Manpower Effectiveness of the All-Volunteer Force

FPCD-81-38: Published: Jul 15, 1981. Publicly Released: Jul 15, 1981.

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An assessment was made to determine whether the problems and recommendations cited in a previous classified report on the manpower effectiveness of the All Volunteer Forces (AVF) were still valid. Three main objectives in preparing the assessment were to: (1) determine if actions had been taken to improve previously reported situations; (2) obtain updated information on issues which could be incorporated in an unclassified report; and (3) make the analysis available so as to add to public debate on this subject.

GAO found that, since its classified report was issued, the executive branch had taken some actions to improve the manpower mobilization system, including a new system for computing manpower requirements, but that a shortage of people could severely hamper each unit's ability to perform its wartime mission. Further, there are still many unknowns on the use of (1) pretrained individuals before and after mobilization, and (2) the number of reservists who would fail to report or report late if recalled. The Office of the Secretary of Defense has directed the services to use an expected yield goal of 90 percent for the individual ready reservists for planning purposes; however, the basis for their goal has not been systematically established. Also, it appears that the Army would have to degrade the quality of training after mobilization because of a shortage of training companies, trainers, training equipment, and training supplies.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should reexamine the Nation's Total Force policy and the staffing of the force with all volunteers. It should also decide whether the Nation's military commitments should be lessened. Once this is decided, Congress should reevaluate the roles of the Active, Guard, Reserve, and/or pretrained individuals to meet the Total Force commitments and determine the costs of implementing the recommendations.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should: (1) define data used in the Wartime Manpower Program system and thoroughly explain the system's limitations when reporting to Congress; and (2) limit the Department of Defense's estimates of usable numbers of pretrained individuals to those that have been located.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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