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GAO 


United States General Accounting Office _ 

Report to the Chairman and Ranking 
Minority Member, Subcommittee on 
Military Readiness, Committee on Armed 
Services, House of Representatives 


MILITARY 

READINESS 


Full Training Benefits 
From Army’s Combat 
Training Centers Are 
Not Being Realized 



^9991021 054 


GAO/NSIAD 99-210 



DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A 

Approved for Public Release 
Distribution Unlimited 


one QUALITY uwsokbb 4 




i 

G A 

Accountability * Integrity * Reliability 

United States General Accounting Office 
Washington, D.C. 20548 




National Security and 
International Affairs Division 


B-283334 

September 17,1999 

The Honorable Herbert H. Bateman 
Chairman 

The Honorable Solomon P. Ortiz 
Ranking Minority Member 
Subcommittee on Military Readiness 
Committee on Armed Services 
House of Representatives 

The Army operates three combat training centers: the National Training 
Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California: the Joint Readiness Training Center 
(JRTC) at Fort Polk, Louisiana; and the Combat Maneuver Training Center 
(CMTC) at Hohenfels, Germany. According to Army Regulation 350-50, 1 the 
Army established the combat training centers for several reasons: (1) to 
increase unit readiness for deployment and warfighting: (2) to produce 
bold, innovative leaders through stressful tactical and operational 
exercises; (3) to embed doctrine throughout the total Army; (4) to provide 
feedback to Army and joint combined participants; and (5) to provide a 
data source for lessons learned to improve doctrine, training, leader 
development, organizations, and materiel focused on soldiers to win in 
combat. To achieve these purposes, the Army spends about $1 billion a 
year to provide training at these centers. 

In view of the importance of such training to the Army’s readiness and in 
response to your request, we reviewed the training provided to active Army 
units at these centers. Our objectives were to determine (1) whether units 
training at the centers are adequately prepared for the exercises, (2) 
whether training exercises are realistic in terms of expected battlefield 
conditions, (3) whether pre-positioned equipment adequately supports the 
training mission, (4) how units use lessons learned at the centers, and 
(5) how the Army uses the results of the exercises to help revise training 
and improve the Army’s training doctrine. 

In addition to visiting all three centers, we also surveyed all commanders at 
the 123 active-duty battalions that trained at one of the centers during fiscal 


‘This regulation, dated May 25, 1995, establishes policy, procedures, and responsibilities for Army-wide 
management of the Combat Training Center Program, It is currently being revised. 


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year 1998. The responses we obtained provided us with information on 
home station training prior to deploying to a combat training center (CTC), 
the usefulness of the exercises, and the ability of units to utilize the training 
once they returned to home station. On February 26,1999, we provided the 
preliminary results of our work during a subcommittee hearing held at 
Nellis Air Force Base. 2 


Results in Brief 


Although the majority of units that trained at the Army's combat training 
centers in 1998 favorably assessed their training, neither the Army nor 
individual units are achieving the full benefits of this training. This is 
because (1) many units are arriving ill prepared for the exercises, 

(2) training is not as realistic as it could be, (3) the condition and age of 
pre-positioned equipment has adversely affected training at two centers, 
and (4) neither individual units nor the Army itself is able to effectively 
capitalize on lessons learned from the centers’ exercises. 

Personnel shortages, turnover, and high operating tempo have adversely 
affected units’ ability to prepare for their rotations to the centers, and as a 
result, units are arriving ill prepared to engage in the exercises. Although 
units should be proficient at battalion-level tasks when they arrive at the 
centers, many have trained only to the company level, and their leaders 
struggle with the more complicated planning and synchronization tasks 
required for the battalion- and brigade-level exercises conducted at the 
centers. In February 1999, Army Forces Command issued new guidance 
that requires unit commanders to establish training “gates” at their home 
stations to gauge whether their units are prepared to move to more 
complex training levels, including training center exercises. Since the 
guidance does not address the causes of insufficient preparation— 
personnel shortages, turnover, and high operating tempo—strict adherence 
to the guidance may simply serve to exclude some units from valuable 
training center experiences. 

Because units lack proficiency at the battalion level, the centers routinely 
modify conditions in ways that provide less challenging and thereby less 
realistic scenarios than might be encountered on a real battlefield. The 
centers frequently restrict the use of chemical weapons, mines, obstacles, 
artillery, and tactics, and they do not consistently replicate the conditions 


Military Readiness: Full Training Benefits From Army’ s Co m bat Train ing Centers Are Not Be ing 
Realized (GA0/T-NSIAD-99-92, Feb. 2,1999). 


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that would be expected on future battlefields—terrorist actions, operations 
in urban terrain, civilians on the battlefield, and interactions with the 
media. By limiting conditions and not accurately portraying current and 
future threats, the training centers undermine realism and limit the value of 
training exercises. 

The poor condition and age of some pre-positioned equipment at the 
National Training Center and Joint Readiness Training Center further 
degrade training. At the National Training Center, 15 percent of all tank and 
fighting vehicle crews on average are excluded from training because their 
vehicles are broken down; on some days, the number reaches 25 percent. 
In addition, the older equipment used at both centers differs substantially 
from the equipment soldiers have trained on at home, and valuable training 
time is wasted simply becoming familiar with it. As of July 1999, the Army 
was considering various alternatives to improve pre-positioned equipment 
at the National Training Center. 

Commanders cannot take full advantage of the lessons learned at the 
centers due to ineffective take-home materials, a lack of training 
opportunities once they return home, and personnel turnover that prevents 
them from attending to the identified weaknesses. As a result, units are not 
able to address weaknesses identified during training center exercises. 

Although the centers have collected large amounts of data, the Army has 
never standardized data collection and therefore cannot combine 
information to assess trends. Nor has the Army established performance 
measures or a methodology to periodically assess whether the centers are 
achieving their objectives. Consequently, the Army cannot take full 
advantage of its lessons learned and does not know the extent to which 
center exercises are improving unit and leader proficiency. Establishing 
such performance measures is consistent with good management 
principles and is consistent with the Government Performance and Results 
Act, which calls on all government entities to evaluate the results of their 
programs through the use of performance measures. 

This report makes recommendations to the Secretary of the Army that 
would permit units to conduct limited independent training at the centers 
prior to beginning the actual exercises, improve the realism of training, and 
enable the Army to better capitalize on lessons learned at its centers by 
establishing performance measures and an assessment plan. 


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Background 


To achieve the objectives set out in Army Regulation 350-50, the Army 
designed the combat training centers to create a realistic training 
environment, challenge unit leaders with missions against a well-trained 
opposing force, and provide in-depth analyses of performance to units and 
their leaders. Combat training center exercises consist of both 
force-on-force engagements against an opposing force and separate 
live-fire exercises under conditions that are intended to closely parallel 
actual warfare. In addition, the regulation indicates that the scope of 
exercises at the centers should be brigade level or below. Active Army units 
in the United States train at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, 
California, or Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana, about 
once every 18 months, and those in Europe train at the Combat Maneuver 
Training Center, Hohenfels, Germany, about every 12 months. Each of the 
National Guard’s enhanced brigades train at the NTC about once every 8 
years. 

The Army’s three combat training centers offer distinctly different training 
environments. The National Training Center offers an open, mountainous, 
desert setting that allows several battalions to train simultaneously during 
force-on-force exercises against the opposing force. The training area at 
the NTC is roughly the size of Rhode Island. (See fig. 1.) 


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The Combat Maneuver Training Center is the only training area available to 
Army forces in Europe for the conduct of battalion-level exercises. 
According to center officials, geographical limitations of the center’s rolling 
wooded terrain do not allow brigades to train at doctrinal distances, and 
two battalions can only train simultaneously with some acknowledged 
doctrinal degradation. (See fig. 2.) 


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The training areas at the Joint Readiness Training Center include 
swamplands, dense forests, and simulated civilian villages complete with 
role players, as figure 3 shows. 


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The NTC and the CMTC sponsor exercises designed to train armor and 
mechanized infantry units, such as those from the 1st Armored and 3rd 
Infantry Divisions, in a high intensity threat environment. The JRTC 
provides nonmechanized or light forces, such as the 82nd Airborne and the 
10th Mountain Divisions, with exercises in a low-to-medium threat 
environment. Both centers, however, do provide training for task forces 
made up of heavy and light units operating together. The CMTC and the 
JRTC also have constructed mock towns for training in urban warfare. 
Forces from the other military services as well as special operations units 
are also brought into the exercises at all three centers. Brigades and 
battalions deploy to these centers with their associated combat service and 
service support units. 

Each center has an active Army battalion or cavalry regiment, consisting of 
450 to 2,400 soldiers, permanently stationed there to serve as a dedicated 
opposing force. These units are organized and specially trained to replicate 
a hostile force complete with distinctive uniforms, visually modified 
vehicles, and both U.S. and non-U.S. weapons (see fig. 4). 


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At the NTC and the JRTC, the Army has established pre-positioned stocks 
of equipment that units draw and use during the exercises. The NTC 
equipment consists of about 3,800 major pieces of equipment, including 
tanks, fighting vehicles, artillery pieces, personnel carriers, recovery 
vehicles, and various types of wheeled vehicles. Generally, units training at 
the NTC ship their wheeled vehicles and unique equipment items to the 
center, and they draw their tracked vehicles from the pre-positioned 
stocks. The pre-positioned equipment at the JRTC consists of about 1,100 
major pieces of equipment, mainly wheeled vehicles. Units ship their 
tracked vehicles to this center for training. The CMTC does not have a 
pre-positioned stock of equipment. 

