Military Training: Actions Needed to More Fully Develop the Army's Strategy for Training Modular Brigades and Address Implementation Challenges

GAO-07-936 Published: Aug 06, 2007. Publicly Released: Aug 06, 2007.
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Highlights

The Army considers modular force transformation its most extensive restructuring since World War II. The Army has estimated that restructuring units from a division-based force to a more agile and responsive modular brigade-based force will require a significant investment through fiscal year 2011. To facilitate this transformation, Public Law No. 109-163 Section 353 directs the Army to develop and implement a training strategy for the modular brigades. This law also directs GAO to report on the implementation of the strategy. This report discusses (1) the extent to which the Army's training strategy addresses the five elements specified in the public law and (2) the actions the Army has taken to implement its training strategy and the implementation challenges it faces. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed Army training strategy documentation and interviewed Army training personnel.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense To improve its ability to assess unit training and identify funding needs while preparing the modular force and taking advantage of the long-term institutional benefits of the information provided by a fully developed strategy, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to modify the planning templates to clearly identify constructive training and the goals associated with it.
Closed – Implemented
According to DOD documentation, the Combined Arms Training Strategy (CATS) already includes a combination of live, virtual, and constructive training requirements supporting the core mission essential task list (CMETL) training to achieve full spectrum capability. However, the Army will modify the CATS planning templates to more clearly identify constructive training requirements throughout the ARFORGEN process. According to an Army official, in response to our report recommendation, the Army updated its CATS planning templates in the August 2007 timeframe to clearly identify constructive training requirements. He provided a copy of the updated template to GAO on August 4, 2008. As a result, by clarifying its training templates to clearly identify constructive training events and goals, the Army should be in a better position to measure how well its units have been trained and be able to take advantage of the long-term benefits a consistently trained force provides.
Department of Defense To improve its ability to assess unit training and identify funding needs while preparing the modular force and taking advantage of the long-term institutional benefits of the information provided by a fully developed strategy, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to develop metrics that support the Army's training strategy by objectively and reliably measuring achievement against the Army's overall performance goal.
Closed – Implemented
On December 2, 2008, the Army issued its updated Army Training and Leader Development Strategy. The updated strategy specifically identifies the Army's training goals, supporting objectives and various metrics to be achieved as well as timeframes for accomplishing some of the specific objectives. As a result, by establishing metrics tied to specific performance goals the Army will improve its ability to assess unit training and will be in a better position to take advantage of the long-term benefits of having a consistently trained force.
Department of Defense To improve its ability to assess unit training and identify funding needs while preparing the modular force and taking advantage of the long-term institutional benefits of the information provided by a fully developed strategy, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to review and revise the funding model to more realistically estimate the costs associated with achieving the Army's performance goals.
Closed – Implemented
According to DOD documentation, The Training Resource Model (TRM) is not intended to estimate all the training costs associated with achieving the Army's performance (training) goals. TRM accurately estimates the costs for repair parts, fuel, general supplies and other sustainment requirements for Army tactical units to conduct core mission essential task list, full spectrum training. TRM is a subset of a larger resource management process (PPBES) that quantifies, forecasts and prioritizes all Army training requirements. The methodology encompasses a rigorous validation process that accurately captures all institutional, operational, and training support requirements. It includes cost estimates developed through the TRM, Institutional Training Resource Model, Combat Training Center Master Plan, Home Station Master Plan, Training Support System Master Plan, Battle Command Training Strategy, Army Leaders for the 21st Century, and Army Program for Individual Training. Non-TRM outputs include estimates for requirements such as CTC modernization, procurement of non-system training devices, training range operations, land management, leader development initiatives, and individual training requirements. The outputs of all of these sources are reviewed, validated and approved by the Army's Training Program Evaluation Group. Taken collectively, all of these sources provide the cost estimates associated with achieving the Army's performance training goals, which meets the intent of this recommendation.
Department of Defense To address the challenges facing the implementation of the strategy, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to revise and adjust the training strategy to account for the current high level of operations so that it includes a plan to support full-spectrum threat training when most of the force is deployed.
Closed – Implemented
In December 2008, the Army issued its updated Army Training and Leader Development strategy. The strategy addresses a plan to prepare units to conduct full-spectrum operations, rebuild strategic depth and continue to train for irregular warfare for ongoing operations. This updated training strategy addresses our recommendation by providing guidance on restoring balance to Army training while troops are still engaged in persistent conflicts.
Department of Defense To address the challenges facing the implementation of the strategy, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to clarify the capacity needed at the combat training centers to support the expanded modular force.
Closed – Implemented
In June 2007, the Army updated its capacity evaluation to support its increased end strength and on June 29, 2007, Army officials provided updated documentation to us that identified a requirement for 40 combat training center rotations per year to support the Army's increased end strength of 76 combat brigades. Prior to GAO's review and draft recommendation, the Army's documentation showed a training requirement for 36 combat training center rotations per year to support the Army's end strength of 70 combat brigades. As a result, by adjusting its strategy to include the increase in the number of combat brigades, the Army will be in a better position to provide training across its total force.
Department of Defense To address the challenges facing the implementation of the strategy, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to complete the proof of principle for the ETC to verify that it is the most appropriate approach to meet the additional capacity requirements for both Army Force Generation and the proposed expanded number of brigades and use the results to adjust the Army's fiscal year 2009 and future funding requests as appropriate.
Closed – Implemented
According to Army documentation, the proof of principle testing was completed in March 2009. The test involve the 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne. According to the documentation and an Army official associated with the testing, the intent of the test was to validate the exportable training capability approach to meet additional capacity requirements and to identify future resources needed.

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