Military Training

Potential to Use Lessons Learned to Avoid Past Mistakes is Largely Untapped Gao ID: NSIAD-95-152 August 9, 1995

Military training exercises and operations provide an unparalleled opportunity for the armed forces to assess the performance and capabilities of their troops under realistic conditions. Moreover, these experiences often yield valuable information that can identify and publicize recurring problems and can be used to develop corrective measures so that others can avoid repeating past mistakes. GAO found that despite lessons learned programs in the military services and the Joint Staff, units repeat many of the same mistakes during major training exercises and operations. Some of these mistakes could result in serious consequences, including friendly fire incidents and ineffective delivery of bombs and missiles on target. As a result, the services and the Joint Staff cannot be certain that significant problems are addressed or that resources are being used to solve the most serious one. This report discusses the reasons why the program has not achieved effective results.

GAO found that the Marine Corps, the Air Force, and the Navy do not: (1) include all significant information from training exercises and operations in their lessons learned programs; and (2) analyze their lessons learned information to identify trends in performance weaknesses. In addition, GAO found that: (1) Marine Corps lessons learned data continue to highlight recurring deficiencies during major combined arms exercises in such areas as maneuver, fire support, engineering, chemical threat, intelligence, communications, and electronic countermeasures; (2) although the dissemination of lessons learned information is adequate, the Air Force does not make its information readily available to all potential users; (3) regardless of the availability and widespread distribution of lessons learned information, most services use this information on a limited basis because they lack the training in how to access the databases; and (4) the Army has made excellent use of trend analysis to develop a corrective action plan to address the highest priority areas.


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