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GAO discussed the Army National Guard's and Army Reserve's combat service support forces, focusing on: (1) the need to maintain reserve support forces; (2) combat support forces' readiness problems resulting from equipment policy difficulties during the Gulf war; and (3) Army options that could strengthen its support forces during current defense downsizing and restructuring. GAO noted that: (1) the Army relied heavily on National Guard and Reserve support forces for supply functions during the Persian Gulf War; (2) critical functions performed by support forces included supply services, prisoner detention, transportation operations, and medical services; (3) the Army reserve and supply forces experienced mobilization delays, supply difficulties, and shortages of personnel for the most needed operations during the war's early stages; (4) the Army deployed support services personnel at a lower readiness level than combat units because of lower authorized peacetime personnel ceilings for support units and a shortage of required pre-mobilization equipment; (5) the Army procurement policies of procuring less equipment for its support services and assigning low priorities to support service needs may have contributed to readiness problems; (6) the redistribution of equipment, as a result of ongoing force reductions, would not affect the support forces' equipment shortage problem, since it is a low priority in the Army's equipment distribution system; and (7) the Army could strengthen the support forces by expanding the participation of reserve forces in its contingency force and shifting some functions from active forces to the reserves.

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