oversight

Force Structure: Potential Exists to Further Reduce Active Air Force Personnel

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-03-28.

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

                  United States General Accounting Office

GAO               Report to Congressional Committees




March 1997
                  FORCE STRUCTURE
                  Potential Exists to
                  Further Reduce Active
                  Air Force Personnel




GAO/NSIAD-97-78
      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      National Security and
      International Affairs Division

      B-272601

      March 28, 1997

      The Honorable Dirk Kempthorne
      Chairman, Subcommittee on Personnel
      Committee on Armed Services
      United States Senate

      The Honorable Stephen Buyer
      Chairman, Subcommittee on Military Personnel
      Committee on National Security
      House of Representatives

      This report discusses (1) how the size and composition of the active Air Force has changed
      since 1986, (2) whether the Air Force has sufficient numbers of personnel to meet wartime
      requirements, and (3) whether there is potential to further reduce the active force that could
      result in a more efficient force. Because of your expressed interest and oversight of military
      personnel issues, we are addressing this report to you. This report should be useful to your
      Committees in their deliberations on the future size and composition of the Air Force. The
      report contains a recommendation to the Secretary of the Air Force.

      We are sending copies of this report to the Secretaries of Defense and the Air Force and the
      Director, Office of Management and Budget. Copies will also be made available to others on
      request.

      If you or your staff have any questions on this report, please call me on (202) 512-3504. Major
      contributors to this report are listed in appendix III.




      Richard Davis
      Director, National Security
        Analysis
Executive Summary


             In 1996, Congress established minimum active duty personnel levels for
Purpose      each service out of concern that further downsizing would impair the
             Department of Defense’s (DOD) ability to support two nearly simultaneous
             major regional conflicts (MRC). The Air Force floor is 381,000 active duty
             personnel. Since the end of the Cold War, the Air Force has drawn down
             its active military forces significantly and plans to reduce the forces to
             381,100 during fiscal year 1997. Because of congressional concerns about
             active duty personnel levels, GAO analyzed (1) how the size and
             composition of the active Air Force has changed since 1986, (2) whether
             the Air Force has any shortfalls in meeting its wartime requirements, and
             (3) whether there is potential to further reduce the active force. GAO did
             not examine the need for the number of fighter wings, bombers, and
             intercontinental missiles identified by DOD in its 1993 Bottom-Up Review of
             military requirements.


             The active Air Force is divided between mission and infrastructure forces.
Background   For each of the services, DOD’s 1993 Bottom-Up Review established the
             mission force structure needed to conduct two nearly simultaneous MRCs
             and implement other elements of the national military strategy. The Air
             Force’s planned active mission force will consist of 13 fighter wings, 161
             bombers, 500 intercontinental missiles, and the forces that provide direct
             combat support in wartime. Mission forces are divided into the following
             categories: combat forces; direct support forces; command, control, and
             communications of combat forces; intelligence; and space. The
             infrastructure force comprises activities that provide support services and
             primarily operate from fixed locations. Infrastructure is divided into eight
             categories: acquisition management, force management, installation
             support, central communications, central logistics, central medical, central
             personnel, and central training.

             In fiscal year 1996, active Air Force military pay was projected to be
             $19.3 billion— $7.3 billion for mission forces and $12.0 billion for
             infrastructure forces. The Secretary of Defense has stated that DOD must
             significantly reduce its infrastructure in order to modernize its force. In
             April 1996, GAO reported that operations and maintenance and the military
             personnel appropriations must be reduced if spending for infrastructure
             activities is to decline, since they account for 80 percent of infrastructure
             funding.




             Page 2                                           GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
                   Executive Summary




                   Between fiscal year 1986 and 1997, the Air Force will reduce its active
Results in Brief   military personnel from over 600,000 to 381,100, or by 37 percent. Mission
                   forces have been reduced at a much greater rate than infrastructure forces
                   during the last decade. As a result, approximately two-thirds of the Air
                   Force’s 381,100 active duty personnel are now allocated to infrastructure
                   functions such as installation support and acquisition. Further, today’s
                   smaller force has a higher ratio of officers than in 1986.

                   Potential exists to reduce the active Air Force below the 381,100 minimum
                   level set by Congress, without adversely affecting the Air Force’s
                   war-fighting capability. In May 1996, GAO suggested options to consolidate
                   fighter squadrons which, if implemented, would permit the Air Force to
                   maintain the same number of aircraft but carry out its missions with fewer
                   active duty personnel. GAO has also reported that the Air Force could
                   achieve savings by replacing military personnel in some administrative and
                   support positions with civilian employees. For fiscal year 1998, the Air
                   Force plans to seek statutory authority to reduce the active force by about
                   9,400 below the current minimum. GAO’s analysis shows the majority of
                   these planned decreases are in infrastructure functions.

                   Prompted by the Secretary of Defense’s goal to reduce infrastructure to
                   free funds for force modernization, the Air Force has recently identified a
                   potential to reduce the active force by as many as 75,000 additional
                   military personnel beyond fiscal year 1998. The Air Force is reviewing
                   options for replacing military personnel assigned to infrastructure
                   functions with civilian employees or contractors that may be able to
                   perform some functions at less cost than military personnel. The actual
                   number of active personnel that will ultimately be replaced will depend on
                   the results of continuing Air Force analysis to determine whether such
                   substitutions will be organizationally feasible and cost-effective.

                   The Air Force projects it would have an active wartime shortage of about
                   19,600 personnel if two MRCs occurred. However, the Air Force does not
                   need additional active personnel to cover this wartime shortage because it
                   has identified ways to compensate for the shortage, such as using the
                   individual ready reserve1 and hiring private contractors. Moreover, this
                   shortage would present little risk in carrying out the national military
                   strategy since it primarily affects forces that would provide operating
                   support for bases in the United States rather than in the forces that would
                   deploy to war. GAO agreed that the Air Force’s plans to further reduce

                   1
                    The individual ready reserve is a pool of individuals who have already served in active units or the
                   reserves and have some part of their military service obligation remaining.



                   Page 3                                                            GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
                                          Executive Summary




                                          active military personnel would not exacerbate these shortages since the
                                          Air Force plans to replace military personnel with contractors or civilian
                                          employees that support infrastructure activities rather than wartime
                                          operations.



Principal Findings

Mission Forces Were                       Between fiscal year 1986 and 1997, the active Air Force will have
Reduced at a Greater Rate                 decreased from 608,199 to 381,100, or by 37 percent. GAO’s analysis shows
Than Infrastructure Forces                that mission forces decreased by 122,068, or 47 percent, and infrastructure
                                          forces by 105,031, or 30 percent, as shown in figure 1.
Between Fiscal Year 1986
and 1997

Figure 1: Changes in Active Air Force End Strength

Number of personnel
400,000

350,000

300,000

250,000

200,000

150,000

100,000

 50,000

       0
           86     87      88      89      90       91      92         93      94       95        96       97
                                                   Fiscal year

                                       Mission       Infrastructure



                                          Source: DOD’s Fiscal Year 1997 Future Years Defense Program.




                                          Page 4                                                      GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
                               Executive Summary




                               The Air Force decreased the mission forces primarily by reducing fighter
                               wings, bombers, and strategic missile forces to the levels specified in the
                               Bottom-Up Review. Decreases in installation support and central training
                               accounted for 89 percent of the infrastructure reductions. Despite
                               significant decreases in installation support, the Air Force still has almost
                               58,000 military positions in this category. Five other infrastructure
                               categories—acquisition management, force management, central
                               communications, central medical, and central personnel experienced
                               decreases in military personnel ranging from 6 to 44 percent. Central
                               logistics is the only category that had a net increase of personnel. The
                               increase occurred primarily because military personnel associated with
                               the strategic airlift mission were reclassified from mission forces to
                               central logistics in 1992.

                               GAO’s  analysis shows that officer and enlisted positions in mission forces
                               were reduced proportionately, but a higher percentage of enlisted
                               positions were eliminated from the infrastructure category. One reason
                               this occurred is that the central medical function, which has a high
                               number of officers and has experienced little change over the past decade,
                               is classified as infrastructure. The number of medical positions has
                               remained relatively stable at about 40,000 over the past 10 years.


Wartime Personnel              The Air Force assesses its ability to satisfy its total wartime personnel
Shortfalls Identified by the   requirements through an exercise called “FORSIZE”.2 FORSIZE
Air Force Pose Little Risk     determines the forces needed to deploy to each MRC, the forces needed for
                               strategic missions such as airlift and space, and those needed to sustain
to Implementing the            base operations in the United States during wartime. Military personnel
National Military Strategy     requirements determined by FORSIZE include personnel needed to
                               replace casualties expected to occur during two MRCs. The number of
                               casualty replacements used in FORSIZE is classified. FORSIZE 95 showed
                               the Air Force has an active shortage of about 19,600, or 5 percent, of its
                               wartime requirements.

                               Air Force officials believe this shortage would not have a serious impact
                               on their ability to implement the national military strategy since only a
                               small percentage of the shortage is in the forces that deploy and the
                               majority of the functional areas plan to use the individual ready reserve,
                               contractors, and new technologies to offset the shortages. For example,
                               security police had the largest shortage of 6,903, all of which represents a

                               2
                                Requirements for medical personnel were not included because DOD is currently conducting a study
                               of the services’ wartime medical requirements.



                               Page 5                                                       GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
                            Executive Summary




                            shortage that would occur when security police who guard bases in
                            peacetime deploy for wartime operations. Security personnel said they
                            could work around the shortage by increasing workshifts, closing gates at
                            some bases, and taking advantage of new sensor technology. Likewise,
                            transportation had an overall shortage of 3,536, but most of it is in
                            operating and maintaining transportation at bases in the United States.

                            FORSIZE does not assess whether Air Force personnel are adequate to
                            meet the requirements for operations other than war because defense
                            guidance assumes the forces determined to meet the requirements of two
                            MRCs can also satisfy the needs of contingency operations. Air Force data
                            shows that during fiscal years 1995 and 1996, certain types of units that
                            have been frequently involved in operations other than war exceeded the
                            Air Force goal of being deployed no more than 120 days per year.
                            However, a July 1996 Air Force study concluded that the Air Force does
                            not need to add more units of these types due to contingency operations,
                            but it must closely manage units that deploy frequently to prevent
                            excessive use. The Air Force has taken several steps in recent years to
                            reduce the impact of operations other than war on certain units. For
                            example, both the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard are now
                            supporting a greater share of contingency taskings.


