The Air Force expeditionary aerospace force concept seeks to spread deployments more evenly across its forces and increase the predictability of deployments. By dual-tasking some fighter squadrons the Air Force could fulfill two requirements as the 2010 Concept envisions. Although significant challenges could impede the ability to maximize these benefits, the Air Force has not specifically analyzed what is needed to implement dual-tasking by 2010. Dual-tasking would result in more efficient use of squadrons and greatly reduce the need to use squadrons for more than one 90-day deployment every 15 months. Dual-tasking would provide theater commanders with the same number of aircraft to meet requirements as under current practice; however, the aircraft would come from fewer squadrons. Because a larger proportion of a squadron's aircraft would be used to meet requirements, and because dual-tasking uses fewer squadrons to meet requirements, the need to repeatedly use the same squadrons would be reduced. The number of squadrons needed for more than one 90-day period over a 15-month period would decline from 26 squadrons to five. More training would be required under dual-tasking. Yet, the Air Force has not quantified this increase, assessed how it would manage the increase, or projected how it would support such an increase either logistically or in its budget. To support deploying a greater portion of dual-tasked squadron's aircraft, more of the authorized maintenance positions would have to be filled. More than half of the maintenance specialties at the wings GAO analyzed were undermanned, and some were manned at less than 60 percent. Dual-tasking could cause maintenance personnel to be deployed more frequently than desired unless more of these vacant positions are filled. In addition, almost all of a squadron's pilots would be needed to meet dual-tasking requirements. This will pose challenges in managing pilot deployments.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||1. To be in a position to effectively implement its plans for dual-tasking by 2010, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to determine the actions and associated resources needed to fully implement this new concept.|
|Department of Defense||2. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to incorporate the actions from this analysis into a strategic implementation plan and set milestones for accomplishing the actions. Specifically, the plan should identify (1) the actions needed to meet the anticipated increase in pilot training; (2) how squadrons might mitigate the risks associated with any reduction in training requirements; (3) the specific funding requirements to cover the increased costs of pilot training and how these requirements will be integrated into the Air Force's budget; and (4) a strategy to fill aircraft maintenance positions.|