Combat Air Power: Joint Mission Assessments Could Enhance Investment Decisions

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-03-05.

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

                          United States General Accounting Office

GAO                       Testimony
                          Before the Subcommittee on Airland Forces, Committee
                          on Armed Services, United States Senate

For Release on Delivery
Expected at
10:00 a.m., EST
                          COMBAT AIR POWER
March 5, 1997

                          Joint Mission Assessments
                          Could Enhance Investment
                          Statement of Richard Davis, Director, National Security
                          Analysis, National Security and International Affairs

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

I am pleased to be here today to discuss the combat air power capabilities
of the United States. There has been considerable discussion in recent
months about the Department of Defense’s (DOD) aircraft modernization
programs. Much of the discussion has focused on whether DOD will be able
to “afford” the large number of new combat aircraft it currently plans to
buy. Today, I would like to focus more on joint warfighting requirements,
the aggregate capabilities of U.S. combat air power forces to meet those
requirements, and DOD efforts to place greater emphasis on joint
considerations in program and budget decisions.

My testimony is based on a comprehensive report of the major issues
related to U.S. combat air power.1 This report synthesized the findings
from our reviews of six key air power mission areas2 and other recent
reviews of individual weapon systems. The overall objective of our work
was to determine whether sufficient information is being developed from a
joint perspective to help the Secretary of Defense decide whether new air
power investments should be made, whether programmed investments
should continue to be funded, and what priority should be given to
competing programs. To provide context for this assessment, we
examined major changes in U.S. air power capabilities since the Persian
Gulf War in relation to those of potential adversaries.

Today, I would like to make three points based on our work:

1. The United States possesses a larger inventory of modern
high-performance fighter and attack aircraft than any other country. The
capabilities of these aircraft continue to be enhanced through key
improvements in the aircraft, the weapons they use, and the targeting
information they are provided. Conversely, the air defense forces of
potential adversaries have not been substantially improved and, for the
foreseeable future, are not likely to pose a serious threat to U.S. air
power’s successful execution of its missions.

2. Long-range bombers and missiles and attack helicopters are
increasingly supplementing fighter and attack aircraft in providing the
capability to attack ground targets. The result is an extensive inventory of

 Combat Air Power: Joint Mission Assessments Needed Before Making Program and Budget Decisions
(GAO/NSIAD-96-177, Sept. 1996).
 These include interdiction, air superiority, close support, air refueling, suppression of enemy air
defenses, and surveillance and reconnaissance.

Page 1                                                                           GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
                      capabilities to accomplish many of the same missions. Yet, the services are
                      modifying current systems and developing new systems at substantial
                      costs, even though they have not compared aggregate capabilities with
                      joint mission needs.

                      3. Comprehensive assessments of requirements and capabilities from a
                      joint mission perspective would aid the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
                      Staff to carry out his responsibilities as the senior military advisor to the
                      Secretary of Defense on the requirements, programs, and budgets of the
                      military services. While progress has been made in achieving a stronger
                      joint orientation in DOD, ongoing cross-service mission studies should
                      allow DOD to identify unnecessary duplications in capabilities and make
                      difficult program tradeoff decisions so defense resources can be used
                      more efficiently.

                      Despite downsizing, U.S. forces remain highly capable. While DOD has
Although Smaller,     reduced its number of combat aircraft, it has retired older aircraft while
Current U.S. Air      adding new aircraft and enhancing the capabilities of existing aircraft.
Power Forces Remain   These actions have yielded a force that, in many areas, is more capable
                      than the larger Cold War force. DOD’s total inventory of combat aircraft has
Highly Capable        declined from about 8,200 in 1991 to about 5,900 in 1996, as shown in the
                      following chart. The quantities shown include aircraft designated for
                      operational missions as well as aircraft set aside for testing and training.

                      Page 2                                                       GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
GAO        Changes in Inventory of Attack and Fighter
           Aircraft, Attack Helicopters and Bombers

                                                                                      Total Aircraft
                                                                                      1991 8,206
                                                                                      1996 5,891

   6,000     2,314

   4,000                                                                                           1,552


      1991            1992                 1993                  1994                 1995                1996

               Army          Navy and Marine Corps                      Air Force

                             Source: Departments of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.

