Military Readiness:

Readiness Reports Do Not Provide a Clear Assessment of Army Equipment

NSIAD-99-119: Published: Jun 16, 1999. Publicly Released: Jun 16, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the equipment readiness in active duty Army units, focusing on whether the active duty units: (1) have the equipment required to conduct their wartime missions; (2) are keeping their equipment in good condition; and (3) can sustain the equipment in a two major theater war as required by the National Military Strategy.

GAO noted that: (1) while details are classified, a high percentage of active duty Army units have the major equipment items they need for their wartime mission; (2) moreover, Army information shows that units are maintaining the bulk of their equipment in a fully mission capable condition; (3) despite these positive indications of readiness, readiness reporting systems are not comprehensive enough to reveal all readiness weaknesses; (4) for example, they do not show operational limitations that have been caused by extensive shortages of support equipment essential to effective, sustained use of major equipment items; (5) units could deploy without this equipment and could perform their basic combat missions, but they would be limited in their capability, flexibility, or sustainability; (6) additionally, the Army has stated that its equipment is aging and becoming increasingly difficult to maintain and maintenance managers at units GAO visited said that their mechanics are devoting increasing amounts of time to keep equipment operating; (7) these problems are not reflected in readiness data, which show units are able to keep their equipment serviceable; (8) GAO has reported that serviceability rates do not provide a good assessment of equipment condition because equipment that is old, unreliable, and difficult to maintain may still be reported serviceable; (9) while maintenance problems may exist, the Army does not have data that clearly shows either what its equipment problems are or how units are affected; (10) two factors suggest that the Army could have difficulty sustaining equipment in the event of two nearly simultaneous military operations; (11) there is a significant shortage of maintenance personnel with the right skills and tenure; (12) as a result, unit maintenance personnel are working longer and harder to keep equipment in a fully mission capable condition; (13) Army officials are concerned that shortages of war reserve repair parts could seriously affect the operational availability of many of the Army's primary weapon systems; and (14) Army officials report they have started efforts to fund critical shortages.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Army Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations sent a message dated February 11, 2000, to Army commanders requiring them to identify the operational impacts of shortages of essential operational equipment.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations to reemphasize to Army commanders the requirement to identify the operational impact of essential auxiliary equipment shortages in the narrative remarks section of the Unit Status Report and to properly consider shortages of auxiliary equipment when formulating their mission accomplishment estimates. The Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations should instruct commanders to focus more broadly on unit capability, flexibility, and sustainability issues in formulating their overall unit status and mission accomplishment estimate.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics submitted an annual report to Congress through the Secretary of the Army. The report highlighted the Army's top 50 most critical items of auxiliary equipment and additional information relative to addressing the problems. The first annual report was published at the end of fiscal year 2000.

    Recommendation: To improve equipment condition reporting, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics to submit a periodic report to Congress that highlights the Army's top equipment problems. This report should address more than just the 16 reportable Status of Resources and Training Systems and should identify major equipment readiness concerns and planned corrective actions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army


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