Recently, the Army forecast that it would experience a 4.5-million-acre training land shortfall by 2013 and proposed to purchase additional land adjacent to certain existing training ranges. In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's approach for acquiring training land. This report (1) evaluates the Army's approach to the acquisition of training land, (2) describes the Army's consideration of alternatives and assessment of the environmental and economic effects, and (3) analyzes the Army's effectiveness in communicating its approach for making decisions to pursue these acquisitions before the Office of the Secretary of Defense's (OSD) approval. GAO reviewed the Army strategic plan for training lands and other relevant documents, and focused on all five land acquisitions since 2002 at Fort Irwin, California; three training sites in Hawaii; and the proposed expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in Colorado.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||To help planning and budgeting officials prioritize their efforts to mitigate training land shortages and to improve the effectiveness with which the military services communicate their approach for deciding whether to pursue major training land acquisitions, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to develop and implement a process to update periodically its strategic plan--the Range and Training Land Strategy--to reflect current training land needs.|
|Department of Defense||To help planning and budgeting officials prioritize their efforts to mitigate training land shortages and to improve the effectiveness with which the military services communicate their approach for deciding whether to pursue major training land acquisitions, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment to jointly review their strategies for communicating potential major land acquisitions to the public prior to OSD waiver approval and agree upon a common practice that would address OSD's concerns about early disclosure and, at the same time, permit the Army and the other military services some flexibility to engage key stakeholders--people living near the proposed land acquisition site, elected officials, nongovernmental groups, and others--earlier in the decision-making process. Such a common practice should specifically address what kinds of public outreach, if any, are permissible prior to OSD's waiver determination.|