oversight

Military Readiness: Full Training Benefits From Army's Combat Training Centers Are Not Being Realized

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-09-17.

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

                   United States General Accounting Office

GAO                Report to the Chairman and Ranking
                   Minority Member, Subcommittee on
                   Military Readiness, Committee on Armed
                   Services, House of Representatives

September 1999
                   MILITARY
                   READINESS

                   Full Training Benefits
                   From Army’s Combat
                   Training Centers Are
                   Not Being Realized




GAO/NSIAD-99-210
United States General Accounting Office                                                                 National Security and
Washington, D.C. 20548                                                                           International Affairs Division



                                    B-283334                                                                                       Letter

                                    September 17, 1999

                                    The Honorable Herbert H. Bateman
                                    Chairman
                                    The Honorable Solomon P. Ortiz
                                    Ranking Minority Member
                                    Subcommittee on Military Readiness
                                    Committee on Armed Services
                                    House of Representatives

                                    The Army operates three combat training centers: the National Training
                                    Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California; the Joint Readiness Training Center
                                    (JRTC) at Fort Polk, Louisiana; and the Combat Maneuver Training Center
                                    (CMTC) at Hohenfels, Germany. According to Army Regulation 350-50,1 the
                                    Army established the combat training centers for several reasons: (1) to
                                    increase unit readiness for deployment and warfighting; (2) to produce
                                    bold, innovative leaders through stressful tactical and operational
                                    exercises; (3) to embed doctrine throughout the total Army; (4) to provide
                                    feedback to Army and joint combined participants; and (5) to provide a
                                    data source for lessons learned to improve doctrine, training, leader
                                    development, organizations, and materiel focused on soldiers to win in
                                    combat. To achieve these purposes, the Army spends about $1 billion a
                                    year to provide training at these centers.

                                    In view of the importance of such training to the Army’s readiness and in
                                    response to your request, we reviewed the training provided to active Army
                                    units at these centers. Our objectives were to determine (1) whether units
                                    training at the centers are adequately prepared for the exercises, (2)
                                    whether training exercises are realistic in terms of expected battlefield
                                    conditions, (3) whether pre-positioned equipment adequately supports the
                                    training mission, (4) how units use lessons learned at the centers, and
                                    (5) how the Army uses the results of the exercises to help revise training
                                    and improve the Army’s training doctrine.

                                    In addition to visiting all three centers, we also surveyed all commanders at
                                    the 123 active-duty battalions that trained at one of the centers during fiscal


                                    1
                                    This regulation, dated May 25, 1995, establishes policy, procedures, and responsibilities for Army-wide
                                    management of the Combat Training Center Program. It is currently being revised.




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                      year 1998. The responses we obtained provided us with information on
                      home station training prior to deploying to a combat training center (CTC),
                      the usefulness of the exercises, and the ability of units to utilize the training
                      once they returned to home station. On February 26, 1999, we provided the
                      preliminary results of our work during a subcommittee hearing held at
                      Nellis Air Force Base.2



Results in Brief      Although the majority of units that trained at the Army’s combat training
                      centers in 1998 favorably assessed their training, neither the Army nor
                      individual units are achieving the full benefits of this training. This is
                      because (1) many units are arriving ill prepared for the exercises,
                      (2) training is not as realistic as it could be, (3) the condition and age of
                      pre-positioned equipment has adversely affected training at two centers,
                      and (4) neither individual units nor the Army itself is able to effectively
                      capitalize on lessons learned from the centers’ exercises.

                      Personnel shortages, turnover, and high operating tempo have adversely
                      affected units’ ability to prepare for their rotations to the centers, and as a
                      result, units are arriving ill prepared to engage in the exercises. Although
                      units should be proficient at battalion-level tasks when they arrive at the
                      centers, many have trained only to the company level, and their leaders
                      struggle with the more complicated planning and synchronization tasks
                      required for the battalion- and brigade-level exercises conducted at the
                      centers. In February 1999, Army Forces Command issued new guidance
                      that requires unit commanders to establish training “gates” at their home
                      stations to gauge whether their units are prepared to move to more
                      complex training levels, including training center exercises. Since the
                      guidance does not address the causes of insufficient preparation—
                      personnel shortages, turnover, and high operating tempo—strict adherence
                      to the guidance may simply serve to exclude some units from valuable
                      training center experiences.

                      Because units lack proficiency at the battalion level, the centers routinely
                      modify conditions in ways that provide less challenging and thereby less
                      realistic scenarios than might be encountered on a real battlefield. The
                      centers frequently restrict the use of chemical weapons, mines, obstacles,
                      artillery, and tactics, and they do not consistently replicate the conditions


                      2
                      Military Readiness: Full Training Benefits From Army’s Combat Training Centers Are Not Being
                      Realized (GAO/T-NSIAD-99-92, Feb. 2, 1999).




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that would be expected on future battlefields—terrorist actions, operations
in urban terrain, civilians on the battlefield, and interactions with the
media. By limiting conditions and not accurately portraying current and
future threats, the training centers undermine realism and limit the value of
training exercises.

The poor condition and age of some pre-positioned equipment at the
National Training Center and Joint Readiness Training Center further
degrade training. At the National Training Center, 15 percent of all tank and
fighting vehicle crews on average are excluded from training because their
vehicles are broken down; on some days, the number reaches 25 percent.
In addition, the older equipment used at both centers differs substantially
from the equipment soldiers have trained on at home, and valuable training
time is wasted simply becoming familiar with it. As of July 1999, the Army
was considering various alternatives to improve pre-positioned equipment
at the National Training Center.

Commanders cannot take full advantage of the lessons learned at the
centers due to ineffective take-home materials, a lack of training
opportunities once they return home, and personnel turnover that prevents
them from attending to the identified weaknesses. As a result, units are not
able to address weaknesses identified during training center exercises.

Although the centers have collected large amounts of data, the Army has
never standardized data collection and therefore cannot combine
information to assess trends. Nor has the Army established performance
measures or a methodology to periodically assess whether the centers are
achieving their objectives. Consequently, the Army cannot take full
advantage of its lessons learned and does not know the extent to which
center exercises are improving unit and leader proficiency. Establishing
such performance measures is consistent with good management
principles and is consistent with the Government Performance and Results
Act, which calls on all government entities to evaluate the results of their
programs through the use of performance measures.

This report makes recommendations to the Secretary of the Army that
would permit units to conduct limited independent training at the centers
prior to beginning the actual exercises, improve the realism of training, and
enable the Army to better capitalize on lessons learned at its centers by
establishing performance measures and an assessment plan.




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Background   To achieve the objectives set out in Army Regulation 350-50, the Army
             designed the combat training centers to create a realistic training
             environment, challenge unit leaders with missions against a well-trained
             opposing force, and provide in-depth analyses of performance to units and
             their leaders. Combat training center exercises consist of both
             force-on-force engagements against an opposing force and separate
             live-fire exercises under conditions that are intended to closely parallel
             actual warfare. In addition, the regulation indicates that the scope of
             exercises at the centers should be brigade level or below. Active Army units
             in the United States train at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin,
             California, or Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana, about
             once every 18 months, and those in Europe train at the Combat Maneuver
             Training Center, Hohenfels, Germany, about every 12 months. Each of the
             National Guard’s enhanced brigades train at the NTC about once every 8
             years.

             The Army’s three combat training centers offer distinctly different training
             environments. The National Training Center offers an open, mountainous,
             desert setting that allows several battalions to train simultaneously during
             force-on-force exercises against the opposing force. The training area at
             the NTC is roughly the size of Rhode Island. (See fig. 1.)




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Figure 1: Desert Environment at the National Training Center




The Combat Maneuver Training Center is the only training area available to
Army forces in Europe for the conduct of battalion-level exercises.
According to center officials, geographical limitations of the center’s rolling
wooded terrain do not allow brigades to train at doctrinal distances, and
two battalions can only train simultaneously with some acknowledged
doctrinal degradation. (See fig. 2.)




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Figure 2: Wooded Terrain at the Combat Maneuver Training Center




The training areas at the Joint Readiness Training Center include
swamplands, dense forests, and simulated civilian villages complete with
role players, as figure 3 shows.




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Figure 3: Mock Civilian Village at the Joint Readiness Training Center




The NTC and the CMTC sponsor exercises designed to train armor and
mechanized infantry units, such as those from the 1st Armored and 3rd
Infantry Divisions, in a high intensity threat environment. The JRTC
provides nonmechanized or light forces, such as the 82nd Airborne and the
10th Mountain Divisions, with exercises in a low-to-medium threat
environment. Both centers, however, do provide training for task forces
made up of heavy and light units operating together. The CMTC and the
JRTC also have constructed mock towns for training in urban warfare.
Forces from the other military services as well as special operations units
are also brought into the exercises at all three centers. Brigades and
battalions deploy to these centers with their associated combat service and
service support units.

