Peace Operations:

Effect of Training, Equipment, and Other Factors on Unit Capability

NSIAD-96-14: Published: Oct 18, 1995. Publicly Released: Oct 18, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined: (1) how the services incorporate peace operations into their various training programs; (2) what effect peace operations have on maintaining combat readiness; and (3) whether the services have the weapons systems and equipment they need for these operations.

GAO found that: (1) commanders of ground combat units differ on when special peace operations should be provided; (2) some commanders include aspects of peace operations in standard unit training; (3) other commanders prefer to maintain an exclusive combat focus until their units are formally assigned to a peace operation, in which case the amount of notification before deployment to a peace operation becomes an important factor; (4) aviation, naval, support, and special operations forces perform similar tasks in peace operations and in war and therefore do not need as much special training; (5) participation in peace operations can provide excellent experience for combat operations, but such participation can also degrade a unit's war-fighting capability; (6) the extent of degradation depends on a number of factors, such as the type of peace operation, the type of unit participating, the length of participation, and the opportunities available for training in theater; (7) it can take up to 6 months for a ground combat unit to recover from a peace operation and become combat ready; (8) the recovery period for aviation units is relatively short compared with that for ground forces; (9) participation in peace operations may interrupt naval training schedules, but there is little difference in the naval skills required for peace and for other operations; (10) determining whether the services have the appropriate weapon systems and equipment for peace operations is an ongoing process taking place primarily at the service level; (11) the services have identified requirements in three areas: (a) force protection; (b) equipment for military operations in built-up areas; and (c) nonlethal weapons; and (12) except for the recent withdrawal operation from Somalia, few nonlethal weapons have been used to date in peace operations.

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