Army Training:

Computer Simulations Can Improve Command Training in Large-Scale Exercises

NSIAD-91-67: Published: Jan 30, 1991. Publicly Released: Feb 19, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's 1990 Return of Forces to Germany (REFORGER) strategic deployment exercise, focusing on the: (1) extent to which the Army scaled the exercise down; (2) advantages and limitations of using computer simulations in comparison with large-scale ground maneuvers; (3) future plans for using simulations; and (4) potential savings that could result from increased reliance on simulations for training.

GAO found that: (1) although the Army reduced the overall number of U.S. troops participating in REFORGER 1990 by about 56,000 from the 1988 exercise, it did not significantly reduce the number of troops deployed from the United States; (2) computer simulation training in REFORGER 1990 emphasized battle planning, staff procedures, and command and control, made more efficient use of training time, provided realistic training for higher echelon leaders, and lessened adverse environmental and political impacts; (3) weaknesses in the computer simulation training included insufficient pre-exercise training for support personnel, poor representation of intelligence, unrealistic logistics and resupply operations, and insufficient preparation and testing of the computer's database; (4) simulation improvements could correct some weaknesses identified in REFORGER 1990; (5) although the Army planned to expand the use of computer simulation training for future large-scale exercises, future REFORGER exercises could vary in their use of simulations; (6) it was unable to determine the extent of cost savings from computer simulation use due to the high initial costs to develop, field, and support the systems and uneven comparisons with traditional exercises; (7) studies by other audit organizations indicated that the Army failed to follow proper acquisition procedures or use proper funding sources to acquire some computer simulations; and (8) the Department of Defense recognized the need for greater coordination, policy guidance, and oversight of the use of computer simulations, and initiated some corrective actions.

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