To add realism to the exercises and provide a real-time assessment of 
casualties, force-on-force exercises are conducted using the Multiple 
Integrated Laser Engagement System. This system, carried on both 
equipment and troops, lets both soldiers and units know immediately if a 
kill or near kill is scored. Separate live-fire exercises at the NTC and CMTC 
(at nearby Grafenwohr) are conducted against sophisticated target arrays 
and involve armor, infantry, artillery, and air elements. At the JRTC, 
live-fire exercises involve operations in urban terrain as well as combined 
arms exercises. The JRTC and the CMTC also conduct mission rehearsal 


Figure 4: Opposing Force Vehicle and Soldier at the National Training Center 


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exercise’s 3 for units deploying to Bosnia and other contingency operations. 
All of the centers also have a cadre of experienced officers and 
noncommissioned officers who serve as exercise observers and 
controllers. In this capacity, they are responsible for coaching, mentoring, 
and evaluating training units at all levels of organization. The centers also 
provide unit leader training programs for the units prior to their 
deployment to the centers. 

The NTC and the JRTC are the joint responsibility of two Army commands 
in the United States: the U.S. Army Forces Command and the U.S. Army 
Training and Doctrine Command. In Europe, the 7th Army Training 
Command is the parent organization for the CMTC. 


Many units arriving at the training centers cannot take full advantage of 
training opportunities because they lack the requisite skills to effectively 
execute brigade- or battalion-level missions, 4 which is the level of training 
that the centers are designed to provide. Over 50 percent of our survey’s 
respondents cited personnel shortages, personnel turnover, or high 
operating tempo as one of their top three reasons for being ill prepared for 
their training experiences. (Other factors reported as adversely affecting 
training are shown in app. I.) The Army Forces Command recently initiated 
actions to establish training gates to certify a unit’s readiness for training 
center exercises. 

Senior-level officials at all three training centers acknowledged the units’ 
lack of preparedness for the training. They told us that many units arriving 
for training now are substantially less prepared than in the past. The 
commanders of the opposing forces that we talked to said they had 
observed a marked decline in unit proficiency. For example, the opposing 
force commander from the National Training Center, during congressional 
hearings in February 1999, said that the proficiency level of units arriving at 
the National Training Center is much lower now than in the past. He 


’Mission rehearsal exercises are designed to train units to conduct peacekeeping operations by 
replicating the operational environment where they will be deployed and providing realistic training 
scenarios. 

4 A division is divided into brigades, its brigades into battalions, its battalions into companies, and 
companies into platoons, and platoons into squads. For a unit to operate proficiently at the next level, 
it needs to have developed proficiency at the level below. 


Decreased Readiness for 
Battalion-level Training 


Many Units Are Not 
Adequately Prepared 
for Training 


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believes that commanders, staffs, and soldiers at every level—platoon to 
brigade—display a decreasing level of knowledge, skill, and ability to plan, 
conduct, and sustain combat operations. He also told us that, in his 
opinion, training at the NTC would be improved if the training focus were 
changed from the brigade to battalion level. Accompanied by the NTC’s 
Opposing Force (OPFOR) Commander, we observed some of these 
inadequacies ourselves as one training unit conducting a “deliberate 
attack” quickly shifted to a “movement to contact” soon after the exercise 
began. The OPFOR Commander pointed out that (1) the training unit’s 
commander demonstrated no effective command and control over his unit 
and had no reconnaissance plan and (2) his unit had no plan to breach 
obstacles constructed by the OPFOR. He added that this unit was typical 
of most units training at the NTC today. Responses to our questionnaire 
from units that trained at a combat training center in fiscal year 1998 
confirmed this perception. Nearly half of the 96 respondents (47 percent) 
said their unit was only somewhat or marginally ready to execute 
battalion-level tasks at the training center. 

According to Army Forces Command documents, during the late 1980s and 
early 1990s, units reporting to the centers had to undergo an external 
evaluation to certify that they were ready for training. Regulations required 
units to be trained at the battalion level at their home station, and the 
training centers provided the next level of proficiency that could not be 
achieved at home station. In March 1998, the Army dropped the 
prerequisites that units train at the battalion level at their home station and 
be certified as trained before undertaking NTC exercises. According to 
training center officials, this change was in recognition of the fact that 
many units were simply unable to meet these requirements due to 
personnel shortages and high operating tempo. According to Forces 
Command Regulation 350-50-2, battalions participating in force-on-force 
training at the JRTC should have completed train-up exercises from 
platoon through battalion level within 6 months of going to the center, but 
this requirement is not enforced for the same reason. The CMTC only 
requires units to arrive with trained platoons rather than trained companies 
or battalions in recognition of home station training constraints. In 
addition, unlike the other centers that conduct battalion- and brigade-level 
exercises during the entire training rotation, the CMTC provides units with 
exercises that start at the platoon level and build toward battalion-level 
exercises. 


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Factors That Adversely 
Affect Training 


Units responding to our survey identified personnel shortages, high 
personnel turnover, and high operating tempo as the three primary reasons 
they were unable to adequately prepare for their training rotations to the 
combat training centers. 


Personnel Shortages Personnel shortages affect training at the centers by limiting the options 

' commanders have to execute missions. Personnel shortages have many 

causes. 5 These include (1) Army-wide shortages of certain specialties and 
personnel at specific levels, such as combat troops, technical specialists, 
experienced officers, and noncommissioned officers; (2) personnel 
transferred to fill vacancies in deploying units; and (3) personnel 
temporarily borrowed from their units to meet other Army or installation 
requirements. As of April 30,1999, the Army reported an on-board strength 
of about 469,000, which is 11,000 below its authorized strength of 480,000. 
The current on-board number is also about 10,000 less than the on-board 
number from a year ago at this time. 

Some shortages are quite pronounced. For example, for fiscal year 1998, 
the infantry battalions that trained at the JRTC on average arrived with only 
42 of their 54 authorized rifle squads. Many of these consisted of six 
soldiers on average rather than the nine authorized. In other words, units 
arrived with only about half of the personnel authorized for their rifle 
squads. In recent testimony, the commanding general of the Seventh Army 
Training Command stated that over the past 18 months, personnel 
shortages caused units to deploy to the CMTC without fully manned 
infantry squads and tanks. He cited that dismounted infantry strength 
averaged 64 percent, ranging from 30 percent to 100 percent, and that only 
80 percent of the tanks had the required number of personnel. 

Results from our survey confirmed the units’ problems with personnel 
shortages. For example, 10 of the 13 units that trained at the CMTC in 
fiscal year 1998 and responded to our questionnaire said that a shortage of 
personnel at the company and platoon level was one of the three factors 
that had the most negative impact on training. According to the 
Commanding General of the Joint Readiness Training Center, insufficient 
staffing is the single biggest factor adversely affecting training. He noted 
that units that arrive at the center under strength cannot effectively train or 


Military RpaHiness: Observations on Personnel Readiness in Later Deployi ng Army Divisions 
(GAO/T-NSIAD-98-126, Mar. 20,1998). 


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maximize their training experience. Of the 36 units that trained at the JRTC 
in fiscal year 1998 and responded to our questionnaire, 18 said that a 
shortage of personnel was one of the primary factors that negatively 
affected battalion-level training for the exercises. Written comments 
provided by units responding to our survey were also revealing, as shown 
in the following examples: 

“At the time of the rotation, I could only man 18 of the 24 Blackhawks in my battalion. 
Personnel shortages in both aircrews and senior NCO’s adversely affected the training 
during our rotation.” 

“The impact of personnel shortages is obvious when examined against the requirements of 
an Infantry Company and platoon. The battalion was short one line platoon per company. 
We were given approximately two weeks prior to deployment to integrate a platoon from a 
sister battalion. The lack of key leaders in the 11-20 [infantry-sergeant] series had a negative 
impact on company commanders’ and platoon leaders’ ability to conduct effective training.” 

“Prior to NTC, personnel statistics [overall level of manning] were 85 percent. Shortages at 
the platoon level leadership impacted on small unit proficiency/effectiveness. Unit 
maintained two rifle platoons instead of the TOE [authorized] three platoons.” 

“The battalion went to the NTC at 80 percent fill and 20 percent of the personnel were new.” 

“We were not plussed up [augmented from other units] to attend our CTC training. My 
company-sized units were authorized 70 soldiers but deployed with only 55.” 

“The battalion borrowed 16 tank crews from other units to field enough tanks to fight at the 
NTC. Also [the unit] went into platoon/company training with only 2 of 14 tank drivers 
trained to properly operate their vehicles.” 


Personnel Turnover Personnel turnover also hampers units preparing for their rotations to the 

training centers. Of the 96 units that responded to our survey, 49 said that 
turnover had the most negative impact on battalion-level training at home 
station, and 54 said that turnover had the most negative impact at the 
company and platoon levels (see app. I). 

