Military Prepositioning:

Army and Air Force Programs Need to Be Reassessed

NSIAD-99-6: Published: Nov 16, 1998. Publicly Released: Nov 16, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the readiness of the Department of Defense (DOD) prepositioning programs, focusing on the: (1) basis for the program requirements; and (2) rates of inventory fill and maintenance condition of prepositioned stocks and the reliability of this readiness data.

GAO noted that: (1) the Army and Air Force have poorly defined, outdated, or otherwise questionable requirements in the major programs that GAO reviewed; (2) the Army and Air Force have reported significant shortages and poor maintenance conditions in their prepositioning programs; (3) reliable data to assess inventory fill and maintenance condition was unavailable; (4) while the services are taking steps to address the requirements and reporting problems, it may be several years before these problems are resolved and readiness can be reliably assessed; (5) the positioning of the Army's brigade sets in Kuwait, Qatar, Korea, and afloat supports the current two-war strategy; (6) the three brigade sets in Europe are in a state of flux, and the Army recognizes the need to revisit and evaluate the requirements for those sets; (7) the Kuwait set is at a high level of readiness, and the sets afloat, in Korea, and in Qatar are improving as additional equipment is added to these sets; (8) the readiness of the European sets is declining and the Army has no immediate plans to fill equipment shortages caused by the transfer of equipment to units in, or returning from, Bosnia; (9) the Army has not determined valid requirements for its operational projects and sustainment programs; (10) the Army is reviewing these programs to establish requirements; (11) until the Army establishes valid requirements and improves inventory reporting, their readiness cannot be reliably and comprehensively assessed; (12) the Air Force has not determined precise requirements for its bare base and vehicle programs; (13) in the Persian Gulf, the Air Force has not completed the detailed planning at each of its planned operating locations to determine what infrastructure and vehicles would be available to deploying forces; (14) current requirements are based on a worst-case scenario that assumes the Air Force must provide virtually all the facilities and vehicles it would need should a major war occur; (15) in Europe, the Air Force is storing over 900 vehicles but has no current requirements for the vehicles to be stored there; (16) in the vehicle program, the Air Force does not have reliable, comprehensive reports of inventories on hand or their maintenance condition; (17) at one location visited, GAO found that over 40 percent of Air Force's aging vehicles were in poor condition and would require repair before being used; and (18) until the Air Force determines requirements for these programs and improves reporting, the impact of shortfalls and poor maintenance conditions will be difficult to discern.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress has required several related informal reports from DOD on prepositioning issues. In addition, Section 364 of the fiscal year 2000 Authorization Conference Report, requires that GAO look at military assumptions used to determine war reserve requirements, the adequacy of supplies available to fight two Major Theater Wars, and supplies available through the industrial base.

    Matter: To reliably assess DOD's readiness status and evaluate its future budget requests, Congress may wish to consider having the Secretary of Defense periodically report on the: (1) progress by DOD, the Army, and the Air Force to address the recommendations made in this report; and (2) impact of any shortages that remain after requirements and reporting problems are addressed, including how DOD and the services would mitigate shortages in the event of a major conflict.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Army has approved a plan for smaller configuration in Europe. Excess equipment is being redistributed. This plan was accelerated after the September 11 attacks.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to reevaluate the requirements for European prepositioning, including whether the current brigade set configurations best meet the envisioned missions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has continued to revalidate operational project authorizations; however, this process is expected to take approximately 2 more years. Data integrity problems have slowed implementation. Army expects to significantly decrease requirements for aircraft matting in Europe, which is questioned in the report. As of August 2003, the Army Audit Agency was finishing a report on the operational project program where they questioned requirements for some projects. However, some projects have been validated.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to take steps to ensure that the operational projects requirements meet operational needs and are prioritized in accordance with DOD's current wartime strategy.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has completed studies to identify the requirements for sustainment, especially secondary items such as spare parts. Overall, by closely examining requirements and stocks on-hand, the Army has reduced the secondary item shortfall from approximately $3.5 billion in 1995, to $1.8 billion in 1999 (a $1.7 billion reduction). In addition, the Army completed an industrial base study in 1999, and has incorporated these findings into the updated secondary item calculation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to complete ongoing efforts to improve the processes used to determine sustainment requirements and work with other DOD stakeholders to determine what stocks will be available from the industrial base and host nations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The operational project and sustainment programs are still plagued by data reliability problems, and this will take considerable years to resolve, according to the Army. The Army Audit Agency has conducted a series of reviews of these programs that show that many of the problems that GAO reported continued to linger.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to develop reliable reports of inventory fill and maintenance conditions for the operational projects and sustainment programs so that their readiness can be reliably measured.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has determined its war reserve end-state and is developing disposition instructions for excess equipment.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to dispose of unneeded stocks.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force has used excess stocks in Europe to fill requirements in other theaters. Some stocks were used in Bosnia. The Air Force is using the results of a large-scale 1999 study to (1) develop a worldwide prepositioning strategy, (2) improve requirements determination process, and (3) improve asset visibility.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to determine current requirements for European prepositioning.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation has been partially implemented. The Air Force has completed additional base support plans to assess the infrastructure available in the Persian Gulf region; however, the Air Force said that efforts had been hindered by difficulties in obtaining country clearances and personnel rotation in theater.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to develop precise bare base requirements by assessing the infrastructure available in the Persian Gulf region.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force has developed authorization documents for most operating locations, including what is projected to be available from host nations/leasing, though a few locations are pending the outcome of base support plans in some nations.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to complete efforts to determine worldwide vehicle requirements, considering what is or will be available from the host nations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force reports that asset visibility is improving. Air Force reports that it has full asset visibility in SWA, based on contractor inputs.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to develop reliable reports of inventory levels and maintenance conditions for the vehicle program so that its readiness can be reliably measured.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Air Force is making attempts to improve vehicle condition, and closely monitoring vehicle status.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to maintain needed prepositioned vehicles in good condition.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Excess vehicles, many of which have outlived their useful life, have been excessed and redistributed in most locations.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to dispose of unneeded stocks.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  12. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Office of the Secretary of Defense directed the implementation of this recommendation by the Army and Air Force. The Army and Air Force have several ongoing efforts to refine their programs as the military strategy has evolved.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army and the Air Force to reassess their prepositioning programs with the goal of establishing sound requirements based on the two-war strategy and develop reliable inventory information to measure the readiness of all programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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