Military Readiness:

Data and Trends for January 1990 to March 1995

NSIAD-96-111BR: Published: Mar 4, 1996. Publicly Released: Mar 12, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the military readiness data in the Department of Defense's (DOD) Status of Resources and Training System (SORTS), focusing on the: (1) overall readiness of all military units from January 1, 1990 to March 31, 1995; (2) readiness trends and problems of selected units from each service; and (3) changes in reported readiness of the selected units.

GAO found that: (1) DOD-wide, the percentage of military units with the ability to undertake all or major portions of assigned missions remained generally stable from January 1, 1990, to March 31, 1995; (2) of the 94 units GAO reviewed, readiness remained at levels consistent with service goals in 75 (80 percent) of the units; (3) however, readiness declined below the goals in 19 (20 percent) of the units; (4) in five of these units, the readiness reductions were for fairly short periods of time due to the units' participation in contingency operations; (5) in the remaining units, readiness reductions were caused primarily by personnel shortages, equipment shortages, and difficulty in obtaining training for personnel in certain military occupations; (6) in the Navy units GAO analyzed, ships maintained the desired readiness levels when periods of planned maintenance and training were excluded; (7) however, the readiness of Navy aviation squadrons declined in the training area--a problem GAO found was Navy-wide; (8) the reduction was caused by personnel shortages related to the Navy's decision to increase the number of aircraft authorized in some squadrons and a shortage of funds to pay for the flying hours needed to keep pilots qualified; (9) in the Marine Corps units GAO analyzed, the readiness for ground combat units remained at desired levels throughout the period, whereas the readiness of support and aviation units fluctuated or remained stable at a lower level; (10) this happened because these units continuously provided detachments to deploying ships and Marine Expeditionary Units; (11) readiness for most active Army infantry, armor, and artillery units GAO analyzed remained high for contingency units and generally stable for later deploying units; (12) there were, however, significant changes or fluctuations in the readiness of five active Army units due to contingency operations; (13) Army National Guard combat units experienced readiness reductions that officials attributed to comprehensive readiness reporting criteria that provide a more accurate portrayal of personnel availability and to the difficulty of getting guardsmen trained in occupational skills; (14) readiness for Air Force units GAO analyzed generally remained at desired levels; and (15) however, there was some reduction or fluctuation in the readiness of airlift and Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) units because aircraft have been continuously committed to the operations in Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Bosnia.

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