More than half of the respondents to our questionnaire said that personnel 
turnover had a negative impact on company- and battalion-level training. 
Many told us that personnel turnover requires them to teach basic tasks 
more often, which reduces the time available to develop proficiency at 
higher levels. Some of the specific comments provided included the 
following: 


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“High personnel turnover coupled with a shortage of Non-Commissioned Officers degraded 
the battalions’ ability to train and sustain readiness levels. New soldiers entering the 
battalion may not have a first line supervisor to train them.” 

“120 days before going to the NTC, the battalion had massive personnel turnover. 
Examples: 39 percent turnover of warrant officers, 33 percent turnover of crew chiefs, 

54 percent turnover of armament repairers. We went to the NTC with troops that had no 
home station training with the unit.” 

“Personnel turnover at the mid grade and senior level NCO [levels] doesn’t allow the unit to 
build a solid base. Assignments to Recruiting Command, AC/RC, [active personnel 
supporting reserve component units] Korea and U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR), they all 
continue to eat away from your NCO experience within the battalion. The continuous drain 
of NCOs from the battalion after a CTC rotation decreases readiness and unit cohesion.” 


High Operating Tempo 


The Department of Defense’s (DOD) October-December 1998 Quarterly 
Readiness Report highlighted high operating tempo (OPTEMPO) as a key 
factor that has stressed today’s Army. It noted that force size had 
decreased 34 percent since the end of the Cold War, while missions had 
increased 300 percent. As of mid-February 1999, brigades or task forces 
from all but 3 of the Army's 10 divisions were either committed to certain 
parts of the world or were preparing for or recovering from contingency 
operations. In addition, in June 1999, elements of another division (the 
82nd Airborne Division) were committed to operations in Kosovo. The 
Army’s contribution to the international security force in Kosovo, in 
addition to existing commitments in Bosnia and elsewhere, are likely to 
further degrade training at home stations. Units in Europe will be 
especially affected since the 1st Infantry Division in Germany has been 
tasked to provide the majority of the Army’s contribution to that effort. 

The increase in operations other than war (OOTW) since 1991 has 
significantly affected the ability of U.S. military forces to prepare and 
continue to be ready for expected wartime missions. As we reported in 
May 1999, 6 OOTW has affected the combat capability of the military 
services, especially Army units because they generally require more 
recovery time. While the primary mission of combat units is the 
destruction of enemy forces, OOTW primarily focus on peacekeeping tasks 
such as conducting presence patrols, inspecting weapons storage sites, and 
establishing checkpoints. Because units do not conduct armored 


6 Military Operations: Impact of Operations Other Than War on the Services Varies (GAO/NSIAD-99-69, 
May 24,1999). 


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maneuver operations and are relieved from gunnery qualification 
requirements while engaged in OOTW, the skills of individual personnel as 
well as entire units decline. For example, units from the 1st Infantry and 
1st Armored Divisions located in Germany were unable to train on many 
mission-essential tasks at the company- or battalion-levels during repeated 
deployments to Bosnia. Therefore, officials at the Combat Maneuver 
Training Center adjusted their training model for units from these divisions 
to reflect a decreased skill level in units. Several days were set aside at the 
beginning of training for the units to conduct uninterrupted training at the 
company level to refine skills prior to beginning exercises against the 
opposing force. Unit and center officials told us that this time spent at the 
beginning of the rotation paid great dividends during the remainder of the 
training exercises because they were better prepared to fully participate. 

Of the 96 units who responded to our questionnaire, 48 said that OPTEMPO 
had a significant negative effect on training at the company and platoon 
levels at home stations. The following are representative of the comments 
provided by many of the respondents: 

"High OPTEMPO and personnel tempo virtually eliminate any opportunity to conduct 
meaningful collective training or develop strategies for correcting deficiencies .” 

“There is too much on everyone’s agenda. As soon as we returned from JRTC, [I] sent 
3 companies to Southwest Asia and 1 company to Haiti.” 

“(It is] difficult to conduct battalion-level training while [the] unit is being asked to provide 
people and equipment to support multiple brigade and above taskings.” 

"High OPTEMPO severely limits the battalion’s collective training opportunity. You simply 
move from one 'big event’ to the next without chance to pause, evaluate, [or] develop [a] 
strategy to correct deficiencies." 

Since February 1999, when we reported our preliminary findings at a 
congressional hearing, the Army has taken steps to address the 
preparedness of units for combat training center exercises and the 
adequacy of equipment used during the exercises. 


Training Gates Established 
to Certify Units’ Readiness 
to Train at Higher Levels 


On February 26,1999, the Commanding General of Army Forces Command 
issued new training guidance to all unit commanders. This guidance, which 
is expected to be fully implemented by the end of fiscal year 2000, requires 
all unit commanders to establish clearly defined objective criteria to serve 
as “gates” during home station training for determining whether their unit 


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is prepared to move to a more complex training level. The guidance 
requires units to develop a certification program that includes an 
assessment of whether units, staffs, and leaders are prepared for the next 
higher level of training. Unit assessments will be made using the training 
tasks, training conditions, and performance standards contained in the 
Army Training and Evaluation Program guidance that the U.S. Army 
Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) has developed for each type of 
Army unit. 

The guidance also established home station training gates for units 
preparing to conduct combat training center exercises. For example, 
active units must complete an externally evaluated battalion task force 
maneuver exercise, a company and task force fire coordination exercise to 
synchronize both direct and indirect fire weapon systems, platoon-level 
gunnery exercises, and a certification that unit staffs are proficient in 
making tactical decisions. According to the guidance, battalions that do 
not demonstrate proficiency through the formal external evaluation 
process must be retrained and demonstrate proficiency before going to a 
training center. 

Army Forces Command officials expect the gate strategy to have a positive 
effect on training by identifying unit shortfalls and requiring units to 
develop basic proficiency foundations before progressing to more complex 
training. The guidance issued by Forces Command, however, does not 
address how commanders might overcome the factors that they told us had 
the most negative impact on developing proficiency at home stations: that 
is, personnel shortages, personnel turnover, and operating tempo. These 
factors are not likely to dissipate, and they will make it difficult for 
commanders to achieve the goals of this new initiative. Under this training 
strategy, it is possible that some units might be precluded from a combat 
training center experience if they are unable to demonstrate the required 
proficiency. Also, there is an additional consequence of this strategy in that 
the OPTEMPO for leaders of the units not going to the CTCs will increase, 
because the external evaluators must come from units not preparing for 
CTC exercises. 


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Training Conditions 
Are Routinely Limited 
and Current Threat Not 
Always Portrayed 


According to Army Regulation 350-50, training at the combat training 
centers is designed to increase a units’ proficiency by replicating the most 
realistic and challenging battlefield available. However, because units are 
arriving at the centers with lower levels of proficiency than in the past, the 
training centers now routinely adjust training conditions to compensate for 
the degradation. The centers routinely limit the capability of their 
opposing force by restricting its use of chemical weapons, mines, 
obstacles, artillery, and tactics. The following examples illustrate these 
limits: 


• A ceiling is placed on the numbers, types, and times that the opposing 
force can use chemical weapons and mines. As a result, units that 
initially demonstrate a low level of training in chemical environment 
operations or breaching mine obstacles will face fewer of these events. 

• A ceiling is also imposed on the numbers, types, and time of 
employment for artillery. The opposing force commander must obtain 
permission to use additional artillery above this ceiling from center 
officials, who determine whether the additional artillery fires will 
detract from the training objectives. 

• Opposing force reconnaissance elements are now limited to destroying 
a specific number of friendly vehicles with artillery at night. This limit is 
imposed to ensure that training units have sufficient forces to 
commence their mission in the morning. 

Officials at the centers emphasized that providing scenarios with the most 
challenging conditions versus limiting the conditions to better match unit 
capabilities involves trade-offs. On the one hand, it makes sense to limit 
exercise complexity so units can accomplish some training objectives. 
However, on the other hand, without exposure to the full spectrum of 
threat that units will almost certainly face, units may not be adequately 
prepared to face the most demanding threats. Moreover, as one Army 
official told us, many commanders come away from their training with an 
unrealistically high assessment of their individual and unit capabilities 
because they leave the centers thinking that their units performed well, 
when serious unit weaknesses might have been uncovered had training 
conditions not been adjusted to reduce exercise complexity. 

In addition to a less challenging battlefield, the NTC and the CMTC, for the 
most part, are still using a 1970s Soviet threat model to replicate specific 
enemy capabilities. In the future, however, DOD officials believe that U.S. 
forces will most likely face a different type of threat, one whose systems 


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are not fully known in advance of conflict and one that will require new 
approaches to defeat. They also believe that operations in urban settings, 
terrorist activities, and civilians on the battlefield will typify future threats 
and conditions. Past operations in Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, and more 
recently the situation in Kosovo show that the Army’s mechanized and 
nonmechanized forces may need to be prepared to conduct their traditional 
missions (attack, defend, and movement to contact) in urban settings 
where civilians are present and concerns about collateral damage are real. 
Moreover, these operations have shown the importance of knowing how to 
effectively deal with local foreign officials and the media. These 
conditions, however, are not realistically portrayed at all the combat 
training centers. Table 1, which summarizes our observations and data 
provided by officials at the centers, shows that the Joint Readiness Training 
Center has done the most to incorporate expected conditions into its 
exercises, while the National Training Center has done the least. 