Air Force Plans to Reduce   The Air Force plans to seek statutory authority to reduce active duty end
Active Duty Personnel       strength by about 9,500 to about 371,600 in fiscal year 1998. The National
Below Congressional Floor   Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 allows the Secretary of
                            Defense to decrease the services’ authorized end strength up to 1 percent
in Fiscal Year 1998         below the floors established by Congress. However, the Air Force’s
                            planned decrease exceeds this allowance. According to Air Force officials,
                            reducing the Air Force’s military end strength will not lessen the Air
                            Force’s war-fighting capability, since the planned decreases are primarily
                            in infrastructure functions. GAO’s analysis of the planned decreases
                            indicates that about 8,400 positions, or 88 percent, are in infrastructure
                            functions and about 1,100, or 12 percent, are in mission forces.

                            The net decrease in mission forces will occur primarily from the
                            drawdown of intercontinental ballistic missiles under the first Strategic
                            Arms Reduction Treaty, and the Air Force’s plans to retire the EF-111
                            electronic support aircraft in fiscal year 1998. However, the Air Force is
                            concerned that the Navy may not assume the electronics warfare mission
                            within the planned time frame, which could delay these planned
                            reductions.



                            Page 6                                         GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
                             Executive Summary




                             The decrease in infrastructure forces includes contracting out or
                             civilianizing about 2,500 military positions involved in installation support
                             and communications activities. According to Air Force officials, these
                             positions do not need to be military because they do not deploy and are
                             not needed to support overseas rotation needs. The Air Force also plans to
                             start reducing the number of medical positions to adjust the size of the
                             medical force to post-Cold War wartime medical requirements. Other
                             efforts to reduce infrastructure include reducing the number of military
                             positions in headquarters operations and support activities, such as the
                             weather service.


Potential Exists to Reduce   The Air Force has not routinely assessed whether all positions need to
Military Personnel Further   remain military. However, three separate initiatives have identified the
Below the Level Planned      potential to replace as many as 75,000 military personnel with less costly
                             civilian employees or contractors. By reducing its reliance on military
for Fiscal Year 1998         personnel, the Air Force plans to achieve savings that can be used to fund
                             force modernization.

                             For example, an ongoing Air Force headquarters-led study has identified
                             approximately 52,600 active military positions—3,000 officer and 49,600
                             enlisted—that potentially could be replaced by either contractors or
                             civilian employees. The study includes all military positions in commercial
                             activities within the major commands in the United States and selected
                             overseas locations. A commercial activity can be an entire organization or
                             part of an organization that provides a product or service obtainable from
                             a commercial source. To determine the potential for transferring functions
                             to contractors or civilian employees, the Air Force determined the
                             universe of personnel in commercial activities and excluded those who are
                             required to deploy during wartime and those assigned to military-unique
                             functions, such as headquarters activities and basic military training. The
                             major commands are currently identifying the positions by base and work
                             center, and determining which work centers represent good candidates for
                             formal cost-comparison studies to determine the relative cost savings
                             associated with using either contractors or civilian employees where
                             military are no longer essential to their mission. Until this analysis is
                             completed and approved by Air Force headquarters, the long range plans
                             for reducing active duty personnel are uncertain.

                             Another ongoing Air Force study has identified approximately 21,600
                             military positions in inherently governmental functions that potentially
                             could be filled by civilian employees. Some functions such as acquisition



                             Page 7                                          GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
                     Executive Summary




                     and contracting are considered inherently governmental and therefore
                     must be performed by federal employees, but not necessarily by military
                     personnel. In October 1996, GAO reported the Air Force could convert 6,800
                     officer positions in career fields such as information and financial
                     management to civilian positions because it is not essential that they be
                     filled by military personnel.3 Such conversions could save $69 million
                     annually because civilian employees cost less than military personnel on
                     average. DOD has agreed to develop an approach for making such
                     conversions. The Secretary of the Air Force stated, however, that
                     converting military positions to civilian positions runs counter to DOD’s
                     goal of reducing its civilian workforce and that DOD needs to allow the
                     services some flexibility to make the most cost-effective use of its
                     resources.

                     Other GAO work has identified opportunities to organize mission forces
                     more efficiently. For example, increasing the size of fighter squadrons
                     from 18 to 24 aircraft could permit missions to be carried out with fewer
                     personnel at less cost. Transferring some functions from the active force
                     to the reserves may also be possible. For example, in September 1996, GAO
                     reported that one option for restructuring the bomber force would be to
                     place greater numbers of B-1B bombers in the Air National Guard.4 The Air
                     Force is also assessing options to transfer some functions to the reserves.


                     DOD has stated it must reduce infrastructure costs in order to modernize its
Recommendation       force. Several ongoing Air Force studies have identified potential to
                     replace military personnel with contractors or civilian employees.
                     Therefore, GAO recommends that, once the ongoing efforts are completed,
                     the Secretary of the Air Force develop a plan that

                 •   identifies time frames to study whether it is more cost-effective to transfer
                     commercial activities now performed by military personnel to civilian
                     employees or private contractors and
                 •   includes time frames to convert military positions in inherently
                     governmental functions to civilian positions.




                     3
                     DOD Force Mix Issues: Converting Some Support Officer Positions to Civilian Status Could Save
                     Money (GAO/NSIAD-97-15, Oct. 23, 1996).
                     4
                      Air Force Bombers: Options to Retire or Restructure the Force Would Reduce Planned Spending
                     (GAO/NSIAD-96-192, Sept. 30, 1996).



                     Page 8                                                       GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
                  Executive Summary




                  DOD  generally agreed with the report, fully concurring with two parts of
Agency Comments   GAO’s  recommendation, and partially concurring with one part. DOD stated
                  that an existing system already tracks the services’ progress in completing
                  cost comparison studies and converting positions, so there is no need to
                  establish an additional system. GAO agreed with DOD and has modified the
                  recommendation accordingly. DOD also stated that while FORSIZE
                  identified an active shortage of 19,600 personnel, this shortage can be
                  satisfied through a variety of sources, including civilians, contractors, and
                  Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel. GAO agreed with
                  DOD’s position. GAO’s report reflects that the Air Force has identified
                  several ways to compensate for these wartime shortages. The Air Force
                  also provided technical comments on GAO’s draft report, which GAO
                  considered in preparing the final report. DOD’s comments on a draft of this
                  report are reprinted in appendix II.




                  Page 9                                          GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
Contents



Executive Summary                                                                                   2


Chapter 1                                                                                          12
                         Congressional Actions to Stem Drawdown of Active Duty                     12
Introduction               Personnel
                         Active Duty Force Consists of Mission and Infrastructure Forces           13
                         Air Force Processes for Determining Personnel Requirements                14
                         Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                        16

Chapter 2                                                                                          18
                         Mission Forces Will Decrease by Almost Half Between Fiscal                18
Mission Forces Are          Year 1986 and 1997
Being Reduced at a       Infrastructure Forces Are Decreasing at a Slower Rate Than                20
                            Mission Forces
Faster Rate Than         Officers Now Represent a Larger Portion of the Force                      22
Infrastructure Forces
Chapter 3                                                                                          24
                         Wartime Personnel Requirements Established by FORSIZE                     24
Military Personnel       Air Force Wartime Personnel Shortages Pose Little Risk                    26
Shortages Pose Little    Impact of OOTW on Air Force Personnel Requirements                        29
                         Agency Comments                                                           31
Risk to Implementing
the National Military
Strategy
Chapter 4                                                                                          32
                         Air Force Plans to Reduce Active Duty Personnel Below                     32
Opportunities Exist to     Congressional Floor in Fiscal Year 1998
Reduce the Number of     Ongoing Air Force Studies Have Identified Potential to Further            35
                           Reduce Active Personnel
Active Duty Air Force    Consolidating Fighter Squadrons Would Reduce Military                     39
Personnel                  Personnel
                         Other Efforts Could Impact Air Force Requirements for Active              40
                           Military Personnel
                         Conclusions                                                               41
                         Recommendation                                                            41
                         Agency Comments                                                           42




                         Page 10                                       GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
             Contents




Appendixes   Appendix I: Categories of Defense Infrastructure                            44
             Appendix II: Comments From the Department of Defense                        46
             Appendix III: Major Contributors to This Report                             48

Tables       Table 1.1: Means Used to Determine Air Force Military Personnel             15
               Authorizations
             Table 2.1: Changes in Active Duty Personnel by Mission Category             18
             Table 2.2: Comparison of Air Force Active Force Structure                   19
               Between Fiscal Year 1986 and 1997
             Table 2.3: Changes in Active Duty Personnel By Infrastructure               20
               Category
             Table 2.4: Changes in Officer and Enlisted Personnel in Mission             22
               and Infrastructure Forces Between Fiscal Year 1986 and 1997
             Table 2.5: Positions In Joint Staff/Defense Agencies and Medical            23
               Program as a Percent of Total Active Military Personnel Between
               Fiscal Year 1986 and 1997
             Table 3.1: Projected Active Personnel Wartime Shortages for                 27
               Fiscal Year 1997
             Table 4.1: Comparison of Active Duty End Strength Between                   33
               Fiscal Year 1997 and 1998
             Table 4.2: Military Positions in Commercial Activities That                 36
               Potentially Could Be Contracted Out or Filled by Civilian
               Employees
             Table 4.3: Military Positions by Functional Area That Potentially           38
               Could Be Converted to Civilian Positions

Figures      Figure 1: Changes in Active Air Force End Strength                           4
             Figure 1.1: Fiscal Year 1996 Funding for Air Force Infrastructure           14
               Activities
             Figure 3.1: Breakdown of Active Wartime Personnel                           26
               Requirements as Determined by FORSIZE 95
             Figure 3.2: Days on Temporary Duty for Selected Air Combat                  30
               Command Units for Fiscal Years 1995 and 1996


             Abbreviations

             DOD        Department of Defense
             FYDP       Future Years Defense Program
             GAO        General Accounting Office
             MRC        Major Regional Conflict
             OOTW       Operations Other Than War
             OSD        Office of the Secretary of Defense


             Page 11                                         GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
Chapter 1

Introduction


                        On the basis on its 1993 Bottom-Up Review, the Department of Defense
                        (DOD) adopted a strategy of maintaining the capability to fight and win two
                        nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts (MRC), conduct smaller scale
                        operations such as peacekeeping, and provide overseas presence in
                        critical regions. The Bottom-Up Review determined that the Air Force
                        would have 20 fighter wings (13 active and 7 reserve), up to 187 bombers1
                        (161 active and 26 reserve), and 500 intercontinental ballistic missiles to
                        implement the strategy. The Bottom-Up Review also concluded the Air
                        Force should maintain the capability to provide (1) airlift to transport
                        people and equipment during conflicts, (2) reconnaissance and command
                        and control aircraft to provide information on the location and disposition
                        of enemy forces, and (3) aerial refuelers to enhance mission effectiveness
                        by refueling aircraft during long-range missions. The review did not
                        specify the number of military personnel required to implement the
                        national military strategy. However, DOD subsequently determined that the
                        active components would consist of about 1.4 million active military
                        personnel, 381,000 of which would be Air Force personnel. By the end of
                        fiscal year 1997, the Air Force plans to have an active duty force of 381,100
                        personnel with an associated military pay of $16.8 billion.


