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Highlights

Since September 11, 2001, the Army has heavily used its reserve components--the Army National Guard and Army Reserve--for ongoing operations even though they were envisioned and resourced to be strategic reserves. A congressional commission, the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Army have concluded the Army will need to continue to use its reserve components as an operational force. The transition will require changes to force structure as well as manning and equipping strategies that could cost billions of dollars. The 2009 Defense Authorization Act directed GAO to study this transition. This report provides additional information on (1) progress and challenges the Army faces, (2) to what extent the Army has estimated costs for the transition and included them in its projected spending plans, and (3) the effect of the operational role on the Guard's availability to state governors for domestic missions. GAO examined planning, policy, and budget documents, and relevant sections of Titles 10 and 32 of the U.S. Code; and met with DOD, Army, reserve component, and state officials.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to finalize an implementation plan for transitioning its reserve components to the operational role that describes the key tasks necessary for the transition, assigns responsibility for these tasks, defines metrics for measuring success, and establishes timelines for full implementation.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Department of Defense agreed with the recommendation, stating that it managed the reserve components' operational forces in accordance with Title X responsibilities to train and equip the forces for their operational role. It did not take additional steps recommended to clarify the implementation of the rotational force generation cycle that it proposed to institutionalize the operational role of the reserve component.
Department of Defense 2. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to (1) complete a cost estimate for the transition that, at a minimum, should include (2) a clear definition of what costs the Army does and does not consider to be related to the transition to an operational force; (3) estimates for key cost drivers; and (4) identification of any uncertainties in the estimates due to pending changes to the reserve components' force structure, personnel, training, and equipping strategies or other decisions that may affect costs, and updates to the plan as these decisions are made.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Department of Defense agreed with the recommendation, stating that it managed the reserve components' operational forces in accordance with Title X responsibilities to train and equip the forces for their operational role. It did not take additional steps recommended to clarify the implementation of the rotational force generation cycle that it proposed to institutionalize the operational role of the reserve component.
Department of Defense 3. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to include the costs of the transition in the Army's budget and Future Years Defense Program.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Department of Defense agreed with the recommendation, stating that it managed the reserve components' operational forces in accordance with Title X responsibilities to train and equip the forces for their operational role. It did not take action to separately identify costs to transition the reserve components to an operational role or include such costs in the Future Years Defense Program as recommended.

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