Index

Army National Guard: Enhanced Brigade Readiness Improved but Personnel
and Workload Are Problems (Letter Report, 06/14/2000, GAO/NSIAD-00-114).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the readiness of the
Army National Guard's Enhanced Brigades, focusing on: (1) whether the
brigades are meeting training and personnel readiness goals; (2) the key
reasons for any continuing difficulties in meeting these goals; and (3)
whether the Army has an effective system for assessing brigade readiness
and the time required for the brigades to be ready for war.

GAO noted that: (1) the brigades continue to have difficulty meeting
training and personnel readiness goals; (2) only 3 of the 15 brigades
reported that their platoons met training goals for certain
mission-essential maneuver tasks and only 10 of the 24 mechanized
battalions met gunnery standards; (3) on a more positive note,
individual training has improved significantly; (4) since 1993-1994,
completion rates for job training for all soldiers, and required and
recommended leadership courses for officers and sergeants have improved
by between 10-15 percentage points; (5) the key reasons for the
brigades' continuing difficulties in meeting the readiness goals are:
(a) personnel shortages; and (b) too much to do in the time available;
(6) authorizations for full time support personnel, who help prepare
training exercises and operate the brigades between weekend drills, have
been cut from 90-100 percent in the early 1990s to 55-64 percent; (7)
officials told GAO that the brigades continue to have difficulty
recruiting and retaining enough personnel to meet staffing goals due to
the strong economy, less desire to join the military, high personnel
attrition, and other problems; (8) at the same time, war plans and
training guidance do little to focus or prioritize the broad and growing
range of missions the brigades must be ready to perform; (9)
consequently, the brigades find it difficult to narrow training to a
predictable and realistic set of skills for the time available; (10) the
Army does not have an effective system for assessing brigade readiness;
(11) the current system relies primarily on the subjective view of
commanders and does not require the use of objective criteria or
established training goals in reporting unit readiness; (12) as a
result, brigade estimates, that they would need 42 days or less of
training to be ready for war once called to active duty, are
unrealistically low; (13) experiences during the Gulf War and a 1996
study by the RAND Corporation indicate that 70-80 days would be needed
to prepare the brigades for deployment; (14) some brigade officials told
GAO that they feel pressured to report they can be ready with 42 or less
days of training to avoid low readiness ratings; (15) accurate
assessments of readiness are further confused by inconsistencies between
training guidance and actual war plans; (16) training guidance calls for
the brigades to be trained and ready to deploy 90 days after they are
called to active duty; and (17) however, war plans give some brigades
considerably more time to be trained and moved to the war zones.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-00-114
     TITLE:  Army National Guard: Enhanced Brigade Readiness Improved
	     but Personnel and Workload Are Problems
      DATE:  06/14/2000
   SUBJECT:  Military training
	     National Guard
	     Mobilization
	     Combat readiness
	     Evaluation criteria
	     Army reservists

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GAO/NSIAD-00-114

Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and Methodology

20

Appendix II: National Guard Enhanced Separate Brigades

22

Appendix III: Platoon Proficiency in Mission-Essential Tasks,
1998

23

Appendix IV: Battalion Proficiency in Tank and Bradley
Fighting Vehicle Gunnery, 1998

24

Appendix V: Individual and Leader Training Rates, 1998-99

26

Appendix VI: Brigade Staffing and Loss Rates, 1998-99

27

Appendix VII: Comments From the Department of Defense

28

Appendix VIII: GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments

32

Table 1: Summary of Platoon Tasks Rated as Trained, Needs
Practice, or Untrained in 1993 and 1998 7

Table 2: Brigade Rankings of Problems Undermining Readiness 11

Figure 1: Course Completion Rates for All Soldiers, Officers, and Sergeants,
1993-94 and 1998-99 9

National Security and
International Affairs Division

B-284807

June 14, 2000

The Honorable Christopher Shays
Chairman
The Honorable Rod Blagojevich
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans' Affairs
and International Relations
Committee on Government Reform
House of Representatives

Over the past 25 years, changing defense needs and budgetary pressures have
led to an increased reliance on Army National Guard and other reserve forces
in the national military strategy. These reserves provide combat forces as
well as a large percentage of the Army's requirements in support areas such
as civil affairs, public affairs, quartermaster, transportation, chemical,
ordnance, and engineering. Moreover, the Department of Defense projects an
even greater reliance on the reserves in the future to help ease the high
pace of operations of active forces. Reserve units such as the National
Guard's 15 Enhanced Separate Brigades, the Guard's highest priority combat
units, provide fighting forces at about
25-30 percent of the cost of active units due to lower personnel and other
operating costs. However, reserve units are not designed to deploy as
quickly as active Army units. They generally train only about 39 days each
year, including one weekend per month and one annual 2-week training
exercise. As a result, the Department of Defense expects they would receive
some additional training prior to deploying to a war zone if they are
mobilized by the President during wartime.

