The objective of this assessment was to determine whether the United States Army and the United States Marine Corps had policies and procedures in place to ensure the selection and training of appropriately qualified personnel to fill leadership and cadre positions for Army Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) and Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Battalions (WWBns).
This is a follow-on assessment. During our six Wounded Warrior site visits and previously issued assessment reports, we noted systemic issues and challenges with selection and training of WTU and WWBn leaders and cadre. This report addresses these systemic issues.
This assessment identified several challenges and issues which, if resolved by Army and Marine Corps leadership, will enhance the overall effectiveness of the WTU and WWBn leaders and cadre selection process and enhance their effective and timely training, thereby providing them the qualifications to carry out their responsibilities in support of the recovery and transition of military personnel assigned to these units.
The observations included in the report were:
- The Army Medical Department Center & School did not have sufficient full-time, authorized instructor staff to provide standardized training for newly assigned leaders and cadre to WTUs, as well as Community-Based Warrior Transition Units (CBWTUs). The lack of a dedicated instructor staff resulted in training program course inconsistency and lack of continuity, and has limited development of training program enhancements that would have better prepared leaders and cadre for their challenging WTU assignments.
- The Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment relied on Marine Reserve Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) personnel to staff the majority of senior non-commissioned officer (SNCO) and non-commissioned officer (NCO) leadership positions in WWBns and detachments. This resulted in the potential for inconsistent and unpredictable staffing levels.
- The selection of enlisted Active Component Marines for assignment to WWBns and detachment leadership positions did not include medical and legal screening or a formal interview and review process. The lack of these processes may not have ensured the Marine Corps leaders that the most appropriately qualified personnel were selected for WWBn positions.
We made recommendations to the Deputy Commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs; Commander, U.S. Army Medical Command; and Commander, Warrior Transition Command to:
- take action to remedy instructor staffing for the WTU Cadre Training Program in response to the October 25, 2013, memorandum from the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs), subject “Validation of the U.S. Army Medical Department Center & School Manpower Organizational Study,” and
- ensure appropriate instructor staffing levels for the WTU Cadre Training Program are maintained to meet mission requirements.
- modify the Table of Organization and Equipment to appropriately reflect the required WWBn leaders and cadre manning levels needed to sustain the mission;
- revalidate whether the manning precedence level category of WWBn East and WWBn West should be changed in the Commandant of the Marine Corps precedence levels of manning and staffing;
- develop risk mitigation plans, procedures, and contingencies for Wounded Warrior Battalion active and Reserve forces to ensure WWBn leadership billets are not largely dependent on Reserve IMA authorizations;
- develop policy and procedures to extend the standard length of Wounded Warrior Battalion Reserve IMA assignments to ensure greater stability in force structure, staff continuity, and to sustain the mission;
- establish a standard formalized screening and selection process for enlisted Active Component Marines filling WWBn positions similar to the process currently used for Reserve IMA Marines; and
- establish a standard review process whereby regiment and battalion leaders can interview potential Enlisted Active Component Marine WWBn candidates to ensure they are the “best fit” and most qualified to better serve the Marines in the WWBns.
Management Comments and Our Responses
The Department of the Army, Office of the Surgeon General; and the USMC Assistant Deputy Commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs provided comments to this report. Both Army and USMC concurred with all the recommendations. However, we request that the USMC Deputy Commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs provide the final analysis and results of the Wounded Warrior Regiment manning and staffing review. The full reproduction of the comments received is included in this report.