Table 1: Comparison of Training Features at the Army’s Combat Training Centers 


National Training Center 

Joint Readiness Training 
Center 

Combat Maneuver Training 
Center 

Operations in urban terrain 

No 

Yes 

Limited to dismounted infantry 

Terrorist activities 

Usually limited to security tests 

Yes 

No 

Civilians on the battlefield 

Usually confined to one 
roadblock 

Yes 

Based on unit proficiency 

Dealings with local officials 

Only before exercises begin 

Yes 

Based on unit proficiency 

Media on the battlefield 

Only before exercises begin 

Yes 

Based on unit proficiency 


Source: Developed by GAO from data provided by CTC officials. 


Officials from all the training centers told us that the JRTC more 
completely portrays the complex environment that units and leaders 
operate in today because it was established to train Special Operations 
Forces and light forces that in the past were tasked to address these types 
of complexities. In contrast, armored units training at the NTC and CMTC 
have been tasked primarily with planning, developing, and maintaining the 
capability to conduct open-area maneuver warfare. According to the 
Commanding General of the NTC, however, this is not the case today 
because Operation Desert Storm showed potential enemies that they 
cannot win on open ground against U.S. forces. Consequently, in his view, 
future conflicts will draw all types of forces into cities and urban areas 
where the enemy can mix with the general population. The Army’s Forces 
Command is studying how to sustain the training relevancy of the combat 


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training centers, and it plans to change the opposing force tactics and 
training scenarios at all centers by the end of the first quarter in fiscal 
year 2001 to make them more relevant to threats and mission requirements 
expected in the next 10 to 15 years. We are currently reviewing the 
services’ efforts to train their personnel in urban warfare in more detail, 
and expect to issue our report in early 2000. 


Maintenance Problems 
and Aging Equipment 
Limit Training 


Pre-positioned equipment at the NTC and JRTC does not adequately 
support the centers’ training mission. A high rate of use at the NTC makes 
equipment maintenance a challenge, and, despite additional funding from 
the Congress, many tank and fighting vehicle crews are excluded from 
training because their vehicles are broken down. In addition, the majority 
of units training at both the NTC and JRTC lose valuable training time as 
they learn to operate equipment that is much older than the equipment they 
use and maintain at home stations. The Army has no pre-positioned 
equipment at the CMTC. 


Maintenance Problems The equipment pre-positioned at the NTC is driven three to five times as 

many miles each year as any unit’s home station equipment, according to 
the NTC commander. Each tank and fighting vehicle at the NTC is run 
about 3,000 miles per year. Such usage, compounded by the rugged terrain, 
heat, and sand at the NTC, creates a significant maintenance challenge for 
center officials. 

To meet this challenge, the center uses a combination of contractor 
services and Army personnel for maintaining equipment. The contractor is 
responsible for servicing the equipment, and two Army direct support 
companies and one general support company stationed at the center make 
repairs. 7 According to Forces Command Regulation 350-50-1, paragraph 
3-5a, the NTC also maintains two brigade sets of equipment designed to 
ensure equipment issued to a training unit is operationally ready. Despite 
these efforts, the Army Inspector General and Army Forces Command 
separately reported the typical unit begins training with only 85 percent to 
90 percent of needed vehicles rated as fully mission capable (FMC) due to 
maintenance backlogs. Equipment rated as FMC does not necessarily meet 


7 A direct support company repairs equipment by replacing parts. A general support company repairs 
equipment by rebuilding major component assemblies. 


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the Army’s equipment maintenance standards. 8 Moreover, because of the 
extensive use of the vehicles (over 300 miles per rotation) and repair parts 
shortages, the number of vehicles that are mission capable rapidly 
decreases to 65 percent to 75 percent over the course of the rotation, 
according to the NTC commander. He also has acknowledged that on 
average, 15 percent of all tank and fighting vehicle crews miss training each 
day because their equipment needs repair. 

Units responding to our survey provided written comments that highlight 
their concerns related to the pre-positioned equipment at the centers. For 
example, 

“The equipment available for draw at the NTC is in horrible condition. Soldiers should not 
have to draw broken equipment that requires several days or even weeks to repair." 

“Extreme waste and abuse. Equipment issued in unsafe condition. The draw and turn in 
took longer than the actual days in training.” 

“Our battalion’s poor maintenance posture during the rotation adversely impacted our 
overall training experience as a battalion. Over one third of our soldiers spent the majority 
of the rotation in the UMCP [Unified Maintenance Control Point] because of broken 
equipment. During the draw, over one half of the Mis [tanks] [and] M2s [fighting vehicles] 
that we drew were deadlined (inoperable due to needed repairs).” 

Over the past 2 years, the Congress has provided the Army $120 million in 
additional funding for the operation and maintenance of the pre-positioned 
equipment at the NTC. According to Army Headquarters officials, these 
funds were programmed for the maintenance and upgrade of NTC 
equipment and were to be used for repair parts, depot-level repairs, and 
supplies and services. Despite this additional funding, the maintenance 
problems at the NTC have become so acute that training units must send 
some of their own maintenance personnel to the center 2 weeks prior to 
training to repair broken equipment for issue. 

The NTC’s June 1999 update to its strategic plan, which sets forth its 
mission and business goals and assesses performance toward these goals, 
also confirms a continuing problem with pre-positioned equipment. The 


8 FMC is defined in the glossary of Army Regulation 220-1. Unit Status Reporting , as equipment that can 
perform all of its missions without endangering the lives of the crew and operators. Equipment can be 
rated as FMC and have inoperable systems that degrade its mission flexibility and usefulness. For 
example, an Ml A1/A2 tank can be FMC with the driver’s night sight, and commander’s independent 
thermal viewer all inoperable. 


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center’s mission capable rate goal for its tracked vehicle fleet is 90 percent. 
However, the actual monthly mission capable rate for these vehicles ranged 
from 65 percent to 80 percent the first 6 months of fiscal year 1999. In 
response to these rates, the center’s strategic plan states that the consistent 
performance below the 90-percent goal is primarily due to the poor 
condition of the fleet. 


Aging Pre-positioned 
Equipment at the NTC and 
JRTC Lessens the Training 
Benefit 


The commanders of the NTC and JRTC have also expressed concerned 
about the age of their pre-positioned equipment. At the Joint Readiness 
Training Center, units are using 30-year-old, 2%-ton, and early model 5-ton 
trucks with manual transmissions, while at home stations, units operate 
5-ton trucks with automatic transmissions. At the NTC, the situation is 
similar. Pre-positioned tanks at the NTC are all first-generation Ml-Al 
models and the Bradley Fighting Vehicles are all first-generation M2-A1 
models. However, at home stations, the Army units have second- and 
third-generation tanks and third- and fourth-generation fighting vehicles. 
Our comparison of serial numbers on the fighting vehicles at the NTC with 
Army inventory records shows that some vehicles came off the assembly 
line in 1981, the first year they were produced, and that the average age of 
all the NTC’s fighting vehicles is 13 years. Army Forces Command data 
show about a 40-percent commonality between the equipment training 
units have at home station and what they draw from NTC pre-positioned 
stocks. 


Requiring units to use older equipment with different capabilities creates 
(1) safety problems because soldiers are not familiar with fire control 
systems and switch locations, (2) performance degradation because target 
identification and designation systems are different, and (3) maintenance 
problems because older vehicles do not have built-in diagnostic systems. 
As a result, the centers are obliged to devote training time to teaching 
soldiers how to operate obsolete equipment, which is “a waste of valuable 
time and resources,” according to the JRTC commander. In addition, 
maintenance personnel have to maintain and repair equipment that is 
different than that owned by the unit and for which they have been trained, 
which degrades the usefulness of the training for them. 


Army Study Reviews 
Alternatives to Improve 
Equipment 


The Department of the Army Headquarters is currently reviewing the 
results of the Army Forces Command’s January 1999 study of options 
available for providing the equipment needed for training at the NTC. The 
study concluded that the current system of pre-positioning tracked and 


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wheel vehicles was ineffective because of the significant difference 
between the equipment at the center compared to the equipment units 
trained on at home stations. Although there are several different models of 
each type of vehicle assigned to the operational units, even the least 
modernized unit does not have some of the older equipment models 
pre-positioned at the NTC. This difference between training center and 
home station equipment, according to the study, significantly impedes 
training since crews have to be retrained to use and maintain older 
equipment. 

The study examined three alternatives for meeting the equipment needs of 
units at the NTC. The first alternative, the modernization of the equipment 
at the center, was discounted because (1) $976 million would be required to 
modernize the tracked vehicles, (2) maintenance costs at the centers would 
increase, and (3) a large number of personnel would be needed to support 
equipment issue and turn-in. The second alternative, requiring units to ship 
all needed equipment to the center, was discounted because of the 
transportation costs to the training units. The alternative recommended by 
the study is to (1) modernize the wheeled vehicles at the center and (2) 
require the units to ship their tracked vehicles to the center at an estimated 
cost of $222 million through fiscal year 2009. This alternative, according to 
the study, would avoid the cost of modernizing the tracked vehicles, allow a 
reduction in contract maintenance costs of an estimated $104 million 
annually, and eliminate the necessity of training units on older equipment. 
The Army had not made a decision on whether to accept the recommended 
alternative as of July 1999. 