The Enhanced Brigades were introduced in 1993 to provide a flexible backup
to active Army units during wartime. The brigades receive specialized
training and higher priority than other National Guard units for personnel
and other resources during peacetime. This is to ensure that once called to
active duty they can be assembled, trained, and be ready to move to a war
zone within 90 days. Seven of the brigades provide light infantry foot
soldiers, and eight are mechanized, or equipped with tanks with heavy
weapons or other types of armored vehicles, such as Bradley fighting
vehicles. A brigade generally has between 3,000-5,000 soldiers and is
composed of 3-4 battalions. Battalions contain 3-4 companies, which in turn,
are composed of 3-4 platoons of about 16-44 soldiers each.

In 1995, we reported that the Enhanced Brigades were not able to meet
readiness goals under a new training strategy called "Bold Shift".1 This
strategy was adopted in 1991 after the Persian Gulf War, when the three
National Guard combat brigades that were called to active duty took longer
than predicted to train for their missions. While the decision created
controversy between the National Guard and active Army, the two brigades
that completed training were not deployed to the Persian Gulf. The new
strategy introduced many changes to the brigades' peacetime training, such
as refocusing and prioritizing training on mission-essential maneuver tasks
at platoon level (rather than at higher levels that require more complex
integration of skills). However, our 1995 report found that the brigades
were still unable to master their many training tasks and recruit and retain
enough personnel.

Because of the continuing importance of these brigades and concerns about
military readiness, you requested us to reexamine the Enhanced Brigades'
readiness. Army units report on their readiness based on assessments of
whether the unit has the personnel, equipment, and training needed to be
ready to deploy for their assigned mission quickly. Our review examined (1)
whether the brigades are meeting current training and personnel readiness
goals, (2) the key reasons for any continuing difficulties in meeting these
goals, and (3) whether the Army has an effective system for assessing
brigade readiness and the time required for the brigades to be ready for
war.

The brigades continue to have difficulty meeting training and personnel
readiness goals, despite improvement in some areas. Only 3 of the
15 brigades reported that their platoons met training goals for
mission-essential maneuver tasks such as attacking an enemy position or
defending against an enemy attack.2 In addition, only 10 (42 percent) of the
24 mechanized battalions met gunnery standards, which require annual firing
of live ammunition at stationary and moving targets. However, this was an
improvement over gunnery levels in 1993, when only 31 percent of the
battalions met the standards.3 Moreover, only one brigade was able to meet
personnel staffing goals in 1999. On a more positive note, individual
training has improved significantly. Since 1993-94, completion rates for job
training for all soldiers, and required and recommended leadership courses
for officers and sergeants have improved by between 10-15 percentage points.

According to officials, the key reasons for the brigades' continuing
difficulties in meeting the readiness goals are (1) personnel shortages and
(2) too much to do in the time available although many other problems also
influence readiness. Authorizations for full-time support personnel, who
help prepare training exercises and operate the brigades between weekend
drills, have been cut from 90-100 percent in the early 1990's to
55-64 percent. In addition, officials told us that the brigades continue to
have difficulty recruiting and retaining enough personnel to meet staffing
goals due to the strong economy, less desire to join the military, high
personnel attrition, and other problems. At the same time, war plans and
training guidance do little to focus or prioritize the broad and growing
range of missions the brigades must be ready to perform. Consequently, the
brigades find it difficult to narrow training to a predictable and realistic
set of skills for the time available.

The Army does not have an effective system for assessing brigade readiness.
The current system relies primarily on the subjective view of commanders and
does not require the use of objective criteria or established training goals
in reporting unit readiness. As a result, brigade estimates, that they would
need 42 days or less of training to be ready for war once called to active
duty, are unrealistically low. Experiences during the Gulf War and a 1996
study by the RAND Corporation4 indicate that
70-80 days would be needed to prepare the brigades for deployment. Some
brigade officials told us they feel pressured to report they can be ready
with 42 or less days of training to avoid low readiness ratings. Accurate
assessments of readiness are further confused by inconsistencies between
Army training guidance and actual war plans, as well as the readiness rating
criteria. Training guidance calls for the brigades to be trained and ready
to deploy 90 days after they are called to active duty. However, war plans
give some brigades considerably more time to be trained and moved to the war
zones.

We are making recommendations to help provide the Enhanced Brigades with
realistic and manageable training requirements and improve assessments of
the brigades' readiness for military missions.

Meeting Training and Personnel Goals

Platoon proficiency in mission-essential tasks in 1998-99 was similar to
that in 1993-94, while gunnery qualification and individual and leader
training rates improved by about 10 percentage points. Even with these
improvements, however, less than half of the 24 mechanized battalions met
gunnery standards, and 20-25 percent of leaders had not completed the
courses required or recommended for their grade level. In addition, only one
brigade met staffing goals.

Mission-Essential Tasks

Achieving platoon proficiency in mission-essential maneuver tasks, such as
executing an attack or a withdrawal, is a critical part of the brigade's
peacetime training strategy.5 Commanders are given the discretion to select
the tasks that will be included in peacetime training. Proficiency in these
tasks is the prerequisite for progressing to training at company and higher
levels. The Army's goal is to have all platoons rated as either "trained" or
"needs practice" in at least 70 percent of the mission-essential tasks. A
"trained" rating means that the unit is fully trained to perform the task. A
"needs practice" rating means that the unit can perform the task with some
shortcomings. The third rating, "untrained," means that the unit cannot
perform the task to Army standard. The 259 platoons we examined rated their
proficiency on an average of about 20 tasks each.

