Rebuilding Military Readiness and Transforming Capabilities

Video Message: Sharon L. Pickup

Sharon L. Pickup

Director, Defense Capabilities and Management

(202) 512-9619

Janet A. St. Laurent

Managing Director, Defense Capabilities and Management

(202) 512-4300

Developing an affordable plan to ensure that U.S. forces are ready to conduct missions at home and abroad now and in the future is critical to the nation’s security.

  • Since 9/11, U.S. forces have operated at a high pace and gained considerable combat experience. Yet, operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken a toll on readiness, especially in the Army and Marine Corps.  For example, personnel are deploying frequently and have little time to train for anything other than counterinsurgency missions. Equipment is repeatedly used, causing heavy wear and tear. Units that are not deployed are transferring equipment and personnel to deploying units, causing some shortfalls.

    Highlights of GAO-08-497T (PDF), Highlights of GAO-07-814 (PDF)

  • Also, the Air Force and Navy are facing challenges in maintaining aging aircraft and ships.

    Highlights of GAO-08-467SP (PDF), Highlights of GAO-07-415 (PDF)

  • Further, once any decision is made to reposture U.S. forces from Iraq, DOD will need to address various issues which have cost and readiness implications, including   infrastructure requirements of returning units, requirements for training and equipment reset, and increased demand for health care services for redeploying servicemembers.

    Highlights of GAO-08-930 (PDF)

  • Rebuilding readiness is a complex and costly effort but will be even more challenging because, at the same time, the Department of Defense is pursuing broad-based initiatives to grow, modernize, and transform its forces. In light of the nation’s financial challenges, a new administration and Congress will need to evaluate the department’s plans and establish clear priorities that are achievable within expected resource levels.

    Highlights of GAO-08-497T (PDF), Highlights of GAO-08-669T (PDF), Highlights of GAO-08-1174T (PDF)

^ Back to topWhat Needs to Be Done

DOD and the military services need to take several actions to enhance their efforts to rebuild readiness, as well as modernize and transform force capabilities:

  • DOD needs to develop near-term plans to improve the readiness of its ground forces that include measurable goals, validated requirements, prioritized resource needs, and performance measures to gauge progress.

    Highlights of GAO-08-497T (PDF)

  • The Army and the Marine Corps need to establish equipment reset strategies that address equipment shortages in the near term to minimize operational risk and meet the needs of deploying units.

    Highlights of GAO-07-814 (PDF)

  • The services need to collect and maintain comprehensive data on the various strategies they use to meet personnel and unit requirements for ongoing operations, as well as determine the impact of these strategies on the readiness of nondeployed forces (GAO-07-780 and GAO-08-497T).

    Highlights of GAO-07-780 (PDF), Highlights of GAO-08-497T (PDF)

  • The Army needs to revise its training strategy to include a plan to support training on a full range of missions.

    Highlights of GAO-07-936 (PDF), Highlights of GAO-08-497T (PDF)

  • The Army needs to develop planning and funding estimates for staffing and equipping the modular force, as well as provide information to Congress on its plan to increase the size of its force—including data on the force structure to be created by this initiative, implementation timelines, cost estimates, and a funding plan (GAO-08-145 and GAO-08-354R).

    Highlights of GAO-08-145 (PDF), Full Report of GAO-08-354R (PDF, 11 pages)

^ Back to topKey Reports

Force Structure: Restructuring and Rebuilding the Army Will Cost Billions of Dollars for Equipment but the Total Cost Is Uncertain
GAO-08-669T, April 10, 2008
Military Readiness: Impact of Current Operations and Actions Needed to Rebuild Readiness of U.S. Ground Forces
GAO-08-497T, February 14, 2008
Military Operations: Implementation of Existing Guidance and Other Actions Needed to Improve DOD's Oversight and Management of Contractors in Future Operations
GAO-08-436T, January 24, 2008
Digital Broadcast Television Transition: Several Challenges Could Arise in Administering a Subsidy Program for DTV Equipment
GAO-05-623T, May 26, 2005
Defense Logistics: Army and Marine Corps Cannot Be Assured That Equipment Reset Strategies Will Sustain Equipment Availability While Meeting Ongoing Operational Requirements
GAO-07-814, September 19, 2007
Digital Television Transition: Preliminary Information on Initial Consumer Education Efforts
GAO-07-1248T, September 19, 2007
Digital Television Transition: Issues Related to an Information Campaign Regarding the Transition
GAO-05-940R, September 6, 2005