Exercise Results Are 
Not Routinely Used to 
Improve Proficiency 


According to the Army’s training center regulation, take-home packages are 
provided to each unit to document all of its after action reviews, describe 
performance strengths and weaknesses, and recommend a focus for home 
station training. However, we found that ineffective take-home packages 
and a lack of training opportunities at their home stations diminish the 
value of units’ training experiences at the centers. Consequently, systemic 
weaknesses demonstrated by units during training center exercises are not 
being addressed. 


Responses to our survey indicate that 30 percent of the commanders felt 
that take-home packages were marginally useful or not useful. Another 
35 percent believed the take-home packages to be somewhat useful. 
Several commanders described their packages as worthless because they 
were written in generic language and lacked specificity. One commander 


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noted that the package arrived a full 3 months after the rotation ended; 
another noted that he had not received any feedback or materials from his 
unit’s rotation to the training center. A third described the take-home 
materials as an afterthought, built around the shortcomings of people, not 
systems. Finally, one seemed surprised at his package, noting that its 
content did not seem to match the comments provided at the after-action 
reviews provided during the exercise. 

Commanders also cited limited training opportunities when they return to 
home station as inhibiting units from using training center results to 
improve their skills. Most units begin a support and recovery cycle 9 
immediately following training center exercises and at the same time begin 
to lose many of the people who participated in the exercise. Forty-two 
percent of the units who responded to our questionnaire said training 
center exercises were only marginally useful or not useful at all after only 
3 months. Only 22 percent of the commanders said their units had been 
able to maintain unit strengths at the company level and train on 
weaknesses after returning to home station. Moreover, 26 percent and 
27 percent, respectively, said their units had been able to conduct only a 
minimum amount of training at the company or battalion levels. 

Another reason for the limited usefulness of exercise results is the 
significant personnel turnover that occurs in units following training center 
exercises. One commander at Fort Hood, for example, said that personnel 
turnover had left the battalion mostly untrained within 30 days of its return 
from the NTC. His unit lost 16 tank crews that it had borrowed from other 
units for the exercise, 14 platoon leaders had changed jobs, and 4 company 
executive officers and 10 platoon leaders also left the unit. As result, the 
unit that was left to put its lessons learned to use was far different from the 
one that trained at the center. Table 2 summarizes the percent of key 
leaders lost by units within 90 days after training at a center in fiscal year 
1998, as reported to us by unit commanders who responded to our 
questionnaire. 


9 A support and recovery cycle Is a period of time after a major exercise during which units, for example, 
provide leave for personnel, repair and clean equipment, or order new spare parts. 


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Table 2: Key Leaders Lost Within 90 Days in Units That Trained at the Combat 
Training Centers (fiscal year 1998) 

Key leader 

Percent of units that lost this leader 

Battalion commander 


21 

Battalion executive officer 


55 

Battalion personnel officer (S-1) 


53 

Battalion intelligence officer (S-2) 


56 

Battalion operations officer (S-3) 


57 

Battalion maintenance officer (S-4) 


53 


Note: Based on responses from 96 units. 

Source: Developed by GAO from questionnaire responses. 


When information provided by commanders on personnel turnover and 
training accomplished by the units 90 days following training center 
exercises is compared with the readiness reported by the units for the same 
90-day period, a significant disparity is revealed. The formal readiness 
assessments submitted 10 do not reflect the lack of opportunity to train on 
weaknesses identified during the exercises or the rapid loss of experienced 
leaders following the training. As a result many units reported very high 
levels of readiness for months after their training center exercises even 
though serious training shortcomings identified at the centers had not been 
corrected and the majority of senior unit leaders had been lost due to 
personnel turnover. Fifty-four of the 96 battalions that returned our survey 
reported the same or a higher level of overall readiness, personnel 
readiness, and training readiness, even though 95 percent reported a 
significant loss of key personnel during the first 90 days after the training 
center exercises and 76 percent of the commanders reported being unable 
to work on all weaknesses identified at the center. 


'“Under the Status of Resources and Training System (SORTS) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 


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Assessment Plan 
Needed to Better 
Integrate Lessons 
Learned Into Army 
Training and Doctrine 


The Army has not implemented a plan for adequately assessing training 
results for the purpose of integrating them with the Army’s training and 
doctrine development activities. Consequently, the Army is not effectively 
capitalizing on the lessons that it learns from its training centers. 
Specifically, improvements to training and doctrine are hampered by a lack 
of standardized data to assess trends and performance measures to 
evaluate the effectiveness of the centers in meeting their objectives. 


rpntprs T ark Standardized The Army has gathered large amounts of data at its combat training centers 

Data for more than 15 years. However, despite being one of the Army's key 

1 c objectives for establishing the centers, past data collection efforts have not 

consistently been used to improve Army training and doctrine. Because it 
has not standardized data collection programs at its centers, information 
from the centers cannot be combined to assess trends. Moreover, each 
center has a different contractor for data collection and each uses its own 
proprietary computer software. The cumulative effect is that much of the 
information collected cannot be used by the Army’s Combined Arms Center 
(CAC) to develop lessons learned from the exercises. For example, one 
study conducted by the Army Center for Lessons Learned (CALL) 11 
revealed that 90 percent of the instrumentation data collected at the CTCs 
is not sent to CALL to be archived. However, even if the data were sent to 
CALL, it does not have the capability to read the data. 

The problems with data collection and analysis at the Army’s training 
centers have existed for a long time. In July 1986, we reported that the 
Army had not adequately defined its analysis needs and corresponding data 
requirements, nor developed criteria for performance measurement. 12 We 
concluded that the Army had spent millions of dollars collecting 
information that it was reluctant to rely on for developing Army-wide 
lessons. Today, the situation is not fundamentally different. 

In 1995, CAC developed a plan for collecting, analyzing, archiving, and 
disseminating combat training center data. During the period January 
through June 1995, CAC, with contractor assistance, identified the data 


n The Center for Lessons Learned, a component of the Army's Combined Arms Center, collects, 
analyzes, and disseminates lessons learned from training and actual operations to the total Army via 
written reports and an electronic database. 

12 Army Training: National Training Center's Potential Has Not Bee n Realized (GAO/NSIAD-86-130, 
July 23,1986). 


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needs of the centers, Army schools and doctrine proponents, and unit 
leaders. The ability of data collection systems to meet these needs was 
then assessed. The study group concluded that the data being collected did 
not support the needs of most users outside the centers, and CAC 
developed a master plan to meet the requirements. The in-depth plan 
provided the framework for on-site teams of 10 personnel to collect and 
collate data at each center from units, training center observer-controllers, 
and the existing instrumentation systems. However, the Army’s Training 
and Doctrine Command decided not to fund the program. The estimated 
cost to implement this plan was about $2 million. Consequently, the data 
collected today is essentially the same as was collected in 1995, and a plan 
for implementing data collection methods to meet Army needs and fulfill 
one of the objectives for establishing the centers has still not been 
implemented. 


Centers Lack Performance 
Measures 


An even more fundamental weakness is that the Army has no standard 
performance measures to gauge how well the centers are carrying out their 
assigned responsibilities nor has it conducted an assessment of the center’s 
effectiveness either individually or collectively. A set of measures would 
provide a set of benchmarks that the Army could use to better focus the 
training conducted at these centers and better gauge whether training at 
the centers is improving the readiness of the Army’s units to fight in these 
larger formations. Establishing such performance measures is a 
fundamental management principle and is consistent with the Government 
Performance and Results Act, which calls on all government entities to 
evaluate the results of their programs through the use of performance 
measures. 


Without such measures, the Army is left to a subjective ad hoc system of 
measurement. For example, a 1998 review by the Army’s Center for 
Lessons Learned showed that units training at the NTC have continued to 
make many of the same mistakes since 1994 (see table 3). The Army has 
not developed a similar analysis for the other centers because the data 
needed is not available. 


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Table 3: Examples of Recurring Problems Demonstrated by Units at the NTC Since 1994 

Battlefield operating 
system 

Problem area 

Examples 

Maneuver 

Direct fire planning 
and execution 

Company/teams tend to develop a scheme of movement and not a scheme of fire 
and maneuver. Inadequate fire control within companies results in ineffective 
placement of fires on the enemy. 


Movement formations 
and techniques 

Forces do not take effective action when in contact with the enemy. Units have 
problems massing combat power and fight piecemeal. 


Use of dismounted 
infantry 

Battle staffs seldom consider dismounted infantry in planning. Dismounted 
infantry is not integrated with the scheme of maneuver. Commanders do not 
specify a clear task and purpose for dismounted infantry. 

Fire support 

Integration of fire 
support with 
maneuver 

Commanders do not integrate artillery with maneuver forces, resulting in 
inadequate support, unclear orders, and confusion. As a result, commanders 
cannot control or mass all weapons systems. 

Command and control 

Battle tracking and 
predictive analysis 

Staffs do not give their commanders sufficient information for effective mission 
analysis. Units do a poor job of reporting information to the tactical operations 
center. 


Military decision 
making process 

Staffs lack the training required to conduct the military decision-making process to 
standard. Commanders often dominate the planning process. Commanders too 
often spend most of their time at the main command post supervising staff. 


Troop leading and 
discipline 

Company/team leaders do not regularly conduct precombat checks or 
inspections. Small arms weapons are not properly maintained and cleaned. 

Field sanitation standards are not enforced. Noise and light discipline are not 
maintained. 

