Military Personnel:

DOD Actions Needed to Improve the Efficiency of Mobilizations for Reserve Forces

GAO-03-921: Published: Aug 21, 2003. Publicly Released: Aug 21, 2003.

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On September 14, 2001, President Bush proclaimed that a national emergency existed by reason of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Under section 12302 of title 10, United States Code, the President is allowed to call up to 1 million National Guard and Reserve members to active duty for up to 2 years. GAO was asked to review issues related to the call-up of reservists following September 11, 2001. GAO examined (1) whether the Department of Defense (DOD) followed existing operation plans when mobilizing forces, (2) the extent to which responsible officials had visibility over the mobilization process, and (3) approaches the services have taken to provide predictability to reservists. GAO also determined the extent to which the Ready Reserve forces, which make up over 98 percent of nonretired reservists, were available.

About 300,000 of the 1.2 million National Guard and Reserve personnel have been called to active duty since September 11, 2001. They fought on the front lines in Iraq; tracked terrorists throughout Asia and Africa; maintained the peace in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and now Iraq; and participated in a wide range of domestic missions. However, DOD's process to mobilize reservists after September 11 had to be modified and contained numerous inefficiencies. Existing operation plans did not fully address the mobilization requirements needed to deal with the terrorist attacks or uncertain overseas requirements. For example, no previous requirements called for the extended use of National Guard and Reserve members to fly combat air patrols over the nation's capital and major cities. Because DOD could not rely on existing operation plans to guide its mobilizations, it used a modified process that relied on additional management oversight and multiple layers of coordination, which resulted in a process that was slower and less efficient than the traditional process. Under the modified process, the Secretary of Defense signed 246 deployment orders to mobilize over 280,000 reservists compared to the less than 10 deployment orders needed to mobilize over 220,000 reservists during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. DOD did not have visibility over the entire mobilization process primarily because it lacked adequate systems for tracking personnel and other resources. DOD's primary automated readiness reporting system could not adequately track the personnel and other resources within the small units that were frequently needed. Also, visibility was lost because some services' active and reserve systems for tracking personnel were incompatible, resulting in ad hoc coordination between active and reserve officials. Both groups often resorted to tracking mobilizations with computer spreadsheets. In addition, some reservists were deployed beyond dates specified in their orders or stayed on alert for more than a year and never mobilized because officials lost visibility. The services have used two primary approaches--predictable operating cycles and advance notification--to provide time for units and personnel to prepare for mobilizations. All the services provide predictability to portions of their forces through some type of standard operating cycle, but only the Air Force has a standard operating cycle that brings predictability to both its active and reserve forces. The Army prioritizes its units, and lower-priority units generally need extra training and preparation time before deploying. Yet, since September 11, a number of lower-priority units have been mobilized with relatively little advance notice. Despite the large number of lower-priority units within the Army Guard and Reserve, the Army does not have a standard operating cycle to provide predictability to its reserves. Without such a concept, the Army's opportunities to provide extra training and preparation time to its reserve forces are limited. Mobilizations were hampered because one-quarter of the Ready Reserve was not readily available for mobilization. Over 70,000 reservists could not be mobilized because they had not completed their training requirements, and the services lacked information needed to fully use the 300,000 pretrained IRR members.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation and has updated its plans to account for requirements that have emerged since 9/11/01. The requirements were addressed in January, 2007 when the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff updated his mobilization guidance to the services and issued CJCSI 3110.13C, Mobilization Guidance for the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan. In addition, in the time since our report was issued, the United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM) was created and NORTHCOM has developed operations plans to address requirements that have emerged since 9/11. GAO also has ongoing work reviewing the other updated classified operations plans of the Combatant Commanders.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to identify all of the mobilization requirements that have evolved since September 11, 2001, and create or update operation plans as necessary, to account for these requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Joint Chiefs of Staff

