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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO determined whether the U.S. special operations forces (SOF) are being used in a manner that best supports national security objectives.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. To maintain the readiness of SOF to support national security objectives and help ensure that readiness is not degraded through overuse or improper use of SOF, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, USSOCOM, to complete the Command's efforts to develop an information system for monitoring how the Command's forces are used and establish a methodology for periodically comparing SOF usage with the CINC's priorities and SOF training needs.
Closed - Implemented
USSOCOM has started collecting and monitoring deployment data by mission category. The data are now routinely included in weekly briefings to the CINC. The command expects to have the data necessary to establish baselines against which deployment rates can be compared by late 1998. SOCOM is using a contractor to set up this system. While working, it is not fully accurate. This should be operational within a year.
Department of Defense 2. To maintain the readiness of SOF to support national security objectives and help ensure that readiness is not degraded through overuse or improper use of SOF, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander, USSOCOM, to exploit potential opportunities to reduce some SOF deployments that do not prepare SOF to perform SOF-unique missions in support of national security objectives and that can be performed by conventional forces.
Closed - Implemented
As part of its Global Military Force Policy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense has taken actions to limit the deployment of low density but highly demanded units. Through this policy, the Department has established peacetime priorities for low density/high demand units to assist senior leaders in allocating assets for crises, contingencies, and long term operations. One key consideration in establishing these priorities is an assessment of the capabilities required for specific missions. In addition, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have begun a review of all U.S. forces, including Special Operations, to assess personnel and unit readiness. The implementation date for this study is unknown, but the study does include the impact of unit use on readiness.

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