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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES,
Washington, DC, Thursday, March 10, 1988. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:10 p.m., in room 334, Cannon House Office Building, Hon. Beverly Byron (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
STATEMENT OF HON. BEVERLY B. BYRON, A REPRESENTATIVE
FROM MARYLAND, CHAIRMAN, MILITARY PERSONNEL AND COMPENSATION SUBCOMMITTEE Mrs. BYRON. Good afternoon. Today's subject is the reserve component, and our focus is twofold. First, the impact on readiness and the reserve skill training shortfall, and second an overview of the fiscal year 1989 budget request for the reserve and for the guard.
Before we get underway, I would like to note that it seemed quite fitting to hold the reserve hearing in the Sonny Montgomery full committee room. Last year, I believe we worked out the GI bill legislation here and we have a good track record in this facility.
The annual report of the reserve foreign policy board again this year identifies individual skill qualification deficiencies as one of the two most critical limiting factors of readiness for both the army reserve component as well as for the marine corps reserve. Where there is increased reliance on the reserve and guard for wartime mobilization, is clearly a very serious matter, and I have asked the General Accounting Office to look into the problems and the potential solutions.
At this time, GAO has only a preliminary assessment of what will be a much larger project, but I thought it was important to get this information on record as part of our reserve overview hearing.
Reserve skill qualifications is only one of several reserve issues that I hope we will be able to address this year. We will also want to take a look at incapacitation pay, the Reserve Officer Personnel Management Act, the recommendations of the sixth quadrennial review of military compensation.
With respect to the incapacitation pay, the fiscal year 1987 National Defense Authorization Act included a DOD legislative proposal restructuring that pay. Several unanticipated problems have surfaced since the law was changed, however. We will include the necessary corrections in this year's authorization.
Both the departments wrote model legislation in the report of the sixth quadrennial which when it is submitted, will be a lengthy
and complex undertaking requiring the dedication, I think, of several-of considerable time on the subcommittee's part. I hope that we will be able to start the process rolling with several days of hearings on both these subjects once the authorization bill is completed.
There is no question that the subcommittee is going to have a full plate of major reserve issues for the-in the foreseeable future.
This afternoon, we have a large number of witnesses, actually a cast of thousands, so to speak, and I will ask each of you all to submit for the record your full written statement which was provided in advance to all members, and then to keep your opening remarks as brief as possible in order to allow the maximum time for questions.
We have three groups of witnesses: first, Richard A. Davis, Senior Associate Director of GAO's National Security and International Affairs Division, followed by Stephen M. Duncan, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, and finally, a panel composed of the reserve component chiefs.
Gentlemen, we welcome all of you and look forward to your testimony.
Mr. Bateman, do you have opening remarks?
Mr. BATEMAN. Madam Chairman, in light of the numbers of witnesses we have, today, I would ask unanimous consent that my written statement extolling the virtues of our reserve component be inserted in the record without my taking their time to tell them, “How great thou are.”
Mrs. BYRON. Thank you.
There is no doubt in my mind that maintaining the quality and size of our reserve forces is one of the most important challenges we face in this committee today. We all know that reserve units, on the average, cost far less than Active duty units and that's important in these fiscally constrained times. It's also important, however, that we get the maximum return for every dollar invested in defense and-once again-the reserve are paying big dividends in this area.
Before yielding to the witnesses to begin this afternoon's hearing, I would like to briefly review some statistics that show how heavily we rely on our reserve forces.
The Army National Guard and Army Reserve provide nearly one-half of the total Army's combat power and two-thirds of its combat support, service support and wartime medical capability.
The Naval Reserve provides 100 percent of U.S. based Naval logistics aircraft, inshore undersea warfare units and combat search and rescue capability.
The Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve provide 73 percent of strategic interceptors and 50 percent of tanker and cargo crews, respectively.
Finally, one-third of Marine light attack aircraft and antiaircraft missile battalions are in the Marine Corps Reserve.
The list goes on and on but, in the interest of time, I will not. Suffice it to say that if the United States becomes involved in a major war and if the reserves aren't ready, there's no need to show-up on the battlefield because we will have already lost the ballgame. It is, therefore, incumbent on us to ensure that the reserves are ready-and that they are properly trained, equipped and staffed at the levels needed to do the job.