Mobility and survivability/ 
nuclear, biological, chemical 

Force protection 

When units encounter chemical agents, they do not have a plan to react. Units 
are generally unprepared to conduct thorough chemical decontamination 
operations. 


Obstacles 
coordination and 
integration 

Obstacles are not planned or emplaced to enhance the overall capabilities. 
Commanders have weak knowledge of obstacle integration procedures. 

Fratricide incidents are increased because minefield records are incomplete or 
not forwarded to higher headquarters as required. 


Breaching operations 

Units fail to plan deliberate breach operations even when mission analysis clearly 
indicates that it is appropriate. Fundamentals of breaching operations are not 
understood or implemented. 

Combat service support 

Medical support 
planning and 
execution 

Medical personnel do not see wounded soldiers in a timely manner. The typical 
died-of-wounds rate is seldom below 50 percent. Casualty evacuation is a 
serious problem. 


Note: The examples shown were identified in the source analysis as continuing through each quarter 
since 1994. 

Source: Analysis of NTC exercise results conducted by the Army’s Center for Army Lessons Learned. 


In October 1996 TRADOC established a remedial action program (T-RAP) 
to correct unit deficiencies and improve performance using trend 
observation to (1) identify recurring problems affecting unit performance, 
(2) develop and implement comprehensive solutions, and (3) validate that 


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solutions are implemented. The program has not been very successful 
because accurate and complete data to use in identifying recurring 
problems were lacking and the program lacks an enforcement mechanism 
for implementing changes. According to Army officials, the Army’s 
Combined Arms Center plans nevertheless to re-emphasize the T-RAP 
program. However, the benefits that could be derived from Army efforts to 
reverse negative trends through T-RAP cannot be realized until a 
comprehensive data collection and analysis plan is implemented at the 
CTCs. 

Notwithstanding the fact that 83 percent our survey’s respondents said that 
the exercises were very useful in enhancing battalion- and company-level 
proficiency, they also identified aspects of training at the CTCs that they 
believe should be changed to make the exercises better in preparing units 
to accomplish assigned missions. Table 4 shows the areas where the 
commanders believe improvement is needed. 


Table 4: Aspects of Training That Commanders Believe Need to Be Improved 

Training aspects 

Total 

NTC 

JRTC 

CWITC 

Number of respondents 

96 

40 

41 

15 

Take home materials for use at home station 

27 

10 

15 

2 

Equipment draw procedures at the CTC 

23 

16 

5 

2 

After action reviews 

21 

9 

11 

1 

Live-fire exercises 

20 

8 

8 

4 

Deployment from home station to the CTC 

11 

4 

4 

3 

Force-on-force exercises 

10 

3 

3 

4 


Source: GAO survey on CTCs. 


As shown by the table, a number of respondents felt that their training 
center experiences could have been enhanced through better take-home 
packages, improved procedures for drawing pre-positioned equipment, and 
more effective after action reports. For example, 27 of the 96 respondents 
believed that improvements could be made in the take-home packages for 
use at home station. 


Conclusions 


The Army is operating training centers that are rightfully the envy of the 
rest of the world's armies, allied and enemy alike. Collectively, they offer 
diverse physical environments that provide realistic battlefield conditions 


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enabling the Army’s personnel to experience the closest thing possible to 
actual combat. Their sophisticated instrumentation and network of trained 
observers provide unparalleled opportunities to develop leaders and 
improve the readiness of the Army’s units to engage in combat. Over 
83 percent of the units responding to our survey believed their training at a 
combat training center was very useful in enhancing their unit’s combat 
proficiency. However, the objectives the Army established for its combat 
training centers to increase unit readiness, produce bold leaders, embed 
doctrine, and provide feedback and a data source for lessons learned are 
not being fully realized. 

Several persistent problems—personnel shortages, turnover, and high 
operating tempo—have decreased the benefits of training exercises at the 
combat training centers because they have inhibited units from being fully 
prepared for the training. The Army’s Forces Command has recently taken 
a first step toward improving unit preparedness for training at the NTC and 
JRTC by requiring units in the future to be certified as ready for the 
training. Notwithstanding the benefits of a certification program, the 
problems related to personnel shortages, turnover, and high operating 
tempo are likely to continue to adversely affect training at home stations, 
and the Army has not factored those problems into the certification 
process. 

Optimally, units would be fully resourced and allowed to conduct several 
months of uninterrupted training in preparation for training center 
exercises. But, in today’s environment, where a smaller force is being used 
for an increased number of operations, such a situation is not feasible. In 
recognition of the impact of these factors on home station training 
programs, one center—the CMTC—has provided units with preparatoiy 
training time at the center before exercises begin. Unit commanders and 
center officials believe this investment has resulted in effective training for 
the units. 

The problems of maintaining pre-positioned equipment and the age of it 
have also detracted from units training experiences at the NTC and the 
JRTC. Because of the amount of equipment that is not in service at any 
given time, units and personnel miss valuable training experiences at the 
centers that cannot be emulated at home station. The problem of being 
unfamiliar with equipment also degrades the training experience. 

Training conditions at the centers are being made less stringent to 
compensate for unit shortcomings. As a result, the threats and conditions 


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that units will certainly face on future battlefields are not routinely 
portrayed. These threats and conditions such as dealing with terrorists, 
operations in urban terrain, and civilians on the battlefield are not routinely 
incorporated into the exercises at each of the centers. By limiting the 
conditions and not accurately portraying current and future threats, the 
value of the training provided at these centers is diminished. Moreover, 
because many of the conditions cannot be replicated at home stations, 
units and their leaders are being denied the best opportunity to prepare for 
the demanding conditions of present and future operations. 

The Army has not made a commitment to achieving its objective of 
collecting data at the centers to facilitate Army-wide lessons learned, 
research, and doctrine development. Until the Army implements a plan to 
collect the information needed by all organizations and establishes 
performance measures consistent with the Government Performance and 
Results Act, one of the most important reasons for establishing and 
operating the centers will remain unmet. 


RprnmmpnHations We recommend that the Secretary of the Army direct the Commanders of 

the Army Forces Command, the Army Training and Doctrine Command, 

and the Seventh Army Training Command to take the following actions to 
enhance the value of the Army’s combat training centers to the Army and to 
units training at the centers. 

• Amend training exercise schedules at the centers so that time is 
allocated at the beginning of each training rotation for units to conduct a 
limited amount of internal unit training before the center’s 
observers/controllers and OPFOR begin training with the units. While 
this might lengthen the total training time by a few days, the gains in unit 
synchronization and execution skills and the improved familiarization 
with pre-positioned equipment can be expected to increase the training 
benefits to units and their leaders. 

• In accordance with Army Regulation 350-50, paragraphs 1-5 and 1-6, 
which stipulates that the centers will use the most realistic and 
challenging training conditions available, incorporate into the exercises 
at each combat training center the full spectrum of threats, opposing 
forces capabilities, and conditions that units are likely to encounter in 
future conflicts, especially ones that cannot be easily duplicated at 
home stations. Specific emphasis should be afforded to operations in 
urban terrain, dealing with terrorists, operations with military forces 


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from other countries, and activities involving civilians on the battlefield 
and interactions with the media. 

• Develop and implement a comprehensive data requirements and 
collection plan to enable center officials to systematically collect data 
that can be used to improve training and doctrine. This plan should 
include (1) an approach for linking the centers by using compatible 
computer software so that Army-wide assessments can be made, 

(2) performance measures and the methodology to be used to 
periodically assess whether the centers are meeting their objectives, and 

(3) the specific information needed by research organizations, training 
and doctrine development commands, the centers, and units. The data 
collection plan developed by the Army Combined Arms Center in 1995 
would serve as a good basis for developing a current plan to collect and 
analyze pertinent data for Army-wide use. 

We are not making any recommendations on the pre-positioned fleets at 
NTC and JRTC since the Army is currently reviewing various alternatives to 
address the problems noted in this report and by others. Nevertheless, it is 
important that the Army promptly decide on a course of action to deal with 
these problems if units are to derive maximum benefits from their training 
at the centers. 


Agency Comments and 
Our Evaluation 


In commenting on a draft of this report (see app. IV), DOD said that it 
generally concurred with our findings and recommendations. With respect 
to our recommendation to amend training exercise schedules so that time 
is allocated at the beginning of each training rotation for units to conduct 
internal training, DOD said the idea had merit and that it would review the 
balance and prioritization of training events at the centers to maximize 
training effectiveness. Although DOD did not elaborate on what such a 
review would entail, we believe that it is reasonable to expect that the 
review would compare the training needs identified during a unit’s home 
station training and readiness evaluation in preparation for CTC training to 
the skills needed for units to successfully conduct battalion- and 
brigade-level exercises. It is also our expectation that the Army would 
consider alternatives for facilitating internal unit training after units arrive 
at the training centers. For example, there may be opportunities to 
streamline the activities presently conducted by units at the centers at the 
beginning and end of their force-on-force exercises. Alternatively, some 
force-on-force training could be sacrificed to allow time for initial internal 
training. Finally, on rare occasions, the centers might need to lengthen a 
rotation by a day or two. DOD also stated that the Forces Command 


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commander has recently addressed this issue by requiring that units in the 
future pass mandatory training gates prior to a CTC rotation. Our report 
discusses this change but notes that, problems with unit training are likely 
to persist because the Army has not factored personnel shortages, 
turnover, and high operating tempo into this initiative. 

