Operation Desert Storm:

Army Had Difficulty Providing Adequate Active and Reserve Support Forces

NSIAD-92-67: Published: Mar 10, 1992. Publicly Released: Mar 19, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's provision of support forces for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, focusing on the: (1) Army's processes for selecting support forces for the war; (2) procedures for readying such forces to deploy; and (3) adequacy of its force structure in meeting support force needs.

GAO found that: (1) an incomplete operational plan and troop list, limited reserve call-up, the incremental way the Department of Defense (DOD) implemented the call-up, and obscured unit status reports impeded the Army's selection of support forces for the war; (2) because the Army lacked plans for conducting an operation under an extended limited call-up, it had to engage in ad hoc, nonuniform procedures to ready forces for deployment; (3) to supply reserve support units with the additional people, equipment, and training needed before they could deploy, the Army extensively transferred people and equipment from non-activated Army units into activated units because of the limited call-up; (4) such transfers degraded unit capability and resulted in units whose personnel had not trained together or on the equipment they were provided; (5) the Army set a lower standard of readiness for support units than for combat units; (6) the types and amounts of training units received varied because deployment dates dictated the amount of time units spent at their mobilization sites; (7) the Army lacked standards for validating proficiency and could not ensure that similar units mobilized at different locations achieved similar levels of proficiency; (8) the Army provided most needed support forces through the reserve call-up, compensating actions, and host nation support, but could not initially provide some critically needed forces that were in the reserves before the call-up was in effect; (9) over the course the Army sent virtually all of some types of troops, leaving few to reinforce operations; and (10) the Army is restructuring its forces to achieve more rapid deployment.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD plans to propose changes to 10 U.S.C. 673b during the 103rd Congress. This recommendation stated that Congress "may" wish to examine the intent of the legislation; it does not require examination.

    Matter: Congress may wish to examine the intent behind the use of the President's Selected Reserve call-up legislation, 10 U.S.C. 673b, and the limiting provisions it contains and clarify whether this intent remains valid in light of experiences of the Gulf War.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army published an Integrated Army Mobilization Study that discussed difficulties in mobilizing reserve units. It has proposed a means of calling up parts of reserve units, but the National Guard believes the proposal would pose management difficulties.

    Recommendation: To assist Congress in analyzing proposed DOD legislative changes to the President's Selected Reserve call-up authority, 10 U.S.C. 673b, the Secretary of Defense should supplement his proposed legislative changes with information clearly identifying the specific obstacles encountered by each military service in selecting and mobilizing the reserves under 10 U.S.C. 673b.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Proposed changes have not yet been submitted to Congress. DOD has addressed this recommendation in a document that has not yet received final approval from the Office of the General Counsel. The action officer in charge of this recommendation stated that he believed that this document would be approved or disapproved soon. Congress rejected changes to the Presidential Selected Reserve Callup under 10 U.S.C. 673B. While DOD did not give Congress supplemental information as GAO suggested, it has taken certain steps to ensure earlier availability of certain key reserve units.

    Recommendation: To assist Congress in analyzing proposed DOD legislative changes to the President's Selected Reserve call-up authority, 10 U.S.C. 673b, the Secretary of Defense should supplement his proposed legislative changes with information clearly identifying the specific actions DOD and the military services can take to mitigate those difficulties that do not require legislative changes. Because this issue affects both the legislative and executive branches, this information should be provided to both Congress and the National Security Advisor to the President.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army's Integrated Army Mobilization Study identified options for meeting mobilization requirements and key policy, procedural, and resource impediments to meeting mobilization goals.

    Recommendation: Because the effectiveness of the Total Force Policy will become even more important in the downsized Army of the future, the Secretary of the Army should evaluate: (1) why some reserve support units intended to respond to a conflict in Southwest Asia, particularly command and control units, were not sent to support the Gulf War; and (2) what actions will be taken to ensure fuller participation by the reserves in future conflicts. In making this evaluation, the Secretary should consider the factors that led up to those exclusions. Those factors include the limitations posed by the call-up legislation, the incremental manner in which the call-up was implemented, and the readiness status of units left behind.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The revised Army Mobilization Plan provides more specific guidance on mobilizing reserves under 10 U.S.C. 673b. It includes guidance on filling unit vacancies and procedures for deploying RC units at a different readiness standard than combat units.

    Recommendation: To improve the Army's ability to efficiently and effectively mobilize reserve forces for future conflicts, the Secretary of the Army should, within the context of its current efforts to modify its mobilization plans and implement the Bold Shift Initiative, ensure that the Army's revisions to its mobilization procedures provide: (1) specific guidance on how the mobilization of the reserves under a limited reserve call-up, 10 U.S.C. 673b, should be carried out; (2) a plan for filling personnel vacancies during mobilization that does not hinge on the broad access to individuals available only under a partial or full mobilization of forces; and (3) uniform procedures and criteria for validating units' proficiency as a condition of their development.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The revised Army Mobilization Plan includes procedures for deploying RC units at readiness standards different than the combat units they support.

    Recommendation: To improve the Army's ability to efficiently and effectively mobilize reserve forces for future conflicts, the Secretary of the Army should, within the context of its current efforts to modify its mobilization plans and implement the Bold Shift Initiative, identify any problems that the Army might have encountered in deploying reserve support units at a lower readiness standard than the combat unit they were supporting and evaluate whether this practice should be continued.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A major element of the Bold Shift Initiative is to conduct operational readiness exercises to provide an overall assessment of like units' training programs and status of training. The program will be extended to the total Army in 1993.

    Recommendation: To improve the Army's ability to efficiently and effectively mobilize reserve forces for future conflicts, the Secretary of the Army should, within the context of its current efforts to modify its mobilization plans and implement the Bold Shift Initiative, take actions to improve the Army's reserve unit training assessments to provide better indicators of training needs upon mobilization.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army added more active component support units to its contingency force and programmed more support units to deploy earlier in the mobilization process.

    Recommendation: As part of the Army's current review of its mobilization procedures, the Secretary of the Army should develop contingency plans for creating additional support units during mobilization to ensure that the Army can readily increase its support force capability when needed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Operational readiness exercises under the Bold Shift Initiative are identifying factors that could delay the mobilization of reserves so that corrective actions to preclude delays can be taken.

    Recommendation: Since the effectiveness of the Total Force will become even more important in the downsized Army of the future, the Secretary of the Army should consider actions to speed the mobilization of reserve support forces to enable them to participate more fully in the contingency force.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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