Military Capabilities:

Stronger Joint Staff Role Needed to Enhance Joint Military Training

NSIAD-95-109: Published: Jul 6, 1995. Publicly Released: Jul 6, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the effectiveness of the Department of Defense's (DOD) joint training activities, focusing on the: (1) scope of DOD joint training activities; and (2) actions taken and additional actions needed to improve joint training.

GAO found that: (1) inadequate Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) oversight has perpetuated limited joint training of U.S. forces; (2) most joint training exercises are conducted to maintain U.S. access or presence in a region, promote regional stability, or foster relations with foreign military forces; (3) although these objectives are important, they have taken precedence over joint military training activities; (4) the JCS Operational Plans and Interoperability Directorate (J-7) has failed to critically review planned exercises to ensure that they emphasize joint training and to correct past problems, develop meaningful standards for evaluating exercises, or monitor enough exercises to ensure that training problems are identified and corrected; (5) J-7 needs to take a stronger coordinating role for joint training, since several entities have responsibility for joint training activities, but its staffing level is not sufficient for it to conduct all its oversight tasks; (6) it would not be practical to shift the J-7 coordinating role to either the Joint Warfighting Center or the U.S. Atlantic Command (USACOM); and (7) the Secretary of Defense and JCS have taken steps to improve joint training, such as developing uniform policy guidance and strengthening the roles of the Joint Warfighting Center and USACOM, but other units have reservations about new USACOM training strategies.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed that the Joint Staff will continue to have frequent interaction with the services and Joint Commanders to improve the joint training program. It also agreed to take some action on the other management initiatives that GAO recommended, such as testing the effectiveness of corrective actions through joint exercises. However, DOD did not agree to take the full range of actions that GAO believed were necessary to monitor joint training. Its position is that the responsibility for managing joint training best belongs to Joint Commanders, not the Joint Staff.

    Recommendation: Once these specific responsibilities have been assigned, J-7 should increase its monitoring of the related activities to ensure that the full range of desired management activities are effectively carried out.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Joint Chiefs of Staff: Operational Plans and Interoperability Directorate

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation and plans to use joint exercises, and other means, to test the effectiveness of corrective actions.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, in concert with the Chairman, JCS, should improve the oversight of joint training activities by ensuring that the appropriate DOD entities close remedial action projects only after the effectiveness of corrective actions are demonstrated either in joint exercises or, if this is not appropriate, through alternative means.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed to use independent personnel to perform evaluations of joint exercises, but did not agree to provide additional resources to perform more evaluations, as GAO recommended.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, in concert with the Chairman, JCS, should improve the oversight of joint training activities by ensuring that the appropriate DOD entities examine what additional resources might be used to permit more independent exercise evaluations to be made.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Joint Staff has developed a list of common tasks and standards to be used for joint training and evaluations. These tasks and standards are to be incorporated by joint commanders as a common basis for training and evaluation and should deal with the problems that GAO identified.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, in concert with the Chairman, JCS, should improve the oversight of joint training activities by ensuring that the appropriate DOD entities ensure the development of measurable joint training standards and expedite their integration into joint training exercises so that the exercises can be more effectively evaluated.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD does not plan to implement this recommendation. It commented that the Joint Commander is in the best position to determine training needs and the Joint Staff's role is not to critique training plans but to provide guidance and advice.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, in concert with the Chairman, JCS, should improve the oversight of joint training activities by ensuring that the appropriate DOD entities ensure that exercises held to achieve presence or access or other objectives include joint training tasks, to the extent possible.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD plans to continue its current level of effort of reviewing the CINCs' joint training activities on a limited basis, but not to increase the level of monitoring, as GAO recommended.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, in concert with the Chairman, JCS, should improve the oversight of joint training activities by ensuring that the appropriate DOD entities routinely review the Commanders in Chief's (CINC) plans for the CJCS Exercise Program to ensure that each exercise: (1) provides maximum joint training value without compromising its primary purposes; and (2) includes tasks that test the effectiveness of actions taken to correct previously identified problems.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD commented that many of the Joint Commanders' concerns have been resolved through an extensive consensus-building effort to develop joint training tasks and standards. These standards will form the basis for core training for Joint Task Forces. DOD has taken no action with regard to assessing the role of the Joint Warfighting Center.

    Recommendation: To improve the uniformity of joint training and promote USACOM efforts to strengthen joint training and operational capabilities, the Secretary of Defense, in concert with the Chairman, JCS, should take appropriate actions to achieve a stronger consensus among CINC about the: (1) new USACOM strategies for training joint task force commanders and their staffs and the use of joint force packages; and (2) merits of the Joint Warfighting Center's technical assistance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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