Each center has an active Army battalion or cavalry regiment, consisting of
450 to 2,400 soldiers, permanently stationed there to serve as a dedicated
opposing force. These units are organized and specially trained to replicate
a hostile force complete with distinctive uniforms, visually modified
vehicles, and both U.S. and non-U.S. weapons (see fig. 4).




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Figure 4: Opposing Force Vehicle and Soldier at the National Training Center




At the NTC and the JRTC, the Army has established pre-positioned stocks
of equipment that units draw and use during the exercises. The NTC
equipment consists of about 3,800 major pieces of equipment, including
tanks, fighting vehicles, artillery pieces, personnel carriers, recovery
vehicles, and various types of wheeled vehicles. Generally, units training at
the NTC ship their wheeled vehicles and unique equipment items to the
center, and they draw their tracked vehicles from the pre-positioned
stocks. The pre-positioned equipment at the JRTC consists of about 1,100
major pieces of equipment, mainly wheeled vehicles. Units ship their
tracked vehicles to this center for training. The CMTC does not have a
pre-positioned stock of equipment.

To add realism to the exercises and provide a real-time assessment of
casualties, force-on-force exercises are conducted using the Multiple
Integrated Laser Engagement System. This system, carried on both
equipment and troops, lets both soldiers and units know immediately if a
kill or near kill is scored. Separate live-fire exercises at the NTC and CMTC
(at nearby Grafenwohr) are conducted against sophisticated target arrays
and involve armor, infantry, artillery, and air elements. At the JRTC,
live-fire exercises involve operations in urban terrain as well as combined
arms exercises. The JRTC and the CMTC also conduct mission rehearsal



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                           exercise’s3 for units deploying to Bosnia and other contingency operations.
                           All of the centers also have a cadre of experienced officers and
                           noncommissioned officers who serve as exercise observers and
                           controllers. In this capacity, they are responsible for coaching, mentoring,
                           and evaluating training units at all levels of organization. The centers also
                           provide unit leader training programs for the units prior to their
                           deployment to the centers.

                           The NTC and the JRTC are the joint responsibility of two Army commands
                           in the United States: the U.S. Army Forces Command and the U.S. Army
                           Training and Doctrine Command. In Europe, the 7th Army Training
                           Command is the parent organization for the CMTC.



Many Units Are Not         Many units arriving at the training centers cannot take full advantage of
                           training opportunities because they lack the requisite skills to effectively
Adequately Prepared        execute brigade- or battalion-level missions,4 which is the level of training
for Training               that the centers are designed to provide. Over 50 percent of our survey’s
                           respondents cited personnel shortages, personnel turnover, or high
                           operating tempo as one of their top three reasons for being ill prepared for
                           their training experiences. (Other factors reported as adversely affecting
                           training are shown in app. I.) The Army Forces Command recently initiated
                           actions to establish training gates to certify a unit’s readiness for training
                           center exercises.


Decreased Readiness for    Senior-level officials at all three training centers acknowledged the units’
Battalion-level Training   lack of preparedness for the training. They told us that many units arriving
                           for training now are substantially less prepared than in the past. The
                           commanders of the opposing forces that we talked to said they had
                           observed a marked decline in unit proficiency. For example, the opposing
                           force commander from the National Training Center, during congressional
                           hearings in February 1999, said that the proficiency level of units arriving at
                           the National Training Center is much lower now than in the past. He


                           3
                            Mission rehearsal exercises are designed to train units to conduct peacekeeping operations by
                           replicating the operational environment where they will be deployed and providing realistic training
                           scenarios.
                           4
                            A division is divided into brigades, its brigades into battalions, its battalions into companies, and
                           companies into platoons, and platoons into squads. For a unit to operate proficiently at the next level,
                           it needs to have developed proficiency at the level below.




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believes that commanders, staffs, and soldiers at every level—platoon to
brigade—display a decreasing level of knowledge, skill, and ability to plan,
conduct, and sustain combat operations. He also told us that, in his
opinion, training at the NTC would be improved if the training focus were
changed from the brigade to battalion level. Accompanied by the NTC’s
Opposing Force (OPFOR) Commander, we observed some of these
inadequacies ourselves as one training unit conducting a “deliberate
attack” quickly shifted to a “movement to contact” soon after the exercise
began. The OPFOR Commander pointed out that (1) the training unit’s
commander demonstrated no effective command and control over his unit
and had no reconnaissance plan and (2) his unit had no plan to breach
obstacles constructed by the OPFOR. He added that this unit was typical
of most units training at the NTC today. Responses to our questionnaire
from units that trained at a combat training center in fiscal year 1998
confirmed this perception. Nearly half of the 96 respondents (47 percent)
said their unit was only somewhat or marginally ready to execute
battalion-level tasks at the training center.

According to Army Forces Command documents, during the late 1980s and
early 1990s, units reporting to the centers had to undergo an external
evaluation to certify that they were ready for training. Regulations required
units to be trained at the battalion level at their home station, and the
training centers provided the next level of proficiency that could not be
achieved at home station. In March 1998, the Army dropped the
prerequisites that units train at the battalion level at their home station and
be certified as trained before undertaking NTC exercises. According to
training center officials, this change was in recognition of the fact that
many units were simply unable to meet these requirements due to
personnel shortages and high operating tempo. According to Forces
Command Regulation 350-50-2, battalions participating in force-on-force
training at the JRTC should have completed train-up exercises from
platoon through battalion level within 6 months of going to the center, but
this requirement is not enforced for the same reason. The CMTC only
requires units to arrive with trained platoons rather than trained companies
or battalions in recognition of home station training constraints. In
addition, unlike the other centers that conduct battalion- and brigade-level
exercises during the entire training rotation, the CMTC provides units with
exercises that start at the platoon level and build toward battalion-level
exercises.




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Factors That Adversely   Units responding to our survey identified personnel shortages, high
Affect Training          personnel turnover, and high operating tempo as the three primary reasons
                         they were unable to adequately prepare for their training rotations to the
                         combat training centers.


Personnel Shortages      Personnel shortages affect training at the centers by limiting the options
                         commanders have to execute missions. Personnel shortages have many
                         causes.5 These include (1) Army-wide shortages of certain specialties and
                         personnel at specific levels, such as combat troops, technical specialists,
                         experienced officers, and noncommissioned officers; (2) personnel
                         transferred to fill vacancies in deploying units; and (3) personnel
                         temporarily borrowed from their units to meet other Army or installation
                         requirements. As of April 30, 1999, the Army reported an on-board strength
                         of about 469,000, which is 11,000 below its authorized strength of 480,000.
                         The current on-board number is also about 10,000 less than the on-board
                         number from a year ago at this time.

                         Some shortages are quite pronounced. For example, for fiscal year 1998,
                         the infantry battalions that trained at the JRTC on average arrived with only
                         42 of their 54 authorized rifle squads. Many of these consisted of six
                         soldiers on average rather than the nine authorized. In other words, units
                         arrived with only about half of the personnel authorized for their rifle
                         squads. In recent testimony, the commanding general of the Seventh Army
                         Training Command stated that over the past 18 months, personnel
                         shortages caused units to deploy to the CMTC without fully manned
                         infantry squads and tanks. He cited that dismounted infantry strength
                         averaged 64 percent, ranging from 30 percent to 100 percent, and that only
                         80 percent of the tanks had the required number of personnel.

                         Results from our survey confirmed the units’ problems with personnel
                         shortages. For example, 10 of the 13 units that trained at the CMTC in
                         fiscal year 1998 and responded to our questionnaire said that a shortage of
                         personnel at the company and platoon level was one of the three factors
                         that had the most negative impact on training. According to the
                         Commanding General of the Joint Readiness Training Center, insufficient
                         staffing is the single biggest factor adversely affecting training. He noted
                         that units that arrive at the center under strength cannot effectively train or

                         5
                          Military Readiness: Observations on Personnel Readiness in Later Deploying Army Divisions
                         (GAO/T-NSIAD-98-126, Mar. 20, 1998).




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                     maximize their training experience. Of the 36 units that trained at the JRTC
                     in fiscal year 1998 and responded to our questionnaire, 18 said that a
                     shortage of personnel was one of the primary factors that negatively
                     affected battalion-level training for the exercises. Written comments
                     provided by units responding to our survey were also revealing, as shown
                     in the following examples:

                     “At the time of the rotation, I could only man 18 of the 24 Blackhawks in my battalion.
                     Personnel shortages in both aircrews and senior NCO’s adversely affected the training
                     during our rotation.”

                     “The impact of personnel shortages is obvious when examined against the requirements of
                     an Infantry Company and platoon. The battalion was short one line platoon per company.
                     We were given approximately two weeks prior to deployment to integrate a platoon from a
                     sister battalion. The lack of key leaders in the 11-20 [infantry-sergeant] series had a negative
                     impact on company commanders’ and platoon leaders’ ability to conduct effective training.”

