The Department of Defense (DOD) has spent an estimated $12 billion on the development and production of tactical radios over the last 5 years--about as much as was spent producing Virginia Class submarines ($10.8 billion) in the same period. Survivability and lethality in warfare are increasingly dependent on superior information and communication capabilities. DOD is counting on the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) to deliver the breakthroughs in this area. At the same time as it is developing JTRS, DOD wants to ensure that current forces are equipped with sufficient legacy radios. To address Subcommittee concerns regarding DOD's approach to meeting current and future radio needs, GAO examined this subject. In response, this report addresses (1) how planned investments in key tactical radio systems changed over the last 5 years, (2) why these changes occurred, and (3) the challenges ahead. To assess these topics, GAO's work included reviewing 2003 through 2007 budget requests, legacy radio procurements, and the status of the JTRS program; and interviewing officials from DOD organizations.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||1. To improve DOD's ability to plan for and manage the development and fielding of tactical radios across the department, the Secretary of Defense should develop a comprehensive strategy and implementation plan for making sound investment decisions for tactical radios that (1) is based on operational architectures that define the communications and networking functions needed on the battlefield, (2) assesses and prioritizes the capabilities and requirements needed in the near- and long-term, (3) sets bounds for the funding that will be committed to address these needs, (4) lays out an effective migration and fielding plan for delivering capabilities to the warfighter, and (5) identifies contingencies in case there are further problems and delays with JTRS.|
|Department of Defense||2. The Secretary of Defense should reinvigorate the tactical radio notification/waiver process to provide department wide insight into the continued procurement of legacy and interim radios. In doing so, consideration should be given to ensuring clear guidance and procedures are developed and communicated across the department.|