Army Training:

Management Initiatives Needed to Enhance Reservists' Training

NSIAD-89-140: Published: Jun 30, 1989. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Army's training of its National Guard and Army Reserve units to determine the: (1) extent of individual reserve component soldiers' training in both critical job tasks and battlefield survival skills; and (2) factors affecting reserve units' ability to provide adequate training.

GAO found that the Army reservists' training: (1) provided little instruction on equipment that the Army expected reservists to operate and sometimes provided instruction on equipment it never expected reservists to use; (2) was frequently limited by shortages of essential equipment; (3) sometimes omitted skills reservists needed to perform their units' mission-essential tasks, since commanders lacked the necessary guidance or experience to design effective training programs; (4) did not comply with Army policy and regulations to train reservists in survival skills or under realistic conditions to help them cope with complex, stressful, and lethal battlefield situations; (5) was hindered by the wide geographic distribution of units and reservists' limited training time; and (6) did not always effectively use the scarce training time available for reservists. GAO also found that: (1) only about 60 percent of reservists required to take a skill qualification test actually did so, and the percentage of reservists who passed was about 25 percent lower than the percentage of active-duty soldiers who passed; (2) information on reservists' proficiency was essentially limited to commanders' perceptions; (3) deficiencies in reservists' training could significantly affect the Army's ability to carry out its defense strategies; and (4) the Army's plans to improve reservists' training focused on training reservists in fewer mission-essential tasks than their active-duty counterparts.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army will identify and evaluate options for improving Advanced Individual Training programs for reservists. The Army Training and Doctrine Command will recommend alternative strategies to increase skill-level-1 tasks on appropriate equipment.

    Recommendation: To enable unit commanders to train soldiers in all soldier manual tasks that support the units' missions, the Secretary of the Army should identify and evaluate the feasibility of options to establish advanced initial training programs that provide instruction on equipment used by the unit to which reserve soldiers are assigned.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army will continue to provide guidance and assistance to subordinate commanders in developing unit mission-essential task lists. FORSCOM Regulation 350-2 provides updated guidance.

    Recommendation: To enable unit commanders to train soldiers in all soldier manual tasks that support the units' missions, the Secretary of the Army should ensure that unit commanders are adequately trained to fully understand the mission-essential task list development process.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The U.S. Forces Command and the National Guard Bureau have published a coordinated regulation, 350-2, which directs all reserve units to train with a battle focus.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should emphasize the responsibility of leaders throughout the Army in establishing a training environment for reservists that stresses training in battlefield survival.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Forces Command/National Guard Regulation 350-2, provides detailed implementing instructions for reserve commanders to integrate individual and collective training, noncommissioned officer training, individual skills training, and training under battlefield conditions.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct unit commanders to follow Army guidance and train noncommissioned officers: (1) in all common soldier tasks; and (2) under realistic battlefield conditions so that noncommissioned officers can in turn train the other soldiers.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Regulations have been revised to provide consistent training guidance to reserve commanders. The Reserve Component Training Development Action Plan initiatives were developed to assist reserve commanders and units in making better use of limited training time.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct unit commanders to plan training activities to maximize the limited training time available.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In August 1988, the Army established a task force to reduce reserve training detractors. The task force conducted a total review of reserve component administrative requirements and recommended requirements to be deleted, or consolidated.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should encourage states and Army reserve units that have not already done so to adopt initiatives aimed at consolidating administrative requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: New guidance is to be published in the revised Army Regulation (AR) 350-37, Individual Training Evaluation Program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct commanders at all levels to ensure that soldiers take the Skill Qualification Test once the Army Training and Doctrine Command has implemented the revised tests.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army Training and Doctrine Command has stated that job books are still a requirement and directed all units to keep them current.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct unit commanders to keep job books current.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army Training and Doctrine Command is clarifying guidance on the evaluation of soldiers during common task testing. The new guidance will be published in the revised AR 350-37, Individual Evaluation Program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct: (1) commanders at all levels to ensure that soldiers take the Common Task Test, as required by Army regulation; and (2) the Army Training and Doctrine Command to develop guidance on evaluating soldiers to preclude the administrative problems that currently bias Common Task Test results.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  10. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Since the Army already has procedures for reserve components to borrow minimum essential equipment to train, this recommendation is being dropped.

    Recommendation: To enable unit commanders to train soldiers in all soldier manual tasks that support the units' missions, the Secretary of the Army should make arrangements, when feasible, with active units or other reserve units to share valuable equipment with units that lack mission-essential equipment for training.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Reserve Component Training Strategy and Reserve Component Training Development Action Plan are specifically designed to reinforce the total force policy and the training readiness of reserve component units. Briefs have been given to the House Appropriations Committee and Congressional Budget Office.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should: (1) ensure that the strategy for training reservists is fully implemented; and (2) provide details to Congress on how the new strategy will affect the total force policy, which implies that Army reserve component units will complement active forces with equal capability.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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