                     “Prior to NTC, personnel statistics [overall level of manning] were 85 percent. Shortages at
                     the platoon level leadership impacted on small unit proficiency/effectiveness. Unit
                     maintained two rifle platoons instead of the TOE [authorized] three platoons.”

                     “The battalion went to the NTC at 80 percent fill and 20 percent of the personnel were new.”

                     “We were not plussed up [augmented from other units] to attend our CTC training. My
                     company-sized units were authorized 70 soldiers but deployed with only 55.”

                     “The battalion borrowed 16 tank crews from other units to field enough tanks to fight at the
                     NTC. Also [the unit] went into platoon/company training with only 2 of 14 tank drivers
                     trained to properly operate their vehicles.”



Personnel Turnover   Personnel turnover also hampers units preparing for their rotations to the
                     training centers. Of the 96 units that responded to our survey, 49 said that
                     turnover had the most negative impact on battalion-level training at home
                     station, and 54 said that turnover had the most negative impact at the
                     company and platoon levels (see app. I).

                     More than half of the respondents to our questionnaire said that personnel
                     turnover had a negative impact on company- and battalion-level training.
                     Many told us that personnel turnover requires them to teach basic tasks
                     more often, which reduces the time available to develop proficiency at
                     higher levels. Some of the specific comments provided included the
                     following:




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                       “High personnel turnover coupled with a shortage of Non-Commissioned Officers degraded
                       the battalions’ ability to train and sustain readiness levels. New soldiers entering the
                       battalion may not have a first line supervisor to train them.”

                       “120 days before going to the NTC, the battalion had massive personnel turnover.
                       Examples: 39 percent turnover of warrant officers, 33 percent turnover of crew chiefs,
                       54 percent turnover of armament repairers. We went to the NTC with troops that had no
                       home station training with the unit.”

                       “Personnel turnover at the mid grade and senior level NCO [levels] doesn’t allow the unit to
                       build a solid base. Assignments to Recruiting Command, AC/RC, [active personnel
                       supporting reserve component units] Korea and U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR), they all
                       continue to eat away from your NCO experience within the battalion. The continuous drain
                       of NCOs from the battalion after a CTC rotation decreases readiness and unit cohesion.”



High Operating Tempo   The Department of Defense’s (DOD) October-December 1998 Quarterly
                       Readiness Report highlighted high operating tempo (OPTEMPO) as a key
                       factor that has stressed today’s Army. It noted that force size had
                       decreased 34 percent since the end of the Cold War, while missions had
                       increased 300 percent. As of mid-February 1999, brigades or task forces
                       from all but 3 of the Army's 10 divisions were either committed to certain
                       parts of the world or were preparing for or recovering from contingency
                       operations. In addition, in June 1999, elements of another division (the
                       82nd Airborne Division) were committed to operations in Kosovo. The
                       Army’s contribution to the international security force in Kosovo, in
                       addition to existing commitments in Bosnia and elsewhere, are likely to
                       further degrade training at home stations. Units in Europe will be
                       especially affected since the 1st Infantry Division in Germany has been
                       tasked to provide the majority of the Army’s contribution to that effort.

                       The increase in operations other than war (OOTW) since 1991 has
                       significantly affected the ability of U.S. military forces to prepare and
                       continue to be ready for expected wartime missions. As we reported in
                       May 1999,6 OOTW has affected the combat capability of the military
                       services, especially Army units because they generally require more
                       recovery time. While the primary mission of combat units is the
                       destruction of enemy forces, OOTW primarily focus on peacekeeping tasks
                       such as conducting presence patrols, inspecting weapons storage sites, and
                       establishing checkpoints. Because units do not conduct armored


                       6
                         Military Operations: Impact of Operations Other Than War on the Services Varies (GAO/NSIAD-99-69,
                       May 24, 1999).




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                              maneuver operations and are relieved from gunnery qualification
                              requirements while engaged in OOTW, the skills of individual personnel as
                              well as entire units decline. For example, units from the 1st Infantry and
                              1st Armored Divisions located in Germany were unable to train on many
                              mission-essential tasks at the company- or battalion-levels during repeated
                              deployments to Bosnia. Therefore, officials at the Combat Maneuver
                              Training Center adjusted their training model for units from these divisions
                              to reflect a decreased skill level in units. Several days were set aside at the
                              beginning of training for the units to conduct uninterrupted training at the
                              company level to refine skills prior to beginning exercises against the
                              opposing force. Unit and center officials told us that this time spent at the
                              beginning of the rotation paid great dividends during the remainder of the
                              training exercises because they were better prepared to fully participate.

                              Of the 96 units who responded to our questionnaire, 48 said that OPTEMPO
                              had a significant negative effect on training at the company and platoon
                              levels at home stations. The following are representative of the comments
                              provided by many of the respondents:

                              “High OPTEMPO and personnel tempo virtually eliminate any opportunity to conduct
                              meaningful collective training or develop strategies for correcting deficiencies .”

                              “There is too much on everyone’s agenda. As soon as we returned from JRTC, [I] sent
                              3 companies to Southwest Asia and 1 company to Haiti.”

                              “[It is] difficult to conduct battalion-level training while [the] unit is being asked to provide
                              people and equipment to support multiple brigade and above taskings.”

                              “High OPTEMPO severely limits the battalion’s collective training opportunity. You simply
                              move from one ‘big event’ to the next without chance to pause, evaluate, [or] develop [a]
                              strategy to correct deficiencies.”

                              Since February 1999, when we reported our preliminary findings at a
                              congressional hearing, the Army has taken steps to address the
                              preparedness of units for combat training center exercises and the
                              adequacy of equipment used during the exercises.



Training Gates Established    On February 26, 1999, the Commanding General of Army Forces Command
to Certify Units’ Readiness   issued new training guidance to all unit commanders. This guidance, which
                              is expected to be fully implemented by the end of fiscal year 2000, requires
to Train at Higher Levels     all unit commanders to establish clearly defined objective criteria to serve
                              as “gates” during home station training for determining whether their unit



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is prepared to move to a more complex training level. The guidance
requires units to develop a certification program that includes an
assessment of whether units, staffs, and leaders are prepared for the next
higher level of training. Unit assessments will be made using the training
tasks, training conditions, and performance standards contained in the
Army Training and Evaluation Program guidance that the U.S. Army
Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) has developed for each type of
Army unit.

The guidance also established home station training gates for units
preparing to conduct combat training center exercises. For example,
active units must complete an externally evaluated battalion task force
maneuver exercise, a company and task force fire coordination exercise to
synchronize both direct and indirect fire weapon systems, platoon-level
gunnery exercises, and a certification that unit staffs are proficient in
making tactical decisions. According to the guidance, battalions that do
not demonstrate proficiency through the formal external evaluation
process must be retrained and demonstrate proficiency before going to a
training center.

Army Forces Command officials expect the gate strategy to have a positive
effect on training by identifying unit shortfalls and requiring units to
develop basic proficiency foundations before progressing to more complex
training. The guidance issued by Forces Command, however, does not
address how commanders might overcome the factors that they told us had
the most negative impact on developing proficiency at home stations: that
is, personnel shortages, personnel turnover, and operating tempo. These
factors are not likely to dissipate, and they will make it difficult for
commanders to achieve the goals of this new initiative. Under this training
strategy, it is possible that some units might be precluded from a combat
training center experience if they are unable to demonstrate the required
proficiency. Also, there is an additional consequence of this strategy in that
the OPTEMPO for leaders of the units not going to the CTCs will increase,
because the external evaluators must come from units not preparing for
CTC exercises.




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Training Conditions      According to Army Regulation 350-50, training at the combat training
                         centers is designed to increase a units’ proficiency by replicating the most
Are Routinely Limited    realistic and challenging battlefield available. However, because units are
and Current Threat Not   arriving at the centers with lower levels of proficiency than in the past, the
                         training centers now routinely adjust training conditions to compensate for
Always Portrayed         the degradation. The centers routinely limit the capability of their
                         opposing force by restricting its use of chemical weapons, mines,
                         obstacles, artillery, and tactics. The following examples illustrate these
                         limits:

                         • A ceiling is placed on the numbers, types, and times that the opposing
                           force can use chemical weapons and mines. As a result, units that
                           initially demonstrate a low level of training in chemical environment
                           operations or breaching mine obstacles will face fewer of these events.
                         • A ceiling is also imposed on the numbers, types, and time of
                           employment for artillery. The opposing force commander must obtain
                           permission to use additional artillery above this ceiling from center
                           officials, who determine whether the additional artillery fires will
                           detract from the training objectives.
                         • Opposing force reconnaissance elements are now limited to destroying
                           a specific number of friendly vehicles with artillery at night. This limit is
                           imposed to ensure that training units have sufficient forces to
                           commence their mission in the morning.