STATEMENT OF RICHARD A. DAVIS, SENIOR ASSOCIATE DIREC
TOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS DIVISION, ACCOMPANIED BY: RAY CARROLL AND DAVID WARREN
Mr. Davis. Thank you, Madam Chairman. Before I begin, I would like to introduce the people with me. On my left is David Warren and on my right is Ray Carroll. They are responsible for the ongoing audits that we will be discussing.
We are pleased to be here, today, to discuss the skill qualifications of National Guard and Reserve members. As you know, my testimony is based on preliminary results from two of our ongoing reviews. One review addresses general management issues facing the reserves and the other responds to your request that we examine individual skill qualifications in the Army and the Army's proposal to improve them.
In general, reservists are considered to be qualified if they have the skills required for their duty positions. According to the military services data, however, about one of every four reservists is not fully trained for his or her duty position. There are many reasons for reservists' skill deficiencies. The reserves are a part-time force that is required to train at least 38 days a year. Even though many reservists exceed this minimum number of days, training time is limited. As a result, there are a number of factors that affect the Reserves' ability to maintain high levels of individually qualified personnel.
For example, training courses are often longer than the minimum 38-day training requirement and reservists cannot always take the time away from their civilian employment to attend training.
The Reserves also rely in part on recruiting persons with prior military experience. These persons are already trained. However, in some cases, their former skill is not needed in the units they join. Consequently, they must be retrained.
Finally, reservists may not be qualified for their duty positions because of new training requirements that evolved from changes in a unit's equipment or mission.
The services are aware of the problems with reservists' skills and are developing programs to address these problems. Included are initiatives such as the development of training packages that consider the limited time available to train reservists and the establishment of regional and centralized training facilities that will be equipped with war-training equipment and simulators that are found in local reserve centers.
I would now like to turn to the results of the work we have in process on the skill qualifications of soldiers in the Army Reserve and National Guard. As you requested, we have undertaken a detailed analysis of Army qualification data and an evaluation of the Army's proposal to improve soldiers' qualifications to perform their jobs.
Our work shows that reservists may be less skilled than the Army data indicates. The Army does not know how many reservists are proficient in their jobs and proposals to address skill qualiWe found that although soldiers are termed "qualified," they are not necessarily fully qualified in their jobs. Rather, these soldiers may have been trained in only a portion of the tasks that the Army considers critical to proper job performance.
The Army generally awards a military occupational specialty, or MOS, to a soldier upon successful completion of advanced individual training. However, for many occupations, such as positions requiring repair capability for the Bradley fighting vehicle and the Abrams tank, advanced individual training teaches soldiers less than 60 percent of the critical tasks they need to learn to be proficient in their jobs.
Consequently, a considerable responsibility rests with Army reserve and Guard units to provide individual training in many critical tasks as well as refresher training. The Army does not collect information on whether soldiers have been trained in all critical job tasks.
We also found that although the Army has a means, the Skill Qualification Test, or SQT, to evaluate the overall proficiency of its Reserve soldiers, a relatively small number of reservists take the test.
In fiscal year 1987, only about 32 percent of the Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers required to take an SQT for their MOSs did take the test. Consequently, the Army lacks proficiency data on nearly 70 percent of its reservists. For the 156,000 reservists who did take an SQT during fiscal year 1987, about 65 percent passed the test. In comparison, about 92 percent of the 450,000 Active duty soldiers who took the test during the same period passed.
The Army has developed a broad range of initiatives to improve reservists' training. While these initiatives, if adopted, should help to improve reserve soldiers' qualifications, the Army's measurement of skill qualifications and its proposals to improve reservists' training appear to be focused on providing training in the basics of an occupational specialty, not on training for all critical tasks. While the Army has established the goal of training 85 percent of its reservists to be MOS qualified, it has not yet established a goal for MOS proficiency.
Another issue that the Army must address to assure fully qualified reserve soldiers is the effectiveness of its training management. Our prior work and work conducted by the Army Audit Agency has shown problems in this area. In this regard, we noted that the Department of Defense Annual Statement of Assurance for fiscal year 1987 identified training management in the Army National Guard as a material weakness.
Over the next few months, we plan to continue our evaluation of skill qualifications in the Army Reserve and National Guard. This work will focus on identifying underlying causes of skill qualification problems and on evaluating the Army's proposals to address the problems.
Madam Chairman, this concludes my comments. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members may have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Davis follows.