Tactical Airlift:

Air Force European Distribution System--Lessons Learned

NSIAD-87-4: Published: Oct 15, 1986. Publicly Released: Oct 15, 1986.

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Harry R. Finley
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GAO reviewed the Air Force's European Distribution System (EDS), which the Air Force intended to ensure that critical assets would be available at specific European bases during wartime. GAO focused on: (1) system planning and status; (2) potential operational improvements; and (3) lessons to be applied to the development of similar systems in the future.

GAO found that: (1) the system will consist of an automated logistics control system, 3 warehouses, and 18 C-23A aircraft; and (2) in wartime, the system would serve about 100 bases. GAO also found that: (1) the Air Force did not thoroughly plan the system; (2) the system will not be able to serve all of Europe; (3) the C-23A aircraft is too small to carry some cargo, including certain aircraft engines; (4) the Air Force has not followed its inventory stocking criteria; (5) the Air Force might acquire excess storage space for the system; (6) the Air Force did not coordinate its need for the system with other services to permit its most effective use, even though a number of other military facilities are close to system facilities; (7) cost estimates for the system have increased from $120 million to $196 million; and (8) the Air Force simultaneously reprogrammed almost $20 million for the system in increments small enough to escape congressional consent requirements.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) stated that planning had been thorough and complete and did not require additional DOD direction. On September 20, 1986, the Commander, U.S. European Command, directed that EDS be available for use by the Army, Navy, and other nations.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Air Force to require their respective subordinate commands to complete EDS wartime, as well as peacetime, operating plans and integrate them into theaterwide plans after fully assessing the system's: (1) potential to serve the high-priority needs of all potential U.S. and allied users; and (2) requirements and limitations related to its aircraft, its forward stocking criteria, and the size and location of its warehouses.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD endorsed the intent of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to thoroughly justify and properly plan other EDS-like systems considered in the future before proposing that funds for developing them be requested from Congress. The justification and planning of such systems should consider the needs of all potential users and be directed toward preventing the types of problems encountered by EDS.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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