Progress Toward More Mobile and Deployable Forces

NSIAD-99-229: Published: Sep 30, 1999. Publicly Released: Oct 19, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) efforts to develop more mobile and deployable forces, focusing on: (1) how NATO determines its force requirements and each member's contribution to meeting those requirements; and (2) how NATO allies have responded to the need for increased mobility and deployability in their military forces.

GAO noted that: (1) NATO establishes its force goals through an iterative 2-year defense planning process that starts with an analysis of the threat and other NATO missions, such as search and rescue; incorporates political and affordability considerations through multiple negotiations with each country; and ends with the members' defense ministers' adoption of force goals; (2) through this process, NATO commanders and planners identify the forces needed and seek commitments from member countries to develop the forces necessary for the broad range of potential NATO missions; (3) the force planning process differs from the process for generating forces for specific operational missions such as those in Bosnia; (4) although U.S. and NATO officials believe that the planning process is a fair method for distributing the burden of providing for NATO's common defense, the process does not quantify the costs associated with what each country is asked to contribute; (5) as NATO members' forces have become smaller in size and the composition of those forces has changed, NATO allies have become more mobile and deployable as envisioned by the strategic concept; (6) GAO's analysis of 10 indicators for the 13 countries' military forces indicates that each country has acquired specific equipment to increase mobility, and some have reorganized and restructured forces to make them more deployable; and (7) however, the alliance still faces challenges to continue to improve mobility and deployability capabilities.

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