                         Officials at the centers emphasized that providing scenarios with the most
                         challenging conditions versus limiting the conditions to better match unit
                         capabilities involves trade-offs. On the one hand, it makes sense to limit
                         exercise complexity so units can accomplish some training objectives.
                         However, on the other hand, without exposure to the full spectrum of
                         threat that units will almost certainly face, units may not be adequately
                         prepared to face the most demanding threats. Moreover, as one Army
                         official told us, many commanders come away from their training with an
                         unrealistically high assessment of their individual and unit capabilities
                         because they leave the centers thinking that their units performed well,
                         when serious unit weaknesses might have been uncovered had training
                         conditions not been adjusted to reduce exercise complexity.

                         In addition to a less challenging battlefield, the NTC and the CMTC, for the
                         most part, are still using a 1970s Soviet threat model to replicate specific
                         enemy capabilities. In the future, however, DOD officials believe that U.S.
                         forces will most likely face a different type of threat, one whose systems




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                                          are not fully known in advance of conflict and one that will require new
                                          approaches to defeat. They also believe that operations in urban settings,
                                          terrorist activities, and civilians on the battlefield will typify future threats
                                          and conditions. Past operations in Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, and more
                                          recently the situation in Kosovo show that the Army’s mechanized and
                                          nonmechanized forces may need to be prepared to conduct their traditional
                                          missions (attack, defend, and movement to contact) in urban settings
                                          where civilians are present and concerns about collateral damage are real.
                                          Moreover, these operations have shown the importance of knowing how to
                                          effectively deal with local foreign officials and the media. These
                                          conditions, however, are not realistically portrayed at all the combat
                                          training centers. Table 1, which summarizes our observations and data
                                          provided by officials at the centers, shows that the Joint Readiness Training
                                          Center has done the most to incorporate expected conditions into its
                                          exercises, while the National Training Center has done the least.



Table 1: Comparison of Training Features at the Army’s Combat Training Centers

                                                                       Joint Readiness Training Combat Maneuver Training
                                     National Training Center          Center                   Center
Operations in urban terrain          No                                Yes                           Limited to dismounted infantry
Terrorist activities                 Usually limited to security tests Yes                           No
Civilians on the battlefield         Usually confined to one           Yes                           Based on unit proficiency
                                     roadblock
Dealings with local officials        Only before exercises begin       Yes                           Based on unit proficiency
Media on the battlefield             Only before exercises begin       Yes                           Based on unit proficiency
                                          Source: Developed by GAO from data provided by CTC officials.


                                          Officials from all the training centers told us that the JRTC more
                                          completely portrays the complex environment that units and leaders
                                          operate in today because it was established to train Special Operations
                                          Forces and light forces that in the past were tasked to address these types
                                          of complexities. In contrast, armored units training at the NTC and CMTC
                                          have been tasked primarily with planning, developing, and maintaining the
                                          capability to conduct open-area maneuver warfare. According to the
                                          Commanding General of the NTC, however, this is not the case today
                                          because Operation Desert Storm showed potential enemies that they
                                          cannot win on open ground against U.S. forces. Consequently, in his view,
                                          future conflicts will draw all types of forces into cities and urban areas
                                          where the enemy can mix with the general population. The Army’s Forces
                                          Command is studying how to sustain the training relevancy of the combat



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                       training centers, and it plans to change the opposing force tactics and
                       training scenarios at all centers by the end of the first quarter in fiscal
                       year 2001 to make them more relevant to threats and mission requirements
                       expected in the next 10 to 15 years. We are currently reviewing the
                       services’ efforts to train their personnel in urban warfare in more detail,
                       and expect to issue our report in early 2000.



Maintenance Problems   Pre-positioned equipment at the NTC and JRTC does not adequately
                       support the centers’ training mission. A high rate of use at the NTC makes
and Aging Equipment    equipment maintenance a challenge, and, despite additional funding from
Limit Training         the Congress, many tank and fighting vehicle crews are excluded from
                       training because their vehicles are broken down. In addition, the majority
                       of units training at both the NTC and JRTC lose valuable training time as
                       they learn to operate equipment that is much older than the equipment they
                       use and maintain at home stations. The Army has no pre-positioned
                       equipment at the CMTC.


Maintenance Problems   The equipment pre-positioned at the NTC is driven three to five times as
                       many miles each year as any unit’s home station equipment, according to
                       the NTC commander. Each tank and fighting vehicle at the NTC is run
                       about 3,000 miles per year. Such usage, compounded by the rugged terrain,
                       heat, and sand at the NTC, creates a significant maintenance challenge for
                       center officials.

                       To meet this challenge, the center uses a combination of contractor
                       services and Army personnel for maintaining equipment. The contractor is
                       responsible for servicing the equipment, and two Army direct support
                       companies and one general support company stationed at the center make
                       repairs.7 According to Forces Command Regulation 350-50-1, paragraph
                       3-5a, the NTC also maintains two brigade sets of equipment designed to
                       ensure equipment issued to a training unit is operationally ready. Despite
                       these efforts, the Army Inspector General and Army Forces Command
                       separately reported the typical unit begins training with only 85 percent to
                       90 percent of needed vehicles rated as fully mission capable (FMC) due to
                       maintenance backlogs. Equipment rated as FMC does not necessarily meet



                       7
                        A direct support company repairs equipment by replacing parts. A general support company repairs
                       equipment by rebuilding major component assemblies.




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the Army’s equipment maintenance standards.8 Moreover, because of the
extensive use of the vehicles (over 300 miles per rotation) and repair parts
shortages, the number of vehicles that are mission capable rapidly
decreases to 65 percent to 75 percent over the course of the rotation,
according to the NTC commander. He also has acknowledged that on
average, 15 percent of all tank and fighting vehicle crews miss training each
day because their equipment needs repair.

Units responding to our survey provided written comments that highlight
their concerns related to the pre-positioned equipment at the centers. For
example,

“The equipment available for draw at the NTC is in horrible condition. Soldiers should not
have to draw broken equipment that requires several days or even weeks to repair.”

“Extreme waste and abuse. Equipment issued in unsafe condition. The draw and turn in
took longer than the actual days in training.”

“Our battalion’s poor maintenance posture during the rotation adversely impacted our
overall training experience as a battalion. Over one third of our soldiers spent the majority
of the rotation in the UMCP [Unified Maintenance Control Point] because of broken
equipment. During the draw, over one half of the M1s [tanks] [and] M2s [fighting vehicles]
that we drew were deadlined (inoperable due to needed repairs).”

Over the past 2 years, the Congress has provided the Army $120 million in
additional funding for the operation and maintenance of the pre-positioned
equipment at the NTC. According to Army Headquarters officials, these
funds were programmed for the maintenance and upgrade of NTC
equipment and were to be used for repair parts, depot-level repairs, and
supplies and services. Despite this additional funding, the maintenance
problems at the NTC have become so acute that training units must send
some of their own maintenance personnel to the center 2 weeks prior to
training to repair broken equipment for issue.

The NTC’s June 1999 update to its strategic plan, which sets forth its
mission and business goals and assesses performance toward these goals,
also confirms a continuing problem with pre-positioned equipment. The



8
 FMC is defined in the glossary of Army Regulation 220-1, Unit Status Reporting, as equipment that can
perform all of its missions without endangering the lives of the crew and operators. Equipment can be
rated as FMC and have inoperable systems that degrade its mission flexibility and usefulness. For
example, an M1A1/A2 tank can be FMC with the driver’s night sight, and commander’s independent
thermal viewer all inoperable.




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                            center’s mission capable rate goal for its tracked vehicle fleet is 90 percent.
                            However, the actual monthly mission capable rate for these vehicles ranged
                            from 65 percent to 80 percent the first 6 months of fiscal year 1999. In
                            response to these rates, the center’s strategic plan states that the consistent
                            performance below the 90-percent goal is primarily due to the poor
                            condition of the fleet.



Aging Pre-positioned        The commanders of the NTC and JRTC have also expressed concerned
Equipment at the NTC and    about the age of their pre-positioned equipment. At the Joint Readiness
                            Training Center, units are using 30-year-old, 2½-ton, and early model 5-ton
JRTC Lessens the Training   trucks with manual transmissions, while at home stations, units operate
Benefit                     5-ton trucks with automatic transmissions. At the NTC, the situation is
                            similar. Pre-positioned tanks at the NTC are all first-generation M1-A1
                            models and the Bradley Fighting Vehicles are all first-generation M2-A1
                            models. However, at home stations, the Army units have second- and
                            third-generation tanks and third- and fourth-generation fighting vehicles.
                            Our comparison of serial numbers on the fighting vehicles at the NTC with
                            Army inventory records shows that some vehicles came off the assembly
                            line in 1981, the first year they were produced, and that the average age of
                            all the NTC’s fighting vehicles is 13 years. Army Forces Command data
                            show about a 40-percent commonality between the equipment training
                            units have at home station and what they draw from NTC pre-positioned
                            stocks.

