Military Services Providing Needed Capabilities but a Few Challenges Emerging

NSIAD-98-160: Published: Apr 29, 1998. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the military services' efforts to provide the needed capabilities for continued military operations in Bosnia, focusing on: (1) how the services have provided the needed capabilities for the operation thus far; (2) how the services plan to provide them in the future; and (3) the President's ability to call up reserves under his Presidential Selected Reserve Call-up (PSRC) authority.

GAO noted that: (1) the military services have successfully provided needed capabilities for the Bosnia mission for the past 2 1/2 years; (2) the U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) has provided the majority of Army forces, augmented with reserve forces and active forces from the United States; (3) because USAREUR units are assigned fewer personnel than they are authorized, the Army had to borrow personnel from nondeploying units so that deploying units could deploy with the required number of people; (4) also, because the operation did not always require entire units, the Army deployed partial ones; (5) these steps enabled the Army to meet the mission's needs but, in some cases, have had an adverse impact on the parent units that have provided personnel; (6) the U.S. Air Forces Europe has provided the majority of air forces, augmented with U.S.-based active and reserve forces; (7) both services have used their reserve components to meet the mission requirements because some critical support capabilities reside primarily or solely in the reserves and because use of the reserves reduces the high level of activity of some active forces; (8) most Army reservists were involuntarily activated through PSRC, while most Air Force Air Reserve Component members were volunteers; (9) with the decision to extend the Bosnia mission indefinitely, the Army and the Air Force are developing plans for a follow-on force; (10) though the vast majority of the ground-based combat support and the aviation-related requirements for the mission can be filled, about a dozen unit capabilities will require special attention in the future because the capabilities are primarily in the reserves and many of these capabilities have already been used; (11) requirements for these capabilities have totalled several hundred persons per rotation; (12) to satisfy future mission needs, the military services and the U.S. Atlantic Command are considering using similar capabilities in the other military services, asking for greater participation from other countries, and contracting for some of the needed capabilities; (13) some reservists have served for fewer than the 270 days that the PSRC statute allows; (14) because the statute does not prohibit multiple involuntary activations if the total does not exceed the 270-day limit, some of these reservists could be recalled to serve up to the full activation period; and (15) in addition, the Bosnia mission has led to a situation in which in some instances all of the reservists with needed capabilities have been ordered to duty and served the maximum time allowed for a single call-up.

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