                             Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps fixed-wing fighter and attack aircraft
                             and Air Force bombers have been reduced the most—from about 6,400 in
                             1991 to about 4,100 in 1996. The services have achieved these reductions
                             primarily by retiring older aircraft that have been costly to operate and
                             maintain. At the same time, they have added many newer model
                             aircraft—about 70 F-15E strike fighters, about 250 F-16 multimission

                             Page 3                                                                    GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
fighters, and about 200 F/A-18 fighter and attack aircraft. These assets
have bolstered U.S. combat air capabilities.

The total number of attack helicopters has only declined by 79. Although
600 older AH-1 Cobras were retired between 1991 and 1996, both the Army
and the Marine Corps have added newer more capable helicopters. These
include about 150 Apache attack helicopters and 300 OH-58D Kiowa
Warrior armed reconnaissance helicopters in the Army and about 70
Cobras in the Marine Corps.

Although DOD now has fewer aircraft, many of the aircraft being retained
have been qualitatively improved. For example, DOD has improved the
navigation, night fighting, target acquisition, and self-protection
capabilities of many aircraft and has made more aircraft capable of
delivering advanced munitions. These capabilities contributed significantly
to the effectiveness of tactical aircraft in the Gulf War. DOD is also
substantially increasing its inventory of long-range missiles and
precision-guided munitions (PGM). It is presumed that the growth in PGMs
could reduce the number of flights and aircraft needed to destroy
designated targets. The following chart shows the added capabilities in
these areas since 1991.

Page 4                                                     GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
    GAO          Increases in Key Air Power Capabilities
                 Since 1991

     Long-range missiles                                                                                  2,662

          Night-fighting                        961


          PGM-capable                   707

                           0   500          1,000        1,500       2,000                      2,500             3,000
                                          Number of systems added since 1991

                               Note: Long-range missiles include the Tomahawk cruise missile and the Army Tactical Missile
                               System. Night-fighting aircraft includes those designed to permit use of night-vision goggles
                               and/or those equipped with infrared detection devices. PGM capability refers to the ability of
                               aircraft to autonomously employ PGMs using laser designators.

                               Source: Departments of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.

                               Potential regional adversaries currently possess defensive and offensive
Threats to U.S. Air            weapons that are considered technologically inferior to U.S. forces.
Power Are Limited

                               Page 5                                                                       GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
Improvements in these capabilities are dependent on the acquisition of
weapons and technology from outside sources.

The current air defense capabilities of potential adversaries have
limitations. Regarding aircraft, these nations have only small quantities of
modern fighters for air defense. The bulk of their air forces are older and
less capable, and their fleets are not expected to be bolstered by many
modern aircraft. Similarly, for their surface-to-air defense forces, these
nations tend to rely on older systems for high-altitude long-range defense
and to use the more modern and effective systems, when available, at low
altitudes and short ranges. The most prevalent threats are assessed to be
overcome by U.S. aircraft with the use of tactics and countermeasures.
Furthermore, the location of the most threatening air defense assets tends
to be known.

For offensive operations, like defense forces, the bulk of potential
adversaries’ aviation forces, which may comprise significant numbers, are
older and less capable aircraft. The same assessment applies to long-range
missile capabilities. Some potential adversaries possess significant
quantities of ballistic missiles, but they tend to be of low technology and of
limited military use. The potential land-attack cruise missile capabilities of
these nations are low and are not expected to increase in sophistication
until the middle of the next decade, if at all. Though the threat to military
forces from conventionally armed missiles is low, the possibility that such
weapons could be used for political purposes—and possibly armed with
nuclear, biological, or chemical warheads—may affect the employment of
U.S. forces.

Air defense is a high priority of potential adversaries, and it is believed
most potential adversaries are trying to improve their effectiveness and
survivability by upgrading existing systems, purchasing more modern
weapons, and using camouflage and decoys. These improvements, if
achieved, could delay U.S. combat air power from achieving air superiority
quickly and cause higher U.S. and allied casualties. These nations would
also like to improve their aviation and ballistic and cruise missile

Several factors are likely to inhibit these nations from improving their
capabilities quickly. First, they lack the indigenous capability to develop
and produce the advanced systems that would permit them to significantly
enhance their capabilities. Therefore, advances will likely be confined to
upgrades of existing equipment and the possible acquisition of advanced

Page 6                                                     GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
systems from outside sources. Second, worldwide arms transfers have
fallen significantly in recent years and are not expected to reach former
levels any time soon. The following chart illustrates both the decline in the
international arms market between 1987 and 1995 and the dominance of
Western suppliers.