In 1998, only 3 of the 15 brigades reported that all their platoons met the
Army's goal for proficiency in platoon level mission-essential tasks (see
app. III). Five other brigades had 90 percent or more of their platoons meet
the goal. In 1993-94, the training goal was higher--all platoons were to
receive a "trained" rating in all mission-essential tasks. But, at the time
no brigade met the goal. A comparison of the 1993 and 1998 task ratings is
shown in table 1. Brigade officials at 12 of the 15 brigades told us that
proficiency levels for 1999 were similar to levels reported for 1998. Three
brigades did not respond to our request for updated data.

      Trained                              Untrained
 Year            Needs practice (percent)
      (percent)                            (percent)
 1993 14         61                        25
 1998 14         68                        19

Note: 1998 totals do not add due to rounding.

Source: Our analysis of brigade records.

In 1998, only 10 (42 percent) of the 24 mechanized battalions met gunnery
standards, which require annual firing of live ammunition at stationary and
moving targets (see app. IV). However, this was an improvement over gunnery
levels in 1993, when only 31 percent of the battalions met the standards. It
should also be noted that the standards in 1998 were higher than in 1993.6
Brigade officials did not identify any significant changes in proficiency in
1999.

As shown in figure 1, completion rates for job training for all soldiers,
and required and recommended leadership courses for officers and sergeants,
have improved since 1993-94. In 1998-99, all 15 brigades met the Army's goal
of having 85 percent of all soldiers trained in their military job.7 In
1993-94, less than one-half (43 percent) of the brigades met this goal.
Completion rates for officer and sergeants' leadership courses also
increased significantly, although no brigade met the goal of having all
officers and sergeants complete all required or recommended courses for
their grade level (see app.V). According to Army officials, the Army has
decided to lower the completion rate goal for sergeants from 100 percent to
85 percent of the required and recommended courses. This change will take
effect in fiscal year 2001.

Source: Brigade records.

Maintaining the appropriate number of trained personnel ready to deploy is
also a key element of readiness. The National Guard's goal generally calls
for at least 90 percent of the required personnel, and 85 percent of the
required number of trained personnel and leaders, to be available to deploy
to a war zone.8 However, only one brigade reported that they met this goal
as of September 1999 (see app. VI). The main difficulty for the brigades was
in maintaining the requisite number of overall personnel, and trained
personnel, available to deploy. In September 1999, the brigades were staffed
at an average of about 96 percent of required personnel. But, personnel
available to deploy averaged only about 82 percent, and the number of
trained personnel available to deploy averaged only about
76 percent. The availability of leaders was not a major problem, on average
over 89 percent were available to deploy. According to National Guard data,
the primary cause of non-deployability for the brigades is incomplete
training; but disciplinary, legal, medical, and other problems also
frequently prevent personnel from being ready to deploy. Historically, the
brigades have found it difficult to maintain the 85-90 percent level of
personnel deployability. According to readiness reports, from January 1990
to September 1999 only one brigade consistently maintained this level of
personnel deployability. Seven brigades did not meet this goal during this
period.

To help reach the Guard's personnel deployability goal, the brigades are
authorized to recruit about 110 percent of their required personnel.9 During
1998-99, they were able to staff at an average of about 97 percent (see
app. VI), up from 94 percent in 1993-94. During both time periods, only
about one-third of the brigades were able to recruit over 100 percent of
their required personnel.

Brigade officials identified a number of problems that hamper training
readiness. Many of these problems are interrelated, and many are long
standing. To focus on the key problems, we provided commanders in all
15 brigades with a listing of potential problems and asked them to revise
the list as necessary and rank the problems in order of their severity.
Twelve brigades responded. As shown in table 2, these brigades ranked
shortages of full-time support personnel and recruiting and retention as the
two problems having the most impact. The problem of too much to do in the
time available was also cited frequently as a major problem. This issue was
not specifically identified on our original listing of potential problems
provided to the brigades. However, brigade officials mentioned it so often
that it ranked third in importance. This problem is a longstanding one for
the brigades. Their potential missions are many and varied, and expanding.
However, little guidance is provided to help prioritize and focus their
training to what can reasonably be achieved in 39 days each year.

 Problem                                               Average points (0 to
                                                       8)
 Shortages of full-time support personnel              7.4
 Personnel recruiting and/or retention                 6.8
 Collective training (unit training at platoon level
 and above)                                            5.5
 Organizational changes                                4.9
 Individual training                                   4.6
 Gunnery qualification                                 3.5
 Peacetime training goals set unrealistically high     3.1
 Lack of integration between active Army advisers
 and/or associated units                               2.6

Note: Points were calculated by averaging the total number of points the
brigades assigned to each problem. The problem ranked by a respondent as
most severe received 8 points, the problem ranked as next most severe
received 7 points, and so on.

Source: Our analysis of brigade officials' responses to our survey.

