U.S. Combat Air Power:

Reassessing Plans to Modernize Interdiction Capabilities Could Save Billions

NSIAD-96-72: Published: May 13, 1996. Publicly Released: May 13, 1996.

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GAO evaluated the military services' current aggregate interdiction assets for striking enemy targets and the contribution of planned modernization programs to total interdiction capabilities, focusing on the reasonableness of the planned enhancements.

GAO found that: (1) although the services have determined that they have enough capability to carry out the national military strategy of being able to engage and win in two nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts, the services plan to spend over $213 billion to modify and purchase weapons; (2) the services' independently developed modernization plans do not consider the other services' capabilities, sometimes resulting in interdiction redundancies; (3) some weapons modernization proposals may not be sound investments because they may add expensive new capabilities that may be redundant or unnecessary; and (4) until the Department of Defense assesses interdiction capabilities in the aggregate, there can be little assurance that the appropriate, most cost-effective mix of weapons systems is being identified, developed, and fielded for interdiction missions.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD is performing at least one study in a manner similar to GAO's recommendation. The Deep Attack Weapons Mix study appears to be analyzing a particular set of the services' aggregate capabilities to define the proper mix needed to adequately meet future warfighting requirements. However, DOD has not agreed that such aggregate analyses should be a routine part of its process for deciding funding priorities, the sufficiency of investment, and future force structure. DOD IG has closed this case based on the July 9, 1996 letter from DOD to GAO. DOD IG concluded, according to the case contact, that "The DOD response shows it is doing what GAO recommended and no other corrective action merits tracking."

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should routinely review service modernization proposals based on how they will increase the current aggregate ability of the U.S. military to perform the interdiction mission. Such a process should prioritize funding for those capabilities that contribute most to meeting the joint operation requirements and assist in determining the appropriate mix and quantities of interdiction capabilities. Moreover, proposals that add redundancy, such as the B-1B and Apache modifications and precision-guided missiles, should be examined in the context of the additional interdiction capability they offer as well as the contributions they make to other mission areas. This analysis could serve as the basis for deciding funding priorities, the sufficiency of investment, and the future force structure. GAO recognizes that some weapon systems are multimission and this recommended assessment should consider the potential contribution to those other missions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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