                            Requiring units to use older equipment with different capabilities creates
                            (1) safety problems because soldiers are not familiar with fire control
                            systems and switch locations, (2) performance degradation because target
                            identification and designation systems are different, and (3) maintenance
                            problems because older vehicles do not have built-in diagnostic systems.
                            As a result, the centers are obliged to devote training time to teaching
                            soldiers how to operate obsolete equipment, which is “a waste of valuable
                            time and resources,” according to the JRTC commander. In addition,
                            maintenance personnel have to maintain and repair equipment that is
                            different than that owned by the unit and for which they have been trained,
                            which degrades the usefulness of the training for them.


Army Study Reviews          The Department of the Army Headquarters is currently reviewing the
Alternatives to Improve     results of the Army Forces Command’s January 1999 study of options
                            available for providing the equipment needed for training at the NTC. The
Equipment                   study concluded that the current system of pre-positioning tracked and



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                        wheel vehicles was ineffective because of the significant difference
                        between the equipment at the center compared to the equipment units
                        trained on at home stations. Although there are several different models of
                        each type of vehicle assigned to the operational units, even the least
                        modernized unit does not have some of the older equipment models
                        pre-positioned at the NTC. This difference between training center and
                        home station equipment, according to the study, significantly impedes
                        training since crews have to be retrained to use and maintain older
                        equipment.

                        The study examined three alternatives for meeting the equipment needs of
                        units at the NTC. The first alternative, the modernization of the equipment
                        at the center, was discounted because (1) $976 million would be required to
                        modernize the tracked vehicles, (2) maintenance costs at the centers would
                        increase, and (3) a large number of personnel would be needed to support
                        equipment issue and turn-in. The second alternative, requiring units to ship
                        all needed equipment to the center, was discounted because of the
                        transportation costs to the training units. The alternative recommended by
                        the study is to (1) modernize the wheeled vehicles at the center and (2)
                        require the units to ship their tracked vehicles to the center at an estimated
                        cost of $222 million through fiscal year 2009. This alternative, according to
                        the study, would avoid the cost of modernizing the tracked vehicles, allow a
                        reduction in contract maintenance costs of an estimated $104 million
                        annually, and eliminate the necessity of training units on older equipment.
                        The Army had not made a decision on whether to accept the recommended
                        alternative as of July 1999.



Exercise Results Are    According to the Army’s training center regulation, take-home packages are
                        provided to each unit to document all of its after action reviews, describe
Not Routinely Used to   performance strengths and weaknesses, and recommend a focus for home
Improve Proficiency     station training. However, we found that ineffective take-home packages
                        and a lack of training opportunities at their home stations diminish the
                        value of units’ training experiences at the centers. Consequently, systemic
                        weaknesses demonstrated by units during training center exercises are not
                        being addressed.

                        Responses to our survey indicate that 30 percent of the commanders felt
                        that take-home packages were marginally useful or not useful. Another
                        35 percent believed the take-home packages to be somewhat useful.
                        Several commanders described their packages as worthless because they
                        were written in generic language and lacked specificity. One commander



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noted that the package arrived a full 3 months after the rotation ended;
another noted that he had not received any feedback or materials from his
unit’s rotation to the training center. A third described the take-home
materials as an afterthought, built around the shortcomings of people, not
systems. Finally, one seemed surprised at his package, noting that its
content did not seem to match the comments provided at the after-action
reviews provided during the exercise.

Commanders also cited limited training opportunities when they return to
home station as inhibiting units from using training center results to
improve their skills. Most units begin a support and recovery cycle 9
immediately following training center exercises and at the same time begin
to lose many of the people who participated in the exercise. Forty-two
percent of the units who responded to our questionnaire said training
center exercises were only marginally useful or not useful at all after only
3 months. Only 22 percent of the commanders said their units had been
able to maintain unit strengths at the company level and train on
weaknesses after returning to home station. Moreover, 26 percent and
27 percent, respectively, said their units had been able to conduct only a
minimum amount of training at the company or battalion levels.

Another reason for the limited usefulness of exercise results is the
significant personnel turnover that occurs in units following training center
exercises. One commander at Fort Hood, for example, said that personnel
turnover had left the battalion mostly untrained within 30 days of its return
from the NTC. His unit lost 16 tank crews that it had borrowed from other
units for the exercise, 14 platoon leaders had changed jobs, and 4 company
executive officers and 10 platoon leaders also left the unit. As result, the
unit that was left to put its lessons learned to use was far different from the
one that trained at the center. Table 2 summarizes the percent of key
leaders lost by units within 90 days after training at a center in fiscal year
1998, as reported to us by unit commanders who responded to our
questionnaire.




9
 A support and recovery cycle is a period of time after a major exercise during which units, for example,
provide leave for personnel, repair and clean equipment, or order new spare parts.




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Table 2: Key Leaders Lost Within 90 Days in Units That Trained at the Combat
Training Centers (fiscal year 1998)

Key leader                                                Percent of units that lost this leader
Battalion commander                                                                          21
Battalion executive officer                                                                  55
Battalion personnel officer (S-1)                                                            53
Battalion intelligence officer (S-2)                                                         56
Battalion operations officer (S-3)                                                           57
Battalion maintenance officer (S-4)                                                          53
Note: Based on responses from 96 units.
Source: Developed by GAO from questionnaire responses.


When information provided by commanders on personnel turnover and
training accomplished by the units 90 days following training center
exercises is compared with the readiness reported by the units for the same
90-day period, a significant disparity is revealed. The formal readiness
assessments submitted10 do not reflect the lack of opportunity to train on
weaknesses identified during the exercises or the rapid loss of experienced
leaders following the training. As a result many units reported very high
levels of readiness for months after their training center exercises even
though serious training shortcomings identified at the centers had not been
corrected and the majority of senior unit leaders had been lost due to
personnel turnover. Fifty-four of the 96 battalions that returned our survey
reported the same or a higher level of overall readiness, personnel
readiness, and training readiness, even though 95 percent reported a
significant loss of key personnel during the first 90 days after the training
center exercises and 76 percent of the commanders reported being unable
to work on all weaknesses identified at the center.




10
 Under the Status of Resources and Training System (SORTS) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.




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Assessment Plan             The Army has not implemented a plan for adequately assessing training
                            results for the purpose of integrating them with the Army’s training and
Needed to Better            doctrine development activities. Consequently, the Army is not effectively
Integrate Lessons           capitalizing on the lessons that it learns from its training centers.
                            Specifically, improvements to training and doctrine are hampered by a lack
Learned Into Army           of standardized data to assess trends and performance measures to
Training and Doctrine       evaluate the effectiveness of the centers in meeting their objectives.


Centers Lack Standardized   The Army has gathered large amounts of data at its combat training centers
Data                        for more than 15 years. However, despite being one of the Army’s key
                            objectives for establishing the centers, past data collection efforts have not
                            consistently been used to improve Army training and doctrine. Because it
                            has not standardized data collection programs at its centers, information
                            from the centers cannot be combined to assess trends. Moreover, each
                            center has a different contractor for data collection and each uses its own
                            proprietary computer software. The cumulative effect is that much of the
                            information collected cannot be used by the Army’s Combined Arms Center
                            (CAC) to develop lessons learned from the exercises. For example, one
                            study conducted by the Army Center for Lessons Learned (CALL)11
                            revealed that 90 percent of the instrumentation data collected at the CTCs
                            is not sent to CALL to be archived. However, even if the data were sent to
                            CALL, it does not have the capability to read the data.

                            The problems with data collection and analysis at the Army’s training
                            centers have existed for a long time. In July 1986, we reported that the
                            Army had not adequately defined its analysis needs and corresponding data
                            requirements, nor developed criteria for performance measurement. 12 We
                            concluded that the Army had spent millions of dollars collecting
                            information that it was reluctant to rely on for developing Army-wide
                            lessons. Today, the situation is not fundamentally different.

                            In 1995, CAC developed a plan for collecting, analyzing, archiving, and
                            disseminating combat training center data. During the period January
                            through June 1995, CAC, with contractor assistance, identified the data

                            11
                              The Center for Lessons Learned, a component of the Army’s Combined Arms Center, collects,
                            analyzes, and disseminates lessons learned from training and actual operations to the total Army via
                            written reports and an electronic database.
                            12
                              Army Training: National Training Center’s Potential Has Not Been Realized (GAO/NSIAD-86-130,
                            July 23, 1986).




