Army National Guard:

Planned Conversions Are a Positive Step, but Unvalidated Combat Forces Remain

NSIAD-97-55BR: Published: Jan 29, 1997. Publicly Released: Jan 29, 1997.

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Richard Davis
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GAO reviewed the Army National Guard Division Redesign Study to determine how the study addressed the need to make better use of reserve forces.

GAO found that: (1) the Army National Guard Division Redesign Study developed an option that provides for the conversion of some Guard combat and supporting forces to fill needed, but unresourced, support requirements; (2) this planned conversion is a step in the right direction, but neither this study nor the studies from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation deal with the critical issues of validating the need for the remaining Guard combat structure and eliminating any excess forces; (3) as a result, the studies leave substantial Guard structure in place that has no valid war-fighting mission; (4) according to Department of Defense and Joint Staff officials, however, the Quadrennial Defense Review may consider them; (5) the Army National Guard Division Redesign Study working group (chartered by the Army's Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans) and a parallel study group (the Guard's Division Project Action Committee) considered several options to redesign the Guard combat divisions to fill support requirements; (6) three of these options were evaluated to determine initial costs and feasibility; (7) a General Officers Working Group then selected the option to convert two of the Guard's combat divisions and six combat brigades, about 42,700 spaces, into required support spaces; (8) this option also allows the Guard to keep the other six combat divisions, minus three combat brigades, and create two new divisions with each division containing three enhanced brigades and an active duty administrative headquarters; (9) the study's preliminary estimates are that it would take about $2.8 billion to convert these combat spaces and could take from 10 to 29 years, depending upon annual funding, to complete the conversion; (10) however, the Army does not plan to begin this conversion until it has purchased all the equipment needed to convert another 66,000 active and reserve support spaces, identified through another Army analysis, into required support spaces; (11) the total cost for this first conversion effort is an estimated $2.6 billion; (12) the final costs and implementation time frame for the Division Redesign Study and the feasibility of the new divisions are still being evaluated; and (13) according to Army officials, preliminary results from the cost evaluation indicate that costs could be less than originally estimated.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Quadrennial Defense Review has been completed. GAO has no indication that the Secretary of Defense directed the action that GAO recommended. However, the Review considered missions for the National Guard combat structure and determined that the defense strategy could be supported with a smaller force.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense, as he guides the Quadrennial Defense Review, should direct that the review process validate requirements for Guard combat structure.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Quadrennial Defense Review determined that 45,000 total spaces could be cut from the National Guard and Army Reserve. As a result of further negotiations between the Reserve components and the Army, the Guard and Reserve agreed to cut 20,000 personnel--17,000 Guard and 3,000 Reserve. The cuts are to occur for the Guard as follows: 5,000 in 1998, 5,000 in 1999, and 7,000 in 2000. The cuts for the Reserve will occur in 2000. It is unclear when and where the additional 25,000 personnel cuts will occur.

    Recommendation: Once this validation is complete, the Secretary of Defense, in concert with the Secretary of the Army, should eliminate any structure beyond that which is needed to carry out the national security strategy.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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