Reserve Forces:

Aspects of the Army's Equipping Strategy Hamper Reserve Readiness

NSIAD-93-11: Published: Feb 18, 1993. Publicly Released: Feb 18, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the Army's strategies for equipping National Guard and reserve units.

GAO found that: (1) the Army and National Guard have improved equipment readiness, in both absolute terms and the dollar value of ready major equipment items; (2) shortages of some transportation and communications equipment are particularly widespread and affect unit readiness; (3) the shortages posed difficulties during the mobilization for the Gulf War and impaired mission performance during the war; (4) the Army has emphasized modernization over readiness in its procurement and distribution activities; (5) the Army frequently deviates from the Master Priority List, which is supposed to ensure that critical equipment goes to those units most likely to be involved in combat; (6) the Army equips some active combat forces less likely to fight before equipping certain support units likely to fully deploy during the early stages of a conflict; (7) the Dedicated Procurement Program, a congressionally sponsored program designed to help reserve units overcome some of the limitations imposed by the Army's procurement and distribution priorities, has directed funding to planned purchases for reserve units and helped improve the reserves' equipment posture; (8) Congress has directed that some program funds be used for items not identified as high-priority requirements; and (9) reserve units may not benefit as much as they could from equipment that will become excess as a result of Army downsizing.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congres has continued to manage the Dedicated Procurement Program as it has in the past.

    Matter: To increase the impact of the Dedicated Procurement Program, Congress may wish to give greater consideration to near-term readiness problems and high-priority equipment needs identified by the reserves in specifying items for procurement.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In April 1993, the Army completed a review of the fourth package of support units. No changes in priority resulted from that review. Priority continues to be based on estimated deployment date under the DOD "First-to-Fight" policy, rather than strictly by placement in the contingency force. Unit priority is reassessed on a semiannual basis to reflect changes in world events. This provides needed flexibility.

    Recommendation: To ensure that all units of the Army's contingency force achieve a high state of readiness, the Secretary of the Army should raise the equipping priority of the fourth package of support units to be commensurate with other contingency force support units.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army has reassessed its equipment distribution policies and continues to support the current policy because it meets current DOD guidance of "first to fight, first to equip." In addition, cost and loss-of-flexibility issues preclude change to redistribution policies at this time.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should reassess the costs and benefits of continuing the existing Army policy that permits equipment redistribution at lower levels of organization and among major Army commands regardless of higher equipping priorities elsewhere.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army


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