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Navy is implementing the Defense Readiness Reporting System (DRRS), which provides enhanced readiness reporting information concerning the ability of units to meet the tailored requirements of the combatant commanders. Currently the Navy is using its own Defense Readiness Reporting System-Navy (DRRS-N) to feed DRRS and provide key mobilization officials within the Navy, the Joint Staff, and DOD the enhanced readiness information necessary to make decisions concerning tailored combatant commander requirements.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army and the Navy to capture readiness information on the resources within all the units that are available to meet the tailored requirements of combatant commanders so that these resources will be visible to key mobilization officials within DOD, the Joint Staff, and the service headquarters.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army is implementing the Defense Readiness Reporting System (DRRS), which provides enhanced readiness reporting information concerning the ability of units to meet the tailored requirements of the combatant commanders. Currently, the Army is using its own Defense Readiness Reporting System-Army (DRRS-A) to feed DRRS and provide key mobilization officials within the Army, the Joint Staff, and DOD the enhanced readiness information necessary to make decisions concerning tailored combatant commander requirements.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army and the Navy to capture readiness information on the resources within all the units that are available to meet the tailored requirements of combatant commanders so that these resources will be visible to key mobilization officials within DOD, the Joint Staff, and the service headquarters.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation and has a single system under development--the Defense Integrated Military Human Resource System (DIMHRS)--but the system has missed several key milestones and will not be fully implemented in the near term.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in conjunction with the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, to develop a single automated system or fully integrated automated systems that will provide for the seamless transfer of reservists information, regardless of whether the reservists are in an active or reserve status.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force issued an updated Mobilization Planning and Personnel Readiness instruction in August 2007. The instruction contains the tenets of mobilization such as, mobilization planning responsibilities, mobilization process, and sourcing from the pre-trained individual manpower pool.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs to update their applicable mobilization instructions, notices, and publications.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation and is currently implementing a series of initiatives which allow for more predictable and judicious use of the Reserves. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has formalized and updated his mobilization guidance to the Services by issuing CJCSI 3110.13C, Mobilization Guidance for the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan, in January 2007.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs to update their applicable mobilization instructions, notices, and publications.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In April 2007, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness updated its mobilization guidance by issuing a directive that addressed Activation, Mobilization, and Demobilization of the Ready Reserves. The directive updates DOD policy regarding the activation of reserve component forces and assigns responsibilities to appropriate secretaries of the military departments to ensure the existence of systematic procedures for alerting, ordering, or calling members of the reserve component to active duty and the necessary resources to support such activations. The directive also enhances the predictable use of the Reserve component forces and directs the services to maintain visibility and personnel accountability regarding those capabilities provided by reserve component members involuntarily activated.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs to update their applicable mobilization instructions, notices, and publications.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation and is currently implementing a series of initiatives which allow for more predictable and judicious use of the Reserves. The Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum on January 19, 2007, on the utilization of the Total Force and how to best support global operational needs while providing predictability to all active and reserve components. First, involuntary mobilization for members of the reserve forces will be for a maximum one year at any one time. Secondly, mobilization of ground combat, combat support and combat services support will be managed on unit basis which will allow greater predictability in how these Reserve units train and deploy. Lastly, the planning objective for involuntary mobilization of Guard/Reserve units will remain a one year mobilized to five years demobilized ratio. Army leadership made a decision in early July 2005 to implement a new decision forum/process called Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN). ARFORGEN entails a sequential approach to readiness that synchronizes unit capabilities and readiness reporting with equipping and resourcing strategies. ARFORGEN processes improve predictability for commanders, soldiers, and their families. It gives improved predictability of available forces and decreases the joint force commander's uncertainty of unit readiness when called upon. ARFORGEN manages the Army's limited resources more effectively.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to develop a standard operating cycle concept to help increase predictability for Army reserve units.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Joint Chiefs of Staff

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In July 2006, the Army provided full access to Army readiness data in support of combatant commanders through the Defense Readiness Reporting System (DRRS).

