We determined whether U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) developed a plan for procuring and pre‑positioning Deployable Air Base System-Facilities, Equipment, and Vehicles Kits (Deployable Air Base Kits) within the U.S. European Command area of responsibility.
The DoD established the European Reassurance Initiative in FY 2015 to increase the presence and readiness capabilities of U.S. forces, allies, and regional partners located in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) area of responsibility and to deter aggression by regional adversaries against North Atlantic Treaty Organization nations. To increase the readiness capability of its forces, USEUCOM required a capability to rapidly deploy U.S. Air Forces within the USEUCOM area of responsibility to deter adversarial threats in the event of a contingency.
In 2016, USEUCOM directed its air component, USAFE, to develop requirements to meet the capability for deployable air bases. USAFE developed the Deployable Air Base Kits program, focusing on pre‑positioning U.S. Air Force equipment throughout USEUCOM’s area of responsibility. The kits include tents, vehicles, medical supplies, and airfield repair equipment. According to USAFE officials, the kits will enhance the USEUCOM and the U.S. Air Force’s capability to stand up an air base in the event of a contingency; thereby, reducing the time and cost of transporting equipment from either the continental United States or other existing bases in the USEUCOM area of responsibility.
The USAFE European Deterrence Initiative Branch, which supports USAFE contingency planning efforts, initially developed in FY 2016 and later updated in FY 2018 an overall plan indicating when storage facility construction and procurement of Deployable Air Base Kits could be completed. However, the overall plan was based on estimated funding and did not take into consideration individual procurement and construction schedules in order to establish achievable milestones. For example, the overall plan indicated that the first storage facility would be complete by FY 2019, while the individual construction schedule indicated FY 2022.
In addition, the overall plan indicated that there would be enough equipment procured for the first five full kits in FY 2018. However, in July 2018, USAFE A4 Logistics Division (USAFE A4) officials stated that they do not expect to have the equipment procured to fulfill the first complete Deployable Air Base Kit until FY 2020 or 2021. Moreover, while one of the individual construction plans indicated the number of kits to be pre‑positioned at each of the 10 proposed storage locations, the overall plan did not.
An achievable plan was not developed because there is no single program manager designated in the U.S. Air Force for the Deployable Air Base Kits program to: 1) coordinate with the multiple organizations that support the program, 2) request progress reports on storage facility construction and individual equipment category procurement, and 3) track program execution through an overall plan. Specifically, Headquarters Air Force A4 Logistics, Installations, and Mission Support Division (Headquarters Air Force A4) did not coordinate with the USAFE A4, as the requirement owner, to ensure that a program manager was designated to maintain the plan and to track execution of the Deployable Air Base Kits program, which is expected to last 10 or more years. Additionally, while the USEUCOM J5-8 Policy, Strategy, Partnering, and Capabilities Division (USEUCOM J5-8) directed the USAFE A4 in FY 2016 to develop Deployable Air Base Kit program requirements, the USEUCOM J5-8 did not establish an end date to have all 24 kits pre‑positioned in USEUCOM’s area of responsibility. An end date is critical for USAFE to use to plan the coordination of the construction of storage facilities and procurement of equipment categories.
The program, authorized for $797 million in FYs 2018 and 2019, involves multiple organizations that are responsible for construction, management, and procurement; however, without a designated program manager responsible for periodically updating the overall plan, USEUCOM and USAFE will not know when each of the 24 Deployable Air Base Kits will be available. As a result, USEUCOM and USAFE will have fewer options for airlift capabilities when rapidly responding to a contingency within the USEUCOM area of responsibility. Additionally, without a plan which ensures that equipment is not procured in excess of available storage space, the program may require supplemental funding to pay for interim storage facilities.
We recommend that the Director, Headquarters Air Force A4 Logistics, Installations, and Mission Support Division, in coordination with the Director, USAFE A4 Logistics Division, and the Director, Air Force Materiel Command Logistics Division:
- ensure a program manager is designated at least at the Director level for the Deployable Air Base Kits program so that a single organization maintains responsibility for tracking overall program execution; and
- direct the program manager to review and update the overall plan for the Deployable Air Base Kits program at least semi-annually.
Additionally, we recommend that the Director, USEUCOM J5-8 Policy, Strategy, Partnering, and Capabilities Division, in coordination with the Director, USAFE A4 Logistics Division, establish an end date for the pre‑positioning of the 24 Deployable Air Base Kits in the USEUCOM area of responsibility.
Management Actions Taken
During the audit we notified officials from Headquarters Air Force A4, USEUCOM J5-8, and USAFE A4 that, as a result of the lack of a program manager and established end date, we were concerned that the organizations did not have an achievable plan for executing the Deployable Air Base Kits program. Headquarters Air Force A4, USEUCOM J5-8, and USAFE A4 officials agreed with our recommendations.
As a result, USAFE A4 and supporting organizations’ officials met in October 2018, and agreed on the need for an overall program manager with tasking authority over the Deployable Air Base Kits program. Meeting attendees did not decide which organization should be designated as the program manager during the October meeting; however, USAFE A4 officials stated that they plan to continue their discussion at the next meeting, which is scheduled for February 2019. Additionally, Headquarters Air Force A4LX Logistics, Operations, Plans, and Programs Division (Headquarters Air Force A4LX) officials stated that they are updating Air Force Instruction 25-101 to include a requirement to designate a program manager for U.S. Air Force pre‑positioned equipment. Headquarters A4LX officials also stated that they could provide a formally signed memorandum documenting the roles and responsibilities of all organizations associated with the Deployable Air Base Kits program.
The management actions taken by Headquarters Air Force A4 and the USAFE A4 addressed the specifics of the recommendations; therefore, the recommendations are resolved but will remain open.
We will close these recommendations when we receive the updated Air Force Instruction 25‑101 with the requirement for a program manager for U.S. Air Force pre‑positioned equipment, and a copy of a program manager appointment memorandum identifying the individual responsible for the Deployable Air Base Kits program and detailed roles and responsibilities of all organizations associated with the program. USEUCOM J5-8 officials agreed with our recommendation to establish an end date for the pre‑positioning of the 24 Deployable Air Base Kits in the USEUCOM area of responsibility. Specifically, USEUCOM J5-8 officials provided a classified implementation plan with an end date to pre‑position the 24 Deployable Air Base Kits. In addition, USAFE A4 officials stated that they had established an interim goal of 10 kits by FY 2021. The management actions taken by the USEUCOM J5-8 and the USAFE A4 addressed the specifics of the recommendation; therefore, the recommendation is closed.
This report is a result of Project No. D2018-D000RJ-0163.000.