for strategic force modernization will provide some of the characteristics GAO believes are needed, but others will remain unfulfilled.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should require the Secretary of DOD develop an acquisition strategy that clearly delineates the programs needed to meet the requirements of countervailing strategy and shows the timeframes when the capabilities can be available.

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should give special attention to the priorities and funding for command, control, and communications programs because of their vital role in implementing countervailing strategy.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of DOD should develop an acquisition strategy that clearly delineates the programs needed to meet the requirements of countervailing strategy and shows the timeframes when the capabilities can be available. This strategy should be outlined in a plan and submitted to Congress as part of the next annual budget presentation by DOD. At a minimum, this plan should: (1) clearly establish the objectives of countervailing strategy, define the critical characteristics of command, control, and communications systems and weapons systems, and establish performance requirements for those characteristics; (2) identify the combinations of force characteristics needed to implement current strategy and the timeframe in which they are needed; (3) identify the specific programs designed to provide the needed characteristics in more than one component of the Triad; and (4) provide an acquisition schedule showing when the needed characteristics can be available.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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