Brigade officials cited shortages of full-time support personnel as the most
important problem undermining readiness. These personnel help prepare
training exercises and plans, perform administrative duties such as
processing payroll information, and operate the units during the week while
unit personnel are at their civilian jobs. In the early 1990s the brigades
were assigned between 90-100 percent of their requirements for these
personnel. However, due to reductions in military forces after the end of
the Cold War and increases in the priority of other National Guard units,
the brigades are now assigned only 55-64 percent of requirements. As of
March 1999, this meant that the average brigade actually had only 177
full-time support personnel out of 282 required. Brigade officials viewed
this as a critical problem that has led to poorly planned training events
and increased dissatisfaction among soldiers because of delays in salary
payments, lost opportunities for schooling, and other problems.

Although slightly improved since 1993-94, brigade officials ranked personnel
recruiting and retention as the second most important problem. Recruiting
sufficient numbers and types of personnel is essential to the continuing
vitality of the brigades. However, even if recruiting efforts are
successful, high rates of personnel attrition can quickly negate recruiting
gains, as well as improvements in training. In 1993-94 the average annual
brigade attrition rate was about 23 percent, compared to an average of about
20 percent in 1998-99. According to officials, recruiting efforts are
undermined by strong local economies, less desire for young people to join
the military, and other problems. Many brigade officials also believed that
National Guard and state programs that provide tuition for college or
monetary bonuses for enlisting or staying in the Guard are too inflexible to
adequately address local differences: some brigades suffer more from
recruiting problems, others from retention problems. However, officials
believe that bonus programs are directed primarily at recruiting new
personnel rather than retaining existing personnel. According to these
officials, many soldiers leave the National Guard immediately after
completing college because the Guard cannot compete with the private
sector's wages and has few substantial bonuses to retain enlistees once
tuition aid ends.

Brigade officials were also concerned about attendance problems. According
to the National Guard, continuous and willful absences were responsible for
11 percent of brigade attrition from August 1998 through July 1999. Some
brigade officials stated that they have few effective sanctions to prevent
personnel from missing attendance at drill weekends and eventually dropping
out before their commitment ends.10 However, several officials told us that
they have developed aggressive programs to contact soldiers with attendance
problems, or to send military police to soldiers' job sites to foster
employer support and stress to soldiers the need to honor their commitment.

Brigade officials also told us that another major problem in meeting
training goals was that they have too much training to accomplish in the
time available. In their role as state militia, the brigades must train for
state missions such as providing emergency and disaster responses and
supporting local community needs. At the federal level, their role is to
provide a flexible backup for active Army units fighting either of two
nearly simultaneous regional wars that U.S. military forces are required to
plan for. The Army has identified a variety of potential missions for the
brigades, including offensive and defensive combat activities, and replacing
active duty units moved from peace operations to the war zones. The brigades
must also be prepared to fight in the deserts of southwest Asia, as well as
the mountains and cold climate of Korea, the two primary theaters used for
planning purposes. However, according to brigade and Army war planning
officials, war plans do not specify what Army unit the brigades will be
assigned to, which mission(s) they will be assigned, or where they will
deploy. As a result, it is difficult for the brigades to narrow their
training focus to those tasks most likely to be needed, and whose standards
can be met in the time available.

The list of potential missions for the brigades is growing. During our
review, several of the brigades began to train their units to conduct
peacekeeping operations in eastern Europe. Their participation in
peacekeeping operations was recommended by the July 1999 Reserve Component
Employment Study 2005, mandated by the Secretary of Defense to examine the
use of reserve forces in all areas of defense strategy. The study concluded
that the demand for such operations is likely to remain high for the next
15-20 years, and the reserves could help provide relief for overworked
active duty units.

Our 1995 report also found that the brigades were trying to train for too
many tasks, due to problems such as confusion over which mission-essential
maneuver tasks were the most important. The Army agreed, and attempted to
focus training on three basic maneuver tasks and the associated subtasks at
the platoon level. However, we found that the number of tasks on which the
platoons rated themselves has increased from an average of about 13 in 1993
to about 20 in 1998, and is highly variable. As shown in appendix III, the
average number of tasks rated per platoon ranged from 5 in one brigade to 58
in another. To compensate for the difficulty in training both
mission-essential maneuver tasks and gunnery, some mechanized brigades told
us that they reduce training to cover only gunnery and part of their
mission-essential maneuver tasks in any 1 year. Training for the remaining
tasks is completed in subsequent years.

To provide more focused training, the Reserve Component Employment Study
2005 recommended that the Army study the potential for linking some brigades
to the specific active Army divisions that they will be expected to assist
during wartime, and for limiting a brigade's assignment to a single war
zone. Guard officials have long cited the importance of knowing the active
Army units and commanders with whom they will fight as a key factor that
affects readiness. Moreover, they believe this concept can help to provide
shared accountability for meeting training goals. Assigning the brigades to
a single war zone could also help focus training and logistical planning.
This is because the training sites, points of embarkation, climate and
terrain, and other planning factors are different for each war zone. Army
officials told us they were considering these ideas, as well as others, as
part of the process of transforming the Army to respond to new threats and
take advantage of technological advances. Decisions in this area are
expected to be made within the next 2-3 years.