Page 7                                                     GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
GAO        Trend in the Worldwide Transfers of
           Conventional Arms, 1987-1995





      1987    1988   1989        1990          1991          1992         1993          1994          1995

                            U.S. and Allies             Russia and China                Rest of World

                      Source: World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, 1996, (preliminary data) Arms Control
                      and Disarmament Agency.

                      Third, the United States and its allies are cooperating to limit conventional
                      arms transfers to certain nations. For example, the United Nations
                      imposed sanctions on several nations in the 1990s. These sanctions
                      prohibited the transfer of weapons or commercial technology that could

                      Page 8                                                                     GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
                         be used for military purposes to these nations. No measurable arms
                         transfers were made to these nations after the sanctions were imposed.

                         Fourth, the high technology weapons that could seriously threaten U.S. air
                         power are expensive, no matter what the source. For example, an
                         advanced air defense system like the Patriot PAC-3 costs over $100 million
                         for each battery. Given the state of the economies of potential adversaries,
                         it would be difficult for them to purchase many high-cost systems.

                         To summarize, available information suggests that no potential adversary
                         possesses sufficient capabilities to prevent U.S. forces from achieving
                         their objectives in a military engagement. This was perhaps best captured
                         recently by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he said: “the
                         delta between us and anyone who could possibly wish us ill today is
                         greater than it certainly has ever been in my lifetime.” This advantage is
                         expected to carry into the next century, according to the Congressional
                         Budget Office (CBO). In a January 1997 report,3 CBO, using Office of Naval
                         Intelligence data, estimated that in 2005, the United States would have
                         about twice as many of the latest generation fighters as Russia, and about
                         15 times as many as China, North Korea, Iran, and Iraq combined. Efforts
                         by potential adversaries to narrow this delta will likely continue to be
                         inhibited by declines in the post-Cold War arms market, national and
                         international efforts to limit the proliferation of conventional arms, and
                         the high cost of advanced weapons.

                         During the Cold War, the military services invested hundreds of billions of
Extensive Capabilities   dollars to develop largely autonomous combat air power capabilities,
Exist Among U.S.         primarily to prepare for a global war with the Soviet Union. The Air Force
Forces to Accomplish     acquired bombers to deliver massive nuclear strikes against the Soviets
                         and fighter and attack aircraft for conventional and theater-nuclear
the Same Missions        missions in the major land theaters, principally Europe. The Navy built an
                         extensive carrier-based aviation force focused on controlling the seas and
                         projecting power into the maritime flanks of the Soviet Union. The Army
                         developed attack helicopters to provide air support to its ground troops.
                         The Marine Corps acquired fighter and attack aircraft and attack
                         helicopters to support its ground forces in their areas of operation. The
                         United States ended up with four essentially autonomous air forces with
                         many similar capabilities, but each largely operated within its own
                         warfighting domains.

                          A CBO Study, A Look at Tomorrow’s Tactical Air Forces, January 1997.

                         Page 9                                                                  GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
Today, there is no longer a clear division of labor among aviation forces
based on where they operate or what functions they carry out. The air
power components of the four services are now focused on joint
conventional operations in regional conflicts with many of the assets
having the same missions. Most of the likely theaters of operation are
small enough that all types of aircraft can reach most targets. And while
the number of combat aircraft has been reduced, the reductions have been
largely offset by an expansion in the types of assets and capabilities
available to the combatant commanders.

The overlapping air power capabilities of the current force structure do
provide combatant commanders with operational flexibility to respond to
any circumstance. The question is whether maintaining the current levels
of duplication, in the post-Cold War era, is necessary and is the most
efficient use of resources. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said
recently that, in his judgment, unnecessary duplications exist. From our
reviews of the interdiction, air-to-air combat, and close support of ground
forces mission areas, it is evident that U.S. capabilities are overlapping and
substantial. Planned investments in new weapons may, in some cases, be
adding little needed military capability at a very high cost.

