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Special Operations Forces: Force Structure and Readiness Issues

NSIAD-94-105 Published: Mar 24, 1994. Publicly Released: Mar 29, 1994.
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed how the Special Operations Command determines its force levels and the readiness of its special operations forces.


Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to develop a plan that meets the combatant commander's requirements for combat search and rescue in Europe with the least impact on special operations assets.
Closed – Not Implemented
DOD is satisfied that European search and rescue duties are most efficiently handled by SOF units during peacetime. Wartime requirements, on the other hand, would be met primarily by Air Force units. This recommendation should not remain open because the Air Force is unlikely to redistribute recovery units from other theaters in peacetime.
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should notify Congress of its plans to eliminate reserve forces the Command has deemed to be excess.
Closed – Implemented
In February 1994, DOD notified Congress that various Special Operations Forces units were to be inactivated.
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should eliminate reserve Sea-Air-Land (SEAL) forces that would be excess if the Special Operations Command receives additional active SEAL training positions.
Closed – Not Implemented
Reserve SEAL positions will not be deactivated because DOD believes that these positions are necessary for the administration of SEAL teams and could be called upon in an emergency.
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should direct the Special Operations Command and the military services to consistently use and apply the agreed-upon definition of items and services peculiar to special operations from Joint Publication 3-05.
Closed – Not Implemented
DOD contends that allowing each service to determine what is or is not SOF-peculiar is the most practical means of defining SOF-peculiar.

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