Military Readiness:

A Clear Policy Is Needed to Guide Management of Frequently Deployed Units

NSIAD-96-105: Published: Apr 8, 1996. Publicly Released: Apr 8, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the United States' military readiness, focusing on the: (1) frequency of deployments in recent years; (2) effects of increased deployment on combat readiness; and (3) Department of Defense's (DOD) efforts to limit personnel temporary (PERSTEMPO) deployment.

GAO found that: (1) Army and Air Force deployments have increased among special forces, electronic warfare squadrons, and Patriot air defense, and military police units; (2) the percentage of personnel deployed from 1987 to 1995 has increased from 2 to 6 percent for the Air Force and 5 to 9 percent for the Army; (3) the Navy and Marine Corps traditionally deploy units at twice the rate of the other services and remain active for at least half of the year; (4) peace operations, along with smaller increases in joint activity, are the driving force behind increased deployments; (5) DOD believes that deployments can be reduced by eliminating redundant military training and combining or cancelling some exercises; (6) the Status of Resources and Training System reports less than one-third of frequently deploying units dropping below planned readiness levels; (7) DOD is concerned about the nature of frequently deploying units' personnel problems; (8) DOD statistics on personnel readiness are not useful because they are inconsistent and are only compiled at the major command level; and (9) high PERSTEMPO is likely to continue unless DOD directs the services to set up goals and policies to manage PERSTEMPO.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed to consider GAO's recommendations in concert with those of its own PERSTEMPO Working Group. The Working Group's report incorporated GAO's recommendations, and the Secretary of Defense approved them on November 19, 1996. The services are now required to report PERSTEMPO data to the Defense Manpower Data Center, which will archive and analyze the data to determine the impact of PERSTEMPO on personnel retention and readiness.

    Recommendation: To provide the oversight and guidance needed for long-term management of PERSTEMPO, the Secretary of Defense should identify key indicators that provide the best measures of deployments' impact on personnel readiness and adjust existing databases to allow research comparing these indicators in high PERSTEMPO units, skill groups, or weapon systems to other such groups.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed to consider GAO's recommendations in concert with those of its own PERSTEMPO Working Group. The Working Group's report incorporated GAO's recommendations, and the Secretary of Defense approved them on November 19, 1996. PERSTEMPO is now managed through Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction 3401.01A (Current Readiness System) and the services are now required to adopt a single DOD-wide definition of PERSTEMPO.

    Recommendation: To provide the oversight and guidance needed for long-term management of PERSTEMPO, the Secretary of Defense should issue DOD regulations that guide service management of PERSTEMPO by establishing a DOD-wide definition of deployment.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed to consider GAO's recommendations in concert with those of its own PERSTEMPO Working Group. The Working Group's report incorporated GAO's recommendations, and the Secretary of Defense approved them on November 19, 1996. PERSTEMPO is now managed through Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction 3401.01A and the Global Military Force Policy--which helps guide deployment decisions by identifying the impact on readiness of successively higher levels of deployments--and by reporting PERSTEMPO problems in the Joint Monthly Readiness Review.

    Recommendation: To provide the oversight and guidance needed for long-term management of PERSTEMPO, the Secretary of Defense should issue DOD regulations that guide service management of PERSTEMPO by stating whether each service should have a goal, policy, or regulation stipulating the maximum amount of time units and/or personnel may be deployed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed to consider GAO's recommendations in concert with those of its own PERSTEMPO Working Group. The Working Group's report incorporated GAO's recommendations, and the Secretary of Defense approved them on November 19, 1996. The services are now required to report PERSTEMPO data to the Defense Manpower Data Center, which will archive and analyze the data to determine the impact of PERSTEMPO on personnel retention and readiness.

    Recommendation: To provide the oversight and guidance needed for long-term management of PERSTEMPO, the Secretary of Defense should issue DOD regulations that guide service management of PERSTEMPO by defining the minimum data on PERSTEMPO each service must collect and maintain.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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