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Highlights

The high use of the National Guard for federal overseas missions has reduced equipment available for its state-led domestic missions, at the same time it faces an expanded array of threats at home. The massive state-led, federally funded response to Hurricane Katrina illustrates the Guard's important role in responding to the effects of large-scale, multistate events as well as the difficulty of working with multiple state and federal agencies. To address congressional interest in the Guard's domestic preparedness, GAO assessed the extent to which (1) the Guard's domestic equipment requirements have been identified, (2) the Department of Defense (DOD) measures and reports to Congress the equipment readiness of non-deployed Guard forces for domestic missions, and (3) DOD actions address the Guard's domestic equipping challenges. GAO examined the National Guard's plans and equipment status and included case studies in California, Florida, New Jersey, and West Virginia.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
Congress may wish to consider amending the statute prescribing the National Guard Bureau's charter to require language clarifying the National Guard Bureau's role in coordinating and facilitating interstate planning for the National Guard's use in large-scale, multistate events, such as those contained in the national planning scenarios, and require DOD to revise the National Guard Bureau's civil support regulation to reflect the clarification in the charter.
Closed - Implemented
In January 2008, Congress amended the statute prescribing the National Guard Bureau's charter to address planning responsibilities for certain National Guard missions with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2008 (P.L. 110-181). Specifically, the act assigns the National Guard Bureau the function of assisting the Secretary of Defense in facilitating and coordinating with other federal agencies, state officials, and DOD commands for the use of National Guard personnel and resources for certain civil support missions.
To ensure that it is kept informed of the National Guard's equipment status for its domestic missions, Congress may wish to consider revising the statutory requirement for the annual National Guard and Reserve Equipment Report to include an assessment of (1) the Guard's equipping preparedness to provide support to civil authorities, particularly for large-scale, multistate events; (2) the risks to those missions associated with any equipment shortfalls; and (3) mitigation strategies and investment priorities. Further, to provide information on what equipment will be available for the National Guard's domestic missions under the Army's force generation model, Congress may wish to consider requiring the department to include in the 2009 National Guard and Reserve Equipment Report a plan and funding strategy for providing baseline equipment sets to nondeployed Army National Guard units.
Closed - Implemented
Congress took action to address GAO's concerns about the National Guard's equipment and readiness for homeland security missions when it revised the statutory requirement for the annual National Guard and Reserve Equipment Report in the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2008 (P.L. 110-181). The Act requires DOD to include an assessment of the National Guard's civil support preparedness, the risks associated with any shortfalls, and requirements and investment strategies to address the shortfall. The conference report accompanying the Act specifically referred to GAO's findings contained in report GAO-07-60 in its consideration of the provisions of the Act.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army and Air Force to add clarifying language to the National Guard Bureau's charter to clearly define its roles in coordinating and facilitating interstate planning for the National Guard's use in large-scale, multistate events, such as those contained in the national planning scenarios, and monitoring the Guard's status to perform these missions.
Closed - Implemented
The Congress directed changes to the National Guard Bureau's charter in the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act that meet the intent of the recommendation. The Department of Defense issues Directive 5105.77 in May 21, 2008, which superseded the 2008 charter. The Directive clarified the National Guard's roles and responsibilities in military operations, overseas and domestically.
Department of Defense 2. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army and Air Force to direct the Chief, National Guard Bureau, to update the National Guard Bureau's 1996 civil support regulation to reflect the National Guard Bureau's role in coordinating and facilitating interstate planning for large-scale, multistate events. The regulation should also be updated to formalize procedures for coordination with organizations that have been established since the regulation was last updated, such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense, and U.S. Northern Command, as well as for the use of new planning tools like the National Response Plan and the Homeland Security Council's national planning scenarios.
Closed - Implemented
In May 2008, the Department of Defense issued Directive 5105.77 which updated the National Guard Bureau charter, as recommended. The Directive clarified the roles and responsibility of the National Guard Bureau in regard to coordinating with federal and state agencies in support of military operations, overseas and domestic. The new directive meets the intent of the recommendation.
Department of Defense 3. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army and Air Force to direct the Chief, National Guard Bureau, in coordination with DOD, U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Pacific Command, the states, and other civilian authorities, to take actions to facilitate and coordinate interstate National Guard planning to identify the capabilities, including equipment, the National Guard would need to respond to large-scale, multistate events, consistent with the Homeland Security Council's national planning scenarios and state and federal plans.
Closed - Implemented
National Guard Bureau has taken some actions to identify capabilities needed for civil support missions and is coordinating with other stakeholders to facilitate planning.
Department of Defense 4. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to submit a report to Congress on DOD's plans for assessing and reporting on the readiness of National Guard units to perform domestic missions in response to natural disasters or terrorist events. This report should include DOD's progress to date in incorporating these missions into the Defense Readiness Reporting System; the specific missions for which National Guard units will report their readiness; and the standards, including any equipment measures, given to National Guard unit commanders to consider when making their readiness assessments for these missions.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress took action to address these concerns when it revised the statutory requirement for the annual National Guard and Reserve Equipment Report in the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2008 (P.L. 110-181). The Act requires DOD to include an assessment of the National Guard's civil support preparedness, the risks associated with any shortfalls, and requirements and investment strategies to address the shortfall. The conference report accompanying the Act specifically referred to GAO's findings contained in report GAO-07-60 in its consideration of the provisions of the Act.
Department of Defense 5. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to develop and submit to Congress a plan and funding strategy for resourcing nondeployed Army National Guard baseline equipment sets. Specifically, the plan should include a timeline for defining the requirements of nondeployed Army National Guard baseline equipment sets, the analytical basis and domestic mission requirements used to determine the equipment required in the baseline set, readiness standards and measures that will be used to track the status of the baseline equipment sets, and the Army's plan for funding and filling baseline equipment sets.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Army has not yet developed a detailed plan for equipping Army National Guard forces under their new modular configuration. The Army's 2010 Equipping Strategy noted that National Guard forces would be provided equipment for their domestic missions, but it has not defined readiness standards and measure to track domestic mission readiness.

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