Defense Transportation

Operational Support Airlift Requirements Are Not Sufficiently Justified Gao ID: NSIAD-00-126 April 27, 2000

The Pentagon says that it needs 391 aircraft during wartime to transport passengers and cargo on short notice when other military and commercial flights are unavailable. Although military policy specifies that the number of support aircraft are to be based on wartime needs, the Defense Department uses these planes during peacetime for crew training as well as passenger and cargo support. GAO found that the current process used to determine requirements for operational support aircraft is inadequate because it is not clearly linked to wartime requirements as DOD policy requires.

GAO noted that: (1) the process used to determine requirements for operational support airlift is inadequate because it is not clearly linked to wartime requirements as DOD policy requires; (2) in GAO's review of the process DOD used for the 1995, 1998, and ongoing analyses of operational support airlift requirements, GAO identified several weaknesses that call the requirement for 391 aircraft into question; (3) specifically, DOD has not clearly explained the basis for the key assumptions it is using to justify the requirements or identified the assumptions that should be updated in each succeeding review; (4) for example, DOD has assumed that most overseas airfields should be connected to each other by nonstop flights three times a day; (5) however, DOD has not explained why it is necessary to connect these airfields with such frequency to support wartime requirements; (6) in addition, DOD has not issued sufficient guidance to define participant roles and responsibilities for validating these airlift requirements; (7) for example, GAO was unable to determine whether any command had validated the requirement for 85 aircraft that were based within the continental United States during DOD's 1998 review of support aircraft requirements; (8) DOD has also failed to ensure that sufficient documentation to support previous analyses is maintained; (9) moreover, DOD has only reviewed its requirements for operational support aircraft twice since 1995, despite its own directive to validate the requirements on an annual basis; and (10) officials involved in the review process, however, suggested to GAO that annual reviews may be too frequent, given that they would not expect the requirements to change significantly from year to year.


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: Team: Phone:

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.