The total inventory of assets that can be used to interdict enemy ground
targets illustrates the condition that exist. As shown by table 1, each of the
services have extensive inventories of weapons that can be used to attack
ground targets.

Page 10                                                     GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
Table 1: DOD’s Multiple Assets to
Interdict Enemy Ground Targets      Service                   Category                 Asset                     1996 Inventory
                                    Air Force                 Fixed-wing aircraft      F-15E                               203
                                                                                       F-16                               1,450
                                                                                       F-117                                54
                                                                                       A/OA-10                             369
                                                                                       B-1B                                 95
                                                                                       B-2                                  17
                                                                                       B-52                                 66
                                    Navy and                  Fixed-wing aircraft      A-6E                                 63
                                    Marine Corps
                                                                                       AV-8B                               184
                                                                                       F-14A/D                             323
                                                                                       F/A-18                              806
                                                              Helicopters              Cobra                               176
                                                              Missiles                 Tomahawk                           2,339
                                    Army                      Helicopters              Apache                              798
                                                                                       Cobra/Kiowa Warrior                 758
                                                              Missiles                 Army Tactical                      1,456
                                                                                       Missile System
                                    Source: Departments of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.

                                    Based on our analysis of DOD’s targeting data, the services collectively
                                    have at least 10 ways to hit 65 percent of the thousands of expected
                                    ground targets in two major regional conflicts. In addition, interdiction
                                    assets can provide 140 to 160 percent coverage for many types of targets.
                                    Despite this level of capability, the services are modifying current
                                    platforms and developing new systems that will provide new and
                                    enhanced interdiction capabilities over the next 15 to 20 years at a total
                                    estimated cost of over $200 billion. This figure excludes the Joint Strike
                                    Fighter program, which will also provide interdiction capabilities.

                                    In the area of air-to-air combat—a critical mission to achieve and retain air
                                    superiority—over 600 combat-designated F-14 and F-15 fighter aircraft are
                                    initially dedicated to this mission. This number far exceeds the quantity
                                    and quality of fighter aircraft potential adversaries are projected to have.
                                    In addition, about 1,900 other combat-designated multirole fighter aircraft,
                                    such as F-16s and F/A-18C/Ds, while not dedicated to air superiority
                                    missions, are very capable air superiority fighters. These aircraft could
                                    assist F-14s and F-15s to defeat enemy fighters before being used for other

                                    Page 11                                                                  GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
                      missions such as interdiction and close support. The capabilities of these
                      fighter aircraft have also been enhanced extensively with the procurement
                      of advanced weapons—particularly over 7,400 advanced medium range
                      air-to-air missiles—and through continuing improvements to these
                      weapons and to support platforms, such as airborne warning and control
                      system aircraft, that help the fighters locate, identify, track, and attack
                      enemy aircraft at great distances. Despite these unparalleled capabilities,
                      the Air Force plans to begin to replace its F-15s with 438 F-22 fighters in
                      2004, at an estimated average unit procurement cost of about $111 million,
                      and to design and develop the multirole Joint Strike Fighter, which will
                      have air-to-air combat capabilities.

                      Through key legislation, Congress has sought to better integrate the
Decisions on Air      capabilities of the military forces, provide for improved military advice to
Power Programs and    the Secretary of Defense apart from that provided by the military services,
Priorities Require    and strengthen the joint orientation of DOD. Although DOD has improved its
                      joint orientation in many respects, the services continue to heavily
Comprehensive Joint   influence defense decisions, particularly those related to investments in
Assessments           weapons. Stronger military advice from a joint perspective is needed if the
                      Secretary is to objectively weigh the merits not only of combat air power
                      but also of other defense capabilities and programs.

