Greater Coordination Required in Defense Planning for Intratheater Airlift Needs

Gao ID: PLRD-81-42 July 9, 1981

Intratheater airlift provides an essential capability to move personnel and materiel quickly within combat theaters and between points which are separated by impassable terrain. Airlift may be categorized as intertheater, common use intratheater, and specialized intratheater. Intertheater airlift involves long-range lift and is managed by the Air Force Military Airlift Command. Intratheater airlift involves shorter distances, and its responsibilities are divided among Air Force and other military service commands. GAO evaluated Department of Defense (DOD) efforts to match intratheater airlift need and capability, dealing primarily with the common use intratheater airlift.

GAO found that DOD planners still do not have adequate information to plan for wartime needs. Where planners have identified shortfalls, DOD efforts to address the problems have been inadequate. Individual services and unified theater commands determine and set priorities for movement requirements, and the Military Airlift Command determines how these requirements can be met. The Joint Chiefs of Staff sets overall priorities and provides direction to the Military Airlift Command. GAO found that planning for common use intratheater air movement and aircraft requirements varies from extensive to nearly nonexistent. In Europe, the theater command has studied its needs in detail. However, in the Pacific, only fragmentary data were available. The Military Airlift Command has little overall data on intratheater airlift movement requirements. At DOD headquarters levels, priority on strategic needs results in little emphasis on intratheater planning. Variations in planning, coupled with a lack of awareness by commands regarding what other organizations are doing, indicate a need to better coordinate common use intratheater airlift planning. DOD decisions on major airlift proposals have been based on partial data which leave unanswered basic questions regarding movement and aircraft requirements and relative priority of tactical versus strategic needs.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: John Landicho Team: General Accounting Office: Procurement, Logistics, and Readiness Division Phone: (202) 275-4361

The Justia Government Accountability Office site republishes public reports retrieved from the U.S. GAO These reports should not be considered official, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Justia.