Staffing, Funding, and Use of Military Bands

FPCD-81-72: Published: Sep 23, 1981. Publicly Released: Oct 2, 1981.

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In answer to a request, GAO obtained information concerning the staffing, funding, and use of military bands.

Since 1964, the number of military bands and band members has declined. In 1964, the services had 200 bands and 7,465 band members. As of June 1, 1981, the services had 100 bands and 5,048 band members. Funding levels, in terms of constant fiscal year 1975 dollars, have also declined, although appropriated amounts have increased. According to the services, bands are an integral part of military life and tradition. The services believe that band participation in military ceremonies and parades is essential in maintaining the high standards of morale and esprit de corps that these activities are designed to achieve; that bands are an effective tool in military recruiting programs; and that bands provide support for community relations programs. The military services believe that the public has a right to see the bands perform without charge. The services do not have a uniform method of maintaining records of performances. However, performance information GAO could obtain showed that despite personnel reductions, the number of annual performances per band increased substantially between 1970 and 1980. The bands have been reorganized and, as structured, each band can be broken into several smaller performing groups so that a band can be performing at several locations simultaneously. Reductions in band strength and relocations have generally resulted in the remaining bands having larger spheres of responsibility than in 1970.

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