Brigade officials identified a number of other problems that undermine
readiness. For example, officials believe that requirements for unit
training have grown due to the introduction of new technologies and other
changes that have increased the complexity of training. Also, shortages of
suitable local training areas and turnover among personnel in gun crews
undermine qualification rates in tank and Bradley fighting vehicle gunnery.
Many were also concerned about the practice of sending personnel to training
courses during the 2-week annual training period. This 2-week period is
generally the longest period of time available to conduct unit training in
mission-essential maneuver tasks and gunnery. However, units often excuse
personnel to attend individual training. According to officials, attendance
at individual training courses at other times during the year is often
hindered by civilian job demands, limited travel funding, and classroom
space limitations. In 1998, only 2 of 14 brigades met the Army's goal that
75 percent of assigned personnel attend the annual 2-week training.11
Average attendance was 67 percent. Officials believe that increases in
funding and classroom spaces, and other initiatives in fiscal year 2000 will
provide opportunities to improve attendance at annual training.

Readiness and Deployment Times

In 1995, we reported12 that the Army did not have an objective system to
analyze the brigades' peacetime training proficiency and link it to the
number of training days required for them to be ready to deploy after they
were called to active duty. As a result, brigade estimates of these training
time requirements were subjective and unrealistically low. This situation
remains largely unchanged, making it difficult to determine the impact of
the brigades' training problems on their ability to meet time frames for
wartime deployment.

Army readiness assessments focus on whether units have the personnel,
equipment, and training needed to be ready to undertake their assigned
mission quickly.13 Assessments of personnel and equipment readiness are
generally based on calculations of the percentage of these resources
available. For example, units with 85-100 percent of their officers and
sergeants available to deploy would receive the highest readiness rating,
and those with 64 percent or less the lowest. Assessments of training
readiness are, however, based on the unit commanders' subjective estimate of
the time needed for the unit to be fully trained for its mission once called
to active duty. Estimates of 0-14 days are rated at the highest readiness
category, and those estimating more than 42 days the fourth and lowest. The
National Guard's goal is for the brigades to be rated at the third highest
category or above: 42 days or less. Army guidance14 calls for the commander
to consider existing proficiency levels in gunnery, mission-essential
maneuver tasks, and other training elements when estimating the time
required to be fully trained. But, it does not provide the objective
criteria, such as the percentage of mission-essential tasks fully trained,
needed to link various levels of proficiency to required training time. The
Army uses the same readiness reporting system and training time frames for
active and reserve forces, even though it expects National Guard units will
require more training than active units after call up.

As of September 1999, all 15 brigades reported that they met the goal for
them to be fully trained for their mission(s) within 42 days from the
beginning of training. In fact, most brigades have been reporting that they
could be fully trained within 42 days since 1990, before they were named
Enhanced Separate Brigades. However, models of the time required for the
brigades to mobilize, train, and be ready to deploy developed by the Army
and others estimate that training could require about 54 to 84 days,
depending upon the assumptions made. The RAND Corporation concluded in
199615 that the better trained Enhanced Brigades would require
75-80 days of training. However, RAND also concluded that 75-80 days may be
optimistic because it assumes a relatively high level of peacetime
readiness. During the 1990 Persian Gulf War, the three National Guard
brigades that were mobilized estimated they would need 42 days or less of
training to be ready to move to the war zone. However, the two brigades that
completed training required 70 and 78 days.

The Army Inspector General and we have reported concerns about the
subjective nature of the readiness reporting system for years.16 In 1995,
brigade and active Army officials told us that brigade officials felt
pressured to keep training time estimates within 42 days to avoid low
readiness ratings. In 1999, some brigade officials also acknowledged feeling
pressure to report that they could complete wartime training within
42 days. Officials in one brigade reported that they had once tried to
change their estimate to 90 days, but changed it back to 42 days as a result
of the subsequent furor.

Brigade officials were also concerned about the accuracy of the system used
to assess and report proficiency in mission-essential tasks, which is used
in the overall assessment of training readiness. As indicated earlier (see
page 7), the Army has not provided precise, objective definitions of what is
required for a unit to be rated as "trained" or "needs practice" on a task.
For example, according to Army officials, a unit could be rated as "needs
practice" on a task regardless of whether it could perform the task to 99
percent of the standard or just 1 percent. Many units we talked to were also
confused about how to record proficiency ratings in this system,17 and
failed to provide data or provided incorrect data. Further, due to personnel
shortages many units combined personnel from several understaffed platoons
into one or two complete platoons during training events where proficiency
is evaluated. This practice raises further questions about the accuracy of
the readiness ratings.

Army officials told us that they could not estimate training times for the
brigades until it was clear which of the many potential missions they would
actually be assigned. According to these officials, 42 days is a reasonable
standard for measuring the readiness of active Army units, but does not
represent the time required to train reserve units for wartime missions.
Army officials also told us that they are currently circulating a draft
change to the readiness reporting regulations that would replace the 42-day
or less criteria with objective measures of training proficiency, such as
the percentage of mission-essential tasks fully trained and personnel
staffing percentage levels.