                      The Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986
                      made the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, responsible for providing
                      military advice from a joint perspective to the Secretary of Defense. As
                      senior military advisor to the Secretary, the Chairman is expected to
                      advise the Secretary on the requirements, programs, and budgets of the
                      military services. The act directs the Chairman to (1) provide advice on the
                      priorities of requirements identified by the regional commanders,
                      (2) determine the extent to which service program recommendations and
                      budget proposals conform with the regional commanders’ priorities,
                      (3) submit alternative program recommendations and budget proposals
                      within projected resource levels to achieve greater conformance with
                      these priorities, and (4) assess the military requirements for defense
                      acquisition programs. The National Defense Authorization Acts for Fiscal
                      Years 1993 and 1996 further directed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
                      Staff to examine how DOD might eliminate or reduce duplicative
                      capabilities and authorized him, through the Joint Requirements Oversight
                      Council (JROC), to assess military needs from a joint warfighting

                      Page 12                                                   GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
Although progress is being made, we believe that the Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff needs to do more to effectively carry out these
responsibilities. For example, DOD established a joint warfighting
capabilities assessment (JWCA) process, under which assessment teams are
examining issues related to 10 selected mission areas. Established in 1994
to support the JROC, these assessment teams have identified ways to
improve joint warfighting and have proposed other operational
improvements. However, the teams so far have had little impact in
reducing unneeded overlaps and duplication in existing capabilities. Also,
they have not been directed to delve into more controversial issues related
to U.S. air power, such as assessing alternative ways to modernize U.S. air
power capabilities.

Additionally, we found little evidence that the JROC, with the support of the
JWCA process, has developed specific proposals to transfer resources from
one service to another to meet higher priority needs. A review of Future
Years Defense Program data also indicated no notable shifts in acquisition
funding among the services between fiscal year 1994 and 2001. A key goal
in expanding the JROC’s role in 1994 was, according to the Office of the
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to enhance force capability by
assisting the Chairman in proposing cross-service transfers of resources.
Additionally, Joint Staff officials told us that funding has not been shifted
from one program to another as a result of the JWCA team assessments to
reflect higher priorities from a joint perspective.

In assessing the impact of the JROC and the JWCA process on combat air
power, we examined two important ultimate outputs of the process—the
Chairman’s Program Assessment and Program Recommendations to the
Secretary of Defense. Under its broadened mandate, the JROC has been
made a focal point for addressing joint warfighting needs. It is expected to
support the Chairman in advising the Secretary by making specific
programmatic recommendations that will, among other things, lead to
increased joint warfighting capability and reduce unnecessary
redundancies and marginally effective systems, within existing budget
levels. However, in reviewing the Chairman’s 1994 and 1995 program
assessments and 1995 program recommendations, we found little to
suggest that this type of advice is being provided. The documents did not
offer specific substantive proposals to reduce or eliminate duplication
among existing service systems or otherwise aid in addressing the problem
of funding recapitalization. In fact, the Chairman’s 1995 Program
Assessment indicated a reluctance on the Chairman’s part, at least at that
point, to propose changes in service programs and budgets. While the

Page 13                                                    GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
                          Chairman expressed serious concerns in his assessment about the need
                          for and cost of recapitalizing warfighting capabilities and said that the
                          power of joint operations allows for the identification of programs to be
                          canceled or reduced, his advice was to defer to the services to make such

                          DOD must overcome several obstacles that have inhibited JWCA teams and
DOD Must Overcome         others that try to assess joint mission requirements and the services’
Certain Obstacles to      aggregate capabilities to fulfill combat missions. Major impediments
Achieve a Stronger        include (1) a dearth of information on joint mission requirements and the
                          aggregate capabilities of the services to meet those requirements, (2) weak
Joint Orientation         analytical tools and databases to assist in-depth joint mission area
                          analyses, and (3) the services’ resistance to changes affecting their

Comprehensive Joint       DOD has done little analysis to establish joint mission area requirements for
Mission Area Analyses     specific combat air power missions or to plan the aggregate capabilities
Have Not Been Performed   needed by each of the services to meet those requirements. Studies that
                          may provide such information on several key air power missions have
                          been initiated but have not yet been completed. Without such analyses,
                          decisions on the need for new weapon systems, major modifications, and
                          added capabilities evolve from requirements generation and weapons
                          acquisition processes that encourage each service to maintain its own
                          view of how its own capabilities should be enhanced to meet warfighting

                          In its May 1995 report, the Commission on Roles and Missions of the
                          Armed Forces substantiated what our reviews of defense programs have
                          found, that “each Service is fully engaged in trying to deliver to the CINCs
                          (regional commanders) what the Service views as the best possible set of
                          its specific capabilities—without taking into account the similar
                          capabilities provided by the other Services.” The analyses used to generate
                          weapon system requirements for new acquisition programs are most often
                          narrowly focused. They do not fully consider whether the capabilities of
                          the other services to perform a given mission mitigate the need for a new
                          acquisition or major modification.

