Army Training:

Evaluations of Units' Proficiency Are Not Always Reliable

NSIAD-91-72: Published: Feb 15, 1991. Publicly Released: Feb 25, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed Army systems for evaluating collective training and the use of evaluation results to report units' combat readiness, focusing on the: (1) reliability and usefulness of collective training evaluations to assess active Army and National Guard units' proficiency in performing their wartime mission tasks; and (2) validity of training readiness reports for active Army units.

GAO found that: (1) unrealistic conditions of home-station training limited the usefulness of evaluations; (2) home-station training evaluations failed to include some mission-essential tasks; (3) emphasis on evaluating unit proficiency varied among different training exercises and divisions; (4) combat training centers (CTC) provided the most realistic evaluation of unit proficiency; (5) CTC evaluations indicated that units were less ready than reported by home-station and readiness reports; (6) readiness reports might not adequately consider reduced training opportunities and changes in unit leadership; and (7) Army assessment criteria were too ambiguous to ensure consistent assessments among units. GAO also found that evaluations of Army National Guard units' proficiency were based on: (1) training that did not adequately simulate combat situations; and (2) limited observations that resulted in general and conflicting information.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Forces Command regulations now require Continental United States Armies and State Adjutants General to review annual training plans of all Reserve Component units to ensure they are within training guidance and the approved Mission Essential Task List.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should focus evaluations on demonstrated proficiency in mission-essential tasks.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD disagreed with this recommendation. DOD cited the need for commanders and evaluators to discuss specifics of the training assessment and its future impact. DOD believes that for evaluators to complete formal evaluations before a unit's departure from annual training is feasible.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should eliminate the requirement that evaluators provide commanders written evaluation results before the end of annual training. Eliminating this requirement would increase the amount of time that evaluators can spend making training observations and providing training advice. If this is not feasible, the Secretary should require that the chain of command monitor the preparation of written evaluations to ensure that they are completed in accordance with Army policy.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Current training field manuals direct that training realism be incorporated in the training program as rapidly as units are ready to benefit from it. Both active and reserves will be held accountable.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should ensure that more realistic training is provided to National Guard units during annual training periods. One way to achieve this might be to assign responsibility and hold host installation commanders accountable for providing a realistic training environment.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has commissioned the Rand Corporation to develop more objective assessment criteria, including the usefulness of a numerical rating scale for unit proficiency. The study results were published in January 1992, and the Army has developed a training assessment model which will be implemented in October 1992.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should develop and implement more definitive criteria for commanders to use to assess unit proficiency. Also, a numerical rating scale should be used to better differentiate proficiency among units.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD does not consider it advisable to structure the readiness-reporting system according to the commander's assessment of proficiency demonstrated at combat training centers rather than home training proficiency results.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should change the training readiness reporting system for active Army units from one that is based largely on the commander's assessment of training conducted at home stations to one that uses the independent assessment of proficiency that is demonstrated at CTC as a baseline. Between CTC rotations, unit commanders should use the strength and weakness information from the take-home packages as a primary source of information used to determine unit training readiness, with each monthly update reflecting (1) training results at home stations that have sustained demonstrated strengths and have eliminated weaknesses and (2) the effect on unit proficiency of the loss of key personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD did not consider it advisable to structure the training readiness reporting system on assessments of proficiency demonstrated at CTC. The Army is, however, reviewing take-home packages. Rand Corp. has written prototype take-home packages for JRTC and NTC. Standard take-home packages are to be implemented in October 1992.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should change the training readiness reporting system for active Army units from one that is based largely on the commander's assessment of training conducted at home stations to one that uses the independent assessment of proficiency that is demonstrated at CTC as a baseline. The system should have take-home evaluation packages offered by CTC that summarize unit strengths and weaknesses by mission-essential tasks and battlefield operating systems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Procedural guidance now provides for submission of Form 1-R to the appropriate Continental United States Army headquarters for review and return to the assessed unit and its chain-of-command.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should require the National Guard units' higher command or the commands they will be assigned to in wartime to review completed 1-R evaluations to ensure their adequacy and completeness.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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