The Army's goal for the amount of time the brigades have to be ready to
deploy is different from the requirements in the military war plans, as well
as the training readiness reporting time frames. This has led to confusion
about how quickly the brigades need to be ready to perform their mission(s).
The Army's goal is for all the brigades to be assembled, trained, and ready
to deploy within 90 days of the date they are called to active duty.
However, latest arrival dates in actual war plans give some of the brigades
considerably more time to be fully trained and transported to the war zones.
Some Army officials told us that deployment times were tied to
transportation availability and the 90-day goal was established in the early
1990s to provide a "mark on the wall" for training proficiency. We found no
Army or National Guard guidance to help reconcile these timeliness criteria
with the 42 days and other training readiness reporting time frames.

The brigades' improvement in gunnery qualification levels and individual
training is encouraging. Nonetheless, the brigades continue to struggle with
problems in meeting training and personnel staffing goals after years of
effort. The ability to conduct efficient training, focused on those tasks
most likely to be needed, and whose standards can be met in the time
available, is critical to readiness. Left uncorrected, these problems will
extend the time required to prepare the brigades for war, and foster
uncertainty as to their best use in the national military strategy.
Multi-mission capability is important in the current military environment.
However, to ask all the brigades to be ready for all missions all the time
creates a climate of unrealistic expectations. The continued reliance on a
subjective system for assessing brigade readiness and deployment times,
using inconsistent criteria, which do not adequately recognize reserve
training limitations and are not based on actual military requirements, only
furthers the climate of confusion and unrealistic expectations.

To improve training and assessments of the Enhanced Brigades' readiness for
military missions, we recommend that the Secretary of the Army, in
consultation with National Guard leaders,

 assess different ways of assigning missions to the brigades, including the
option of assigning individual brigades parts of the overall set of missions
on a rotating basis, and define a mandatory core list of tasks and focused
training goals for each assigned mission and

 establish objective criteria for assessing training readiness, and use war
plan requirements to set goals for the amount of time the brigades have to
be ready for war.

In written comments on a draft of this report, the Department of Defense
agreed with our first recommendation and stated that the Army is taking
action. Specifically, the Army is working with the National Guard to study
how missions should be assigned to the brigades as part of the plan to
transform the Army into a 21st century fighting force. The Department
generally agreed with our second recommendation. It stated that the Army is
currently analyzing its readiness assessment procedures to identify ways to
reduce subjectivity in training readiness assessments. But, the Department
maintained that mission-essential task lists already provide a wartime basis
for setting goals for the amount of time the brigades have to prepare for
deployment.

Assessing proficiency in mission-essential task lists, which are intended to
be based on wartime requirements, is one approach to setting a goal for the
time the brigades have to be ready for war. However, if the Army intends to
use this approach, it needs to clarify its regulations. As discussed in the
report, there is currently confusion as to which of the several timeliness
goals available is the appropriate one--the 90 days cited in training
guidance and other documents, the dates in war plans, or the time required
to achieve full proficiency in mission-essential task lists. Moreover,
current regulations provide no objective criteria to translate a given level
of peacetime proficiency in mission-essential tasks into the number of days
that will be needed for a unit to be fully trained. As a result of this, and
feelings of pressure to avoid low readiness ratings on the part of some
officials, brigade estimates of the days needed to train have been
unrealistically low for years. We continue to believe that it is important
for the Army to clarify the goal concerning the amount of time the brigades
have to be ready for war by linking training requirements to time frames
established in the war plans.

The Department's comments are reprinted in appendix VII. The Department also
provided technical comments, which we incorporated as appropriate.

We are providing copies of this report to the Chairmen of the House and
Senate Committees on Appropriations and Armed Services, and the Secretaries
of Defense and the Army. Copies will also be made available to others upon
request.

If you or your staff have questions concerning this report, please call me
at (202) 512-5140. The major contributors to this report are listed in
appendix VIII.

Neal P. Curtin
Associate Director
National Security Preparedness Issues

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology

Our objectives were to examine (1) whether the brigades are meeting current
training and personnel readiness goals, (2) the key reasons for any
continuing difficulties in meeting these goals, and (3) whether the Army has
an effective system for assessing brigade readiness and the time required
for them to be ready for war. The scope of our review included the combat
units from all 15 Enhanced Separate Brigades. Support units, such as
artillery, engineering, and military police units, were not included in our
analyses of unit training readiness. We also excluded equipment readiness
from our review.