                          Significant limitations in study methodologies and the use of questionable
                          assumptions that can result in overstated requirements are apparent in
                          three DOD bomber requirements studies we examined. None of the studies

                          Page 14                                                    GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
                              assessed whether fighters or long-range missiles could accomplish the
                              non-nuclear mission more cost-effectively than bombers. One of the
                              studies, done by the Air Force and used by it to estimate and justify
                              bomber requirements, assumed that only bombers would be available to
                              strike time-critical targets during the first 5 days of a major regional
                              conflict. This assumption seems to conflict with DOD planning guidance,
                              which assumes that Air Force and Navy combat aircraft would arrive early
                              enough in theater to attack targets at the outset of a major regional

                              The services’ analyses of alternatives to meet mission needs can also be
                              limited. A 1995 study done at the request of the Chairman of the JROC
                              identified this as a problem. The study team found that analyses done to
                              support JROC deliberations frequently concentrate only on the capability of
                              the DOD component’s proposed system to fill stated gaps in warfighter
                              needs. Potential alternatives are given little consideration.

                              Thus, while DOD has decision support systems to assist senior officials in
                              making critical decisions, reviews like those done by the JROC and by the
                              staff of the Office of the Secretary of Defense are very dependent on the
                              services for analytical support. They do not have the benefit of
                              information on joint mission requirements and the aggregate capabilities
                              of the services to meet those requirements to aid them in their oversight
                              and review role. They are heavily dependent on the services to provide
                              much of the supporting analyses. Therefore, such oversight reviews can
                              provide little assurance that there is a valid mission need, that force
                              capabilities are being properly sized to meet requirements, and that the
                              more cost-effective alternative has been identified.

Better Analytical Tools and   DOD  officials acknowledge that current analytical tools, such as computer
Data Are Needed to            models and war games used in warfighting analyses, need to be improved
Improve Joint Assessments     if they are to be effectively used to analyze joint warfighting. They told us
                              these tools often do not accurately represent all aspects of a truly joint
                              force, frequently focus on either land or naval aspects, and often do not
                              consider the contribution of surveillance and reconnaissance and
                              command and control assets to the warfighter. Some models are grounded
                              in Cold War theory and must be augmented with other evaluations to
                              minimize their inherent deficiencies.

                              DODrepresentatives and analysts from the military operations research
                              community also observe that there are serious limitations in the data to

                              Page 15                                                    GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
                           support analyses of joint capabilities and requirements. Presently, anytime
                           DOD wants to study joint requirements, a database must be developed.
                           Concerns then arise over whether the databases developed and used are
                           consistent, valid, and accurate. Efforts have been made in the past to
                           collect joint data and develop appropriate models for analyzing joint
                           warfare. These efforts, however, fell short, as there was not a consistent,
                           compelling need across enough of the analytic community to do the job

                           A current major initiative aimed at improving analytical support is the
                           design and development of a new model—JWARS—that will simulate joint
                           warfare. JWARS will seek to overcome past shortcomings and will include
                           the contributions of surveillance and reconnaissance and command,
                           control, and communication assets to the warfighter. This initiative was
                           developed as part of DOD’s joint analytic model improvement program
                           because of the Secretary of Defense’s concern that current models used
                           for warfare analysis are no longer adequate to deal with the complex
                           issues confronting senior decisionmakers. Under this program, DOD will
                           upgrade and refine current warfighting models to keep them usable until a
                           new generation of models to address joint warfare issues can be
                           developed. The new models are intended to help decisionmakers assess
                           the value of various force structure mixes. As part of this broad initiative,
                           DOD also intends to develop a central database for use in mission area
                           studies and analyses.

