National Guard:

Peacetime Training Did Not Adequately Prepare Combat Brigades for Gulf War

NSIAD-91-263: Published: Sep 24, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 24, 1991.

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Mark E. Gebicke
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GAO reviewed the training and preparedness of the three Army National Guard roundout brigades that were activated during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, focusing on whether: (1) they had been adequately trained during peacetime to perform their wartime duties; (2) the Army's experience with the three brigades revealed any significant weaknesses in the National Guard's peacetime administrative strategy; (3) the Army's peacetime screening of reservists had adequately assessed the medical condition of the personnel in those brigades; and (4) peacetime training evaluations were useful in developing post-mobilization training plans.

GAO found that: (1) the Army has not adequately prepared its National Guard roundout brigades to deploy quickly; (2) many soldiers were not completely trained to do their jobs and many noncommissioned officers were not adequately trained in leadership skills; (3) the Army's peacetime medical screening program for the National Guard failed to identify dental and other medical ailments that would have adversely affected the ability of many Guard members to deploy early, and only upon mobilization did the Army find that over 4,000 of the Guard members had physical conditions that caused them to be undeployable; (4) in peacetime, the National Guard uses administrative systems that are not compatible with active Army systems to manage personnel and supply operations which, upon mobilization, downgraded the brigades' ability to mobilize efficiently and to train effectively; (5) peacetime training lacked challenging, realistic training missions, failed to integrate combat arms, combat-support, and combat service-support elements, was sometimes cancelled because of inadequate support by host installations, and was often conducted with shortages of authorized equipment; and (6) since the post-mobilization training plans developed by each of the three brigades during peacetime were based on unreliable proficiency and combat readiness ratings, Army trainers had to develop ad hoc post-mobilization training plans that called for far more training days than envisioned by brigade commanders and required the support of almost 9,000 active Army trainers and other personnel.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation involved three recommendations from the February 1991 report. Action has been completed on two recommendations dealing with evaluations on demonstrated proficiency in mission-essential tasks and headquarters review of 1-R evaluations. The Army still disagrees that the requirement that evaluators provide commands written evaluation results be eliminated.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should reassess the Department of Defense's position on the training readiness evaluation recommendations made in a February 1991 GAO report to ensure that training readiness reports are accurate indicators of readiness.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army is developing a dental education program and is exploring the feasibility of a self-funded health insurance plan for the reserves. Also, the Army now requires dental examinations during periodic medical exams for reservists. Congress enacted legislation in FY93 that requires all Guard personnel to undergo an annual dental screening.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should explore alternatives to identify and correct the serious dental ailments of roundout brigade personnel. Options could include: (1) requiring periodic dental examinations and treatment as a condition of continued membership in the unit; or (2) providing financial assistance to the members for dental care.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has revised its regulations to: (a) ensure medical screenings will be initiated at the first medical examination after the 36th birthday; and (b) establish the time point for physical examinations as 5-year multiples of the birth date.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should revise National Guard medical screening policies and procedures to provide screenings of roundout brigade personnel at age 40.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has initiated several actions to improve the compatibility between Active Army and National Guard Systems. These actions are primarily geared to providing roundout brigades training on the Unit Level Logistic System, and the Standard Installation Division Personnel System. The Army developed software to improve Guard training.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should ensure that peacetime training is provided to roundout brigade personnel responsible for operating active Army personnel and supply systems and for maintaining tracked vehicles upon mobilization.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has developed validation procedures for future mobilizations. Satisfactory completion of the combined premobilization and post-mobilization training program, requiring proficiency in mission-essential tasks, will be the evaluation criteria. Revised Army regulations have been developed and are being issued.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should develop and issue criteria to be used to validate the combat readiness of reserve roundout brigades in future mobilizations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army


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