To determine whether the brigades were meeting current training and
personnel readiness goals, we identified the goals outlined in U.S. Army
Forces Command and Army National Guard regulations and policy documents, and
discussed them with representatives from those organizations. We then
requested data from each brigade to document their proficiency in each of
the training goals during 1998-99. Our staff analyzed the data provided by
the brigades and discussed it with brigade and associated active Army
officials to ensure that we interpreted the data correctly. To determine
changes in proficiency levels over time, we compared the current data with
data from 1993-94 that we obtained from the seven original brigades during
our previous review. We provided our analysis of this data to each brigade,
and requested that they review the results for accuracy and identify any
significant changes since the data was first collected. All 12 brigades that
responded verified that the data was accurate, and 10 of the 12 identified
no significant change in their readiness since our initial review of 1998
data. Three brigades did not respond to our request. We also visited five
brigades to obtain a more in-depth understanding of their training
approaches and philosophies, local conditions, and problems. We selected the
brigades visited to provide coverage of the various unit types--light
infantry, mechanized infantry, and armor--geographical diversity, and a mix
of the original and newer units selected to be Enhanced Separate Brigades.
We discussed the results of our review with the remaining respondents via
telephone. We did not attempt to independently verify the information
provided by the brigades.

To identify the key reasons for any continuing difficulties in meeting
readiness standards, we provided each brigade commander with a listing of
potential problems that could undermine training proficiency. We requested
that brigade officials revise the list as necessary, rank each of the
problems in order of their impact on training, and provide their recommended
solutions. To ensure an in-depth understanding of the problems and issues
involved, we also held discussion groups with brigade commanders and other
officials, and associated active Army officials at the 12 brigades
responding to our request for a review of our analysis. We compiled a
summary of the answers provided by brigade leaders by assigning points for
each ranked problem, and then calculating the average ranking for each
problem. We also discussed these issues with Department of the Army and
National Guard officials.

To determine the effectiveness of the Army's system for assessing brigade
training readiness and the time required for them to be ready for war, we
analyzed brigade readiness ratings and deployment time estimates included in
unit status reports from 1990 to September 1999. We compared this
information with information and estimates included in unit training plans,
studies by the RAND Corporation, the Army Inspector General, the Science
Applications International Corporation, the Congressional Research Service,
and our own office. We also discussed these estimates and the surrounding
issues with National Guard and Department of the Army officials.

We performed our work from January 1999 through March 2000 in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards.

National Guard Enhanced Separate Brigades

27th Infantry Brigade, Syracuse, New York

29th Infantry Brigade, Honolulu, Hawaii

30th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized), Clinton, North Carolina

39th Infantry Brigade, Little Rock, Arkansas

41st Infantry Brigade, Portland, Oregon

45th Infantry Brigade, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

48th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized), Macon, Georgia

53rd Infantry Brigade, Tampa, Florida

76th Infantry Brigade, Indianapolis, Indiana

81st Infantry Brigade (Mechanized), Seattle, Washington

116th Cavalry Brigade, Boise, Idaho

155th Armored Brigade, Tupelo, Mississippi

218th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized), Newberry, South Carolina

256th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized), Lafayette, Louisiana

278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Knoxville, Tennessee

Platoon Proficiency in Mission-Essential Tasks, 1998

         Percent of platoons rated as trained
 Brigade or needs practice in at least 70       Average number of tasks
         percent of tasks                       rated per platoon
 1       95                                     12
 2       100                                    22
 3       67                                     16
 4       0                                      14
 5       100                                    17
 6       73                                     21
 7       100                                    10
 8       96                                     Not available
 9       54                                     41
 10      88                                     10
 11      97                                     13
 12      41                                     18
 13      90                                     58
 14      92                                     23
 15      25                                     5

Note: Includes only combat platoons.

Source: 1998 Brigade Training Assessment Models.

Battalion Proficiency in Tank and Bradley Fighting Vehicle Gunnery, 1998

(Continued From Previous Page)

          Brigades              Percent of assigned crews   Meet standard?
                                       qualified
 Brigade 1                  Light infantry, not applicablea
 Brigade 2                  Light infantry, not applicable
 Brigade 3
 Battalion 1 (Bradley)      73                              No
 Battalion 2 (Bradley)      88                              Yes
 Battalion 3 (tank)         54                              No
 Brigade 4                  Light infantry, not applicable
 Brigade 5
 Battalion 1 (tank)         97                              Yes
 Battalion 2 (tank)         100                             Yes
 Battalion 3 (Bradley)      96                              Yes
 Brigade 6                  Light infantry, not applicable
 Brigade 7
 Battalion 1 (tank)         100                             Yes
 Battalion 2 (Bradley)      90                              Yes
 Battalion 3 (Bradley)      98                              Yes
 Brigade 8
 Battalion 1 (tank)         97                              Yes
 Battalion 2 (tank)         94                              Yes
 Battalion 3 (Bradley)      87                              Yes
 Brigade 9                  Light infantry, not applicable
 Brigade 10
 Battalion 1 (Bradley)      33                              No
 Battalion 2 (Bradley)      0                               No
 Battalion 3 (tank)         0                               No
 Brigade 11                 Light infantry, not applicable
 Brigade 12                 Light infantry, not applicable
 Brigade 13
 Battalion 1 (tank)         79                              No
 Battalion 2 (Bradley)      37                              No
 Battalion 3 (Bradley)      64                              No
 Brigade 14
 Battalion 1 (tank/Bradley) 61/51                           No/No
 Battalion 2 (tank/Bradley) 51/12                           No/No
 Battalion 3 (tank/Bradley) 66/37                           No/No
 Brigade 15
 Battalion 1 (tank)         73                              No
 Battalion 2 (Bradley)      52                              No
 Battalion 3 (Bradley)      29                              No

aLight infantry brigades are not equipped with tanks or Bradley fighting
vehicles.

