Air Force Fighters:

More Reliance on Reserves Increases the Need to Know Their Capabilities

NSIAD-94-86: Published: May 9, 1994. Publicly Released: May 9, 1994.

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GAO discussed the relative capabilities of active and reserve Air Force fighter forces and the adequacy of current reporting mechanisms to identify differences between those forces.

GAO found that: (1) force reductions increase reliance on the reserves; (2) the current strategy regards the reserves as augmenting forces; (3) some reserve fighter aircraft will more likely be needed than others; (4) Air National Guard peacetime initiatives recognize increasing demands; (5) meeting higher expectations may require more operating funds for reserve forces; (6) Air Force assessment systems do not reveal differences between active and reserve fighters; (7) active and reserve air fighter forces do not report against the same standards; (8) reserve units have older, fewer, and less capable fighter aircraft; (9) reserve pilots fly less and are assigned fewer mission taskings; (10) reserves participate less frequently in overseas and joint training exercises; and (11) reserve fighter pilots are less available and take longer to deploy.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Committees have not taken action at this time.

    Matter: Since the Air Force reserve forces will be increasingly relied on to fulfill an early combat role, Congress should consider having the Air Force, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve discuss how they intend to minimize the risks from increased reliance on reserve fighter forces in terms of their relative availability and time needed to deploy, capability, ability to undertake a broader range of missions, and training opportunities.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The congressionally directed Commission on Roles and Missions recommended that DOD size and shape reserved components more consistently with national strategy needs and develop a joint readiness assessment system to assess the status of units assigned unified commanders. The Commission said the services should precede the joint process by assessing their individual force readiness against standards derived from the CINCs' contingency plans. This would include the reserve units' readiness to accomplish assigned tasks within the time frames specified. The Committees have not taken action at this time.

    Matter: Congress, when debating the appropriate mix of reserve and active fighter forces and requirements for 20 fighter wing equivalents and responding to two major regional conflicts, should consider requesting that the Air Force provide relevant indicators of relative capability.


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