Reserve Training:

FIREX 88 Achieved Its Objectives but Missed Other Training Opportunities

NSIAD-89-198BR: Published: Sep 15, 1989. Publicly Released: Sep 15, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the Army's FIREX 88 training exercise, focusing on: (1) whether the Army achieved exercise objectives at various command levels; and (2) what benefits the Army gained from the exercise, including whether it identified weaknesses in the Army's conventional capabilities.

GAO found that: (1) the exercise successfully achieved its major objectives by bringing together more than 15,000 reserve soldiers in an integrated live-fire exercise, mobilizing and deploying units to the exercise site from 20 states, and exercising combat service-support operations; (2) the exercise pointed out weaknesses in conventional Army capabilities that may not have been revealed in other types of training exercises, including operational, communications, and equipment problems; (3) although the exercise was beneficial, the Army did not possess the expertise to integrate maneuver, combat support, and combat service-support elements in an exercise of the size and scope of FIREX 88, while maintaining control and safety; (4) the Army did not take advantage of such training opportunities as training in offensive and defense tactics and communications and combat-service-support operations because of a lack of adequate planning and because the exercises involved only limited opposing forces and battlefield simulation; and (5) participating commanders stated that the exercise provided more valuable training than normal annual training periods, since it involved deployment by rail and air and was a large-scale, live-fire exercise.

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