With respect to our recommendation that the training centers provide the 
most realistic and challenging training conditions possible, incorporating 
the full spectrum of threats and enemy capabilities, DOD stated it has 
already started a comprehensive review of the opposing force and 
battlefield dynamics at the centers. According to DOD, the results of this 
review, which are expected in the fall of 1999 will form the basis for 
developing future CTC training scenarios that train units to counter the full 
spectrum of threats. 

With regard to our recommendation to develop and implement a 
comprehensive data requirements and collection plan for the centers to 
provide the Army with data to improve training and doctrine, DOD stated it 
will, as we suggested, use the CTC Data Master Plan developed by the Army 
Combined Arms Center in 1995 as a basis for implementing such a system. 
DOD also noted implementation of a more effective data collection and 
analysis system for the centers is essential to the Army’s renewed emphasis 
on identifying training deficiency trends and developing corrective actions. 


As agreed with your office, unless you publicly announce the contents of 
this report earlier, we will not distribute it until 30 days from the date of 
this letter. At that time, we will send copies of this report to interested 
congressional committees. We are also sending copies of this report to the 
Honorable William S. Cohen, Secretary of Defense and the Honorable Louis 
Caldera, Secretary of the Army. Copies will also be made available to 
others upon request. 


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B-283334 


Key contacts and contributors on this assignment are listed in appendix V. 




Mark E. Gebicke 
Director, National Security 
Preparedness Issues 


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GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness 





Contents 

Letter 

l 

Appendix I 

Factors Adversely 

Affecting Home Station 

Training as Reported 
by Units on Our Survey 

36 

Appendix II 

Results of Our Survey 
on Army Combat 

Training Centers 

37 

Appendix III 

Objectives, Scope, and 

Methodology 

39 

Appendix IV 

Comments From the 

Department of Defense 

42 

Appendix V 

GAO Contacts and 

Staff 

Acknowledgments 

45 


Tables 


Table 1: Comparison of Training Features at the Army’s Combat 
Training Centers 


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GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness 




Contents 


Table 2: Key Leaders Lost Within 90 Days in Units That Trained at the 
Combat Training Centers (fiscal year 1998) 23 

Table 3: Examples of Recurring Problems Demonstrated by 

Units at the NTC Since 1994 26 

Table 4: Aspects ofTraining That Commanders Believe Need to Be 

Improved 27 

Table 1.1: Battalion-level Training 36 

Table 1.2: Company/Platoon-level Training 36 


Figure 1: Desert Environment at the National Training Center 5 

Figure 2: Wooded Terrain at the Combat Maneuver Training Center 6 
Figure 3: Mock Civilian Village at the Joint Readiness Training Center 7 


Figure 4: Opposing Force Vehicle and Soldier at the National Training 
Center 


Abbreviations 

CAC 

Combined Arms Center 

CALL 

Center for Army Lessons Learned 

CMTC 

Combat Manuever Training Center 

CTC 

Combat Training Center 

FMC 

fully mission capable 

JRTC 

Joint Readiness Training Center 

NTC 

National Training Center 

OPFOR 

Opposing Force 

OPTEMPO 

Operating Tempo 

OOTW 

operations other than war 

SORTS 

Status of Resources and Training System 

TRADOC 

Training and Doctrine Command 

T-RAP 

TRADOC Remedial Action Program 


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Appendix I _ 

Factors Adversely Affecting Home Station 
Training as Reported by Units on Our Survey 


Table 1.1: Battalion-level Training 

Number of respondents 

Personnel shortages 

55 

Personnel turnover 

49 

Overall operating tempo 

45 

Training ranges and maneuver space 

32 

Special duties and personnel taskings 

29 

Training money 

26 

Other 

14 

Equipment condition 

6 

Peacekeeping operations 

4 

Equipment shortages 

2 


Table 1.2: Company/Platoon-level Training 

Number of respondents 

Personnel shortages 

61 

Personnel turnover 

54 

Overall operating tempo 

48 

Special duties and personnel taskings 

30 

Training ranges and maneuver space 

26 

Training money 

14 

Other 

11 

Equipment condition 

7 

Peacekeeping operations 

5 

Equipment shortages 

4 


Notes: Based on responses from 96 battalions that trained at an Army Combat Training Center during 
fiscal year 1998. 

Respondents identified multiple factors in their responses. 


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GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness 




Appendix II _ 

Results of Our Survey on Army Combat 
Training Centers 


In relation to your unit’s wartime mission and the expected conditions and 
threat, how useful or relevant were the exercises at the combat training 
center (CTC) in each of the following areas? 



Somewhat Marginally 



Very useful 

useful 

useful 

Not useful 

No response 

Number of respondents 

Battalion-level proficiency in general 

80 

15 

1 

0 

0 

Company-level proficiency in general 

81 

15 

0 

0 

0 

METL proficiency for: 

- Combat arms units 

65 

7 

5 

3 

16 

- Combat support units 

54 

17 

3 

4 

18 

- Combat service support units 

63 

23 

4 

1 

5 

Individual proficiency for: 

- Combat arms soldiers 

60 

14 

4 

3 

15 

- Support soldiers 

62 

14 

2 

3 

15 

- Service support soldiers 

76 

17 

2 

0 

1 

Unit deployment procedures 

55 

31 

9 

1 

0 

Supply/maintenance procedures 

56 

33 

5 

1 

1 

Sustainment operation 

65 

28 

2 

1 

0 

Medical treatment and evacuation 

60 

27 

9 

0 

0 

Personnel replacement 

27 

37 

21 

11 

0 

Military operations in urban terrain 

19 

14 

22 

35 

6 

The handling of civilians on the battlefield 

42 

27 

17 

10 

0 

Responding to terrorist activities 

22 

26 

26 

19 

3 

Responding to chemical attack 

39 

38 

11 

6 

2 

Coordinating joint operations 

9 

25 

22 

33 

7 


Notes: Based on responses from 96 battalions that trained at an Army Combat Training Center during 
fiscal year 1998. 

Respondents identified multiple factors in their responses. 


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GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness 






Appendix II 

Results of Our Survey on Army Combat 
Training Centers 


In relation to your unit’s wartime mission, how would you describe the 
following aspects of CTC training in relation to improving the ability of 
your units and overall readiness? 




Very useful 

Somewhat 

useful 

Marginally 

useful 

Not useful 

No response 

Number of respondents 

Deployment from home station to the CTC 

50 

34 

10 

1 

1 

Equipment draw procedures at the CTC 

20 

23 

33 

13 

7 

Force-on-force exercises 

75 

18 

1 

1 

1 

Live fire exercises 

60 

16 

9 

3 


After action reviews 

61 

25 

9 

1 

0 

CTC take-home materials for use at home 
station 

31 

34 

23 

7 

1 

Follow-on training conducted since return to 
home station 

36 

37 

20 

3 

0 


Considering the personnel turnover in your unit and training opportunities 
since the CTC rotation, how useful were the exercises in relation to 
determining training needs and assessing unit readiness at each of the 
following time intervals? 



Very useful 

Somewhat 

useful 

Marginally 

useful 

Not useful 

No response 

Number of respondents 

Immediately upon return to home station 

59 

23 

8 

6 

0 

One month after return to home station 

43 

34 

13 

5 

1 

Two months after return to home station 


37 

19 

4 

2 

Three months after return to home station 

26 

40 

22 

6 

2 

Now 

25 

30 

29 

11 

1 


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GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness 





Appendix III 


Objectives, Scope, and Methodology 


The objectives of our review were to determine (1) whether units training 
at the Army Combat Training Centers are adequately prepared for the 
exercises; (2) whether training exercises are realistic in terms of expected 
battlefield conditions; (3) whether pre-positioned equipment adequately 
supports the training mission; (4) how units use lessons learned at the 
centers; and (5) how the Army uses the results of the exercises to help 
revise training and improve the Army’s training doctrine. Our review 
focused on active component Army units. 

An important tool for our review was a questionnaire sent to each 
commander of all 123 battalions that trained at one of the three Army 
Combat Training Centers in fiscal year 1998. We received complete 
responses from 104 (85 percent) of the units. Eight of these responses 
were unusable because the respondents were not with the unit when it 
trained at the center in 1998. We tabulated results from the remaining 96 
valid responses for report purposes. The valid responses represent 40 units 
that trained at the NationalTraining Center (NTC), 41 that trained at the 
Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC), and 15 that trained at the Combat 
Manuever Training Center (CMTC). 

We also consulted with staff from the Army Inspector General’s Office 
regarding their study of the Army’s Combat Training Centers. 