                        In 1996, Congress established minimum active duty personnel levels for
Congressional Actions   each military service as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for
to Stem Drawdown of     Fiscal Year 1996. The Air Force floor was set at 381,000. In creating the
Active Duty Personnel   floors, Congress sought to ensure that (1) the services had enough
                        personnel to carry out the national military strategy and (2) the drawdown
                        of active forces was over to avoid future recruiting and retention
                        problems. Finally, Congress believed that this level force would allow the
                        services to manage the effects of high operations and personnel tempo.

                        The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 retained the
                        floor, but allowed the Secretary of Defense the flexibility in certain
                        circumstances to decrease personnel by 1 percent of the floor. For the Air
                        Force, this means the number of active duty personnel cannot drop below
                        377,200. The legislation requires the services to obtain statutory authority
                        for decreases below the 1-percent threshold.




                        1
                         The Bottom-Up Review determined the Air Force would have 184 bombers, but DOD has
                        subsequently increased the number to 187.



                        Page 12                                                    GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
                      Chapter 1
                      Introduction




                      Over the last several years, DOD has categorized its planned forces and
Active Duty Force     funding as either mission or infrastructure. Air Force mission forces
Consists of Mission   consist of the fighter wings, bombers, and intercontinental missiles (as
and Infrastructure    defined in the Bottom-Up Review) and the forces that provide direct
                      combat support; intelligence; space support; and command, control and
Forces                communications in wartime. Activities that provide support to the mission
                      forces and primarily operate from fixed locations are classified as
                      infrastructure forces. Infrastructure is divided into the following eight
                      categories: acquisition management, force management, installation
                      support, central communications, central logistics, central medical, central
                      personnel, and central training. These categories are described in
                      appendix I. Approximately 140,000, or 36 percent, of the active Air Force
                      personnel are currently categorized as mission forces and 241,000, or
                      64 percent, are in infrastructure activities.

                      The Secretary of Defense wants to reduce and streamline infrastructure to
                      achieve savings to modernize the force. In April 1996, we reported that
                      operations and maintenance and the military personnel appropriations
                      must be reduced if spending for infrastructure activities is to decline, since
                      they account for 80 percent of infrastructure funding.2 In fiscal year 1996,
                      the Air Force spent about $28 billion of its $73 billion total budget on
                      infrastructure activities. As shown in figure 1.1, about 83 percent of the Air
                      Force’s direct infrastructure costs are funded by two
                      appropriations—military personnel and operations and maintenance.




                      2
                       Defense Infrastructure: Budget Estimates for 1996-2001 Offer Little Savings for Modernization
                      (GAO/NSIAD-96-131, Apr. 4, 1996).



                      Page 13                                                         GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
                                            Chapter 1
                                            Introduction




Figure 1.1: Fiscal Year 1996 Funding for Air Force Infrastructure Activities

Dollars in billions

                                                                      Military personnel              $12 (43%)




                                                                                                 Military construction $0.6 (2%)
                                                                                                Procurement $0.7 (2%)
                                                                                               Family housing $1.1 (4%)
                                                                                                  a
                                                                                         RDT&E          $2.5   (9%)
  Operations & maintenance         $11.2 (40%)


                                            a
                                                Research, development, test, and evaluation.


                                            Source: Fiscal Year 1997 Future Years Defense Program (FYDP).


                                            One of the Air Force’s major initiatives to generate savings for weapons
                                            modernization is to study the potential to contract out infrastructure
                                            functions. In deciding whether a function can be transferred to
                                            contractors, the Air Force compares the relative cost of using civilian
                                            employees and private contractors to perform the same function. DOD data
                                            on cost comparisons completed between fiscal year 1978 and 1994
                                            indicates that shifting work to contractors has reduced annual operating
                                            cost on average by 31 percent. Our initial work on another assignment
                                            indicates that such savings may not be as high as estimated by DOD, but
                                            that some savings do result.


                                            The Air Force uses a variety of methods to determine personnel
Air Force Processes                         requirements. These processes identify requirements as a function of
for Determining                             workload or level of service based on assigned missions. The various
Personnel                                   methods include Air Force staffing standards for positions common
                                            throughout the Air Force such as security police; command staffing
Requirements                                standards for functions unique to a particular command such as pilot



                                            Page 14                                                       GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
                                     Chapter 1
                                     Introduction




                                     training; a computer-generated model for aircraft maintenance positions;
                                     and crew ratios for each type of aircraft in the inventory. The Air Force
                                     does not have total control over the allocation of its personnel. For
                                     example, legislation and DOD directives establish ceilings on headquarters
                                     positions and mandate the number of positions that the Air Force must fill
                                     on the joint staff, and in unified commands and defense agencies. Table 1.1
                                     shows the processes the Air Force uses to develop the number of active
                                     military positions required and the number of positions mandated by the
                                     Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and legislation.

Table 1.1: Means Used to Determine
Air Force Military Personnel         Category                                                                 Positions         Percent
Authorizations                       Air Force standards     a
                                                                                                               152,831                 43
                                     Command standardsb                                                         69,171                 20
                                     Logistics composite model                                                  36,895                 10
                                     Headquarters                                                               26,650                  8
                                                        c
                                     Staffing pattern                                                           22,773                  6
                                     Crew ratiosd                                                               13,755                  4
                                     Joint Staffs, defense and other federal agencies                           16,837                  5
                                     Other processes                                                            14,387                  4
                                              e
                                     Total                                                                     353,299                 100
                                     a
                                      Includes positions covered by approved variances to Air Force standards, Air Force standards
                                     awaiting approval and being revalidated, and Air Force directed requirements at wing level or
                                     below.
                                     b
                                      Includes positions covered by approved variances to major command standards, major
                                     command standards awaiting approval and major command directed requirements at wing level
                                     or below.
                                     c
                                       Positions primarily in the Systems Program Offices where personnel requirements vary
                                     depending on system development and production.
                                     d
                                         Number of crews authorized per aircraft, missile and space system.
                                     e
                                       Students, patients, prisoners, and personnel transferring between assignments account for the
                                     difference between this total and the total number of authorized active military positions.



                                     Source: Air Force data.




Mandated Personnel                   The requirements for some military positions are determined either by
Requirements                         directives or legislation rather than by the Air Force. For example, the
                                     National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996 restricts the
                                     Secretary of Defense from reducing military medical personnel unless DOD




                                     Page 15                                                         GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
                     Chapter 1
                     Introduction




                     certifies that the number of people being reduced is excess to current and
                     projected needs and does not increase the cost of services provided under
                     the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services. Also,
                     the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 gave the
                     Secretary of Defense the authority to determine the number of joint officer
                     positions. An April 1981 memorandum from the Deputy Secretary of
                     Defense states that DOD cannot increase or decrease resources that
                     support the National Foreign Intelligence Program without approval from
                     the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Likewise, a
                     December 1989 memorandum from the Deputy Secretary of Defense
                     stated that the number of military positions within the Special Operations
                     Command will not be adjusted unless directed by the Deputy Secretary of
                     Defense.


                     Because of congressional concerns about active duty personnel levels, we
Objectives, Scope,   assessed (1) how the size and composition of the active Air Force has
and Methodology      changed since 1986, (2) whether the Air Force has any shortages in
                     meeting its wartime requirements, and (3) whether there is potential to
                     reduce the active force further. We did not examine the need for the
                     number of fighter wings, bombers, and intercontinental missiles identified
                     by DOD’s 1993 Bottom-Up Review.

                     We interviewed officials and reviewed documents at OSD and Air Force
                     headquarters, Washington, D.C.; Air Combat Command, Norfolk, Virginia;
                     Air Force Materiel Command, Dayton, Ohio; and Air Education and
                     Training Command, San Antonio, Texas.

                     To determine how the size and composition of the active force has
                     changed, we analyzed data contained in the fiscal year 1997 FYDP and
                     historical FYDPs. The FYDP displays the allocation of resources by programs
                     and activities known as program elements. We used the mapping scheme
                     developed by DOD’s Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation to identify
                     mission and infrastructure program elements. We then compared the
                     changes in active personnel by mission and infrastructure categories
                     between fiscal year 1986 and 1997. We used fiscal year 1986 as a starting
                     point because it represented the peak in the number of active duty
                     personnel, preceding the post-Cold War drawdown. We obtained data on
                     the number of active military positions that are determined by legislation
                     or directives, but did not assess how the requirements for these positions
                     were determined.




                     Page 16                                        GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
Chapter 1
Introduction




To determine if the Air Force has wartime personnel shortages, we
analyzed the results of the Air Force FORSIZE 95 exercise. To determine if
the shortages identified by FORSIZE affected the Air Force ability to carry
out the national military strategy, we interviewed Air Force headquarters
functional managers to determine whether the shortages were in the
forces that deploy to theaters of operation or in forces that sustain
operations at bases in the United States. We also discussed their plans to
resolve the shortages. Since FORSIZE did not analyze wartime
requirements for medical personnel, we obtained data on wartime
requirements from the Air Force Office of the Surgeon General.

To assess the potential to further reduce the active force, we analyzed the
military personnel reductions planned in fiscal year 1998. Our analysis was
based on the Air Force’s fiscal year 1998 Budget Estimate Submission
provided to OSD. In addition, we reviewed Air Force efforts to identify
opportunities to replace military personnel with contractor and civilian
personnel. Since these efforts have not been completed, our analysis was
limited to reviewing the methodology for identifying potential positions
and the plans for approving which positions will be studied or converted.
In addition, we used our prior work to identify opportunities to more
efficiently organize the active force.

