GAO: Reserve, Guard need better systems

DOD Actions Needed to Improve the Efficiency of Mobilizations for Reserve Forces

The General Accounting Office today said the Defense Department needs better, more centralized systems for overseeing Reserve and National Guard forces.

"DOD did not have visibility over the entire mobilization process primarily because it lacked adequate systems for tracking personnel and other resources," GAO auditors wrote in the report. "DOD's primary automated readiness reporting system could not adequately track the personnel and other resources within small units that were frequently needed."

The auditors said another problem — currently being addressed by Army Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, who took the helm as chief of the National Guard Bureau in April — is incompatibility among the systems of the active-duty military and its Reserve components. Blum has said his top goal is to have the National Guard mirror the active-duty fighting force, especially where transformation is concerned.

"Visibility was lost because some services' active and reserve system for tracking personnel were incompatible, resulting in ad hoc coordination between active and reserve officials," the report says. "Both groups often resorted to tracking mobilizations with computer spreadsheets."

The report criticizes DOD for inefficient deployments of reservists and National Guard members. The services lacked the information necessary to make full use of the 300,000 pre-trained Reserve forces, and more than 70,000 reservists couldn't be used because they lacked the appropriate training. DOD had no way of verifying that information.

Among other items, GAO recommended:

n The secretaries of the Army and Navy capture readiness information on resources in all units available to meet combat commanders' requirements, so that these resources will be visible to key military officials.

n The undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, in conjunction with the assistant secretary of Defense for reserve affairs, develop a single automated system or fully integrated automated systems that will provide for the seamless transfer of reservists' information, regardless of whether they are in active or reserve status.

DOD partially concurred with the first recommendation, but argued the Army already has the capability to make informed decisions on mobilizing and deploying its reserve forces.

"The Army, as a provider of forces and capabilities to the combatant commanders, has sufficient visibility of this information to make informed sourcing decisions for tailored requirements," DOD's response reads.

The department fully concurred with the second recommendation, however, saying that the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources Systems (DIMHRS) could fulfill that role.

"DIMHRS will furnish key personnel information to the Global Command and Control System and the Global Combat Support System family of systems at the strategic and service department level," the response said.

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