Military Capability: An Assessment of Changes of Measures Between Fiscal Years 1980 and 1989

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-05-10.

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

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                                           MILITARY                -
                                           An Assessment of
                                           Changes of Measures
                                           Between Fiscal Years
                                                           _., .

1GAO             General Accounting Office
                 Washington, D.C. 20648

                 National Security and
                 International Affairs Division

                 May lo,1990

                 The Honorable Sam Nunn
                 Chairman, Committee on
                   Armed Services
                 United States Senate
                 Dear Mr. Chairman:

                 As you requested, we reviewed the changesin the status of military
                 force capabilities for fiscal years 1980 through 1989. The Department of
                 Defense(DOD) was provided about $2.4 trillion during that time, marking
                 it as the largest increase ever in peacetime defense funding. Specifically,
                 this report describesthe changesin key measuresand indicators that
                 DODhas traditionally associatedwith the four pillars of military capabil-
                 ity: force structure, modernization, readiness, and sustainability. It
                 focuseson areas where progress has been made and where deficiencies
                 remain. Our work is summarized below. A classified version of this
                 report (GAO/C-NSIAIHO-22)is being provided to you separately and con-
                 tains details of the issuesdiscussedhere.

                 DODdefines military capability as the ability of the force to achieve a
Background       wartime objective, such as winning a battle or war or destroying a tar-
                 get. The four pillars are defined as follows:
             l Force Structure: the numbers, size, and composition of units constituting
               the military forces. Force structure is usually described in numbers of
               divisions, ships, or wings.
             . Modernization: the technical sophistication of forces, units, weapon sys-
               tems, and equipment. Modernization can include new procurement and/
               or modifications, depending on the service.
             . Readiness:the ability of the military forces, units, weapon systems, or
               equipment to fulfill their designated purpose. Readinessis measured in
               terms of manning, equipping, and training the force.
             . Sustainability: the staying power of military forces, or how long the
               forces can continue to fight. Sustainability involves the ability to resup-
               ply engagedforces during combat operations.
                 DODusesmany measuresto       monitor or describe capability changesin its
                 forces. For example, adequate numbers of qualified personnel are an
                 important indicator of military capability. Modern equipment and the
                 need to train personnel to operate and maintain it are also important.

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                                                                         Military Capability

                         These measuresare subject to limitations since none of them directly
                         measure military capability. However, they do represent a common set
                         of data DODhas used to report on the capability of its forces. Our assess-
                         ment of these measurescovered fiscal years 1980 through 1989. All fis-
                         cal year 1989 data are based on DODestimates.
                         In somecases,the services did not have data for the entire period cov-
                         ered by our review. Also, alternative or additional measureswere devel-
                         oped during the period. In these cases,we report data showing the first
                         and most recent available year. We did not independently verify the
                         accuracy of data provided. Our review was basedon military require-
                         ments at the end of fiscal year 1989, and doesnot reflect changesthat
                         have occurred as a result of recent world events.

                         We found that DODselectively expanded force structure, purchased large
Results in Brief         numbers of modern weapon systems and equipment, improved force
                         readiness,and to a lesser extent improved sustainability. DOD’Skey gains
                         have been in improving force readiness and fielding new and more capa-
                         ble weapon systems.
                         Our assessmentalso shows that most types of weapon systems and
                         equipment inventories did not increase significantly. Further, certain
                         readiness indicators raise concerns,such as the percentageof Army
                         Reserveunits that are inadequately resourced and trained to carry out
                         their wartime mission. In addition, the increased depot maintenance
                         financial backlog, although not considered a readiness indicator by DOD,
                         is a factor that can affect mission capable and cannibalization rates.
                         Also, significant shortagesexist in all the services for certain key sus-
                         tainability items, and adequate airlift doesnot exist to meet major

                         Significant changesthat have occurred in measuresand indicators of
Analysis of Changes in   military capability are discussedbelow. Overall, it appears that
Measures of Military     improvements have been made in each of the four pillars of capability,
Capability               although someareas of concern remain.