We conducted our review from November 1995 through December 1996 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.




Page 17                                        GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
Chapter 2

Mission Forces Are Being Reduced at a
Faster Rate Than Infrastructure Forces

                                    Between fiscal year 1986 and 1997,1 the Air Force will reduce its active
                                    military personnel from 608,199 to 381,100, or by 37 percent. During this
                                    time, mission forces will be reduced at a much greater rate than
                                    infrastructure forces—47 percent compared to 30 percent. The Air Force
                                    reduced active military personnel primarily by (1) implementing the force
                                    structure reductions in accordance with the Bottom-Up Review,
                                    (2) closing bases, (3) transferring some missions to the reserves, and
                                    (4) reorganizing major commands and headquarters activities. Our
                                    analysis also indicated that the 1997 active duty Air Force will have a
                                    higher percentage of officers compared with the percentage in 1986.


                                    Between fiscal year 1986 and 1997, the Air Force will reduce its mission
Mission Forces Will                 forces from approximately 262,000 to 140,000, or by 47 percent, as shown
Decrease by Almost                  in table 2.1.
Half Between Fiscal
Year 1986 and 1997


Table 2.1: Changes in Active Duty
Personnel by Mission Category                                                     Fiscal year                                 Percentage
                                    Category                                      1986            1997        Change           of change
                                    Combat forces                              112,096          61,119         (50,977)                  (45)
                                    Direct combat support                      102,149          46,200         (55,949)                  (55)
                                    Command, control, and                       20,223           9,169         (11,054)                  (55)
                                    communication
                                    Intelligence                                17,976          18,752             776                     4
                                    Research, development, test,                 5,637               84        ( 5,553)                  (99)
                                    and evaluation
                                    Space                                        3,095           3,892             797                    26
                                    Other defense missions                          837            729            (108)                  (13)
                                    Total                                      262,013        139,945        (122,068)                   (47)
                                    Source: Our analysis of DOD’s FYDP data.



                                    The decrease in combat forces primarily resulted from implementing the
                                    Bottom-Up Review force structure, which significantly reduced the


                                    1
                                     The fiscal year 1986 total represents the actual number of active military personnel assigned at the
                                    end of the fiscal year, whereas the fiscal year 1997 figure represents the authorized number of military
                                    personnel.



                                    Page 18                                                          GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
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                                        Mission Forces Are Being Reduced at a
                                        Faster Rate Than Infrastructure Forces




                                        number of fighter wings, bombers, and intercontinental missiles. Table 2.2
                                        compares the force structure between fiscal year 1986 and 1997.

Table 2.2: Comparison of Air Force
Active Force Structure Between Fiscal                                                     Fiscal year
Year 1986 and 1997                      Category                                          1986          1997    Change
                                        Fighter wings                                       25           13         (12)
                                        Bombers                                            315          126        (189)
                                        Intercontinental missiles                        1,009          580        (429)

                                        The Air Force reduced the number of fighter wings by retiring the F-4 and
                                        F-111 aircraft and transferring the F-15s required for the air defense of the
                                        United States as well as some close air support aircraft (A-10s) to the
                                        reserves. The Air Force reduced the bomber force by retiring the FB-111s
                                        and many B-52’s. Finally, the Air Force reduced the missile force by
                                        eliminating the Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missiles and the
                                        ground launched cruise missiles.

                                        The decrease in direct combat support forces resulted primarily from
                                        transferring some airlift and refueling missions to the reserves and retiring
                                        some electronic warfare aircraft (RF-4Gs) and reconnaissance aircraft
                                        (TR-1s). In addition, some of the decrease resulted when the strategic
                                        airlift function was moved to the central logistics infrastructure category.

                                        The number of military personnel in command, control, and
                                        communications positions was reduced by abolishing the Air Force
                                        Communications Command. In addition, the increase in technologies such
                                        as automation and digital communications allowed the Air Force to assign
                                        fewer people to operate and maintain needed capability.

                                        The decrease in research, development, test, and evaluation primarily
                                        resulted from a change in the way these personnel are categorized. Prior
                                        to 1988, about 5,600 positions in acquisition and command support were
                                        included in the mission forces under the research, development, test, and
                                        evaluation activity. However, in 1988 the majority of these positions were
                                        moved to the acquisition infrastructure category when the Air Force
                                        merged two commands to form the Air Force Materiel Command.

                                        The remaining two mission categories, intelligence and space, gained
                                        personnel. While there were decreases in some intelligence functions such
                                        as the retirement of the SR-71, they were offset by increases resulting from




                                        Page 19                                          GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
                                       Chapter 2
                                       Mission Forces Are Being Reduced at a
                                       Faster Rate Than Infrastructure Forces




                                       the creation of the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office in 1994.2 The
                                       increase in space forces resulted primarily because some activities that
                                       were categorized as acquisition and direct support were transferred to
                                       space.


                                       Between fiscal year 1986 and 1997, the Air Force will reduce the number
Infrastructure Forces                  of active personnel in infrastructure functions from approximately 346,000
Are Decreasing at a                    to 241,000, or by 30 percent. Significant decreases occurred in all
Slower Rate Than                       infrastructure forces except acquisition, central medical, and central
                                       logistics as shown in table 2.3.
Mission Forces
Table 2.3: Changes in Active Duty
Personnel by Infrastructure Category                                               Fiscal year                               Percentage
                                       Category                                    1986           1997        Change          of change
                                       Acquisition management                     10,196          9,569           (627)                  (6)
                                       Force management                           34,016         25,280         (8,736)               (26)
                                       Installation support                     107,523          57,918       (49,605)                (46)
                                       Central communications                     21,260         16,931         (4,329)               (20)
                                       Central logistics                          12,315         25,174        12,859                 104
                                       Central medical                            41,380         40,639           (741)                  (2)
                                       Central personnel                          21,762         12,283         (9,479)               (44)
                                       Central training                           97,734         53,372       (44,362)                (45)
                                                                a
                                       Resource adjustments                                         (11)
                                       Total                                    346,186        241,155       (105,031)                (30)
                                       a
                                        A means to account for the difference between programmed and actual personnel levels. A
                                       negative value indicates that overstaffing is projected for the last day of the fiscal year.

                                       Source: Our analysis of DOD’s FYDP data.



                                       The greatest number of personnel decreases occurred in installation
                                       support and central training activities. The decline in installation support
                                       was caused primarily by the closure of 20 active air bases by the Secretary
                                       of Defense’s Base Closure Commission in 1988 and the Base Closure and
                                       Realignment Commission in 1991 and 1993. The Air Force also contracted
                                       some base operations, which reduced the number of military personnel in
                                       installation support.




                                       2
                                        The Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office was created to unify airborne reconnaissance
                                       architectures and enhance the acquisition of manned and unmanned airborne assets and associated
                                       ground systems.



                                       Page 20                                                        GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
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    Mission Forces Are Being Reduced at a
    Faster Rate Than Infrastructure Forces




    The decrease in central training was related primarily to the decreases in
    mission force structure. For example, the decrease in the number of wings
    and bombers resulted in about a 6,700 decline in the number of
    undergraduate pilot and navigator training positions and about an 8,500
    decrease in weapons systems training positions. Likewise, the decrease in
    the number of strategic forces reduced training requirements by about
    2,400 positions. The overall decrease in the number of active personnel
    caused a decline of approximately 11,300 positions in general skill level
    training and about 4,900 positions in recruit training units. Approximately
    another 4,000 positions were eliminated from contracting for base
    operations at training bases.

    The primary reasons for the decreases in the other categories are
    described as follows:

•   Acquisition management—This category experienced a net decrease of
    627 military positions. However, in 1988 the Air Force transferred about
    5,600 positions from the mission research, development, test, and
    evaluation category into acquisition. Since 1988, the number of military
    personnel in the acquisition has declined by about 5,800.
•   Force management—The decreases occurred in the weather service,
    servicewide support, and from consolidation of various headquarters. For
    example, the Strategic Air Command, the Tactical Air Command, and the
    Military Airlift Command were combined to form the Air Combat
    Command and the Air Mobility Command; the Air Force Systems
    Command and the Air Force Logistics Command were combined to form
    the Air Force Materiel Command.
•   Central communications—Approximately 3,900 of the decrease occurred
    because the smaller number of fighter wings and bombers required fewer
    air traffic control personnel.
•   Central medical—The number of personnel in central medical has not
    decreased significantly. OSD and the services are currently assessing
    post-Cold War medical requirements. OSD is currently updating a 1994
    study that will provide new estimates of wartime medical demands.
    However, the scheduled March 1996 completion has been delayed because
    OSD and the services advocate using different assumptions and
    methodologies for factors such as population-at-risk and casualty
    replacements, which affect overall medical requirements.
•   Central personnel—The decrease resulted primarily because the smaller
    force has reduced the number of permanent change-of-station moves,
    accessions, and training requirements, which has reduced the number of
    people in transit.



    Page 21                                        GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
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                                       Mission Forces Are Being Reduced at a
                                       Faster Rate Than Infrastructure Forces




                                       Central logistics is the only infrastructure category that had a net increase
                                       of personnel. The increase resulted from a change in the way personnel
                                       associated with strategic airlift are categorized. Prior to 1992, airlift
                                       personnel were counted as direct support mission forces. However, they
                                       were moved to the central logistics category in fiscal year 1992 when the
                                       U.S. Transportation Command assumed responsibility for management of
                                       air transportation in peacetime.



                                       Between fiscal year 1986 and 1997, enlisted personnel will be reduced by
Officers Now                           39 percent and officers by 32 percent. Our analysis shows a proportionate
Represent a Larger                     decline in officer and enlisted personnel in mission forces, but a higher
Portion of the Force                   percentage decrease of enlisted personnel in infrastructure activities as
                                       shown in table 2.4.

Table 2.4: Changes in Officer and
Enlisted Personnel in Mission and                                    Mission forces                   Infrastructure forces
Infrastructure Forces Between Fiscal                                Officers          Enlisted          Officers        Enlisted
Year 1986 and 1997
                                       FY86                          42,283           219,730            66,765          274,936
                                       FY97                          21,517           118,428            52,928          188,227
                                       Percent Change                    (49)              (46)              (21)             (33)
                                       Source: Our analysis of DOD’s FYDP data.



