Defense Logistics:

Lack of a Synchronized Approach between the Marine Corps and Army Affected the Timely Production and Installation of Marine Corps Truck Armor

GAO-06-274: Published: Jun 22, 2006. Publicly Released: Jun 22, 2006.

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The increasing threat of improvised explosive devices (IED) in Iraq has led to widespread interest by Congress and the public regarding the availability of critical force protection equipment. GAO initiated a series of engagements under the Comptroller General's authority to address these concerns. In March 2006, GAO reported on factors that affected the production and installation of armor for the Army's medium and heavy trucks. This engagement examines issues affecting the production and installation of armor for the Marine Corps' medium and heavy trucks. The objectives were to (1) determine the extent to which truck armor was produced and installed to meet identified requirements, (2) identify what factors affected the time to provide truck armor, and (3) identify what actions the Marine Corps and DOD have taken to improve the timely availability of truck armor.

The Marine Corps met its requirements for the production and installation of add-on truck armor in September 2004--8 months after the requirements were identified in January 2004. In addressing its truck armor requirements, the Marine Corps used a three-phased approach. In the first phase, the Marine Corps validated its initial requirement in January 2004 to armor 1,169 trucks for protection against IEDs and other similar threats. Due to the immediacy of the need to deploy forces to Iraq by March 2004, the Marine Corps installed interim armor that did not provide sufficient IED protection, which Marine Corps officials acknowledged, stating that their intent was to field some level of protection until a more robust armor solution became available. In the second phase, the Marine Corps increased its armor requirement to 1,438 trucks in April 2004 and fully met that requirement in September 2004 with armor that provided enhanced IED protection. In the third phase, the Marine Corps is upgrading to integrated armor for its 7-ton trucks, which provides improved protection because the armor is built into the body of the vehicle. They expect to complete installation by May 2006. Two factors affected the timely production and installation of Marine Corps truck armor. First, a lack of a synchronized approach between the Marine Corps and the Army on addressing truck armor requirements and solutions resulted in the Marine Corps identifying its truck armor requirements and seeking armor solutions 2 months after the Army. Consequently, this delay may have limited the Marine Corps' ability to field interim armor that met IED protection requirements in the first phase, and may have contributed to the time to provide add-on truck armor to deployed Marine Corps forces in the second phase. The Marine Corps did not officially identify a requirement for truck armor and did not begin seeking out armor materials from industry until January 2004--2 months after the Army began its truck armor program in November 2003. According to Marine Corps officials, the armor-grade steel needed for sufficient IED protection was not available from suppliers in time to meet the Marine Corps' deployment timeline of March 2004. As a result, the Marine Corps fielded the interim armor with only limited IED protection. Second, mission needs restricted the rate at which the Marine Corps could replace its interim armor with add-on armor and install integrated armor. The Marine Corps and DOD have taken actions to improve the timely availability of truck armor and other critical wartime equipment. For example, the Marine Corps increased the rate of installation for integrated armor by expanding its armor installation capacity. The Marine Corps is alsotaking longer-term actions, such as developing a plan to address the availability of truck armor for future operations. In addition, DOD established a joint requirements process to improve coordination and accelerate the process of fielding urgent wartime solutions. However, it is unclear whether this process applies to urgent wartime needs such as armor because it excludes the development of new technology solutions.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: As stated in its comments to this report, DOD believes the Army-Marine Corps Board (AMCB) and the Navy- Marine Corps Board (NMCB) address information sharing issues at the 3-star level. While the AMCB was not mature enough during the winter 2003/spring 2004 to influence the initial up-armor issue, DOD stated that it provides a suitable venue for similar topics, provides a means to share information, and meets the "spirit and intent" of the GAO recommendation. Consequently, DOD has planned no further actions to address this recommendation. However, as we stated in our report, while we agree that these Boards enhance the coordination between the two services, they represent an agreement between the services, initiated by the services. The intent of our recommendation is for DOD to develop a more comprehensive DOD-wide process that requires synchronization and coordination between the services in identifying common urgent wartime requirements and developing solutions to those requirements.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the services make informed and coordinated decisions about what materiel solutions are developed and procured to address common urgent wartime requirements, the Secretary of Defense should direct the service secretaries to establish a process to share information between the Marine Corps and the Army on developed or developing materiel solutions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD is issuing a directive-type memorandum (DTM-10-002) to provide department-wide guidance on the JUON process, and this guidance addresses the intent of our recommendation. For example, the DTM clarifies that for cases where technology is not mature enough to fully resolve the identified need, developmental efforts shall be initiated concurrent with fielding a mitigating solution. According to DOD officials, the DTM is in final coordination within the department and is expected to be issued in 2010. Additionally, the Joint Staff, J8 is currently working on an update to CJCSl 3470.01, "Rapid Validation and Resourcing of Joint Urgent Operational Needs (JUON) in the Year of Execution". According to DOD, that update will clarify, among other things, when and if the JUONS process can be used when materiel solutions require development of a new technology or capability.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the services make informed and coordinated decisions about what materiel solutions are developed and procured to address common urgent wartime requirements, the Secretary of Defense should clarify the point at which the Joint Urgent Operations Needs process should be utilized when materiel solutions require research and development.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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