Cruise Missile Defense:

Progress Made but Significant Challenges Remain

NSIAD-99-68: Published: Mar 31, 1999. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) progress in establishing adequate mechanisms for coordinating cruise missile defense programs, focusing on the: (1) organizational structure and mechanisms for coordinating cruise missile defense efforts; (2) potential measures of the progress of coordination efforts; (3) progress of coordination using these measures; (4) challenges that DOD officials believe still must be overcome; and (5) defense against land attack cruise missiles.

GAO noted that: (1) the organizational structure for coordinating cruise missile defense efforts across all services consists of the Joint Theater Air and Missile Defense Organization (JTAMDO) and the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) supported by a three-tiered set of integrated product teams; (2) JTAMDO is to focus on operational requirements issues, while BMDO is to focus on acquisition issues; (3) these organizations are to work closely together, using a three-tiered set of teams comprised of personnel from all organizations involved in theater air and missile defense development, acquisition, and operations; (4) these teams are to develop and refine the overall mechanism for coordinating cruise missile defense efforts--the Theater Air and Missile Defense Master Plan; (5) the individual military services are primarily responsible for funding and developing systems and modifications for cruise missile defense; (6) DOD officials told GAO the ultimate measure of the effectiveness of the coordination process would be the fielding of a cost-effective, interoperable cruise missile defense capability; (7) full accomplishment of this goal is several years away, and DOD has not specified interim measures of progress toward the goal; (8) GAO identified some outputs and results that would indicate progress toward coordinating these efforts, including: (a) developing and refining an overall defense strategy and options for implementing the strategy; (b) gaining acceptance of the master plan by affected organizations; (c) developing and approving overall requirements for a family of theater missile defense systems; (d) planning and conducting joint demonstrations of the systems; (e) achieving agreement between the master plan and the services' proposed budgets; and (f) establishing investment priorities; (9) DOD has made initial progress toward coordinating its cruise missile defense efforts based on both the process and output measures; (10) DOD officials recognize they still face coordination challenges in acquiring a cost-effective cruise missile defense; and (11) there are technical challenges to be overcome, including developing mechanisms to enhance warfighters' ability to fight jointly and a capability to intercept cruise missiles outside the view of weapon system operators, improving sensors' abilities to detect and track low observable cruise missiles, fielding interoperable systems, and developing low-cost defense systems to counter attacks by large numbers of unsophisticated cruise missiles.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD could not identify actions taken in response to this recommendation. Agency personnel suggested that GAO search a classified document posted to the Joint Air and Missile Defense database to determine whether recommended actions have been implemented. However, the agency, so far, has been unable to provide GAO with access to the database or the document.

    Recommendation: Because the final results of the coordination process will not be known for several years, the Secretary of Defense should develop a time-phased set of interim measures that can be used to assess progress toward a cost-effective, interoperable family of cruise missile defense systems. These measures should include, as a minimum, metrics that will show progress toward developing the operational and system architectures required, resolution of the technical and managerial challenges, demonstration of needed technology, and investment priorities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD could not identify the actions taken in response to this recommendation. The Department suggested that GAO examine a classified summary posted on the Joint Theater Air and Missile Defense network to determine the changes, if any, that may have been implemented. However, DOD has, so far, been unable to provide GAO with access to the database or the document.

    Recommendation: To enable congressional committees responsible for funding and oversight of theater and missile defense activities to have information with which to assess DOD's progress and make appropriate policy and funding decisions, the Secretary of Defense should: (1) incorporate these time-phased measures into the Theater Air and Missile Defense Master Plan; and (2) provide the most recently approved master plan to Congress in a timely manner for annual budget deliberations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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