Force Structurb and      In general, the size of the military force structure, with the exception of
Modernization            the growth in the Navy and reserve components,increased little
                         between fiscal years 1980 and 1989. However, a number of key changes

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                                                                                  Military Capability

    did occur in the configuration of each of the military services.The pro-
    curement and fielding of modern weapon systems also resulted in signif-
    icant changes,although in most casesinventory levels remained at
    about 1980 levels. For example:
. The Army’s overall force structure increased from 24 to 28 divisions,
  including 6 new light divisions. Although the number of personnel
  assignedto Army divisions increased in total, the averagenumber of
  personnel per division decreased.Reliance on reserve forces increased
  as the number of reserve personnel increased by about 196,000, and
  active force personnel decreasedby about 6,000. In addition, the Army’s
  tank inventory was modernized with the fielding of 4,762 Ml tanks and
  6,163 M60A3 tanks and the phasing out of 4,864 M48 and M60 tanks.
. The Navy moved towards achieving its goal of 600 ships, increasing
  from 479 deployable battle force ships in 1980 to a projected total of
  668 ships in 1989. However, the Navy had a shortfall of anti-air warfare
  cruisers and destroyers neededto protect its carrier battle groups.
l The inventory of tactical aircraft was modernized with the addition of
  144 F-14 and 278 F/A-18 primary authorized tactical aircraft and the
  phasing out of 211 A-7 and 203 F-4 aircraft. The number of aircraft car-
  rier air wings increased from 14 to 16.
. The Air Force currently has 36 active and reserve tactical fighter wing
  equivalents, compared to 31 wings in 1981. The inventory of active tac-
  tical aircraft was modernized with the addition of 108 F-16 and 676
  F-16 aircraft and the phasing out of 636 F-4 aircraft.
. Major changesaffecting strategic air forces were the deployment of the
  Peacekeepermissile, Bl-B bomber, and increasesin the number of
  nuclear warheads. Even though airlift capability increased from about
  27 to 48 million ton miles per day, it is below DOD’Sgoal of 66 million ton
  miles per day.
9 There are about 13,000 more active duty Air Force personnel today than
  in 1980. However, this is about 37,000 less than in 1986 when the
  number of active duty Air Force personnel reached its highest level in
  the period.
. The Marine Corps force structure is about the sametoday as it was in
  1980. It has three active divisions, three active air wings, one reserve
  division, and one reserve air wing. The Marine Corps active end strength
  increased by about 8,600 personnel, while the reserve forces increased
  by about 7,900. Equipment inventory levels remained about the same,
  although older systems were replaced with more modern ones, such as
  the F/A-18 and AVSB aircraft.

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Readiness              Overall, key military readinessindicators, such as mission capable rates,
                       unit resourcesand training status, and personnel quality, showed
                       marked improvement. However, the resource and training status of
                       reserve componentscontinues to provide reason for concern. Depot
                       maintenance financial backlogs, a factor that provides insight into the
                       general state of materiel readiness,have increased. For example:

                     . The status of units adequately resourced and trained to carry out their
                       wartime mission has improved or remained at high levels since 1986.
                       The greatest gains were in combat support and combat service support
                       units, although they still generally lag behind combat units. However,
                       Army Reserveunits, while showing improvement, lag significantly
                       behind active units. The resource and training status of Army Reserve
                       units raises concern becauseof the increased reliance placed on them to
                       augment the active forces in the event of a major conflict.
                     . DODhas frequently cited increasedpersonnel quality as one of its signifi-
                       cant accomplishments.Personnelquality indicators, such as test scores
                       on the Armed ForcesQualification Test and the number of high school
                       graduate enlistees,show significant improvement. For example, high
                       school graduates represented 68 percent of DOD’Senlistments in fiscal
                       year 1980 and 93 percent in fiscal year 1988.
                     . Training indicators showed little change,except for Air Force tactical
                       flying hours and Army battalions rotated through training centers.
                       Army and Navy flying hours remained relatively constant, while Navy
                       steaming days decreasedfor deployed ships and remained virtually
                       unchanged for nondeployed ships.
                     . Materiel readinessindicators, such as shipboard inventory supply
                       responsiveness,mission capable rates, and cannibalization rates of air-
                       craft spare parts, have improved. However, depot maintenance financial
                       backlogs in the Army and Air Force are increasing. In the Army, for
                       example, depot maintenance financial backlog as a percentageof fund-
                       ing is above 1980 levels. According to DOD,the readinessimpact of main-
                       tenance backlogs is reflected in other measures,such as mission capable
                       and cannibalization rates.

