We determined whether active duty Marine Corps Aviation squadrons accurately reported aircraft readiness in the Defense Readiness Reporting System–Marine Corps. The Defense Readiness Reporting System–Marine Corps is the Marine Corps’ system of record for reporting its aircraft readiness. For this audit, we focused on the F/A-18 and CH-53E airframes.
The Marine Corps is organized into three active duty combat divisions, three active duty air wings, and multiple other supporting units and serves as the Nation’s forward-deployed expeditionary force. Within the Marine Corps, a Marine Aircraft Wing is composed of one or more Marine Aviation Groups, which in turn are composed of one or more squadrons. For readiness reporting, a squadron reports to a Marine Aircraft Group, which in turn reports to a Marine Aircraft Wing. The Deputy Commandant for Aviation coordinates with the Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policy, and Operations on policy, procedures, and guidance for aviation unit readiness reporting.
Marine Corps Aviation squadrons are organized by aircraft type and are expected to execute a list of specified mission essential tasks (METs). As part of the readiness reporting, squadron commanders are required to complete an assessment of the squadron’s core METs. To perform its core METs, a squadron must have a specific number of mission-capable aircraft.
The Marine Corps readiness reporting guidance requires that squadron commanders assess their METs based on the squadron’s present state of readiness. In addition, the guidance requires squadron commanders to assess whether the squadron is appropriately equipped to perform its METs. The guidance also requires intermediate commands to establish procedures to verify, within 5 days of submission, the completeness and accuracy of the subordinate readiness reports. Readiness guidance further requires the Marine Corps to maintain a single uniform system for the preparation, approval, and maintenance of readiness reporting and establishes reporting organizations and frequency of readiness reporting. According to the guidance, readiness is reported as needed or on at least a monthly basis.
We determined that Marine Corps Aviation squadron commanders did not accurately report aircraft readiness. Specifically, for the 10 non-statistically sampled aviation squadrons we reviewed, we determined that:
- nine squadron commanders did not report the present state of their squadron’s aircraft readiness;
- five squadron commanders did not accurately report the number of mission-capable aircraft in their MET assessment; and
- four squadron commanders did not accurately report whether their squadron was properly equipped to perform its METs.
This occurred because Marine Corps readiness reporting guidance is unclear and was interpreted differently by the squadron commanders. Specifically, the Marine Corps readiness guidance is unclear on the definition of present state, silent on how squadron commanders should report the number of mission-capable aircraft in their MET assessments, and unclear on how squadron commanders are to report their METs as resourced. In addition, Marine Aircraft Group officials did not provide oversight to ensure that squadron commanders accurately reported squadron aircraft readiness. As a result, Marine Corps officials do not have an accurate assessment of what the aircrafts’ capabilities currently are, which could negatively impact planning for training and operations by assigning a mission to an aircraft that it is not capable of performing. This could potentially put mission accomplishment and personnel at risk.
We recommend that the Deputy Commandant for Aviation, Headquarters, Marine Corps require all reporting units and organizations to use the Optimized Organizational Maintenance Activity (OOMA) system as the sole source for reporting aircraft readiness. We also recommend that the Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations, in coordination with the Deputy Commandant for Aviation:
- revise Marine Corps Order 3000.13A to include a clear definition of present state, and clarify how mission-capable aircraft quantities should be reported in the mission essential task assessments and how a mission essential task should be properly reported as resourced;
- implement training on reporting readiness, in accordance with the revised Marine Corps Order 3000.13A, for reporting units and organizations; and
- develop and implement procedures, in accordance with the revised Marine Corps Order 3000.13A, to ensure that intermediate commands verify the completeness and accuracy of their subordinate units’ readiness reports.
Management Comments and Our Response:
The Deputy Commandant for Aviation, Headquarters, Marine Corps, agreed to require that all reporting units use OOMA as the sole source for reporting aircraft readiness, but stated that OOMA, used in combination with the Marine Aviation Commanders Combat Readiness Assessment Tool, would provide a more accurate assessment of aircraft readiness than OOMA alone. However, the Deputy Commandant did not provide specifics of how the two systems would provide a more accurate readiness assessment and whether their use would be required. Therefore, we consider the recommendation unresolved and request additional comments to the final report. The Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations agreed to coordinate with the Deputy Commandant for Aviation to revise the Marine Corps Order 3000.13A to define present state, clarify how mission-capable aircraft quantities should be reported, and how a mission essential task should be properly reported as resourced. The Deputy Commandant also agreed to implement training in accordance with the Marine Corps Order 3000.13A revision. Therefore, the recommendations are resolved and will be closed once we verify that the planned actions are fully implemented.
Although the Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations agreed to coordinate with the Deputy Commandant for Aviation to develop procedures that ensure intermediate commands verify the completeness and accuracy of subordinate units’ readiness reports, he did not specify how the verification will be achieved. Therefore, we consider the recommendation unresolved and request additional comments to the final report.
This report is a result of Project No. D2017-D000RF-0034.000