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                           needs of the centers, Army schools and doctrine proponents, and unit
                           leaders. The ability of data collection systems to meet these needs was
                           then assessed. The study group concluded that the data being collected did
                           not support the needs of most users outside the centers, and CAC
                           developed a master plan to meet the requirements. The in-depth plan
                           provided the framework for on-site teams of 10 personnel to collect and
                           collate data at each center from units, training center observer-controllers,
                           and the existing instrumentation systems. However, the Army’s Training
                           and Doctrine Command decided not to fund the program. The estimated
                           cost to implement this plan was about $2 million. Consequently, the data
                           collected today is essentially the same as was collected in 1995, and a plan
                           for implementing data collection methods to meet Army needs and fulfill
                           one of the objectives for establishing the centers has still not been
                           implemented.


Centers Lack Performance   An even more fundamental weakness is that the Army has no standard
Measures                   performance measures to gauge how well the centers are carrying out their
                           assigned responsibilities nor has it conducted an assessment of the center’s
                           effectiveness either individually or collectively. A set of measures would
                           provide a set of benchmarks that the Army could use to better focus the
                           training conducted at these centers and better gauge whether training at
                           the centers is improving the readiness of the Army’s units to fight in these
                           larger formations. Establishing such performance measures is a
                           fundamental management principle and is consistent with the Government
                           Performance and Results Act, which calls on all government entities to
                           evaluate the results of their programs through the use of performance
                           measures.

                           Without such measures, the Army is left to a subjective ad hoc system of
                           measurement. For example, a 1998 review by the Army’s Center for
                           Lessons Learned showed that units training at the NTC have continued to
                           make many of the same mistakes since 1994 (see table 3). The Army has
                           not developed a similar analysis for the other centers because the data
                           needed is not available.




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Table 3: Examples of Recurring Problems Demonstrated by Units at the NTC Since 1994

Battlefield operating
system                          Problem area               Examples
Maneuver                        Direct fire planning       Company/teams tend to develop a scheme of movement and not a scheme of fire
                                and execution              and maneuver. Inadequate fire control within companies results in ineffective
                                                           placement of fires on the enemy.
                                Movement formations Forces do not take effective action when in contact with the enemy. Units have
                                and techniques      problems massing combat power and fight piecemeal.
                                Use of dismounted          Battle staffs seldom consider dismounted infantry in planning. Dismounted
                                infantry                   infantry is not integrated with the scheme of maneuver. Commanders do not
                                                           specify a clear task and purpose for dismounted infantry.
Fire support                    Integration of fire        Commanders do not integrate artillery with maneuver forces, resulting in
                                support with               inadequate support, unclear orders, and confusion. As a result, commanders
                                maneuver                   cannot control or mass all weapons systems.
Command and control             Battle tracking and        Staffs do not give their commanders sufficient information for effective mission
                                predictive analysis        analysis. Units do a poor job of reporting information to the tactical operations
                                                           center.
                                Military decision          Staffs lack the training required to conduct the military decision-making process to
                                making process             standard. Commanders often dominate the planning process. Commanders too
                                                           often spend most of their time at the main command post supervising staff.
                                Troop leading and          Company/team leaders do not regularly conduct precombat checks or
                                discipline                 inspections. Small arms weapons are not properly maintained and cleaned.
                                                           Field sanitation standards are not enforced. Noise and light discipline are not
                                                           maintained.
Mobility and survivability/     Force protection           When units encounter chemical agents, they do not have a plan to react. Units
nuclear, biological, chemical                              are generally unprepared to conduct thorough chemical decontamination
                                                           operations.
                                Obstacles                  Obstacles are not planned or emplaced to enhance the overall capabilities.
                                coordination and           Commanders have weak knowledge of obstacle integration procedures.
                                integration                Fratricide incidents are increased because minefield records are incomplete or
                                                           not forwarded to higher headquarters as required.
                                Breaching operations       Units fail to plan deliberate breach operations even when mission analysis clearly
                                                           indicates that it is appropriate. Fundamentals of breaching operations are not
                                                           understood or implemented.
Combat service support          Medical support            Medical personnel do not see wounded soldiers in a timely manner. The typical
                                planning and               died-of-wounds rate is seldom below 50 percent. Casualty evacuation is a
                                execution                  serious problem.
                                                 Note: The examples shown were identified in the source analysis as continuing through each quarter
                                                 since 1994.
                                                 Source: Analysis of NTC exercise results conducted by the Army’s Center for Army Lessons Learned.


                                                 In October 1996 TRADOC established a remedial action program (T-RAP)
                                                 to correct unit deficiencies and improve performance using trend
                                                 observation to (1) identify recurring problems affecting unit performance,
                                                 (2) develop and implement comprehensive solutions, and (3) validate that



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              solutions are implemented. The program has not been very successful
              because accurate and complete data to use in identifying recurring
              problems were lacking and the program lacks an enforcement mechanism
              for implementing changes. According to Army officials, the Army’s
              Combined Arms Center plans nevertheless to re-emphasize the T-RAP
              program. However, the benefits that could be derived from Army efforts to
              reverse negative trends through T-RAP cannot be realized until a
              comprehensive data collection and analysis plan is implemented at the
              CTCs.

              Notwithstanding the fact that 83 percent our survey’s respondents said that
              the exercises were very useful in enhancing battalion- and company-level
              proficiency, they also identified aspects of training at the CTCs that they
              believe should be changed to make the exercises better in preparing units
              to accomplish assigned missions. Table 4 shows the areas where the
              commanders believe improvement is needed.



              Table 4: Aspects of Training That Commanders Believe Need to Be Improved

              Training aspects                                  Total   NTC     JRTC     CMTC
              Number of respondents                               96      40       41       15
              Take home materials for use at home station         27      10       15        2
              Equipment draw procedures at the CTC                23      16        5        2
              After action reviews                                21       9       11        1
              Live-fire exercises                                 20       8        8        4
              Deployment from home station to the CTC             11       4        4        3
              Force-on-force exercises                            10       3        3        4
              Source: GAO survey on CTCs.


              As shown by the table, a number of respondents felt that their training
              center experiences could have been enhanced through better take-home
              packages, improved procedures for drawing pre-positioned equipment, and
              more effective after action reports. For example, 27 of the 96 respondents
              believed that improvements could be made in the take-home packages for
              use at home station.



Conclusions   The Army is operating training centers that are rightfully the envy of the
              rest of the world’s armies, allied and enemy alike. Collectively, they offer
              diverse physical environments that provide realistic battlefield conditions



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enabling the Army’s personnel to experience the closest thing possible to
actual combat. Their sophisticated instrumentation and network of trained
observers provide unparalleled opportunities to develop leaders and
improve the readiness of the Army’s units to engage in combat. Over
83 percent of the units responding to our survey believed their training at a
combat training center was very useful in enhancing their unit’s combat
proficiency. However, the objectives the Army established for its combat
training centers to increase unit readiness, produce bold leaders, embed
doctrine, and provide feedback and a data source for lessons learned are
not being fully realized.

Several persistent problems—personnel shortages, turnover, and high
operating tempo—have decreased the benefits of training exercises at the
combat training centers because they have inhibited units from being fully
prepared for the training. The Army’s Forces Command has recently taken
a first step toward improving unit preparedness for training at the NTC and
JRTC by requiring units in the future to be certified as ready for the
training. Notwithstanding the benefits of a certification program, the
problems related to personnel shortages, turnover, and high operating
tempo are likely to continue to adversely affect training at home stations,
and the Army has not factored those problems into the certification
process.

Optimally, units would be fully resourced and allowed to conduct several
months of uninterrupted training in preparation for training center
exercises. But, in today’s environment, where a smaller force is being used
for an increased number of operations, such a situation is not feasible. In
recognition of the impact of these factors on home station training
programs, one center—the CMTC—has provided units with preparatory
training time at the center before exercises begin. Unit commanders and
center officials believe this investment has resulted in effective training for
the units.

The problems of maintaining pre-positioned equipment and the age of it
have also detracted from units training experiences at the NTC and the
JRTC. Because of the amount of equipment that is not in service at any
given time, units and personnel miss valuable training experiences at the
centers that cannot be emulated at home station. The problem of being
unfamiliar with equipment also degrades the training experience.

Training conditions at the centers are being made less stringent to
compensate for unit shortcomings. As a result, the threats and conditions



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                  that units will certainly face on future battlefields are not routinely
                  portrayed. These threats and conditions such as dealing with terrorists,
                  operations in urban terrain, and civilians on the battlefield are not routinely
                  incorporated into the exercises at each of the centers. By limiting the
                  conditions and not accurately portraying current and future threats, the
                  value of the training provided at these centers is diminished. Moreover,
                  because many of the conditions cannot be replicated at home stations,
                  units and their leaders are being denied the best opportunity to prepare for
                  the demanding conditions of present and future operations.

                  The Army has not made a commitment to achieving its objective of
                  collecting data at the centers to facilitate Army-wide lessons learned,
                  research, and doctrine development. Until the Army implements a plan to
                  collect the information needed by all organizations and establishes
                  performance measures consistent with the Government Performance and
                  Results Act, one of the most important reasons for establishing and
                  operating the centers will remain unmet.