Source: Brigade training records.

Individual and Leader Training Rates, 1998-99

                               Percentage of leaders who completed
                               professional military education courses
                               (goal: 100 percent)
         Percentage of all
         soldiers

 Brigade qualified in their    Officers               Sergeants
         assigned job

         (goal: 85 percent)a
 1       97                    81                     90
 2       88                    82                     74
 3       88                    88                     83
 4       87                    Not available          Not available
 5       86                    67                     48
 6       88                    78                     74
 7       91                    97                     88
 8       91                    89                     65
 9       88                    88                     93
 10      85                    88                     73
 11      96                    53                     67
 12      94                    85                     75
 13      87                    86                     70
 14      85                    77                     68
 15      90                    53                     74

aFigures adjusted for soldiers in or awaiting basic training.

Source: Brigade records.

Brigade Staffing and Loss Rates, 1998-99

                              Percentage of
 Brigade  Brigades meeting    required personnel    Percentage of personnel
          personnel goal                            leaving during the year
                              actually assigned
 1        No                  106                   19
 2        No                  106                   22
 3        No                  96                    23
 4        No                  95                    14
 5        No                  92                    Not available
 6        No                  96                    29
 7        Yes                 105                   21
 8        No                  92                    21
 9        No                  99                    21
 10       No                  105                   22
 11       No                  105                   21
 12       No                  92                    22
 13       No                  93                    16
 14       No                  90                    16
 15       No                  85                    19
 Averages --                  97                    20

Source: Unit Status Reports and brigade records.

Comments From the Department of Defense

l
GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments

Bill Meredith (202) 512-4275

In addition to the name above, Katherine Chenault, Ken Daniell,
Kevin Handley, and John W. Nelson of the Atlanta Field Office and
Jim Lewis and Jeffrey McDowell of the Norfolk Field Office made key
contributions to this report.

(703279)

Table 1: Summary of Platoon Tasks Rated as Trained, Needs
Practice, or Untrained in 1993 and 1998 7

Table 2: Brigade Rankings of Problems Undermining Readiness 11

Figure 1: Course Completion Rates for All Soldiers, Officers, and Sergeants,
1993-94 and 1998-99 9
  

1. Army National Guard: Combat Brigades' Ability to Be Ready for War in 90
Days Is Uncertain (GAO/NSIAD-95-91 , June 2, 1995).

2. Maneuver refers to movements to place troops or material in a better
location with respect to the enemy.

3. As discussed on page 8, this improvement occurred despite the use of
higher gunnery standards in 1998.

4. Postmobilization Training Resource Requirements: Army National Guard
Heavy Enhanced Brigades; RAND Corporation, 1996.

5. The basic training strategy and goals are set forth in U.S. Army Forces
Command/Army National Guard Regulation 350-2, dated June 12, 1998, and
revised October 27, 1999.

6. The Army structures 12 gunnery tables to develop and test proficiency in
a progressive manner. For example, table I requires individual crews to
engage stationary targets with a stationary tank or fighting vehicle. Table
VIII requires individual crews to demonstrate proficiency against single,
multiple, and simultaneous targets while the crews are stationary and
moving. In 1998, the minimum standard for M1 tanks and M2 Bradley fighting
vehicles was for 85 percent of assigned crews to be qualified at the eighth
level annually. In 1993, the standard was 75 percent for tank crews and 60
percent for Bradley crews.

7. This percentage did not include soldiers in or awaiting basic training
because they could not yet be expected to be qualified in their job. If
these soldiers are included, only two brigades met the goal, but seven
others were within 2 percentage points.

8. Army Regulation 220-1, September 1, 1997, Unit Status Reporting, defines
the specific requirements for this goal. "Required" personnel refers to the
number of personnel needed for wartime.

9. Each brigade has a different authorization directed at certain key
positions, but the average is about 110 percent. In 1993, the brigades were
authorized to recruit up to
125 percent of their required strength.

10. We note, however, that 10 U.S.C. sect. 10148 (b) provides a specific
sanction of up to 45 days of additional active duty for training for any
member of the National Guard who fails in any year to perform satisfactorily
the prescribed training duty.

11. One brigade did not provide data.

12. See note 1.

13. Army Regulation 220-1, September 1, 1997, Unit Status Reporting, defines
the specific procedures for reporting readiness.

14. See note 13 above.

15. Postmobilization Training Resource Requirements: Army National Guard
Heavy Enhanced Brigades; RAND Corporation, 1996.

16. Army Training: Evaluations of Units' Proficiency Are Not Always Reliable
(GAO/NSIAD-91-72 , Feb. 15,1991) and Special Inspection Report: Readiness
Reporting Systems, Department of the Army Inspector General, July 1989.

17. The Army's Forces Command Regulation 220-3, June 1, 1998, prescribes the
requirements for reporting proficiency in mission-essential tasks.
*** End of document. ***