Operational Support Airlift:

Analysis of Joint Staff Estimate of Military Wartime Requirements

NSIAD-96-157: Published: Jun 21, 1996. Publicly Released: Jun 21, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) estimate of wartime operational support airlift requirements, focusing on how changes in flight frequency assumptions affected the calculation of aircraft requirements.

GAO found that: (1) its calculation of the activity-based demand differed slightly from the Joint Staff's estimate; (2) using the assumptions set forth in the Joint Staff study, GAO found that the Joint Staff estimate was overstated by 6 aircraft 391 versus GAO's estimate of 385 aircraft; (3) subsequent to GAO's initial analysis, it was informed by DOD officials that they had used a different capability assumption in computing the Pacific Command's (PACOM) requirement for long-range aircraft; (4) instead of using the assumption that these aircraft can average two round trips per day between regions, as shown in the Joint Staff study and as reflected in related briefing charts, their requirement was based on the assumption that long-range aircraft can average only 1.5 flights per day in PACOM; (5) if GAO substitutes this assumption in its analysis, it gets the same overall aircraft requirement that was reported in the Joint Staff study; (6) however, GAO's figures still differ slightly in the appropriate mix of aircraft; (7) to test how changing the assumption on the number of flights needed each day between and within overseas regions would affect the Joint Staff s estimate, GAO calculated the requirement based on the need for two rather than three flights a day; (8) GAO's calculation resulted in a requirement for 55 fewer aircraft than reported in the Joint Staff's study; and (9) GAO recalculated the requirement merely to demonstrate the impact that changing the assumption would have on aircraft requirements; it is not questioning the flight frequency requirement established by the commanders in chief.

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