Emergency Airlift:

Responsiveness of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet Can Be Improved

NSIAD-86-47: Published: Mar 24, 1986. Publicly Released: Mar 24, 1986.

Additional Materials:


Nancy R. Kingsbury
(202) 512-4268


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

GAO reviewed the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) program to determine whether: (1) the Department of Defense's (DOD) efforts to ensure that CRAF was ready for mobilization were sufficient and effective; and (2) commercial carriers were prepared to support CRAF aircraft, particularly at foreign airfields.

GAO found that it was uncertain whether CRAF could effectively meet DOD mobilization requirements because: (1) Military Airlift Command (MAC) tests of the program through simulation and field exercises were very limited; (2) DOD had provided limited mobilization planning data to CRAF carriers, making it very difficult for the carriers to plan for utilization of the system in an emergency; (3) MAC had not sufficiently monitored carrier compliance with contract provisions designed to help ensure effective mobilization; and (4) the incompatibility of data communications services at some military airfields with existing commercial services could hinder effective communications. GAO also found that, at overseas airfields, CRAF might not get the support needed because responsible carriers were unaware of the estimated work load for each location. Having allies provide this support under host-nation support agreements is an option that DOD is pursuing.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force has taken action on all of the recommendations. Field exercises were held, but CRAF did not participate as planned because the information was classified and secure communications equipment was not installed. Over 60 percent of the equipment has been delivered and CRAF successfully participated in the "Proud Eagle 90" exercise. No further followup is necessary.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require MAC to: (1) provide typical work-load information to key carrier representatives and evaluate the carriers' abilities to perform their missions; (2) assess CRAF capability of using data obtained from the carriers, field exercises, and simulations; (3) evaluate CRAF carriers' efforts to meet contractual requirements, such as number of qualified crews with security clearances, the availability of Geneva Convention cards, and navigational route kits; and (4) consider the need for additional data communications capabilities at key military airfields for use by CRAF carriers during a national emergency.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD stated that it concurred with the recommendations and had started corrective action on all of them. As DOD negotiates host-nation support agreements, these issues are supposed to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. GAO followup on this recommendation is complete.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require MAC to: (1) provide carriers responsible for supporting CRAF aircraft overseas with general work-load data on the numbers and types of aircraft to be supported at each foreign airfield for their use in planning the efficient movement of combat personnel and cargo; and (2) fully consider CRAF senior lodger support requirements in negotiating host-nation support agreements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Dec 3, 2020

Nov 30, 2020

Nov 24, 2020

Nov 23, 2020

Nov 18, 2020

Nov 16, 2020

Oct 7, 2020

Sep 25, 2020

Sep 23, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here