oversight

Army Stryker Brigades: Assessment of External Logistics Support Should Be Documented for the Congressionally Mandated Review of the Army's Operational Evaluation Plan

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-03-25.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

United States General Accounting Office
Washington, DC 20548



          March 28, 2003


          The Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld
          Secretary of Defense

          Subject: Army Stryker Brigades: Assessment of External Logistics Support
          Should Be Documented for the Congressionally Mandated Review of the Army’s
          Operational Evaluation Plan

          Dear Mr. Secretary:

          We are reviewing the Army’s plans for deploying and sustaining Stryker brigades. We
          plan to complete our review and report the results in June 2003. In the meantime, the
          Army will be conducting an operational evaluation of the first Stryker brigade from
          late April through May 2003 as required by law. The purpose of this letter is to bring
          to your attention issues concerning the adequacy of the Army’s proposed operational
          evaluation plan.

          The operational evaluation is intended to facilitate an understanding of the initial
          brigade’s overall capabilities. The evaluation was first directed by the conference
                                                                     1
          report accompanying the 2001 defense authorization act. Subsequently, Congress
          included the requirement in Section 113 of the National Defense Authorization Act for
          fiscal year 2002,2 which provides that

                 •   the Secretary of the Army is to evaluate the brigade’s execution of combat
                     missions across the full spectrum of potential threats and operational
                     scenarios,

                 •   the Department of Defense’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation
                     (DOT&E) must approve the Army’s operational evaluation plan before the
                     evaluation may be conducted, and




          1
              House Report 106-945 (Oct. 6, 2000), page 673.
          2
              Public Law 107-107 (Dec. 28, 2001). See enclosure I for relevant excerpts from Section 113.


                                                                            GAO-03-484R Army Stryker Brigades
    •    the Secretary of Defense is to certify to Congress that the results of the
         operational evaluation indicate that the Stryker brigade’s design is
                                                             3
         operationally effective and operationally suitable.

In this letter, we address the adequacy of the Army’s operational evaluation plans for
assessing the Stryker brigades’ external logistics support—that is, the personnel,
equipment, and services that will augment these brigades.4 As you know, Stryker
brigades are organized and equipped to deploy rapidly and to execute early-entry
operations immediately on arrival—potentially, into remote areas of the world. By
design, Stryker brigades do not have the capability to sustain operations in this type
of environment beyond several days or to perform other than minor vehicle repair
and equipment maintenance. Thus, the brigades require the assistance of external
logistics support for essential supply and maintenance services. Integrating external
logistical support with the brigades’ limited support structure is therefore a key
concept of the Stryker brigades’ organizational and operational design and is
essential to effectively supporting and sustaining these brigades in combat.

Because the Army is ready to go forward with its plans for the operational evaluation
and because of your requirement to certify the results, we are sending this letter to
you with recommendations for DOT&E.

Results in Brief

According to the Army’s plans, external logistical support will not be formally
assessed during the operational evaluation. Instead, the Army is planning to conduct
separate, informal assessments of some external support concepts, but information
about the scope and methodology for these assessments is not included in the
operational evaluation plan that the Army will be submitting to DOT&E for its
required review and approval. As a result, DOT&E will not have all of the information
it needs from the Army to determine whether the operational evaluation will be
conducted in a way that demonstrates that the brigades’ design is both operationally
effective and operationally suitable. Specifically, DOT&E will not be in a position to
know whether the first brigade will be sufficiently assessed during the operational
evaluation nor will it be able to determine whether the results can provide a complete
understanding of the brigade’s overall capabilities. This lack of information could
hamper your ability to certify the results of the operational evaluation. The Army
does not believe that external support should be included as a formal part of the
operational evaluation because the people and processes that provide it are not a part
of the brigade’s organization.




3
  Operational effectiveness is generally defined as the overall degree of mission accomplishment of
an item tested; operational suitability is the degree to which an item can be placed in use with
consideration given to factors that include logistic supportability.
4
  Stryker brigades rely on reach-back operations--a concept of reaching in all directions to obtain
intelligence, planning and sustainment. Reach-back may include obtaining division, corps or
theater-level logistical support. Reach-back may also include obtaining logistical support from
contractors, joint or host nation sources.


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Accordingly, we are making recommendations to the Director of Operational Test
and Evaluation regarding documentation of Army plans for assessing external
logistics support during the operational evaluation and reporting on results of the
external support assessment.

In commenting on a draft of this report, the Department of Defense generally
concurred with our assessment and recommendations and outlined actions to
address the concerns named in the report.

Background

The operational evaluation is to be accomplished through observation of several
training events and exercises that the brigade will undergo. The principal events
include a deployment of the brigade from its home station at Fort Lewis, Washington,
in late April 2003, to the Army’s Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk,
Louisiana, and surrounding areas, where the brigade will undergo combat exercises
through the end of May 2003. The brigade will conduct multiple combat missions and
operations during these exercises that will be evaluated to determine its operational
readiness and combat effectiveness.

