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Audit of Brigade Combat Team Readiness DODIG-2020-028

Audit

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Publicly Released: November 20, 2019

Objective

The objective of the audit was to determine whether the Army identified and addressed readiness challenges related to the active component Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs).

Background

Army Field Manual 3-96, “Brigade Combat Teams,” October 8, 2015, states that the BCT is the Army’s primary combined arms, close combat force. The BCT contains the units and warfighting capabilities needed to engage various threats. The BCT conducts offensive, defensive, stability, and civil support operations.

The Army has three types of BCTs— Armored (ABCT), Infantry (IBCT), and Stryker (SBCT). Each BCT has between 4,400 and 4,700 soldiers, depending on its type. As of February 2018, the Army had 58 BCTs; 31 were active component BCTs, the remaining 27 were National Guard BCTs. We reviewed the 31 active component BCTs.

Finding

Army BCT Commanders identified and reported readiness challenges related to shortages of equipment, spare parts, and personnel that negatively impact the readiness levels of BCTs. We selected the 10 most common challenges the 31 active component BCT Commanders reported in their commander comments section of their commander’s unit status report. Specifically, in March 2018, BCT Commanders reported shortages of:

• equipment consisting of low bed semitrailers, modular fuel systems, and mobile gun systems;

• spare parts for the light- and medium-towed howitzers, the Abrams tanks, and Strykers; and

• personnel in military occupational specialties of military intelligence systems maintainers/integrators, unmanned aircraft systems operators, cyber network defenders, and electromagnetic spectrum managers.

We determined that the Army developed 10 plans to address these challenges and took actions to reduce shortages that degrade BCT readiness. For example, the Army developed:

 • a 6-year plan to procure additional low bed semitrailers from FYs 2018 through 2023;

 • a 6-year plan to procure the mount telescope for the light-towed howitzers; and

 • a 4-year plan to increase operational strength for military intelligence systems maintainers/integrators by requesting training and offering retention bonuses.

As of July 2019, the Army completed 4 of the 10 plans addressing shortages of mobile gun systems, spare parts for the Strykers, military intelligence systems maintainers/integrators, and unmanned aircraft systems operators. In addition, 6 of the 10 plans were ongoing and showed progress in reducing equipment, spare parts, and personnel shortages.

As a result of the Army’s efforts to address BCT readiness challenges, the Army met or exceeded the Chief of Staff of the Army’s goal of 66 percent of active component BCTs reporting the highest readiness levels for seven consecutive quarterly reporting periods from the first quarter of CY 2018 through the third quarter of CY 2019.

Recommendations

We recommend that the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs monitor ongoing actions regarding low bed semitrailers and modular fuel systems until fully implemented, and we request annual updates of actions taken to address these shortages, beginning in September 2020.

We recommend that the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics monitor ongoing actions regarding mount telescopes and fire control switchboards until fully implemented, and we request annual updates of actions taken to address these shortages, beginning in September 2020.

We recommend that the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel monitor ongoing actions regarding cyber network defenders and electromagnetic spectrum managers until fully implemented, and we request annual updates of actions taken to address these shortages, beginning in September 2020.

Management Comments and Our Response

The Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs agreed to provide an update on the current program and fielding plans to improve the on-hand status of low bed semitrailers and modular fuel systems in September 2020.

The Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics agreed to monitor ongoing actions regarding mount telescopes and fire control switchboards until fully implemented, and to provide annual updates of actions taken to address these shortages, beginning in September 2020.

The Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel agreed to monitor ongoing actions regarding cyber network defenders and electromagnetic spectrum managers until fully implemented, and to provide annual updates of actions taken to address these shortages, beginning in September 2020.

Management comments addressed the specifics of the recommendations; therefore, the recommendations are resolved but will remain open. We will close the recommendations when we verify that ongoing actions have been fully implemented. Please see the Recommendations Table on the next page for the status of recommendations.

This report is the result of Proj. No. D2018-D000RM-0097.000