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the service secretaries to develop and use results-oriented performance metrics to guide service efforts to gain and maintain improved information on IRR members.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation to develop results-oriented performance metrics for the Individual Ready Reserve(IRR). The Air Reserve Personnel Center is now using three methods to screen IRR members. In addition to its annual mail survey, it reinstated its annual one-day musters, which had been suspended 2 years before our report was issued. In FY 2005, it began mustering approximately 4,000-6,000 IRR members annually. In FY 2005 it also conducted a "Push-Pull" mobilization exercise where IRR members were "pushed" to an Air Education and Training Center to confirm basic suitability for service and provided equipment, uniforms, and training, and then "pulled" to active duty CONUS bases to meet shortfall requirements. In June 2007, the Air Force conducted another "Push-Pull" mobilization exercise to maintain improved information on its IRR members.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the service secretaries to develop and use results-oriented performance metrics to guide service efforts to gain and maintain improved information on IRR members.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: IRR policies have been updated through a Naval Administrative message issued by the Chief of Naval Personnel on January 22, 2007. The message addresses two performance areas that will help the Navy gain and maintain improved information on its IRR members. First, it established reporting requirements for an annual muster program including the basis for requirement to muster, the benefits of mustering, and the consequences for non-compliance. The message also addressed the required reporting of civilian employment information, which can enhance sourcing decisions affecting the Navy's IRR members.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the service secretaries to develop and use results-oriented performance metrics to guide service efforts to gain and maintain improved information on IRR members.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  12. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On July 16, 2005, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness issued DODI 1235.13, Management of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) and Inactive National Guard (ING). This directive instructs the military service- including the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard- and other DOD entities to update their policies and assign responsibilities for the management of the IRR. The directive also instructs the services to identify the categories of IRR member who are most likely to be needed at various levels of contingency operations or mobilization, and training and screening should be prioritized for those in need. Finally, the directive instructs the services to develop mobilization procedures for IRR members. On November 22, 2005, the Air Reserve Personnel Center updated its policies regarding the Individual Ready Reserve and issued an instruction (ARPCI 36-3202) concerning the processing of IRR members.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the service secretaries to review and update their IRR policies to take into account the nature of the mobilization requirements as well as the types of reservists who are available to fill the requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force: Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Manpower, Reserve Affairs, and Installations)

  13. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On July 16, 2005, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness issued DODI 1235.13, Management of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) and Inactive National Guard (ING). This directive instructs the military service- including the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard- and other DOD entities to update their policies and assign responsibilities for the management of the IRR. The directive also instructs the services to identify the categories of IRR member who are most likely to be needed at various levels of contingency operations or mobilization, and training and screening should be prioritized for those in need. Finally, the directive instructs the services to develop mobilization procedures for IRR members. The Navy has updated it IRR policies through a Navy Administrative message that was sent out by the Chief of Naval Personnel on January 22, 2007. The message must be given to all personnel who are leaving active duty to become members of the IRR. It also sets out counseling requirements for commands and emphasizes the use of the Navy's muster program as a means for encouraging IRR members to volunteer for current mobilization requirements.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the service secretaries to review and update their IRR policies to take into account the nature of the mobilization requirements as well as the types of reservists who are available to fill the requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  14. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On July 16, 2005, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness issued DODI 1235.13, Management of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) and Inactive National Guard (ING). This directive instructs the military service- including the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard- and other DOD entities to update their policies and assign responsibilities for the management of the IRR. The directive also instructs the services to identify the categories of IRR member who are most likely to be needed at various levels of contingency operations or mobilization, and training and screening should be prioritized for those in need. Finally, the directive instructs the services to develop mobilization procedures for IRR members. The Army has updated its Individual Ready Reserve policies issuing the Individual Ready Reserve Transformation Plan on December 31, 2005. According to an official at Army Human Resources Command St. Louis, the plan is being implemented across the Army reserve components in fiscal year 2007. It outlines an integrated and systematic approach to human capital management that provides the tools necessary to create a reliable source of skilled manpower.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the service secretaries to review and update their IRR policies to take into account the nature of the mobilization requirements as well as the types of reservists who are available to fill the requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

 

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