To determine whether units training at the centers are adequately prepared 
for the exercises, we visited all three Army combat training centers. At the 
centers, we interviewed key center officials from the command operations 
group, the opposing force commanders, and center observer/controllers. 
At each of the centers, we also spoke with and obtained information from 
unit commanders and personnel who were participating in exercises at 
each of the centers about their preparations for their rotation to a training 
center. We also visited the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort 
Stewart, Georgia, to obtain information from the command staff of five 
battalions that used the National Training Center in fiscal year 1998. Lastly, 
through the use of our questionnaire, we obtained information from 96 
battalions regarding their experiences in preparing for a CTC rotation. We 
also obtained personnel information regarding the Army’s on-board 
strength and operating tempo from various sources, including the 
Department of Defense’s (DOD) quarterly readiness report. To determine 
whether training exercises are realistic in terms of expected battlefield 
conditions, we had discussions with the command operations group, 
opposing force commanders, and observer/controllers at each of the 
centers, and we observed unit training exercises at the combat training 


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Appendix III 

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology 


centers. At each center the Army provided an experienced escort officer to 
ensure our understanding of mission objectives and actions taken by the 
training unit in response to the opposing force threat. We also visited the 
Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) at Fort Monroe, 
Virginia, to determine the basis for the threats portrayed at the combat 
training centers; we interviewed responsible officials at TRADOC’s 
Intelligence Directorate and reviewed appropriate documentation. We 
used data from our survey to obtain information from units that had trained 
at the centers about the scenarios and battlefield conditions portrayed at 
the centers. We also reviewed pertinent documentation from the Army’s 
Forces Command. 

To determine whether pre-positioned equipment adequately supports the 
training mission we reviewed pertinent documentation from the NTC and 
JRTC, observed equipment being issued, discussed equipment maintenance 
and age problems with appropriate officials at the training centers, 
compared equipment on-hand at the National Training Center with Army 
inventory records to determine the age of equipment at the center, and 
solicited information from unit commanders using our questionnaire. We 
also worked closely with officials from the Army’s Inspector General’s 
Office who reviewed equipment issues at the centers during the same time 
frame as our study. 

To determine how units use lessons learned from the centers we reviewed 
after action reports to determine their organization and the specificity of 
their comments and recommendations, we attended after action reviews at 
the centers, and we solicited information from battalion commanders who 
completed our questionnaire. We also compared (1) personnel turnover in 
these units as well as their training to correct problems identified at the 
centers during the 3 months following CTC training and (2) the readiness 
reported by these unit commanders under the Status of Resources and 
Training System for the same 3-month period. We made this analysis to 
determine whether these factors were used to report readiness. 

To determine how the Army uses results of training exercises to help revise 
training and improve doctrine, we performed work at Department of the 
Army Headquarters, Army Forces Command Headquarters, Army Training 
and Doctrine Command Headquarters, and Seventh ArmyTraining 
Command Headquarters. At these locations, we interviewed responsible 
personnel and obtained existing Army regulations concerning Army 
assessment requirements and procedures. We also visited the Army’s 
Combat Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. There we met with 


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GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness 




Appendix III 

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology 


responsible officials at the Center for Army Lessons Learned and obtained 
appropriate documentation. 

We conducted our review from September 1998 to July 1999 in accordance 
with generally accepted government auditing standards. 


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GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness 




Appendix IV _ 

Comments From the Department of Defense 



OFFICE OF THE UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE 
4000 DEFENSE PENTAGON 
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20301-4000 


September 1,1999 


PERSONNEL AND 
READINESS 


Mr. Mark E. Gebicke 
Director 

National Security Preparedness Issues 
National Security and International Affairs Division 
U. S. General Accounting Office 
Washington, DC 20548 


Dear Mr. Gebicke: 


Attached is our response to the General Accounting Office (GAO) draft report, 
“MILITARY READINESS: Full Training Benefits From Army’s Combat Training Centers Arc 
Not Being Realized,” dated July 30, 1999, (GAO Code 703250/OSD Case 1980). The 
department concurs generally with the findings and recommendation and appreciates the 
opportunity to comment on the recommendations contained in the report. Specific responses to 
the GAO’s recommendations are attached. 



Thomas K. Longstreth 
Deputy Under Secretary of Defense 
(Readiness) 


Enclosures: a/s 


o 


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GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness 





Appendix IV 

Comments From the Department of Defense 


GAO DRAFT REPORT - GAO/NSIAD-99-210 
(GAO CODE 703250) OSD CASE 1870 

’’MILITARY READINESS: FULL TRAINING BENEFITS FROM ARMY’S 
COMBAT TRAINING CENTERS ARE NOT BEING REALIZED” 

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE COMMENTS 

RECOMMENDATION : The GAO recommended that the Secretary of the Army direct 
the Commanders of the Army Forces Command, the Army Training and Doctrine 
Command, and the Seventh Army Training Command to take the following actions to 
enhance the value of the Army's combat training centers to the Army and to units training 
at the centers. 

Part a : Amend training exercise schedules at the centers so that time is 
allocated at the beginning of each training rotation for units to conduct a 
limited amount of internal unit training before the center's 
observers/comrollers and OPFOR begin training with units. While this 
might lengthen the total training time by a few days, the gains in unit 
synchronization and execution skills and improved familiarization with 
equipment provided by the centers, can be expected to increase the 
training benefits to units and their leaders. (pp.32-33/GAO Draft Report) 


POD RESPONSE: Concur 

The Army is committed to correcting the degradation in unit proficiency that has 
developed over the last few years. The Combat Maneuver Training Center (CMTC) 
routinely conducts five days of internal unit level training prior to beginning unit training 
with the observers/controllers and OPFOR in a force-on-force scenario. FOSCOM 
initiated mandatory training or "gates" prior to CTC rotations early in 1999, to improve 
unit proficiency before units deploy to CTCs. The particular limitations of the number of 
days available in the Reserve training year require special consideration for these units in 
order to continue their scheduled participation in the CTC experience. The Army reviews 
CTC rotational schedules and MACOM training plans to maximize unit proficiency prior 
to force-on force maneuver at CTCs. The review of CTC rotational schedules includes a 
validation of the balance and prioritization of rotational events to maximize effectiveness 
of the training experience at the CTCs. Any proposals will have to compete with other 
Army priorities for funding. 

Part b : In accordance with Army Regulation 350-50, which stipulates that 
the centers will use the most realistic and challenging training conditions 
available, incorporate into the exercises at each combat training center the 
full spectrum of threats, opposing forces capabilities, and conditions that 


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Appendix IV 

Comments From the Department of Defense 


units are likely to encounter in the future conflicts, especially ones that 
cannot be easily duplicated at home stations. Specific emphasis should be 
afforded to include operations in urban terrain, dealing with terrorists, 
operations with military forces from other countries, and activities 
involving civilians on the battlefield and interactions with media. 

(p.33/GAO Draft Report) 


POD RESPONSE: Concur 

The Combat Training Centers will continue to provide the most realistic and relevant 
training experience short of actual combat. The Army is currently conducting a 
comprehensive review and assessment of the opposing forces and other battlefield 
dynamics to ensure that the training experience is relevant. It includes the areas of 
emphasis cited by GAO. This review will drive the direction of future CTC scenarios 
and how we train to counter full spectrum threats. TRADOC will bring an updated 
Vision for CTCs to Army leadership in the fall of 1999. Any proposals will necessarily 
have to compete with other Army priorities for funding. 


Part c . Develop and implement a comprehensive data requirements and 
collection plan to enable center officials to systematically collect data that 
can be used to improve training and doctrine. This plan should include (a) 
an approach for linking centers by using compatible computer software so 
that Army-wide assessments can be made; (b) performance measures and 
the methodology to be used periodically assesses whether the centers are 
meeting their objectives; and (3) the specific information needed by 
research organizations, training and doctrine development commands, the 
centers, and units. The data collection plan developed by the Army 
Combined Army Center in 1995 would form a good basis for developing a 
current plan to collect and analyze pertinent data for Army-wide use. 

(p. 33/GAO Draft Report) 

POP RESPONSE: Concur 

The Army has renewed emphasis on Training Trends Reversal and Remedial Action 
Programs to correct training deficiencies. Refinement and implementation of the CTC 
Data Master Plan is essential to the continued success of this effort. The Army will use 
the CTC Data Master Plan developed by the Army Combined Arms Center in 1995 to 
form the basis for the data requirements and collection plan that will enable the Army to 
systematically collect data that can be used to improve training and doctrine. This 
proposal will have to compete with other Army priorities for funding. 


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GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness 





Appendix V 


GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments 


GAO Contacts 


Carol R. Schuster (202) 512-5140 
William M. Solis (202) 512-5140 


Acknowledgments 


In addition to the contact named above, Ray S. Carroll Jr., Lester L. Ward, 
and Paul A. Gvoth Jr., made key contributions to this report. 


(703250) 


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Appendix V 

GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments 


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GAO/NSIAD-99-210 Military Readiness 



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PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER 





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Contents 


Figure 1: Desert Environment at the National Training Center 5 

Figure 2: Wooded Terrain at the Combat Maneuver Training Center 6 
Figure 3: Mock Civilian Village at the Joint Readiness Training Center 7 
Figure 4: Opposing Force Vehicle and Soldier at the National Training 
Center 8 


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GAO/XXXX ??? 



Contents 


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Contents 


Table 1: Comparison of Training Features at the Army’s Combat 

Training Centers 17 

Table 2: Key Leaders Lost Within 90 Days in Units That Trained at the 
Combat Training Centers (fiscal year 1998) 23 

Table 3: Examples of Recurring Problems Demonstrated by 

Units at the NTC Since 1994 26 

Table 4: Aspects of Training That Commanders Believe Need to Be 

Improved 27 

Table 1.1: Battalion-level Training 36 

Table 1.2: Company/Platoon-level Training 36 


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Contents 


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