Desert Shield/Storm:

Air Mobility Command's Achievements and Lessons for the Future

NSIAD-93-40: Published: Jan 25, 1993. Publicly Released: Jan 25, 1993.

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GAO reviewed the Air Mobility Command's (AMC) achievements in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

GAO found that: (1) AMC maintained continuous airlift operations from the United States to Saudi Arabia from the first day of Desert Shield deployment; (2) AMC averaged 65 missions per day from August 7, 1990, to November 1990; (3) AMC averaged 125 missions per day when hostilities began with Desert Storm; (4) AMC access to off-load locations was more limited in the initial months of Desert Shield than expected; (5) large backlogs of sustainment cargo caused legitimate high-priority cargo to be delayed at AMC aerial ports of embarkation; (6) additional off-load locations were made available to AMC through political negotiations and physical improvements to facilities in Saudi Arabia; (7) the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Central Command sent representatives to major AMC ports of embarkation to reduce the large backlogs and speed the delivery of sustainment cargo; (8) the Central Command's allocation of airlift cargo capacity imposed a degree of discipline on the transportation and supply requisition systems and made field commanders and supply units aware of the limited availability of airlift cargo; (9) AMC required reserve augmentation earlier than envisioned and relied heavily on reserve volunteers for the 3 weeks prior to the presidential call-up due to the lack of an in-theater recovery base; and (10) the Air Force called up its reserves by subunits or skill categories rather than as whole units.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD stated that just as use of an in-theater recovery base is a normal consideration in transportation planning, so is the possibility that a recovery base may not be available in any given scenario. GAO's recommendation is already a part of standard DOD planning procedures.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Department of Defense and AMC, in ongoing and future planning for regional contingencies, to account for the possibility that appropriate in-theater basing support for strategic airlift crews may not be available.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will direct that an "airlift express" operation be a consideration for planning, if appropriate to the theater commanders' and U.S. Transportation Command's concept of operations. That direction will be added to JCS Publication 4.04.

    Recommendation: The Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), should implement a Desert Express-type operation as an option in future plans.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: U.S. Transportation Command

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will direct the use of cargo diversion teams comprised of theater commander and service component representatives at Air Mobility Command major aerial ports of embarkation. That direction will be added to JCS Publication 4.04.

    Recommendation: The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, should direct the use of cargo diversion teams, comprised of theater commander and service representatives, at AMC major aerial ports of embarkation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Joint Chiefs of Staff

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GAO's recommendation will be incorporated into revision of JCS Publication 4.04, Mobility Systems Policies, Procedures, and Considerations. Final publication is not expected before August 1994.

    Recommendation: The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, should direct theater commanders to implement cargo allocation systems upon execution of contingency operations

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Joint Chiefs of Staff

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In coordination with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the military services, and other unified commands, in February 1993 the U.S. Transportation Command developed and promoted legislative action to develop a ready mobility force. The purpose of the ready mobility force is to prime the transportation network with reservists needed to support the rapid deployment of forces prior to the formal decision to activate the Title 10 presidential call-up of reserve forces. The Office of Management and Budget has formally reviewed the legislative proposal without objection.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct TRANSCOM to explore options for assuring early availability of transportation-related reservists.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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