                                       According to Air Force officials, one reason for the smaller percentage
                                       decrease of officers versus enlisted personnel in infrastructure functions
                                       can be attributed to the disproportionate reduction of enlisted in base
                                       operations support where major decreases have occurred. Generally, there
                                       has been one officer for every 10 enlisted positions in this category.
                                       However, our analysis of this category showed that between fiscal year
                                       1986 and 1997, the Air Force eliminated 46,349 enlisted and 3,256 officer
                                       positions or 15 enlisted positions for every officer position eliminated.

                                       Another reason for the smaller percentage decrease is that medical and
                                       joint/DOD positions, which have a high number of officers, are classified as
                                       infrastructure. As shown in table 2.5, the number of medical positions has
                                       remained relatively stable and the number of joint positions has decreased
                                       by 20 percent between fiscal year 1986 and 1997 while the active force as a
                                       whole declined by 37 percent. As a result, these positions have increased
                                       from 8 percent of the active force in fiscal year 1986 to 13 percent in fiscal
                                       year 1997 as shown in table 2.5.



                                       Page 22                                                    GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
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                                         Mission Forces Are Being Reduced at a
                                         Faster Rate Than Infrastructure Forces




Table 2.5: Positions in Joint
Staff/Defense Agencies and Medical                                                                            Fiscal year
Program as a Percent of Total Active                                                                          1986           1997
Military Personnel Between Fiscal Year
                                         Joint/defense agencies                                               9,301          7,508
1986 and 1997
                                         Medical                                                             41,380         40,639
                                         Total                                                               50,681         48,147
                                         Total active force                                                608,199      381,100
                                         Percent joint, defense agencies, and medical of total active             8            13
                                         force
                                         Source: Our analysis of Air Force data.



                                         In November 1995, DOD’s Office of the Inspector General reported that
                                         although the services have reduced the number of active duty personnel,
                                         there has not been a corresponding decrease in the number of positions
                                         that must be filled on the Joint Staff and in defense agencies. The report
                                         noted that the services must still give priority to joint staffing, with a
                                         substantially smaller resource pool. Finally, the Inspector General found
                                         that no standard methodology or criteria are used to determine and
                                         validate personnel requirements for positions on the Joint Staff or in
                                         defense agencies. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
                                         1997 requires us to review DOD’s actions in response to the Inspector
                                         General’s report.




                                         Page 23                                                 GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
Chapter 3

Military Personnel Shortages Pose Little
Risk to Implementing the National Military
Strategy
                    The Air Force uses the FORSIZE exercise to estimate total wartime
                    personnel requirements. FORSIZE 95 identified an active wartime shortage
                    of 19,585 personnel. However, the Air Force believes this shortage has
                    little impact on their ability to implement the national military strategy
                    because the shortfall is primarily in forces that sustain base operations in
                    the United States during wartime, and the Air Force has identified
                    alternatives for satisfying these shortages. FORSIZE 95 did not analyze
                    medical requirements. However, a separate study of medical requirements
                    concluded that the Air Force has more active duty medical personnel than
                    needed for wartime.

                    FORSIZE does not consider operations other than war (OOTW). Air Force
                    officials stated that defense guidance assumes that the existing force
                    requirements developed for the two MRCs can satisfy the needs of
                    contingency operations without posing additional requirements. Air Force
                    data shows that during fiscal years 1995 and 1996, certain types of units
                    exceeded the Air Force goal of being deployed no more than 120 days per
                    year. However, a July 1996 Air Force study concluded that the Air Force
                    does not need to increase its military personnel requirements because of
                    contingency operations, but it has to closely manage units that deploy
                    frequently. The Air Force has taken several steps in recent years to reduce
                    the impact of OOTWs on certain units.


                    FORSIZE estimates the number of active and reserve forces and civilians
Wartime Personnel   needed to (1) deploy to support two MRCs, (2) support strategic missions
Requirements        such as airlift and space, and (3) sustain base operations during wartime.
Established by      The initial exercise was in 1988; subsequent exercises were conducted in
                    1994 and 1995. There were no exercises in 1989 through 1993 because of
FORSIZE             the changing world environment, numerous Air Force command
                    reorganizations, and the Persian Gulf War. FORSIZE 95 did not estimate
                    medical requirements since OSD is conducting a separate study on these
                    requirements. FORSIZE 95, which was completed in February 1996,
                    projects wartime requirements for fiscal year 1997.

                    As a starting point for FORSIZE, the Air Force develops a Time Phased
                    Force Deployment List to deploy all 20 active and reserve fighter wings
                    and bombers required by the Bottom-Up Review. In addition, FORSIZE
                    determines requirements for personnel needed to operate at three
                    additional bare bases (airfields with no supporting infrastructure) and to
                    replace casualties (personnel that are killed or wounded and cannot return
                    to duty). Air Force officials stated that the requirement for the bare bases



                    Page 24                                        GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
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Military Personnel Shortages Pose Little
Risk to Implementing the National Military
Strategy




is based on the Air Force’s experience during the Gulf War and other past
operations.

The number of aviator positions included in FORSIZE is based on the crew
ratio established for each aircraft in the Air Force’s inventory. A crew ratio
is the number of aircrews authorized per aircraft and is established to
enable the Air Force to meet expected wartime sortie rates. For example,
the current crew ratio for the F-15C is 1.25, which means that 1.25 pilots
are authorized for each F-15C in the active inventory. Air Force officials
noted that the actual sortie rates during the Gulf War were higher than
could have been flown under the Air Force’s funded crew ratios and that
additional pilots from units that had not deployed were therefore used. On
the basis of this experience, the Air Force has increased the crew ratio for
some aircraft, increased aircraft spares, and plans to use additional pilots
from the schools to achieve higher sortie rates. Air Force officials noted
that it is not economically feasible to increase the crew ratios beyond
current levels because they would have to buy additional aircraft and
spares in order to keep all crews properly trained.

Personnel requirements for strategic and sustainment forces are
determined at base level for 36 functional areas such as security police,
transportation, and munitions. In determining these requirements,
FORSIZE assumes that functions currently performed by military
personnel will stay military. These base level assessments are intended to
ensure that the Air Force has sufficient personnel at bases in the United
States and overseas to (1) protect and maintain bases, (2) re-supply
deploying forces, and (3) provide support to families of Air Force
personnel who deploy to war and those that remain at their locations.
FORSIZE then compares these requirements with authorized personnel by
functional areas to determine if the Air Force has enough personnel to
carry out missions specified in defense guidance.

On the basis of FORSIZE 95, the Air Force concluded that it requires
364,324 active military personnel to meet its wartime requirements (not
including medical). FORSIZE did not consider whether some functions
that do not deploy could be met with other than military personnel such as
civilian employees or contractors. As shown in figure 3.1, the forces that
deploy make-up approximately one-third of the Air Force’s active military
personnel requirements; strategic and sustainment forces account for the
remaining two-thirds.




Page 25                                          GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
                                        Chapter 3
                                        Military Personnel Shortages Pose Little
                                        Risk to Implementing the National Military
                                        Strategy




Figure 3.1: Breakdown of Active Wartime Personnel Requirements as Determined by FORSIZE 95


                                                                     Deployed 116,148 (32%)




Strategic 129,410 (36%)




                                                                 Sustainment 118,766 (33%)


                                        The wartime personnel requirements estimated during FORSIZE include
                                        requirements to replace casualties. This number is classified but is based
                                        on two key elements. First, the population-at-risk is determined by an Air
                                        Force threat model. The population-at-risk includes the day-to-day
                                        casualty stream of personnel within the two theaters of operation who are
                                        expected to be killed in action, wounded in action, and otherwise disabled
                                        by disease or non-battle injuries. Second, casualty rates for each career
                                        field are established based on their proximity to the war zone. The closer
                                        the career field is to the war zone, the higher the casualty rate. For
                                        example, maintenance personnel on the flight line have a higher casualty
                                        rate than maintenance personnel working in a rear area.


                                        FORSIZE 95 identified a net active shortage of 19,585 personnel needed to
Air Force Wartime                       meet wartime requirements. According to Air Force officials the shortage
Personnel Shortages                     poses little risk to carry out the two MRC strategy because (1) it is
Pose Little Risk                        predominantly in the forces that sustain base operations in the United
                                        States and not in the deploying forces and (2) other alternatives exist to
                                        cover most of the shortfall.




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                                        Chapter 3
                                        Military Personnel Shortages Pose Little
                                        Risk to Implementing the National Military
                                        Strategy




                                        Security police, transportation, intelligence, maintenance, and munitions
                                        account for approximately 16,300, or 83 percent, of the Air Force’s total
                                        shortage (see table 3.1). The remaining shortage occurred in 10 other
                                        functional areas.

Table 3.1: Projected Active Personnel
Wartime Shortages for Fiscal Year                                                                                           Percentage
1997                                    Functional area                                                    Shortage         of shortage
                                        Security police                                                        6,903                   33
                                        Transportation                                                         3,536                   17
                                        Intelligence                                                           2,048                   10
                                        Munitions                                                              1,982                    9
                                        Maintenance                                                            1,843                    9
                                        Other functional areas                                                 4,539                   22
                                        Total—functional areas with shortages                                 20,851                   100
                                        Functional areas where personnel are in excess to                      (1,266)
                                        requirements
                                        Net shortage                                                          19,585
                                        Source: FORSIZE 95.



                                        According to Air Force officials, all of the shortages, except munitions, are
                                        associated with requirements for sustaining forces. The munitions
                                        shortage exists because the Air Force has a shortage of military personnel
                                        in the bomb assembly and bomb loading specialties for the bomber force.
                                        In September 1996, we reported that the Air Force cannot meet its
                                        war-fighting requirement to support the full complement of B-1B and
                                        B-52H bombers allocated to regional commanders due to these personnel
                                        shortages.1 The Air Staff has tasked the Air Combat Command to develop
                                        a plan and identify funding requirements to eliminate the shortages using
                                        active or reserve personnel or a combination of both.

                                        According to Air Force officials, the security police shortage would occur
                                        in the sustaining force when some security police personnel guarding
                                        bases in the United States deployed to theaters of operation during
                                        wartime. Such deployment would create a shortage of security personnel
                                        to guard bases in the United States. Air Force security police personnel
                                        told us they could work around the shortfall by increasing workshifts,
                                        closing some gates at bases, and taking advantage of new sensor



                                        1
                                         Air Force Bombers: Options to Retire or Restructure the Force Would Reduce Planned Spending
                                        (GAO/NSIAD-96-192, Sept. 30, 1996).