The brigade that is undergoing the operational evaluation is the first of six Stryker
brigades the Army plans to form through 2008. Organizing and equipping Stryker
brigades is the first phase of the Army’s plans to transform all of its forces into a
more strategically responsive force that could more rapidly deploy and effectively
operate in all types of military operations.

Army Not Evaluating External Support
as Part of the Operational Evaluation

The Army is not planning to evaluate external support as a formal part of the
operational evaluation. The Stryker brigades’ support structure is limited by design
and lacks the capability to sustain combat operations beyond several days. After
that, the brigade is totally dependent upon augmentation in the form of external
logistics support for replenishment of supplies and much of the vehicle and
equipment maintenance for the brigade. The Army plans to informally assess some of
these external support organizations and processes; but its plans for informally
assessing external support are not documented for DOT&E review.


Stryker Brigades Are Designed to Have Limited
Internal Support Capabilities

Integrating external logistical support with the brigades’ limited internal capabilities
is essential to effectively supporting and sustaining Stryker brigades. Rapid
deployability and sustainability are core operational capabilities the Army envisions
for Stryker brigades. To achieve the envisioned rapid deployability and to be
adequately sustained in an early entry, austere environment, the brigades are


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dependent upon external supporting organizations for replenishment after its initial
supplies are exhausted. The brigades—by design—do not have the level of supply
and transportation support personnel or the necessary equipment to move and
distribute the fuel, water, and other materiel it would need for extended operations.
Instead of stockpiling inventories of ammunition, spare parts, and other supplies—as
a heavy mechanized brigade would do—Stryker brigades are to sustain themselves in
extended combat operations by having these items delivered from numerous
locations, such as Army depots and theater support bases, where they will be stored
and configured for rapid shipment and distribution to the brigade. External logistics
support personnel and equipment are needed to configure, transport, and distribute
these supplies to the brigades.

External logistics support is also needed to enhance the brigades’ limited ability to
perform essential support functions such as maintenance, supply, and transportation
services. The brigades’ support battalion, as currently designed, has only about one
third of the maintenance support capability of the current support structure of an
Army heavy brigade. It does not have sufficient numbers of maintenance personnel
or the capability to sustain operations without the assistance of external support
organizations and resources.

The brigades are also heavily reliant upon external support provided by contractors
to service and maintain its newly fielded Stryker medium-armored vehicles and
complex digital command, control, communications, and computer equipment.
Contractor logistics support will be needed to support the Stryker vehicles and digital
systems at least until these systems are fully fielded. Because of their importance to
the brigades in combat operations, the Army, through contractor logistics support,
must be able to adequately maintain and support these systems anywhere in the
world. External support personnel and management processes are needed to
coordinate the work of the numerous contractor personnel that will be supporting
the brigades.


Assessment of First Stryker Brigade’s External Support
Will Be Informal and Separate from the Operational Evaluation

The Army’s draft plan for the operational evaluation lists the augmentation forces—
including external logistical support—that are necessary “enablers” for the brigade,
but the draft plan states that these enablers will not be assessed during the
operational evaluation. Army officials told us that current plans are to replicate and
informally assess—to the extent possible—the processes and organizations that will
provide external logistical support to the brigade; however, these plans are not
documented and will not be available to DOT&E for its review. Officials responsible
for preparing the Army’s operational evaluation plan told us that external support
should not be evaluated as a formal part of the operational evaluation because the
personnel and processes that provide it are not a part of a Stryker brigade’s
organization.




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Without information about the Army’s plans for assessing external logistical support,
DOT&E will not be able to determine whether the brigade will be sufficiently
assessed during the operational evaluation. For example, without knowing the scope
and the methodology the Army plans to use for informally assessing external support,
DOT&E would not be able to determine whether the operational evaluation results
can be used to draw sound conclusions about the brigades’ overall capabilities. The
effectiveness of the brigades cannot be understood apart from their external
logistical support because the brigades’ organizational design and concepts of
operations are reliant upon the effectiveness of the external organizations and
processes that are needed to support the brigades. If external support is not
thoroughly evaluated, the results from the operational evaluation will not provide a
complete understanding of the first brigade’s overall capabilities and not confirm that
the brigade’s design is operationally effective and operationally suitable. These
results would form the basis of the Secretary of Defense’s certification.

Conclusions

If evaluation plans for the external support concepts embodied in the brigades’
organizational design are not documented, DOT&E will have incomplete information
to determine the sufficiency of the Army’s plans for the operational evaluation.
Lacking credible results from the operational evaluation, the Secretary of Defense
would have insufficient information, we believe, with which to reach judgments
regarding the operational effectiveness and the operational suitability of the brigades’
design.

Recommendations for Executive Action

We recommend that the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation not approve
the Army’s operational evaluation plan until the Army provides DOT&E with
(1) documentation of how it will assess external logistics support during the
operational evaluation, to include the methodology that will be used for the
assessment and (2) assurance that the results of the assessment will be included in
the Army’s final report on the operational evaluation.

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation

In commenting on a draft of this report, the Department of Defense generally
concurred with our assessment and recommendations and outlined actions to
address the concerns named in the report. Additionally, the Army briefed us on its
plans to address our concerns.

