Military Readiness:

DOD Needs to Develop a More Comprehensive Measurement System

NSIAD-95-29: Published: Oct 27, 1994. Publicly Released: Nov 29, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the effect of declining defense budgets on military readiness, focusing on whether: (1) the definition and indicators of readiness adequately reflect the many complex components that contribute to overall military readiness; and (2) there are readiness indicators that can predict positive or negative changes in readiness.

GAO found that: (1) the Department of Defense's (DOD) system for measuring readiness, the Status of Resources and Training System (SORTS), has limitations; (2) SORTS was never intended to provide a comprehensive assessment of overall military readiness; (3) SORTS only measures individual service readiness because there are no indicators available to measure joint readiness; (4) SORTS does not assess operating tempo or troop morale; (5) to supplement SORTS data and facilitate readiness assessments at the unit level, the military commands independently monitor additional indicators that are critical to a comprehensive readiness assessment at the unit level and have some degree of predictive value; and (6) DOD can improve its comprehensive readiness assessments by incorporating unit level indicators, but these indicators will require further refinement to improve their usefulness.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD reviewed the indicators in the GAO report and selected a subset as having the greatest potential for predicting readiness trends. The "Readiness Baseline," a system of indicators to provide trends in the resources required to maintain force readiness, is being developed. The initial indicators have been identified and will be automated and institutionalized as the preliminary "Readiness Baseline" for use by the services and OSD staff.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to develop a more comprehensive readiness measurement system to be used DOD-wide. As part of this effort, the Under Secretary should: (1) review the indicators that have been identified as being critical to predicting readiness and select the specific indicators most relevant to a more comprehensive readiness assessment; (2) develop criteria to evaluate the selected indicators and prescribe how often the indicators should be reported to supplement SORTS data; and (3) ensure that comparable data are maintained by all services to allow the development of trends in the selected indicators.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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