Force Structure: Better Management Controls Are Needed to Oversee the Army's Modular Force and Expansion Initiatives and Improve Accountability for Results
The Army's modular force restructuring is a multiyear $52.5 billion initiative to redesign operational Army units. The Army also plans to spend $70 billion through fiscal year 2013 to expand the force by 74,200 military personnel. Congress mandated that GAO report annually through fiscal year 2012 on the Army's modular force. For this report, GAO assessed to what extent the Army has (1) implemented and established management controls for its modular force and force expansion initiatives, and (2) assessed its modular unit designs. GAO assessed Army plans and funding requests; visited brigades that were reorganizing; and examined key Army planning documents, performance metrics, and testing plans. Both brigade combat teams and support brigades were visited, including units from the active component Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve.
The Army is making progress in establishing modular units but has not established sufficient management controls to provide accountability for results and facilitate transparency of the Army's overall funding needs for modular units and force expansion. By the end of fiscal year 2007, the Army established 138 of 190 planned modular units; however, all 10 units GAO visited that had converted to modular designs continue to have some equipment and personnel challenges, including shortfalls in key equipment, and mismatches in skill levels and specialties of assigned personnel. Although the Army originally estimated it could largely equip and staff modular units by spending $52.5 billion through fiscal year 2011, the Army now believes it will require additional funding to equip modular units through fiscal year 2017. However, the Army has not identified how much additional funding it may need to fully equip units, nor has it provided sufficient information on progress to date. In addition, the Army is seeking multiple sources of funding for modular unit and force expansion equipment purchases without linking the funding to its modular unit design requirements, thus complicating decision makers' ability to assess the Army's progress in fully equipping the modular force. GAO's work has shown that major transformation initiatives have greater chance of success when their funding plans are transparent, analytically based, executable, and link to the initiative's implementation plans. Effective management controls are needed to establish these links. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance explains that it is management's responsibility to take systematic and proactive measures to develop and implement management controls that ensure accountability for results. Without better controls, decision makers will have difficulty assessing the Army's progress in meeting its goals, knowing what resources will be required to equip and staff modular units, and balancing funding requests for these initiatives with other competing priorities. The Army is evaluating and applying lessons learned from its ongoing counterinsurgency operations, but it lacks (1) a comprehensive assessment plan to determine whether fielded modular unit designs meet the Army's original goals for modular units across the full spectrum of low- and high- intensity warfare, and (2) outcome-oriented metrics that help to measure progress in achieving the goals of the modular force. The Army evaluated the experiences of modular units deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and has made some changes in unit designs based on these lessons; however, the Army continues to lack a plan for assessing modular units in high-intensity combat operations. Further, the Army has not yet defined outcome-oriented metrics against which it could assess progress, although GAO previously made this recommendation and OMB also notes this in its performance assessment reporting. As a result, the Army does not have a clear way to measure the extent to which it is achieving the benefits it initially envisioned when it designed the modular force and that it is doing so in a manner that supports DOD joint warfighting capabilities.
Matter for Congressional Consideration
|Given the magnitude of the Army's initiative to transform to a modular force, and the range of analytical efforts the Army could bring to bear to assess the effectiveness of the modular designs in meeting 21st century challenges, Congress may wish to consider requiring DOD to develop and provide a comprehensive assessment plan that includes steps to evaluate modular units in full spectrum combat.||Congress has not taken action to require DOD to develop a plan that includes steps to evaluate modular units in full spectrum combat. However, DOD has undertaken assessments of modular force capabilities, including lessons learned from existing modular units that have driven modifications to modularity. In particular the Army identified the need for increases in modular capabilities such as medical specialists, electronic warfare specialists, company intelligence support teams, and units supply specialists. a comprehensive review of its future force structure that could include such evaluations. In addition, lessons learned have led to evolution in modular equipment, doctrine, and training. The assessments and adjustments to modular force capabilities in various combat situations have increased the Army's ability to achieve an organizational design as effective as the divisional brigades that the modular brigade combat teams replaced. According to the Army, the Army Training and Doctrine Command continually assesses all facets of the modular force in training and combat to review and assess modular force doctrine and training. Taken together, the Army's assessments and force structure adjustments meet the intent of the recommendation.|
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||To improve management controls, enhance transparency, and reduce the risk associated with the Army modularity and force expansion initiatives' costs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to develop a comprehensive strategy and funding plan that identifies requirements for equipment and personnel based on modular unit designs, identifies total funding needs, and includes management controls for measuring progress in staffing and equipping units. Also, direct the Secretary of the Army to report its estimates to Congress.||
The Army did not develop the transition plan recommended. According to the Army, the transition to the modular force is complete, and Department manning and equipping strategies and budgets represent plans for the modular force.
|Department of Defense||To improve management controls, enhance transparency, and reduce the risk associated with the Army modularity and force expansion initiatives' costs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Secretary of Defense, with support from the Director, Program Analysis and Evaluation, to review and assess whether the Army's strategy and funding plan clearly identifies and links requirements, progress to date, and additional funding requirements.||
The Director, Program Analysis and Evaluation performs assessments of the Army's manning and equipping plans as part of the budget development for Program Objectives Memorandum. However, the linkage between requirements, progress toward goals, and addtional funding needed is not clear.
|Department of Defense||To improve management controls, enhance transparency, and reduce the risk associated with the Army modularity and force expansion initiatives' costs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Secretary of Defense, with support from the Director, Program Analysis and Evaluation and the DOD Comptroller, and in keeping with the overall priorities of the department and current and expected resource levels, to replace the Army's existing Office of the Secretary of Defense--approved funding plan for modularity that ends in fiscal year 2011, with a new approved Office of the Secretary of Defense funding plan that fully considers the Army's requirements for a modular force and is consistent with the Army's extended time frames to fully staff and equip the modular force. This plan should also be reported to Congress.||
The Army has not yet developed a comprehensive strategy and funding plan that identifies equipment and personnel requirements based on the modular designs, identifies total funding, and includes management controls. According to the Army, the transition to modularity is complete and its equipping and manning strategies represent the Army in its modular structure.
|Department of Defense||To improve management controls, enhance transparency, and reduce the risk associated with the Army modularity and force expansion initiatives' costs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to include exhibits with the annual budget submissions to show how the budget requests help meet the equipment and personnel requirements of the Army's modular units and help identify what remains to be funded in future years.||
The Army did not report in detail how its budget requests meet the equipment and personnel requirements as they related specifically to modular units. The Army has stated that modularity is now the Army's design, and all personnel and equipment requirements and budgets support the modular force.
|Department of Defense||Further, to enhance the rigorousness of the Army's efforts to assess modular designs, the Secretary of Defense should require the Army to develop a comprehensive assessment plan that includes steps to evaluate modular units in full spectrum combat.||
The Office of the Secretary of Defense did not require the Army to develop a comprehensive assessment plan as recommended. Rather, the Department commented that current practices accomplished the intent of the recommendation. We continue to believe that current assessments focus of adapting to current operations rather and that a comprehensive assessment is needed to identify risks associated with modular forces across the full spectrum of combat.
|Department of Defense||Further, to enhance the rigorousness of the Army's efforts to assess modular designs, the Secretary of Defense should oversee the Army's assessment program.||
The Army continues to assess elements of its modular designs, but does not plan to develop a comprehensive assessment plan that includes steps to evaluate modular units in full spectrum combat.