                                        Page 27                                                      GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
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Military Personnel Shortages Pose Little
Risk to Implementing the National Military
Strategy




technology. In addition, one official noted that the Air Force could also
contract for part-time security personnel.

The transportation shortfall relates primarily to personnel that operate and
maintain base motor pools in the United States. According to
transportation officials, the individual ready reserve2 could be used to
offset some of the shortage.

According to a maintenance official, the maintenance shortfall represents
only 2 percent of total maintenance requirements and is spread throughout
a number of career fields, including jet engines, guidance and control,
avionics systems, fabrication and parachute, and aircraft metal and
technology. Maintenance officials told us that, because the maintenance
shortfall is so small and would not impact mission readiness, they have no
plans to examine alternatives to cover it.

Few of the 10 remaining functional areas, which included such functions
as comptroller, fuels, judge advocate, and weather, have significant
shortages. Most have a shortage that ranges between 2 and 4 percent of
their wartime requirement. According to Air Force officials, these
shortages will be covered primarily by using the individual ready reserve
and other management actions.

In nine functional areas, authorized personnel exceeded requirements by
1,266 but the Air Force did not reallocate any of these positions to
functional areas with shortages. For example, the education and training
functional area had an excess of 244 personnel, but senior Air Force
officials decided not to reallocate these positions until ongoing training
initiatives have been completed. Likewise, there was an excess of 302
personnel in communications, but no action was taken because the career
field is being merged with information management, which showed a
shortage. According to an Air Force official, another reason the Air Force
decided not to reallocate personnel is because the ongoing Quadrennial
Defense Review may change the current national military strategy, which
could change the Air Force’s active requirements and the need to
reallocate personnel.




2
 The individual ready reserve is a pool of individuals who have already served in active units or in the
reserves and have some part of their military service obligation remaining.



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                           Chapter 3
                           Military Personnel Shortages Pose Little
                           Risk to Implementing the National Military
                           Strategy




Active Military Medical    OSD and Air Force analyses indicate the Air Force has more active duty
Personnel Exceed Wartime   medical personnel than needed for wartime requirements, but they have
Requirements               not yet agreed on the actual number of personnel to be reduced. A 1994
                           OSD study concluded that the number of medical positions within the
                           services exceeded projected wartime requirements. This study is currently
                           being updated because of the services’ concerns regarding the
                           assumptions made to treat casualties and maintain peacetime operational
                           readiness and training. However, a separate Air Force analysis showed the
                           Air Force has about 5,900 active military medical personnel who are
                           excess to projected wartime requirements. The Air Force expects that the
                           ongoing OSD study will recommend reductions in medical personnel, so the
                           Air Force plans to reduce the number of medical personnel in fiscal years
                           1998 through 2003.


                           The Air Force does not assess personnel requirements for OOTWs under
Impact of OOTW on          FORSIZE. According to Air Force officials, defense guidance assumes that
Air Force Personnel        the existing force requirements developed for the two MRCs can
Requirements               accomplish OOTW deployments without posing additional requirements.
                           Nonetheless, headquarters Air Force and Air Combat Command officials
                           are concerned about the high operations tempo OOTWs have on certain
                           units, and believe the Air Force must closely manage its OOTW taskings to
                           ensure certain units are not used excessively.

                           Due to growing concern about the impact of OOTWs, the Air Combat
                           Command sponsored a study of fiscal year 1994 deployment taskings. The
                           study concluded that the Air Force did not need to increase personnel
                           levels due to contingency operations, but noted that some functional areas
                           were more impacted by contingency deployments than others. The study
                           also concluded that commands and installations need to place more
                           emphasis on accuracy and completeness of data reported for deployment
                           requirements and actual deployments to promote a fairer distribution of
                           taskings throughout units and across commands.

                           Air Force data shows that, with the exception of one type of unit in the Air
                           Force Special Operations Command, most units that exceeded the Air
                           Force goal of being deployed no more than 120 days per year are in the Air
                           Combat Command. Figure 3.2 shows the Air Combat Command units that
                           exceeded the 120-day goal in 1995 and 1996.




                           Page 29                                        GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
                                             Chapter 3
                                             Military Personnel Shortages Pose Little
                                             Risk to Implementing the National Military
                                             Strategy




Figure 3.2: Days on Temporary Duty for Selected Air Combat Command Units for Fiscal Years 1995 and 1996


Days
200



150



100



 50



  0
         A/OA-10   AWACCS   EC-130E      F-15C/D       F-16HTS         F-16L      HC-130      RC-135RJ        U-2
                                                   Aircraft type

                                      1995       1996 Air Force standard



                                             Source: Air Force data.




                                             To reduce the impact of OOTWs on certain units, the Air Force has
                                             implemented a policy to balance the workload throughout the Air Force,
                                             reduce taskings where appropriate, and make more use of reserve forces.
                                             For example, in 1995, the Air Combat Command chose not to send
                                             A/OA—10 aircraft to fiscal year 1996 National Training and Joint
                                             Readiness Training Centers exercises in order to reduce temporary travel
                                             for these units. The Air Force has also activated associate reserve
                                             squadrons3 for KC-135 refueling and E-3 Airborne Warning and Control
                                             System aircraft. Additionally, both the Air Force Reserve and the Air
                                             National Guard are now supporting a greater share of OOTW and other
                                             contingency taskings and have increased their participation in Joint Chief

                                             3
                                              Air Force Reserve units that are collocated with active Air Force units that fly and maintain active
                                             aircraft.



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                  Military Personnel Shortages Pose Little
                  Risk to Implementing the National Military
                  Strategy




                  of Staff-sponsored exercises. This has been possible primarily due to the
                  Air Force success in encouraging reservists to volunteer for such duty.


                  DOD  stated that although FORSIZE identified an active shortage of 19,600
Agency Comments   personnel, this shortage could be addressed with a variety of sources,
                  including technology, civilians, contractors, and Air National Guard and
                  Air Force Reserve personnel. We agreed with DOD’s position. Our report
                  reflects that the Air Force has identified several ways to compensate for
                  these wartime shortages.




                  Page 31                                        GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
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Opportunities Exist to Reduce the Number
of Active Duty Air Force Personnel

                      Potential exists to reduce the number of active duty Air Force personnel
                      significantly below the congressional floor of 381,000. In fiscal year 1998,
                      the Air Force plans to seek statutory authority to reduce the number of
                      active duty personnel to about 371,600 or 9,400 below the current floor. In
                      addition, a preliminary air staff review of its infrastructure force has
                      identified a potential to reduce the active force by as much as 75,000
                      beyond fiscal year 1998 by contracting out some functions now performed
                      by military personnel and converting some military positions to civilian.
                      Our prior work indicates that savings can occur by contracting out
                      functions in lieu of using military personnel, and significant opportunities
                      exist to convert military positions to less costly civilian positions.

                      Some opportunities may also exist to reduce mission forces. Our prior
                      work has shown the Air Force could reduce active personnel requirements
                      by increasing the size of its fighter squadrons and transferring some
                      bombers to the reserves. In addition, several ongoing defense studies such
                      the Deep Attack Weapons Mix Study and the Quadrennial Defense Review
                      could affect the Air Force’s future active duty personnel requirements.


                      On the basis of the Air Force’s fiscal year 1998 budget proposal provided
Air Force Plans to    to OSD, the Air Force plans to seek statutory authority to reduce its active
Reduce Active Duty    military end strength to about 371,600 or 9,400 below the current
Personnel Below       congressional floor. Air Force officials stated the planned personnel
                      reductions will not lessen the Air Force’s war-fighting capability, since
Congressional Floor   they are primarily in infrastructure-related functions. Our analysis of the
in Fiscal Year 1998   planned decrease shows that 1,125, or 12 percent, are in mission forces
                      and 8,415, or 88 percent, are in infrastructure forces as shown in table 4.1.




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                                       Opportunities Exist to Reduce the Number
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Table 4.1: Comparison of Active Duty
End Strength Between Fiscal Year                                                          Fiscal year
1997 and 1998                          Category                                           1997            1998        Change          Percent
                                       Mission Forces                                  139,945        138,820           (1,125)           12
                                       Infrastructure
                                           Acquisition                                    9,569          8,529          (1,040)
                                           Force management                             25,280          24,551            ( 729)
                                           Installation support                         57,918          54,846          (3,072)
                                           Central communications                       16,931          15,807          (1,124)
                                           Central logistics                            25,174          26,218           1,044
                                           Central medical                              40,639          40,135            ( 504)
                                           Central personnel                            12,283          11,056          (1,227)
                                           Central training                             53,372          51,862          (1,510)
                                           Resource adjustments                             (11)           (264)          (253)
                                       Subtotal infrastructure                         241,155        232,740           (8,415)           88
                                       Total                                           381,100        371,560           (9,540)          100
                                       Source: Our analysis of DOD’ FYDP and Air Force data.



                                       The planned decrease in mission forces results primarily from three
                                       initiatives. First, the final drawdown of intercontinental ballistic missiles
                                       under the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty will reduce mission forces
                                       by 1,014 personnel. Second, the Air Force plans to retire the EF-111
                                       electronic support aircraft in fiscal year 1998, which would reduce active
                                       military personnel by 525. However, the Air Force is concerned the Navy
                                       may not assume the electronics warfare mission within the planned time
                                       frame, which could delay these planned reductions. Finally, the Air Force
                                       plans to retire 8 C-130 aircraft, which will eliminate 360 positions. This
                                       reduction is based on a Joint Staff study that showed the Air Force has
                                       excess intra-theater airlift capacity.

                                       The decreases in mission forces are largely offset by increases related to
                                       funding six additional B-1B bombers for training and combat operations
                                       from the reconstitution reserve,1 activating an unmanned aerial vehicle
                                       squadron, and adding one Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System
                                       (E-8) and one Rivet Joint (RC-135). Air Force officials noted the additional
                                       Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System and Rivet Joint aircraft will
                                       help alleviate the high personnel tempo in these units.



                                       1
                                       Aircraft stored or on a ramp that are planned for return to operating forces in the event of
                                       mobilization or replacement.



