Force Structure:

Air Force Expeditionary Concept Offers Benefits but Effects Should Be Assessed

NSIAD-00-201: Published: Aug 15, 2000. Publicly Released: Aug 15, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Air Force's Expeditionary Aerospace Force Concept.

GAO noted that: (1) the Expeditionary Concept is likely to achieve its objective of spreading the deployment burden over a larger part of the Air Force's combat forces, but mobility air forces are not likely to be affected; (2) generally, active combat units based in the United States will experience a considerable drop in contingency deployments; (3) on the other hand, similar active combat units overseas commands and in reserve components could see significant increases in contingency deployments; (4) both reserve and active mobility air forces are likely to continue their high deployment level because, in addition to participating in contingencies under the Concept, they are constantly assigned to other tasks, such as transporting people and equipment for all the services and performing humanitarian operations; (5) GAO's assessment was based on its data analysis because the Air Force has not systemically monitored Expeditionary Concept results; (6) furthermore, the lack of specific measurable goals in some areas could hamper future assessment efforts; (7) the predictability of deployments that the Concept provides the reserves is an important benefit that should help reserve forces better prepare for their deployments and employers better plan for their employees' absences; (8) the Air Force would experience a significant disruption in its ability to rotate forces to contingency operations under the Concept if it were called on to simultaneously support a single major war; (9) if a major war arises, forces are expected to deploy as specified in the theater commander's plan, not according to their alignment with the 10 Air Expeditionary Force groups; (10) forces required for a major war would be drawn from all 10 force groups, with some deploying as much as 50 percent of their combat forces and often depleting high-demand capabilities; (11) after deploying forces to a single major war, no Air Expeditionary Force pairs would have sufficient assets to provide all the required capabilities to maintain ongoing contingency operations; (12) even pooling assets from different Air Expeditionary Force groups could cause some units in certain mission areas to deploy for periods as long as 180 days; and (13) furthermore, the time required to reconstitute the forces deployed to the war and to ongoing contingencies in order to re-establish contingency rotations would depend on the scenario duration and the size of the forces deployed.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: During January 2001, the Air Force issued a report to the Congress, mandated by Senate Report 106-50, which identified 13 metrics to measure the progress of the Expeditionary Aerospace Force in six areas. In March 2001, Air Force Headquarters sent a message to its major commands and numbered Air Force commands, describing the six areas and the 13 metrics, including a goal for each metric. This message also established a primary office of responsibility for collecting and reporting these metrics. These metrics are to be reported quarterly to the Air Force's Chief of Staff. The first report was on May 2, 2001.

    Matter: In light of the high level of congressional interest in the application of the Expeditionary Concept to Air Force operations, Congress may wish to consider requiring the Secretary of Defense to direct the Secretary of the Air Force to establish specific, quantifiable goals and performance measures based on the Concept's broad objectives, and to use this management framework to provide Congress with annual updates on the Concept's status and results.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: During January 2001, the Air Force issued a report to the Congress, mandated by Senate Report 106-50, which identified 13 metrics to measure the progress of the Expeditionary Aerospace Force in six areas. In March 2001, Air Force Headquarters sent a message to its major commands and numbered Air Force commands, describing the six areas and the 13 metrics, including a goal for each metric. This message also established a primary office of responsibility for collecting and reporting these metrics. These metrics are to be reported quarterly to the Air Force's Chief of Staff. The first report was on May 2, 2001.

    Recommendation: To enable the Air Force to better understand the effects of its Expeditionary Aerospace Force Concept and make any needed adjustments, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to develop specific quantifiable goals based on the Concept's broad objectives, and establish needed metrics to measure progress toward these goals. These measurable goals should directly relate to the Expeditionary Concept's overall objectives. Examples of specific aspects concerning the Expeditionary Concept that the Air Force should consider measuring include the amount of advance notice servicemembers receive before deploying to ongoing contingencies and the length and frequency of deployments for specific units and servicemembers. In particular, the Air Force should monitor factors critical to reserve participation in the Expeditionary Aerospace Force Concept including the level of volunteerism achieved and the extent to which the reserves can meet theater commanders' requirements for certain high-demand capabilities, such as aircraft that can deliver precision-guided munitions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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