Desire to Have Consensus   DOD  has reduced its force structure and terminated some weapon
Can Inhibit Needed         programs to reflect changes in the National Military Strategy and reduced
Changes                    defense budgets. But further attempts to cancel weapon programs and
                           reduce unnecessary overlaps and duplications among forces are likely to
                           generate considerable debate and resistance within DOD. Because such
                           initiatives can threaten service plans and budgets, the tendency has been
                           to avoid debates involving tradeoffs among the services’ systems. The
                           potential effects of program reductions or cancellations on careers, the
                           distribution of funds to localities, jobs, and the industrial base also serve
                           as disincentives for comprehensive assessments and dialogue on program

                           The Chairman’s 1995 Program Assessment indicates the difficulty the
                           Chairman has had in identifying programs and capabilities to cancel or
                           reduce. While the Chairman recognized that the increasing jointness of
                           military operations should permit additional program cancellations or

                           Page 16                                                     GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
             reductions, he noted that the Joint Chiefs—despite the added support of
             the JROC and the JWCA process—had been unable to define with sufficient
             detail what should not be funded. The Chairman recommended that the
             Secretary of Defense look to the military services to identify programs that
             can be slowed or terminated. He said for this to happen, however, the
             services would have to be provided incentives. The Chairman
             recommended that the Secretary return to the services any savings they
             identify for application toward priority recapitalization or readiness and
             personnel programs.

             Joint Staff officials indicated that the Chairman’s reluctance to propose
             changes to major service programs may be attributable to the need for the
             Chairman to be a team builder and not be at odds with the service chiefs
             over their modernization programs. Adoption of the Chairman’s proposal
             could lead the services to reduce or eliminate programs and otherwise
             more efficiently operate their agencies, including reducing infrastructure
             costs. However, it is difficult to appreciate how these unilateral decisions
             by the services will provide for the most efficient and effective use of
             defense resources.

             Air power plays a pivotal role in national military strategy. The United
Conclusion   States’ dominant air power capabilities provide combatant commanders
             the capability to seize and control the skies, to hold vital enemy
             capabilities at risk, and to help destroy the enemy’s ability to wage war. To
             maintain this dominance and ensure a combat-ready force in the future
             within likely defense budgets, the Secretary of Defense will need to make
             difficult decisions in at least two critical areas—how best to reduce
             unneeded duplication and overlap in existing capabilities and how to
             modernize the force in the most cost-effective manner. To aid the
             Secretary in making such decisions, DOD needs to conduct broader, more
             comprehensive joint assessments.

             To be of most value, such assessments should be done on a continuing
             basis and should, at a minimum, (1) assess total joint warfighting
             requirements in each mission area; (2) inventory aggregate service
             capabilities, including the full range of assets available to carry out each
             mission; (3) compare aggregate capabilities to joint requirements to
             identify shortages or excesses, considering existing and projected
             capabilities of potential adversaries and the adequacy of existing
             capabilities to meet joint requirements; (4) determine the most
             cost-effective means to satisfy any shortages; and (5) where excesses

             Page 17                                                     GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
exist, assess the relative merits of retiring alternative assets, reducing
procurement quantities, or canceling acquisition programs.

These assessments, while very demanding, should provide insights into
how best to scale back air power modernization plans, reduce duplicative
capabilities, and otherwise make more efficient use of defense resources.
An example of such an assessment is the ongoing deep attack weapons
mix study which was recommended by the 1995 Commission on Roles and
Missions. The objective of the first phase of the study is to identify the
appropriate mix of different munitions, focusing on tradeoffs between
standoff and direct attack weapons and the needed inventories of different
munitions. The second phase will focus on the potential that the growing
inventory and the increasing capabilities of weapons could allow some
consolidation of the ships, aircraft, and missiles that deliver the weapons.
The results of this study should aid the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff to advise the Secretary on the requirements, programs, and budgets
of the military services. The services could also draw upon the study’s
database to broaden their analyses of mission needs. Similar studies need
to be completed in other mission areas.