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The planned infrastructure decreases are based primarily on the Air
Force’s plans to either have civilian employees or contractors perform
installation support and communication functions now performed by
about 2,500 military personnel. The Air Force determined that these
positions do not require military personnel because they do not deploy and
are needed to support overseas rotation. Therefore, it plans to study the
cost-effectiveness of contracting out the function or using civilian
employees.

The planned decrease in installation support also includes 360 positions
providing base operating support at Howard Air Force Base in Panama.
The Air Force assumes that all military personnel will withdraw from
Panama after the United States turns control of the Panama Canal over to
Panama in 1999. However, the State Department has recently announced
an effort to study the possibility of keeping some U.S. military personnel in
Panama after the transfer, which may impact the Air Force’s plans.

The decrease in central medical personnel represents the start of an effort
to align peacetime staffing with wartime requirements. A study by the
Office of the Air Force Surgeon General showed the Air Force only needed
86 percent of its projected fiscal year 1999 medical personnel to meet
wartime medical needs. The Air Force has programmed a 4.5-percent
reduction (1,748 personnel) through fiscal year 2003. According to Air
Force officials, it will take up to 12 years to eliminate the remaining
positions to minimize personnel turbulence and impact on peacetime
patient care. An Air Force official stated that even though the OSD study on
post-Cold War medical requirements has not been completed, officials in
the Office of the Air Force Surgeon General believe the study will
recommend that the services reduce the number of medical personnel.
Thus, these officials believe it is prudent to start reducing the number of
medical personnel now. The need for such reductions must be certified by
the Secretary of Defense under 10 U.S.C. 129c.

The decrease in central personnel represents a decline in the number of
personnel in transit. An Air Force official stated that the smaller force has
reduced the number of permanent change-of-station moves, accessions,
and training requirements, which reduces the number of people in transit.

The changes in force management are caused primarily by decreases in
the number of positions in the Air Weather Service, support to the Defense
Finance and Accounting Service, and headquarters activities.




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                          Opportunities Exist to Reduce the Number
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                          Finally, the decrease in acquisition and the increase in central logistics are
                          due to the transfer of base operations functions at test centers from the
                          acquisition category to central logistics. Congress has directed DOD to
                          prepare a plan to reduce the number of military and civilian personnel
                          involved in acquisition by 25 percent over a period of 5 years beginning in
                          fiscal year 1996. Air Force officials stated that they have not programmed
                          this additional decrease because OSD and the services have not agreed on
                          the definition of the acquisition workforce nor the baseline for measuring
                          the reductions.


                          The Air Force has not yet fully assessed the potential for substituting less
Ongoing Air Force         costly civilian employees or contractors for some of the active duty
Studies Have              personnel currently assigned to infrastructure activities. In the past, the
Identified Potential to   Air Force has not periodically reviewed all of its positions to determine
                          whether they must be filled by military personnel. However, the Air Force
Further Reduce            has recently begun an effort to identify such savings to help fund force
Active Personnel          modernization. Three ongoing Air Force studies have identified the
                          potential for eliminating a significant number of active duty personnel.
                          Two studies involve the potential to contract out commercial activity
                          functions now being performed by military and civilian personnel and
                          another involves the potential for converting military positions in
                          inherently governmental functions to civilian positions. The Air Force’s
                          ability to reduce the number of military positions identified in the ongoing
                          studies could be constrained by DOD goals for reducing civilian positions.

                          DOD  Directive 1100.4 requires the services to staff positions civilian
                          personnel unless the services deem that positions must be filled by
                          military personnel for one or more of the following reasons, including
                          combat readiness, legal requirements, rotation, security, training, and
                          discipline. In addition, Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76
                          classifies government activities as either inherently governmental
                          functions or commercial activities. Inherently governmental
                          functions—those intimately related to the public interest such as fund
                          control—must be done by federal employees. A commercial activity can
                          be an entire organization or part of an organization that provides a product
                          or service obtainable from a commercial source. Commercial activities
                          include functions such as vehicle and facilities maintenance, automated
                          data processing, and administrative support. Circular A-76 sets forth the
                          procedures for agencies to study whether the functions could be done
                          more economically by contractors.




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                                         Opportunities Exist to Reduce the Number
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Potential Exists to                      An ongoing Air Force study has identified about 52,600 active military
Contract or Use Civilian                 positions allocated to functions that could potentially be performed by
Employees for Some                       contractors or civilian employees.2 These positions have tentatively been
                                         identified as not military essential because their personnel do not deploy,
Commercial Activities Now                support the rotation of forces to overseas bases and operations, or
Performed by Military                    perform unique military missions or functions. The Air Force study is
Personnel                                scheduled to be completed by the end of April 1997.

                                         The functional areas under review consist of all military positions in
                                         commercial activities within the Air Force’s major commands in the
                                         continental United States and some overseas locations. The Air Force has
                                         about 160,400 military positions in commercial activities. The Air Force
                                         has deemed that 82,700 of these positions must be filled by military
                                         personnel because they would deploy during wartime; about another
                                         25,100 of these positions are in military-unique functions such as
                                         headquarters activities, recruiting, basic military training, and those
                                         personnel needed to maintain an overseas rotation base. Once these
                                         positions were eliminated from consideration, the Air Force was left with
                                         about 52,600 military in commercial activities that could be studied for
                                         possible conversion, as shown in table 4.2.

Table 4.2: Military Positions in
Commercial Activities That Potentially   Function                                         Officer       Enlisted            Total           Percent
Could Be Contracted Out or Filled by     Logistics                                            541          24,885          25,426               48
Civilian Employees
                                         Communications                                     1,348          14,257          15,605               30
                                         Personnel                                            320           4,850           5,170               10
                                         Civil engineering                                    327           3,261           3,588                7
                                         All others                                           456           2,334           2,790                5
                                         Total                                              2,992          49,587          52,579              100
                                         Percent                                                 6              94          100.0
                                         Source: Air Force data.



                                         To further assess the potential to contract out or use civilian employees
                                         for these positions, the Air Staff has provided each major command with
                                         the number of positions within their respective commands that are
                                         candidates for conversion. Each command is currently identifying the
                                         positions by base and organization to determine how many functions
                                         could be studied further to determine the relative cost savings associated
                                         with replacing military personnel with either contractors or civilian

                                         2
                                          The study also identified about 55,000 civilian positions that could be potentially replaced by
                                         contractor personnel.



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employees. The major commands are also required to identify barriers to
contracting and recommend ways to overcome them. For example,
current Air Force procedure exempts such units from being studied as
candidates for conversion, if some personnel in the unit are expected to
deploy. Air Staff officials noted the major commands may be able to
identify ways around this problem in some cases, such as reorganizing
units or transferring functions between bases.

In a November 1996 letter to the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the
Air Force stated that DOD’s existing civilian workyear policy needs to be
modified so the Air Force can achieve savings by replacing military
personnel assigned to positions that are not military essential with
civilians. The letter noted that the Air Force’s experience has shown that
40 percent of the cost comparison studies performed since 1979
determined that an in-house civilian workforce was more cost-effective
than contractors. When a function that was predominantly performed by
military personnel remains in-house, the Air Force may have to increase
the number of civilian employees, which runs counter to DOD’s efforts to
reduce its civilian workforce. For example, the maintenance training
function at Altus Air Force Base was performed by 1,444 personnel, of
whom 1,401 were military and 43 were civilian employees. The cost
comparison showed that an in-house civilian workforce would be more
cost-effective than using the private sector. Thus, the Air Force had to
increase the number of civilian employees by 692 in order to achieve the
projected savings. The Secretary of the Air Force stated that the goals for
civilian downsizing pose a disincentive for accomplishing work in the least
costly manner and that some consideration should be given to relaxing
civilian downsizing goals in such cases.

The Air Force is also conducting a study to determine if there are
opportunities to consolidate its 126 precision measurement electronic
laboratories and have the work performed by civilian employees or
contractors. There are about 1,200 military personnel in 50 labs in the
active force, and the remaining labs are operated by contractors or are in
the guard and reserve forces. These personnel are not included in the
universe of military positions in commercial activities that could
potentially be performed by civilian employees or contractors. According
to an Air Force official, the preliminary study results indicate that the Air
Force could consolidate from 126 to around 50 labs. This official noted
that the final report, scheduled to be issued in April 1997, will contain a
plan to consolidate the labs as well as for conducting cost comparison
studies.



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Potential Exists to Convert              The Air Force reviewed all military positions in inherently governmental
Some Military Positions                  functions to determine if military personnel are required. Military
That Involve Inherently                  personnel were considered necessary if the position deployed, supported
                                         overseas rotation, was required by law, or was in a unique military
Governmental Functions                   function such as the honor guard or recruiting. On the basis of this criteria,
to Civilian Positions                    the Air Force identified approximately 21,600 military positions that are
                                         not military essential and can potentially be converted to civilian positions
                                         as shown in table 4.3.

Table 4.3: Military Positions by
Functional Area That Potentially Could   Function                                      Officer      Enlisted          Total       Percent
Be Converted to Civilian Positions       Operations                                      1,779         8,600         10,379              48
                                         Acquisition                                     5,341           529          5,870              27
                                         Intelligence                                      219         1,121          1,340               6
                                         Civil engineering                                   0         1,304          1,304               6
                                         Other                                             409         2,287          2,696              13
                                         Total                                           7,748        13,841         21,589              100
                                         Percent                                            36             64           100
                                         Source: Air Force data.



                                         Air Force officials told us they were preparing a briefing for senior Air
                                         Force leadership on the issues concerning military to civilian conversions.
                                         These officials stated that some of the major commands believe that many
                                         of the positions should remain military. For example, the Air Force
                                         Materiel Command believes all the acquisition positions should remain
                                         military because military personnel assigned to these positions bring
                                         operational and flightline experience, which is invaluable to developing
                                         new systems. However, we believe there is a good basis for studying the
                                         potential to replace some military personnel assigned to acquisition
                                         functions with civilian employees. According to DOD’s fiscal year 1997 FYDP,
                                         41 percent of the Air Force’s acquisition workforce is military while only
                                         12 percent of the Army’s is military. An Air Force official stated that the
                                         senior Air Force leadership will decide which, if any, positions will be
                                         converted from military to civilian. This official stated that no date has
                                         been set for the briefing.