Recommendations   We recommend that the Secretary of the Army direct the Commanders of
                  the Army Forces Command, the Army Training and Doctrine Command,
                  and the Seventh Army Training Command to take the following actions to
                  enhance the value of the Army’s combat training centers to the Army and to
                  units training at the centers.

                  • Amend training exercise schedules at the centers so that time is
                    allocated at the beginning of each training rotation for units to conduct a
                    limited amount of internal unit training before the center’s
                    observers/controllers and OPFOR begin training with the units. While
                    this might lengthen the total training time by a few days, the gains in unit
                    synchronization and execution skills and the improved familiarization
                    with pre-positioned equipment can be expected to increase the training
                    benefits to units and their leaders.
                  • In accordance with Army Regulation 350-50, paragraphs 1-5 and 1-6,
                    which stipulates that the centers will use the most realistic and
                    challenging training conditions available, incorporate into the exercises
                    at each combat training center the full spectrum of threats, opposing
                    forces capabilities, and conditions that units are likely to encounter in
                    future conflicts, especially ones that cannot be easily duplicated at
                    home stations. Specific emphasis should be afforded to operations in
                    urban terrain, dealing with terrorists, operations with military forces




                  Page 29                                      GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
                      B-283334




                        from other countries, and activities involving civilians on the battlefield
                        and interactions with the media.
                      • Develop and implement a comprehensive data requirements and
                        collection plan to enable center officials to systematically collect data
                        that can be used to improve training and doctrine. This plan should
                        include (1) an approach for linking the centers by using compatible
                        computer software so that Army-wide assessments can be made,
                        (2) performance measures and the methodology to be used to
                        periodically assess whether the centers are meeting their objectives, and
                        (3) the specific information needed by research organizations, training
                        and doctrine development commands, the centers, and units. The data
                        collection plan developed by the Army Combined Arms Center in 1995
                        would serve as a good basis for developing a current plan to collect and
                        analyze pertinent data for Army-wide use.

                      We are not making any recommendations on the pre-positioned fleets at
                      NTC and JRTC since the Army is currently reviewing various alternatives to
                      address the problems noted in this report and by others. Nevertheless, it is
                      important that the Army promptly decide on a course of action to deal with
                      these problems if units are to derive maximum benefits from their training
                      at the centers.



Agency Comments and   In commenting on a draft of this report (see app. IV), DOD said that it
                      generally concurred with our findings and recommendations. With respect
Our Evaluation        to our recommendation to amend training exercise schedules so that time
                      is allocated at the beginning of each training rotation for units to conduct
                      internal training, DOD said the idea had merit and that it would review the
                      balance and prioritization of training events at the centers to maximize
                      training effectiveness. Although DOD did not elaborate on what such a
                      review would entail, we believe that it is reasonable to expect that the
                      review would compare the training needs identified during a unit’s home
                      station training and readiness evaluation in preparation for CTC training to
                      the skills needed for units to successfully conduct battalion- and
                      brigade-level exercises. It is also our expectation that the Army would
                      consider alternatives for facilitating internal unit training after units arrive
                      at the training centers. For example, there may be opportunities to
                      streamline the activities presently conducted by units at the centers at the
                      beginning and end of their force-on-force exercises. Alternatively, some
                      force-on-force training could be sacrificed to allow time for initial internal
                      training. Finally, on rare occasions, the centers might need to lengthen a
                      rotation by a day or two. DOD also stated that the Forces Command



                      Page 30                                       GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
B-283334




commander has recently addressed this issue by requiring that units in the
future pass mandatory training gates prior to a CTC rotation. Our report
discusses this change but notes that, problems with unit training are likely
to persist because the Army has not factored personnel shortages,
turnover, and high operating tempo into this initiative.

With respect to our recommendation that the training centers provide the
most realistic and challenging training conditions possible, incorporating
the full spectrum of threats and enemy capabilities, DOD stated it has
already started a comprehensive review of the opposing force and
battlefield dynamics at the centers. According to DOD, the results of this
review, which are expected in the fall of 1999 will form the basis for
developing future CTC training scenarios that train units to counter the full
spectrum of threats.

With regard to our recommendation to develop and implement a
comprehensive data requirements and collection plan for the centers to
provide the Army with data to improve training and doctrine, DOD stated it
will, as we suggested, use the CTC Data Master Plan developed by the Army
Combined Arms Center in 1995 as a basis for implementing such a system.
DOD also noted implementation of a more effective data collection and
analysis system for the centers is essential to the Army’s renewed emphasis
on identifying training deficiency trends and developing corrective actions.


As agreed with your office, unless you publicly announce the contents of
this report earlier, we will not distribute it until 30 days from the date of
this letter. At that time, we will send copies of this report to interested
congressional committees. We are also sending copies of this report to the
Honorable William S. Cohen, Secretary of Defense and the Honorable Louis
Caldera, Secretary of the Army. Copies will also be made available to
others upon request.




Page 31                                     GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
B-283334




Key contacts and contributors on this assignment are listed in appendix V.




Mark E. Gebicke
Director, National Security
 Preparedness Issues




Page 32                                    GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
                                       Letter




Page 33   GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
Contents



Letter                                                                                             1


Appendix I                                                                                        36
Factors Adversely
Affecting Home Station
Training as Reported
by Units on Our Survey

Appendix II                                                                                       37
Results of Our Survey
on Army Combat
Training Centers

Appendix III                                                                                      39
Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology

Appendix IV                                                                                       42
Comments From the
Department of Defense

Appendix V                                                                                        45
GAO Contacts and
Staff
Acknowledgments

Tables                   Table 1: Comparison of Training Features at the Army’s Combat
                           Training Centers                                                       17




                         Page 34                                  GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
          Contents




          Table 2: Key Leaders Lost Within 90 Days in Units That Trained at the
            Combat Training Centers (fiscal year 1998)                                 23
          Table 3: Examples of Recurring Problems Demonstrated by
            Units at the NTC Since 1994                                                26
          Table 4: Aspects of Training That Commanders Believe Need to Be
            Improved                                                                   27
          Table I.1: Battalion-level Training                                          36
          Table I.2: Company/Platoon-level Training                                    36


Figures   Figure 1:   Desert Environment at the National Training Center                5
          Figure 2:   Wooded Terrain at the Combat Maneuver Training Center             6
          Figure 3:   Mock Civilian Village at the Joint Readiness Training Center      7
          Figure 4:   Opposing Force Vehicle and Soldier at the National Training
            Center                                                                      8




          Abbreviations

          CAC             Combined Arms Center
          CALL            Center for Army Lessons Learned
          CMTC            Combat Manuever Training Center
          CTC             Combat Training Center
          FMC             fully mission capable
          JRTC            Joint Readiness Training Center
          NTC             National Training Center
          OPFOR           Opposing Force
          OPTEMPO         Operating Tempo
          OOTW            operations other than war
          SORTS           Status of Resources and Training System
          TRADOC          Training and Doctrine Command
          T-RAP           TRADOC Remedial Action Program



          Page 35                                      GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
Appendix I

Factors Adversely Affecting Home Station
Training as Reported by Units on Our Survey                                                                         Appenx
                                                                                                                         Idi




               Table I.1: Battalion-level Training

                                                                                        Number of respondents
               Personnel shortages                                                                            55
               Personnel turnover                                                                             49
               Overall operating tempo                                                                        45
               Training ranges and maneuver space                                                             32
               Special duties and personnel taskings                                                          29
               Training money                                                                                 26
               Other                                                                                          14
               Equipment condition                                                                              6
               Peacekeeping operations                                                                          4
               Equipment shortages                                                                              2




               Table I.2: Company/Platoon-level Training

                                                                                        Number of respondents
               Personnel shortages                                                                            61
               Personnel turnover                                                                             54
               Overall operating tempo                                                                        48
               Special duties and personnel taskings                                                          30
               Training ranges and maneuver space                                                             26
               Training money                                                                                 14
               Other                                                                                          11
               Equipment condition                                                                              7
               Peacekeeping operations                                                                          5
               Equipment shortages                                                                              4
               Notes: Based on responses from 96 battalions that trained at an Army Combat Training Center during
               fiscal year 1998.
               Respondents identified multiple factors in their responses.




               Page 36                                                       GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
Appendix II

Results of Our Survey on Army Combat
Training Centers                                                                                                                                    Appe
                                                                                                                                                       nIx
                                                                                                                                                         Idi




                                               In relation to your unit’s wartime mission and the expected conditions and
                                               threat, how useful or relevant were the exercises at the combat training
                                               center (CTC) in each of the following areas?



