Force Structure

Opportunities for the Army to Reduce Risk in Executing the Military Strategy Gao ID: NSIAD-99-47 March 15, 1999

The Army's force structure requirements are based on the national military strategy to fight and win two nearly simultaneous major wars. The Army completed its biennial force structure review in 1996 and concluded that it faced a moderate risk in carrying out the strategy because of significant shortfalls in support forces. Support forces include such specialties as chemical, engineering, quartermaster, and transportation. This report discusses the Army's risks after completing its 1998 force structure review. GAO (1) compares the Army's 1996 and 1998 reviews to determine if there were changes in the Army's risk of not having enough forces to implement the national military strategy and (2) assesses the Army's potential for mitigating risk by reallocating its existing end strength.

GAO noted that: (1) the Army did not assess risk in its 1998 force structure review, but GAO's analysis shows that the Army's risk in implementing the national military strategy increased since its 1996 review; (2) a comparison of both reviews shows that war-fighting requirements for two wars increased at the same time the Army's forces decreased, support force shortfalls are higher, and the number of support forces arriving late has increased; (3) further, risk is higher in a second war because few active forces are planned to be deployed in the second war and support force shortfalls are higher in the second war; (4) the Army's 1998 force structure review was based on the following best-case assumptions which are consistent with defense guidance--limited chemical use by the enemy, immediate access to ports and airfields, and immediate redeployment of forces involved in contingencies to a major theater war; (5) in contrast, the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) stated that U.S. forces should be prepared to encounter adverse conditions such as enemy use of chemical weapons; (6) support force shortfalls may be higher than Army data indicated because the Army's analysis did not include all the QDR reductions in reserve component end strength; (7) the 1998 analysis assumed that the National Guard will convert nonwar-fighting positions to war-fighting support forces; (8) shortfalls will be higher if the conversions do not occur as planned; (9) although the risk of not having sufficient forces to implement the strategy has increased, the full extent of the increase is unknown since the Army did not perform all the analyses needed to assess and quantify its risks; (10) the Army did perform sensitivity analyses in its 1996 review that concluded additional support forces would be needed if these best-case assumptions did not occur; (11) the Army's end strength exceeds its war-fighting requirements, yet the Army has allocated significant end strength to nonwar-fighting missions; (12) one option to mitigate risk is its plan to convert nonwar-fighting positions in two National Guard divisions to war-fighting support forces; (13) this would reduce shortfalls if implemented as planned; (14) another option is to analyze the extent to which nonwar-fighting missions may be performed by civilians or contractors rather than by military personnel; and (15) if the Army used civilians or contractors to perform more nonwar-fighting missions, it could then allocate a larger proportion of military positions to meet war-fighting support requirements.


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.

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