                                         In October 1996, we reported that the Air Force could save $69 million by
                                         converting 6,800 officer positions in such fields as acquisition and financial
                                         management to civilian positions because they are not military essential.3

                                         3
                                         DOD Force Mix Issues: Converting Some Support Officer Positions to Civilian Status Could Save
                                         Money (GAO/NSIAD-97-15, Oct. 23, 1996).



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                        We found that civilian employees cost between $1,261 and $15,731 less
                        annually than military personnel depending on the grade and rank. In
                        October 1994, we reported that similar opportunities exist for converting
                        enlisted support positions to civilian employees.4 Both of our reports
                        noted that a number of impediments exist to military to civilian
                        conversions. For example, guidance provides commanders with wide
                        latitude in justifying the use of military personnel, and local commanders
                        are perceived to prefer military rather than civilian employees in certain
                        positions. Nonetheless, we noted these barriers can be overcome with
                        active participation of senior managers. DOD concurred with our reports
                        and agreed to convene a panel of senior managers within OSD, the joint
                        staff, and the military services to examine the issue of military to civilian
                        conversions. An OSD official stated that the issues concerning military to
                        civilian conversions will be addressed as part of the Quadrennial Defense
                        Review.


                        Until recently, Air Force fighter wings were predominantly organized in
Consolidating Fighter   three squadrons of 24 aircraft. However, the Air Force has decided to
Squadrons Would         reduce its squadron size to 18, which also reduced its wing size to 54. This
Reduce Military         change in unit size increased the number of wings and squadrons to more
                        than would have been needed had the squadron size stayed at 24.
Personnel
                        In May 1996, we reported that the Air Force’s arguments for using smaller
                        squadrons do not justify the additional cost.5 Air Force officials maintain
                        that more squadrons are needed to provide the Air Force flexibility to
                        respond to numerous potential conflicts across the globe. Although the Air
                        Force considers smaller fighter squadrons beneficial, it had not performed
                        any analysis to justify its decision. We developed several options for
                        consolidating the fighter force that would permit the Air Force to maintain
                        the same number of aircraft but carry out its missions with fewer active
                        duty personnel. Our options could eliminate between two and seven
                        squadrons, and also eliminate a wing and/or fighter base and reduce
                        operating costs up to $115 million annually.




                        4
                        DOD Force Mix Issues: Greater Reliance on Civilians in Support Roles Could Provide Significant
                        Benefits (GAO/NSIAD-95-5, Oct. 19, 1994).
                        5
                         Air Force Aircraft: Consolidating Fighter Squadrons Could Reduce Costs (GAO/NSIAD-96-82, May 6,
                        1996).



                        Page 39                                                       GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
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                      Opportunities Exist to Reduce the Number
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                      The Air Force’s requirements for active duty personnel could also be
Other Efforts Could   affected by several ongoing initiatives and studies. These include an Air
Impact Air Force      Force study of the active/reserve force mix, DOD’s Deep Attack Weapons
Requirements for      Mix Study, and the Quadrennial Defense Review required by the National
                      Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997.
Active Military
Personnel             The Air Force is assessing options to transfer some functions now
                      performed by the active force to the reserves. The Air Force plans to
                      examine changes to the mix of active to reserve forces after the
                      Quadrennial Defense Review is completed. Moreover, in our
                      September 1996 report on DOD’s bomber force, we reported one option for
                      restructuring the bomber force would be to place more B-1Bs in the Air
                      National Guard.6 This option would reduce the cost to maintain DOD’s
                      bomber force while maintaining DOD’s force of 95 B-1Bs. In 1993, DOD
                      reported to Congress that placing B-1Bs in the Air National Guard would
                      result in no loss of war-fighting capability.

                      A major benefit of transferring bombers to the reserve component is that
                      reserve units have traditionally been less expensive to operate than their
                      active duty counterparts. These savings are attributed to two factors. First,
                      DOD expects that an Air National Guard squadron will require fewer flying
                      hours than an active squadron because Air National Guard units are able
                      to recruit more experienced pilots who require less frequent training to
                      maintain their proficiency. Personnel costs are the second major factor
                      that account for the Air National Guard’s lower cost. In comparison with
                      active squadrons that consist primarily of active duty military personnel,
                      Air National Guard units rely heavily on less-costly civilians and part-time
                      Guard personnel.

                      In addition, DOD’s ongoing Deep Attack Weapons Mix Study could change
                      DOD’s requirements for fighters and bombers, which would impact Air
                      Force military personnel requirements. The Commission on Roles and
                      Missions recommended that DOD conduct a DOD-wide cost-effectiveness
                      study to determine the appropriate number and mix of deep attack
                      capabilities currently fielded and under development by all the services.
                      The first part of the study, which was to be completed in late 1996, was
                      expected to analyze weapons mix requirements for DOD’s planned force
                      structure in 1998, 2006, and 2014 and determine the impact of force
                      structure changes on the weapon systems mix. As of February 1997, OSD
                      was reviewing the results of this first phase and had not made the results

                      6
                       Air Force Bombers: Option to Retire or Restructure the Force Would Reduce Planned Spending
                      (GAO/NSIAD-96-192, Sept. 30, 1996).



                      Page 40                                                      GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
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                 Opportunities Exist to Reduce the Number
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                 public. The second part of the study will analyze trade-offs among
                 elements of the force structure, such as bombers and tactical aircraft, for
                 the same years and is to be completed in early 1997. The study should
                 provide DOD with an opportunity to identify options to reduce some of its
                 extensive ground attack capabilities, which could impact requirements for
                 active duty personnel.

                 The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 requires the
                 Secretary of Defense to conduct a quadrennial review of the defense
                 program. The first review, now underway, is scheduled to be completed in
                 May 1997. It will examine defense strategy, force structure, force
                 modernization and infrastructure and develop a defense strategy to the
                 year 2005. The legislation also established a National Defense Panel to
                 provide an independent assessment of DOD’s quadrennial review as well as
                 to develop alternative force structures that could meet anticipated threats
                 to the national security of the United States. The results of these studies
                 could also impact the number of active duty military personnel.


                 Potential exists to replace active military personnel with contractors or
Conclusions      civilian employees. These potential reductions should not impact the Air
                 Force’s ability to implement the national military strategy, since they are in
                 the infrastructure forces rather than in the forces that deploy during
                 wartime. The actual number of active military positions that could be
                 eliminated depends on the results of several ongoing initiatives as well as
                 senior Air Force leadership commitment to reduce infrastructure to fund
                 force modernization. We believe that it is important for the Air Force to
                 move as quickly as possible to complete its studies and make the
                 conversions to contractor and civilian employees in view of the recurring
                 savings that could be achieved. Developing a plan and time frames for
                 such cost comparisons and conversions would permit the Air Force
                 leadership to monitor efforts to reduce infrastructure.


                 DOD has stated it must reduce infrastructure costs in order to modernize its
Recommendation   force. Several ongoing Air Force studies have identified potential to
                 replace military personnel with contractors or civilian employees.
                 Therefore, we recommend that, once the ongoing studies are completed,
                 the Secretary of the Air Force develop a plan that




                 Page 41                                         GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
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                      Opportunities Exist to Reduce the Number
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                  •   identifies time frames to study whether it is more cost-effective to transfer
                      commercial activities now performed by military personnel to civilian
                      employees or private contractors and
                  •   includes time frames to convert military positions in inherently
                      governmental functions to civilian positions.


                      DOD  fully concurred with two parts of our recommendation and partially
Agency Comments       concurred with one part. DOD stated that an existing system already tracks
                      the services’ progress in completing cost comparison studies and
                      converting positions, so there is no need to establish an additional system.
                      We agreed with DOD and have modified the recommendation accordingly.




                      Page 42                                         GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
Page 43   GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
Appendix I

Categories of Defense Infrastructure


               Acquisition management consists of all program elements that support
               program management, program offices, and production support, including
               acquisition headquarters, science and technology, and test and evaluation
               resources. This category includes earlier levels of research and
               development, including basic research, exploratory development, and
               advanced development.

               Force management consists of all programs that provide funding for
               personnel for the management and operation of all the major military
               command headquarters activities. Force management also includes
               program elements that provide resources for defensewide departmental
               headquarters, management of international programs, support to other
               defense organizations and federal government agencies, security
               investigative services, public affairs activities, and criminal and judicial
               activities.

               Installation support consists of activities that furnish personnel to provide
               facilities from which defense forces operate. Activities include
               construction planning and design, real property maintenance, base
               operating support, real estate management for active and reserve bases,
               family housing and bachelor housing, supply operations, base closure
               activities and environmental programs.

               Central communications consists of programs that manage all aspects of
               the command, control and communications infrastructure for DOD
               facilities, information support services, mapping and charting products,
               and security support. This category also includes program elements that
               provide nontactical telephone services, the General Defense Intelligence
               Program and cryptological activities, the Global Positioning System, and
               support of air traffic control facilities.

               Central logistics consists of programs that provide support to centrally
               managed logistics organizations, including management of material,
               operation of supply systems, maintenance activities, material
               transportation, base operations and support, communications, and minor
               construction.

               Central medical consists of programs that furnish personnel that provide
               medical care to active duty military personnel, dependent, and retirees.
               Activities provide for all patient care, except for that provided by medical
               units that are part of direct support units. Activities include medical




               Page 44                                          GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
Appendix I
Categories of Defense Infrastructure




training, management of the medical system, and support of medical
installations.

Central personnel consists of all programs that provide recruiting of new
personnel and the management and support of dependent schools;
community, youth, and family centers; and child development activities.
Other programs supporting personnel include permanent change of station
costs, personnel in transient, veterans education assistance and other
miscellaneous personnel support activities.

Central training consists of program elements that provide resources for
virtually all non unit training, including training for new personnel,
aviation and flight training, military academies, officer training corps,
other college commissioning programs, and officer and enlisted training
schools.




Page 45                                        GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
Appendix II

Comments From the Department of Defense




              Page 46         GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
                Appendix II
                Comments From the Department of Defense




Now on p. 42.




Now on p. 31.




Now on p. 42.




                Page 47                                   GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
Appendix III

Major Contributors to This Report


                        Janet St. Laurent, Assistant Director
National Security and   Michael Kennedy, Evaluator-in-Charge
International Affairs   Irene Robertson, Senior Evaluator
Division, Washington,
D.C.
                        George Morse, Senior Evaluator
Norfolk Field Office    Bonita Anderson, Evaluator




(701078)                Page 48                                 GAO/NSIAD-97-78 Force Structure
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