Sustainability         D0D’Sability to sustain its forces during a conflict has improved since
                       1980. However, this pillar has not progressedas far as the others. Sig-
                       nificant shortagesexist in key sustainability areas. For example:
                     . Shortagesexist in munitions, such as air-to-air and air-to-ground mis-
                       siles in the Air Force and Navy. The unified commandershave identified
                       such shortages as a key concern.

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                                                                               Military Capability

                  l   Army inventories of war reserve stocks increased slightly for most sup-
                      ply categories.However, in somecases,requirements for those stocks
                      have increased significantly. Consequently, the percentage of required
                      stocks in inventory is less than it was in 1986.
                  l   The Air Force showed marked improvement in the number of tactical
                      sorties and airlift flying hours that can be sustained by the inventory of
                      spare and repair parts. However, airlift capabilities are still approxi-
                      mately 18 million ton miles per day short of DOD'S66 million ton miles
                      per day goal.

                      DODgenerally concurred with    our report, and its comments are pre-
Agency Comments and   sented in appendix I. Most of DOD'Scomments concernedtechnical
Our Evaluation        changesand clarifications. However, DODdid raise three substantive
                      concerns.First, it said that depot maintenance backlog is a financial
                      number and should not be characterized as a readiness indicator. Sec-
                      ond, DODprovided revised data for prepositioning of materiel configured
                      to unit sets. Third, DODpointed out that the airlift requirement is a DOD
                      requirement, not an Air Force requirement.

                      We have revised the report to incorporate DOD'Scomments and revised
                      data. We have also incorporated DOD'Ssuggestedtechnical changesand
                      clarifications in the text.

                      We conducted this review from November 1988 to August 1989 in
                      accordancewith generally acceptedgovernment auditing standards.

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Unless you announceits contents earlier, we plan no further distribution
of this report until 10 days from its issue date At that time, we will send
copies to the Secretariesof Defenseand the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
We will make copies available to other parties upon request.

This report was prepared under the direction of Donna M. Heivilin,
Director, Logistics Issues(202) 2758412. Other major contributors are
listed in appendix II.
Sincerely yours,

Frank C. Conahan
Assistant Comptroller General

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                                                        Military Capabiltty

    Page7   GAO/NSIAD&@149
                       Miliw Capability
Appendix I

CommentsFrom the Department of Defense

                                                             WASHINOTON.   D. C. 20301.1800

              AN0 EVALUATION

                                                                                                   February   20,   1990

                      Mr. Frank C. Conahan
                      Assistant     Comptroller   General
                      National Security       and
                      International    Affairs    Division
                      U.S General Accounting Offlce
                      Washington, D.C. 20548

                      Dear Mr. Conahan:
                          This Is the Department of Defense (DOD) response to General Accounting
                      Office (GAO) Draft Report, Vlilitary    Capability: An Assessment of Changes in
                      Measures of Capability   Between Fiscal Years 1980 and 1989," dated November
                      27, 1989, (GAO Code 391624). OSD Case 8190. The Department generally concurs
                      with the report.

                           Most of the Department's comments are technlcal        changes and clarifications
                      and have been provided seperately      in an annotated copy of the report.          There
                      are three substantive     corenents the DOD would like to emphasize.        The first    is
                      that "depot maintenance backlog" is not a readiness measure, but rather is a
                      financial   number (requirement    vs. funding).     Secondly, the Department has
                      provided the GAO with updated information        on the Prepositioning    of Materiel
                      Conflgured to Unit Sets (POMCUS) program.         Finally,   the requirement for
                      airlift   is a DOD requirement,    not Air Force, and Is 66 million      ton miles per
                         Detailed DOD comments on the report findings    are enclosed. As indicated,
                      additional  technical comments were separately  provided to the GAO.

                                                                   Deputy Assistant Secretary         of Defense
                                                                   (General Purpose Programs)


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Appendix II

Major Contributors to This Report

                        David R. Warren, Assistant Director
                        James A Elgas Project Manager
International Affairs   Robert B.*Eurilh, Assistant Director
Division,               Anthony L. Hill, Evaluator
                        Jeffrey D. Phillips, Evaluator
Washington, D.C.        John P. Swain, Evaluator


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