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Highlights

In 2004, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced sweeping changes to restructure U.S. military presence overseas and reduce military posture in Europe. In August, 2010, the Secretary of Defense called for a review of DOD operations and activities to identify opportunities to decrease costs in order to free funds to support other DOD priorities. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans' Affairs asked GAO to determine the extent to which the European Command (EUCOM) (1) estimates and reports the total cost of DOD's installations in Europe and (2) has defined methods for evaluating posture alternatives and including the views of interagency stakeholders in its posture planning process. To address these objectives, GAO assessed DOD plans and guidance, reviewed planning efforts in EUCOM, and collected obligations data from the military services for the military construction, family housing, and operation and maintenance appropriations.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense To provide for more comprehensive information on the cost of posture and analysis of posture alternatives as future theater posture plans are developed, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, to revise the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan to require the theater posture plan to include the cost of operating and maintaining existing installations and estimate the costs associated with initiatives that would alter future posture.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

DOD has issued guidance through Joint Staff to combatant commanders on preparing posture plans that include comprehensive cost estimates, as we recommended in February 2011 in our report Defense Management: Additional Cost Information and Stakeholder Input Needed to Assess Military Posture in Europe (GAO-11-131). In that report, we found that DOD posture planning guidance does not require U.S. European Command to include comprehensive cost data in its theater posture plan, and as a result, DOD lacks critical information that could be used by decision makers as they deliberate posture requirements. We recommended they revise posture planning guidance to require comprehensive estimates of posture costs and provide for consistent analysis of posture alternatives. DOD agreed with our recommendation and stated that actions would be taken to address these matters. In April 2015, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued an instruction entitled Coordination of Overseas Force Structure Changes and Host Nation Notification that identifies the key cost elements to be included in posture change proposals. Also in 2015, DOD issued supplemental posture guidance to the 2011 Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan that requires the inclusion of estimated operations and maintenance costs and military construction costs in posture change proposals. DOD's formal response to our report and later correspondence with DOD officials clearly indicate that DOD's action was influenced by our recommendation. DOD's guidance addresses the intent of our recommendation, and as a result, DOD is positioned to make better informed posture decisions based on the inclusion of thorough cost data in posture planning processes.
Department of Defense To provide for more comprehensive information on the cost of posture and analysis of posture alternatives as future theater posture plans are developed, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, to revise the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan to provide guidance on how the combatant commands should analyze the costs and benefits of alternative courses of action when considering proposed changes to posture.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

DOD has issued guidance through the Joint Staff regarding how combatant commands should analyze the costs and benefits of alternative courses of action when considering proposed changes to posture, as we recommended in February 2011 in our report Defense Management: Additional Cost Information and Stakeholder Input Needed to Assess Military Posture in Europe (GAO-11-131). In that report, we found that U.S. European Command does not have clearly defined methods for evaluating posture alternatives, and its process for posture plan development does not provide for the analysis of costs and benefits, because the combatant commander has not been required to include such analysis in developing its theater posture plan.. We recommended that DOD develop posture planning guidance on how combatant commands should analyze the costs and benefits of alternative courses of action when considering proposed changes to posture.. DOD agreed with our recommendation and stated that actions would be taken to address these matters. In April 2015, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued an instruction entitled Coordination of Overseas Force Structure Changes and Host Nation Notification that identifies the key cost elements to be included in posture change proposals. Also in 2015, Joint Staff issued supplemental posture guidance to the 2011 Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan that requires the assessment of alternatives for approved posture change proposals. DOD's formal response to our report and later correspondence with DOD officials clearly indicate that DOD's action was influenced by our recommendation. DOD's guidance addresses the intent of our recommendation, and as a result, DOD is positioned to make better informed posture decisions based on the analysis of costs and benefits of alternative courses of action when considering proposed changes to posture.
Department of Defense To ensure that EUCOM clearly defines a process for developing its theater posture plan, including compiling posture costs, considering affordability, and regularly obtaining the perspectives of relevant agencies throughout the posture planning process, the Secretary of Defense, through the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, should direct the EUCOM Commander to define the roles and responsibilities of the European Posture Executive Council and Integration Team in the posture planning process and development of the theater posture plan.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

In January 2012, U.S. European Command (EUCOM) issued ECI 2306.01 entitled "Theater Posture Planning," that establishes the roles and responsibilities of the European Posture Executive Council and Integration Team in the posture planning process and development of the theater posture plan; develops a process through which interagency perspectives can be obtained, and codifies the EUCOM posture planning process. DOD officials told us this instruction was developed in response to GAO's recommendation.
Department of Defense To ensure that EUCOM clearly defines a process for developing its theater posture plan, including compiling posture costs, considering affordability, and regularly obtaining the perspectives of relevant agencies throughout the posture planning process, the Secretary of Defense, through the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, should direct the EUCOM Commander to develop a process through which interagency perspectives can be obtained throughout the posture planning process and the development of the theater posture plan.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

In January 2012, U.S. European Command (EUCOM) issued ECI 2306.01 entitled "Theater Posture Planning," that establishes the roles and responsibilities of the European Posture Executive Council and Integration Team in the posture planning process and development of the theater posture plan; develops a process through which interagency perspectives can be obtained, and codifies the EUCOM posture planning process. DOD officials told us this instruction was developed in response to GAO's recommendation.
Department of Defense To ensure that EUCOM clearly defines a process for developing its theater posture plan, including compiling posture costs, considering affordability, and regularly obtaining the perspectives of relevant agencies throughout the posture planning process, the Secretary of Defense, through the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, should direct the EUCOM Commander to issue guidance to codify the EUCOM posture planning process once the above steps have been taken.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

In January 2012, U.S. European Command (EUCOM) issued ECI 2306.01 entitled "Theater Posture Planning," that establishes the roles and responsibilities of the European Posture Executive Council and Integration Team in the posture planning process and development of the theater posture plan; develops a process through which interagency perspectives can be obtained, and codifies the EUCOM posture planning process. DOD officials told us this instruction was developed in response to GAO's recommendation.

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