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Highlights

The Army's and Marine Corps' major training facilities--Army and Marine Corps combat training centers and Army mobilization training centers--have focused on training units for counterinsurgency missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. As troop levels decrease in Iraq and increase in Afghanistan, larger numbers of forces will be training for Afghanistan. To meet future requirements, the services plan to adjust training to train forces on a fuller range of missions. The House report to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 directed GAO to report on any challenges the Department of Defense faces as it adjusts training capacities. GAO assessed the extent to which the Army and Marine Corps have (1) made adjustments at their major training facilities to support larger deployments to Afghanistan; and (2) developed plans to adjust training capacity to meet future requirements. GAO analyzed service training guidance, future training requirements, and related plans, and interviewed headquarters officials and personnel from the services' major training facilities.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. To address the challenges associated with training its brigade combat teams for both ongoing operations and a fuller range of missions, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to develop and implement a plan to evaluate the full range of available options for training its brigade combat teams; assess the risks of not conducting the desired number of training rotations; and determine how, if necessary, risks will be mitigated.
Closed - Implemented
In July 2010, we reported that the Army's combat training centers and exportable training capabilities did not have sufficient capacity to meet the minimum number of training rotations for the Army's brigade combat teams called for under the Army's training strategy. Additionally, we noted that the Army had not assessed the risks associated with its inability to conduct the desired number of brigade combat team training rotations and had not developed a mitigation plan. In May 2016, Army officials told us that the Army's new force generation process (Sustainable Readiness) will provide an assessment of the Army's ability to meet operational requirements, identify training and readiness gaps and associated risks, and develop mitigation strategies. The Army is currently developing its Sustainable Readiness program and will complete an analysis of about 50 percent of the Army's operating force units during fiscal year 2016. Officials anticipate that the remainder of the Army's operating force will be fully assessed by the end of fiscal year 2017 and that the full sustainable readiness program will be implemented by fiscal year 2019. Given the Army's progress to date in implementing its Sustainable Readiness program we are confident that the Army will fully implement the program and it has addressed the intent of our recommendation.
Department of Defense 2. To maximize the use of existing resources, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to finalize the training requirements for smaller reserve-component units that will act as contingency forces under its Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) model. The completed training requirements should identify when smaller units' training should occur and include an analysis of existing Army training capacity to determine whether any excess capacity exists. Specifically, the analysis should weigh the costs and benefits of using the training capacity that currently exists at the Army's mobilization training centers in conjunction with or as alternatives to its other efforts, such as the home station culminating training events.
Closed - Not Implemented
In July 2010, we reported that the Army had not refined training requirements for reserve component units that will serve as contingency forces. Additionally, we found that the Army had not finalized its training strategy (including where its smaller contingency forces would conduct training) nor had it completed an assessment that outlined how its existing training capacity could best support the Army's smaller units. In May 2016, Army officials told us that the Army's new force generation program (Sustainable Readiness) will provide an assessment of the Army's ability to meet operational requirements, identify training and readiness gaps and associated risks, and develop mitigation strategies for its brigade combat units. Officials said that this program is currently focused on the Army's primary combat units and it is unclear how, if at all, this program will apply to smaller-reserve component units.

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