One concluding thought. Last month the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, in his 1997 posture statement, said

“With all of the talk about today’s dangerous world and the difficulties Americans have
faced, it is easy to overlook the fact that today the United States and its Allies are much
safer than they were in the dark days of the Cold War. This ’strategic pause,’ where the
United States has no adversaries who are global powers, is providing us with the time to
regroup, reflect on the challenges ahead, and prepare America’s forces for the next

To take full advantage of this opportunity—“strategic pause”—and make
the most efficient use of defense resources to prepare U.S. forces for the
next century, DOD needs to proceed with the type of comprehensive
assessments I have described. Such assessments will provide the type of
information required to make the hard tradeoff decisions that will be

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement. I would be happy to
respond to any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may

Page 18                                                                 GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
Page 19   GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
Selected GAO Reports Related to This

               Combat Air Power: Joint Assessment of Air Superiority Can Be Improved
               (GAO/NSIAD-97-77, Feb. 1997).

               Combat Air Power: Joint Mission Assessments Needed Before Making
               Program and Budget Decisions (GAO/NSIAD-96-177, Sept. 1996).

               U.S. Combat Air Power: Aging Refueling Aircraft Are Costly to Maintain
               and Operate (GAO/NSIAD-96-160, Aug. 1996).

               Navy Aviation: F/A-18E/F Will Provide Marginal Operational Improvement
               at High Cost (GAO/NSIAD-96-98, June 1996).

               Combat Air Power: Assessment of Joint Close Support Requirements and
               Capabilities Is Needed (GAO/NSIAD-96-45, June 1996).

               Combat Air Power: Reassessing Plans to Modernize Interdiction
               Capabilities Could Save Billions (GAO/NSIAD-96-72, May 1996).

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

               Combat Air Power: Funding Priority for Suppression of Enemy Air
               Defenses May Be Too Low (GAO/NSIAD-96-128, Apr. 1996).

               Navy Aviation: AV-8B Harrier Remanufacture Strategy Is Not the Most
               Cost-Effective Option (GAO/NSIAD-96-49, Feb. 1996).

               Aircraft Requirements: Air Force and Navy Need to Establish Realistic
               Criteria for Backup Aircraft (GAO/NSIAD-95-180, Sept. 1995).

               Weapons Acquisition: Precision Guided Munitions in Inventory,
               Production, and Development (GAO/NSIAD-95-95, June 1995).

               Tactical Aircraft: Concurrency in Development and Production of F-22
               Aircraft Should Be Reduced (GAO/NSIAD-95-59, Apr. 1995).

               Cruise Missiles: Proven Capability Should Affect Aircraft and Force
               Structure Requirements (GAO/NSIAD-95-116, Apr. 1995).

               Army Aviation: Modernization Strategy Needs to Be Reassessed
               (GAO/NSIAD-95-9, Nov. 1994).

               Page 20                                                  GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
           Selected GAO Reports Related to This

           Tactical Aircraft: F-15 Replacement Is Premature as Currently Planned
           (GAO/NSIAD-94-118, Mar. 1994).

           Strategic Bomber: Issues Relating to the B-1B’s Availability to Perform
           Conventional Missions (GAO/NSIAD-94-81, Jan. 1994).

(701110)   Page 21                                                   GAO/T-NSIAD-97-105
Ordering Information

The first copy of each GAO report and testimony is free.
Additional copies are $2 each. Orders should be sent to the
following address, accompanied by a check or money order
made out to the Superintendent of Documents, when
necessary. VISA and MasterCard credit cards are accepted, also.
Orders for 100 or more copies to be mailed to a single address
are discounted 25 percent.

Orders by mail:

U.S. General Accounting Office
P.O. Box 6015
Gaithersburg, MD 20884-6015

or visit:

Room 1100
700 4th St. NW (corner of 4th and G Sts. NW)
U.S. General Accounting Office
Washington, DC

Orders may also be placed by calling (202) 512-6000
or by using fax number (301) 258-4066, or TDD (301) 413-0006.

Each day, GAO issues a list of newly available reports and
testimony. To receive facsimile copies of the daily list or any
list from the past 30 days, please call (202) 512-6000 using a
touchtone phone. A recorded menu will provide information on
how to obtain these lists.

For information on how to access GAO reports on the INTERNET,
send an e-mail message with "info" in the body to:


or visit GAO’s World Wide Web Home Page at:


United States                       Bulk Rate
General Accounting Office      Postage & Fees Paid
Washington, D.C. 20548-0001           GAO
                                 Permit No. G100
Official Business
Penalty for Private Use $300

Address Correction Requested