In responding to our recommendation that the Director of Operational Test and
Evaluation not approve the Army’s operational evaluation plan until the Army
provides his office with documentation of how it will assess external logistics
support, the Department concurred and noted that the operational evaluation plan
must include details on the evaluation of external, reach-back logistics. The
Department stated that both the operational evaluation plan and the operational
execution plan will be reviewed for adequacy once received.



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The Department also concurred with our recommendation that the Army’s final
operational evaluation report should include results from the evaluation of logistics
reach-back. The Department said that the Director of Operational Test and
Evaluation would have personnel on-site during the execution of the operational
evaluation who will be prepared to provide comment on the Army’s final report.

Department of Army officials briefed us on their plans to assess external logistics
support, including the data collection and analysis methodology it will use. Army
officials also told us that they will submit the plan to DOT&E for its review and
approval. Further, the officials assured us that the results of the assessment will be
included in the Army’s final report on the operational evaluation. If the Army
executes its plan as now envisioned, it will meet the intent of our recommendations.

Enclosure II contains the full text of the Department’s comments.

Scope and Methodology

To obtain information on plans for evaluating the first Stryker brigade’s external
support concepts, we interviewed officials from the Army’s Forces Command
responsible for the operational evaluation; I Corps officials at Fort Lewis,
Washington, responsible for planning and executing the operational evaluation;
DOD’s Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, which is required by
law to review the Army’s operational evaluation plan; and the Office of the Deputy
Under Secretary of the Army for Operations Research, the Army’s lead agent for the
operational evaluation.

We analyzed Army information on the organizational design and operational concepts
for Stryker brigades to gain an understanding of the logistics challenges of supporting
and sustaining the brigades. We reviewed documents and interviewed officials from
the Army’s staff elements responsible for operations and plans, logistics, and force
development. We also met with representatives and reviewed documents from the
Army's Tank-automotive and Armaments Command and Combined Arms Support
Command to learn about support and sustainment options for the Stryker brigades.
In addition, we interviewed staff from the Army Training and Doctrine Command's
Brigade Coordination Cell and garrison commands at Fort Lewis for information
relating to support and sustainment plans for the first two Stryker brigades.

Our review was conducted from May 2002 through February 2003 in accordance with
generally accepted government auditing standards.

                                         -----

We are sending copies of this report to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the
Senate Committee on Armed Services; Subcommittee on Defense, Senate Committee
on Appropriations; House Committee on Armed Services; and Subcommittee on
Defense, House Committee on Appropriations. It will also be available at no charge
on GAO’s Web site at http://www.gao.gov. If you or your staff have any questions on
the matters discussed in this letter, please contact me at (202) 512-8365, or my



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Assistant Director, Lee Furr, at (202) 512-5426. Key contributors to this report are
listed in enclosure III.

Sincerely yours,




William M. Solis, Director
Defense Capabilities and Management

Enclosures




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Enclosure I                                                                                 Enclosure I

                   SECTION 113 PUBLIC LAW 107-107 PROVISIONS
                    PERTAINING TO OPERATIONAL EVALUATION



                      “(h) OPERATIONAL EVALUATION.—(1) The Secretary of the Army
                 shall conduct an operational evaluation of the initial interim brigade combat
                 team. The evaluation shall include deployment of the team to the evaluation
                 site and team execution of combat missions across the full spectrum of
                 potential threats and operational scenarios.
                      “(2) The operational evaluation under paragraph (1) may not be
                 conducted until the plan for such evaluation is approved by the Director of
                 Operational Test and Evaluation of the Department of Defense.
                      “(i) LIMITATION ON PROCUREMENT OF INTERIM ARMORED
                 VEHICLES AND DEPLOYMENT OF IBCTs.—(1) The actions described in
                 paragraph (2) may not be taken until the date that is 30 days after the date on
                 which the Secretary of Defense—
   Reports.                “(A) submits to Congress a report on the operational evaluation
                      carried out under subsection (h); and
  Certification.           “(B) certifies to Congress that the results of that operational
                      evaluation indicate that the design for the interim brigade combat team
                      is operationally effective and operationally suitable.
                      “(2) The limitation in paragraph (1) applies to the following actions:
                           “(A) Procurement of interim armored vehicles in addition to those
                      necessary for equipping the first three interim brigade combat teams.
                           “(B) Deployment of any interim brigade combat team outside the
                      United States.
                      “(3) The Secretary of Defense may waive the applicability of paragraph
                 (1) to a deployment described in paragraph (2)(B) if the Secretary—
                           “(A) determines that the deployment is in the national security
                      interests of the United States; and
                           “(B) submits to Congress, in writing, a notification of the waiver
                      together with a discussion of the reasons for the waiver.”




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Enclosure II                                                Enclosure II


               Comments from the Department of Defense




Page 9                                    GAO-03-484R Army Stryker Brigades
Enclosure II                     Enclosure II




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           Enclosure III                                        Enclosure III


                             GAO STAFF ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


           Acknowledgments    Key contributors to this report include, Kevin Handley,
                              Karyn Angulo, Pat Seaton, Frank Smith, and Susan
                              Woodward.




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