                                                                           Somewhat             Marginally
                                                     Very useful              useful               useful            Not useful    No response
                                                                                    Number of respondents
Battalion-level proficiency in general                          80                   15                      1                0                 0
Company-level proficiency in general                            81                   15                       0               0                 0
METL proficiency for:
- Combat arms units                                             65                    7                       5               3                16
- Combat support units                                          54                   17                       3               4                18
- Combat service support units                                  63                   23                       4               1                 5
Individual proficiency for:
- Combat arms soldiers                                          60                   14                       4               3                15
- Support soldiers                                              62                   14                       2               3                15
- Service support soldiers                                      76                   17                       2               0                 1
Unit deployment procedures                                      55                   31                       9               1                 0
Supply/maintenance procedures                                   56                   33                       5               1                 1
Sustainment operation                                           65                   28                       2               1                 0
Medical treatment and evacuation                                60                   27                       9               0                 0
Personnel replacement                                           27                   37                      21              11                 0
Military operations in urban terrain                            19                   14                      22              35                 6
The handling of civilians on the battlefield                    42                   27                      17              10                 0
Responding to terrorist activities                              22                   26                      26              19                 3
Responding to chemical attack                                   39                   38                      11               6                 2
Coordinating joint operations                                     9                  25                      22              33                 7
                                               Notes: Based on responses from 96 battalions that trained at an Army Combat Training Center during
                                               fiscal year 1998.
                                               Respondents identified multiple factors in their responses.




                                               Page 37                                                       GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
                                               Appendix II
                                               Results of Our Survey on Army Combat
                                               Training Centers




                                               In relation to your unit’s wartime mission, how would you describe the
                                               following aspects of CTC training in relation to improving the ability of
                                               your units and overall readiness?



                                                                      Somewhat        Marginally
                                                    Very useful          useful          useful       Not useful    No response
                                                                             Number of respondents
Deployment from home station to the CTC                      50               34              10               1                1
Equipment draw procedures at the CTC                         20               23              33              13                7
Force-on-force exercises                                     75               18               1               1                1
Live fire exercises                                          60               16               9               3
After action reviews                                         61               25               9               1                0
CTC take-home materials for use at home                      31               34              23               7                1
station
Follow-on training conducted since return to                 36               37              20               3                0
home station

                                               Considering the personnel turnover in your unit and training opportunities
                                               since the CTC rotation, how useful were the exercises in relation to
                                               determining training needs and assessing unit readiness at each of the
                                               following time intervals?



                                                                      Somewhat        Marginally
                                                    Very useful          useful          useful       Not useful    No response
                                                                             Number of respondents
Immediately upon return to home station                      59               23               8               6                0
One month after return to home station                       43               34             13                5                1
Two months after return to home station                      34               37             19                4                2
Three months after return to home station                    26               40             22                6                2
Now                                                          25               30              29              11                1




                                               Page 38                                        GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
Appendix III

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                                            AppeInx
                                                                                                    Idi




               The objectives of our review were to determine (1) whether units training
               at the Army Combat Training Centers are adequately prepared for the
               exercises; (2) whether training exercises are realistic in terms of expected
               battlefield conditions; (3) whether pre-positioned equipment adequately
               supports the training mission; (4) how units use lessons learned at the
               centers; and (5) how the Army uses the results of the exercises to help
               revise training and improve the Army’s training doctrine. Our review
               focused on active component Army units.

               An important tool for our review was a questionnaire sent to each
               commander of all 123 battalions that trained at one of the three Army
               Combat Training Centers in fiscal year 1998. We received complete
               responses from 104 (85 percent) of the units. Eight of these responses
               were unusable because the respondents were not with the unit when it
               trained at the center in 1998. We tabulated results from the remaining 96
               valid responses for report purposes. The valid responses represent 40 units
               that trained at the National Training Center (NTC), 41 that trained at the
               Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC), and 15 that trained at the Combat
               Manuever Training Center (CMTC).

               We also consulted with staff from the Army Inspector General’s Office
               regarding their study of the Army’s Combat Training Centers.

               To determine whether units training at the centers are adequately prepared
               for the exercises, we visited all three Army combat training centers. At the
               centers, we interviewed key center officials from the command operations
               group, the opposing force commanders, and center observer/controllers.
               At each of the centers, we also spoke with and obtained information from
               unit commanders and personnel who were participating in exercises at
               each of the centers about their preparations for their rotation to a training
               center. We also visited the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort
               Stewart, Georgia, to obtain information from the command staff of five
               battalions that used the National Training Center in fiscal year 1998. Lastly,
               through the use of our questionnaire, we obtained information from 96
               battalions regarding their experiences in preparing for a CTC rotation. We
               also obtained personnel information regarding the Army’s on-board
               strength and operating tempo from various sources, including the
               Department of Defense’s (DOD) quarterly readiness report. To determine
               whether training exercises are realistic in terms of expected battlefield
               conditions, we had discussions with the command operations group,
               opposing force commanders, and observer/controllers at each of the
               centers, and we observed unit training exercises at the combat training



               Page 39                                      GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
Appendix III
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




centers. At each center the Army provided an experienced escort officer to
ensure our understanding of mission objectives and actions taken by the
training unit in response to the opposing force threat. We also visited the
Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) at Fort Monroe,
Virginia, to determine the basis for the threats portrayed at the combat
training centers; we interviewed responsible officials at TRADOC’s
Intelligence Directorate and reviewed appropriate documentation. We
used data from our survey to obtain information from units that had trained
at the centers about the scenarios and battlefield conditions portrayed at
the centers. We also reviewed pertinent documentation from the Army’s
Forces Command.

To determine whether pre-positioned equipment adequately supports the
training mission we reviewed pertinent documentation from the NTC and
JRTC, observed equipment being issued, discussed equipment maintenance
and age problems with appropriate officials at the training centers,
compared equipment on-hand at the National Training Center with Army
inventory records to determine the age of equipment at the center, and
solicited information from unit commanders using our questionnaire. We
also worked closely with officials from the Army’s Inspector General’s
Office who reviewed equipment issues at the centers during the same time
frame as our study.

To determine how units use lessons learned from the centers we reviewed
after action reports to determine their organization and the specificity of
their comments and recommendations, we attended after action reviews at
the centers, and we solicited information from battalion commanders who
completed our questionnaire. We also compared (1) personnel turnover in
these units as well as their training to correct problems identified at the
centers during the 3 months following CTC training and (2) the readiness
reported by these unit commanders under the Status of Resources and
Training System for the same 3-month period. We made this analysis to
determine whether these factors were used to report readiness.

To determine how the Army uses results of training exercises to help revise
training and improve doctrine, we performed work at Department of the
Army Headquarters, Army Forces Command Headquarters, Army Training
and Doctrine Command Headquarters, and Seventh Army Training
Command Headquarters. At these locations, we interviewed responsible
personnel and obtained existing Army regulations concerning Army
assessment requirements and procedures. We also visited the Army’s
Combat Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. There we met with



Page 40                                    GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
Appendix III
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




responsible officials at the Center for Army Lessons Learned and obtained
appropriate documentation.

We conducted our review from September 1998 to July 1999 in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards.




Page 41                                   GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
Appendix IV

Comments From the Department of Defense                        Appenx
                                                                    IV
                                                                     di




              Page 42        GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
Appendix IV
Comments From the Department of Defense




Page 43                                   GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
Appendix IV
Comments From the Department of Defense




Page 44                                   GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
Appendix V

GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments                                                            Appe
                                                                                                     nx
                                                                                                      Vdi




GAO Contacts        Carol R. Schuster (202) 512-5140
                    William M. Solis (202) 512-5140



Acknowledgments     In addition to the contact named above, Ray S. Carroll Jr., Lester L. Ward,
                    and Paul A. Gvoth Jr., made key contributions to this report.




(703250)     Lte
               rt   Page 45                                     GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
Appendix V
GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments




Page 46                                  GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness
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Contents




Figure 1:   Desert Environment at the National Training Center             5
Figure 2:   Wooded Terrain at the Combat Maneuver Training Center          6
Figure 3:   Mock Civilian Village at the Joint Readiness Training Center   7
Figure 4:   Opposing Force Vehicle and Soldier at the National Training
  Center                                                                   8




Page 50                                                          GAO/XXXX ???
Contents




Page 51    GAO/XXXX ???
Contents




Table 1: Comparison of Training Features at the Army’s Combat
  Training Centers                                                      17
Table 2: Key Leaders Lost Within 90 Days in Units That Trained at the
  Combat Training Centers (fiscal year 1998)                            23
Table 3: Examples of Recurring Problems Demonstrated by
  Units at the NTC Since 1994                                           26
Table 4: Aspects of Training That Commanders Believe Need to Be
  Improved                                                              27
Table I.1: Battalion-level Training                                     36
Table I.2: Company/Platoon-level Training                               36




Page 52                                                       GAO/XXXX ???
Contents




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