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Reduce the number of battle tasks units are required to
Increase reservists' access to training devices and
Army officials told us that the Army will not decide on the
proposed actions until next month.
While these initiatives, if adopted, should help to improve
the qualifications of reserve soldiers, 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. "MOS qualification" does not necessarily mean MOS proficiency. An "MOS-qualified" soldier may have been trained in
only a portion of critical tasks, while to be MOS-proficient a soldier should be trained in all critical tasks and receive
necessary refresher training. 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 ensure fully
qualified reserve soldiers is the effectiveness of its training mana gement. 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 mana gement in the Army
National Guard as a "material weakness."
The report stated that
"Widespread individual and unit training management
problems were identified in Army National Guard units.
For example, individual training programs had not been
soldiers received training in all the required tasks."
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.
2This report is prepared in accordance with the Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act.
Mrs. BYRON. In light of the number of witnesses we have today, I will try to keep mine fairly brief. You stated that the Army Skill Qualification Test is a means to evaluate the soldiers' proficiency and yet only a small number of those reservists take the test. Why is it that we do not find more reserves being screened in that area. If it does not have—if the Army does not have the results for most of its reserves, is it not sort of lacking in the essential factor in making those decisions that are necessary on developing individual training programs? I think we have got a large number of occupation specialties in which less than 60 percent of the soldiers have the required MOS.
I consistently hear from some of my people that are in the Reserve, that have taken the training and they go back to the same course again which they say is not real exciting. It does not challenge them and they question the wise decision of sending them back to the same scenario again.
Mr. Davis. You asked a couple of different questions. I will see if I can remember them in the order that you posed them.
First, I would like to explain that the SQT test--which is a written test-is really the only objective test the Army has to measure the proficiency of its people. It tests soldiers on certain tasks that they are supposed to know in order to be proficient in their particular specialty.
You asked why more reservists do not take the SQT. As I said in my remarks, about 32 percent of the people that were supposed to take the test in 1987 took the test. There are two reasons for this condition. One is because of command in difference and the other is a lack of incentives.
I would like to take a minute to amplify on that a little bit.
Mrs. Byron. Does it go by regions? By areas? By specialty? What is the dividing factor there?
Mr. Davis. I do not know.
Mr. CARROLL. Madam Chairman, the Skill Qualification Tests in the Army are developed by proponent schools within the Army's Training and Doctrine Command. There is a different Skill Qualification Test for each military occupational specialty and for each skill level 1 through 4 within that specialty. A soldier takes a skill qualification test according to his assigned primary MOS. In some instances, the primary MOS may be different than the duty MOS the soldier works in in a reserve unit. However, the SQT that a soldier is required to take is the one applicable to his primary MOS and skill level.
Mrs. BYRON. So, conceivably, he will just finish a school which has nothing to do with his MOS?
Mr. CARROLL. No, madam. A soldier, according to the regulations, has to be assigned to a reserve component unit for a minimum of 180 days before he is scheduled to take his first Skill Qualification Test. He would be scheduled to take the Skill Qualification Test for the program of instruction he received in advanced individual training, or AIT, which awards the MOS.
Mrs. BYRON. Yes?
Mr. MONTGOMERY. Why do you have such a low percentage? You told the Army this involved the Air Guard, the Naval Reserve, and the Air Reserve, mainly the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, is that what these tests are?
Mr. Davis. That is correct, sir.
Mr. MONTGOMERY. This does not involve the Air Guard or the Air Reserves?
Mr. Davis. No, sir. We are talking about the Army Reserve and Army National Guard.
Mr. MONTGOMERY. Well, why was a low percentage of those taking the test, why was it not higher? It is not mandatory by the National Guard or by the Army Reserve chiefs or what?
Mr. Davis. We issued a report a couple of years ago that got at that issue. There were two reasons cited. The first had to do with command emphasis and the second had to do with incentives. Command emphasis really gets to the issue of time. There is so little time for the reservists to partake in training that the commanders just did not feel that it was absolutely necessary to take the time away from the individual training.
Second, there is a difference between the Active Army and the reserves. Whereas in the Active Army, a soldier is required to take an SQT to qualify for promotion, that is not true in the Army Reserve.
Mr. MONTGOMERY. How about the Army Guard?
Mr. Davis. That is also not true in the Army Guard. In fact, I should point out a recent development. I believe that the Army Reserve now is considering and may already have implemented a requirement that to be considered for promotion a reservist must take an SQT. But, as I understand it, the Guard is not considering that at this time.
Mr. MONTGOMERY. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Mrs. BYRON. I still was trying to get an idea of where the 30 percent comes from and where the 70 percent that does not take the test comes from. Is it across the board nationwide or is it specifically in a region area that finds it much more advantageous to make the time available to take the test or not.
Mr. Davis. The figures that we have cited, the 70 percent and the 30 percent are for all Guard and Reserve soldiers. It does not apply to any one particular region or any particular MOS. It is a function of the number of soldiers who were scheduled to take a Skill Qualification Test versus the number that actually did.
Mrs. BYRON. Mr. Bateman?
Mr. MONTGOMERY. Thank you, Madam Chairman. I am rather concerned on these statistics that you have given us because 50 percent of the combat mission of the Army now is on the National Guard. You have got to have the individual skills, in my opinion, Madam Chairman, to do these jobs.
I really do not know where to begin, where to start; but I think when we get the different chiefs up here, maybe they can explain it a little more.
Are you recommending, today, Mr. Davis, that all of the reservists in the Army and the National Guard would take these individMr. Davis. No, we are not. As I mentioned earlier, the results that we are talking about today are based on ongoing jobs and we have not completed our work. But the Army's own requirement is that Active duty people take these tests at least yearly and that reservists take it at least every 2 years. I think that this test or any other test that would give the Army some data as to the qualifications of these people in terms of their proficiency is needed. I think a commander does need this type of information if he wants to have a sense of how his people are doing and how proficient they are. Also, he may be able to use this information to develop individual training programs for his people as well as his unit.
Mr. MONTGOMERY. The Marines have infantry, also. Does this cover the Marine Reserves?
Mr. Davis. It does not.
Mr. MONTGOMERY. We have been talking-I have been talking that because of the different percentage we have in the reserves, now, that we are getting the brightest men and women. We are getting quick learners. Did you look into that? I mean, it seems to me, even though you have a shortage of drills, if you have quick learners, that they could accomplish these tests and participate. Sometime out there, you can try, is what I am saying, a former National Guard commander of a company and a battalion. I think you can find in the Reserve as well the National Guard, the non-commissioned officers have to take the tests just like the regulars to get promoted to the next line. Do you have any comments on the time element of these reservists, whether that would be a factor that they would not take the test?
Mr. DAVIS. The Reserve Forces Policy Board's most recent annual report indicates that next to the lack of people, the lack of individual skills are the most limiting factor when it comes to readiness.
I think what that says is that the Reserve managers, themselves, in looking at the situation realize that even though we are possibly getting better educated individuals in the Reserves, there is still a problem in terms of training them. The constraint that is identified most frequently involves available training time. Only 38 days a year is required and the 38 days is not even continuous training We are talking about a weekend a month and 2 weeks training during the year. The fact is that when reservists report for weekend training, they have a lot of time that is nonproductive because of distances they have to travel to training facilities or because of the administrative requirements. It is a real limiting factor and it impacts on the skill qualifications of the Reserves.
Mr. MONTGOMERY. Sometimes, we compare the Reserves with the regulars and sometimes it is an unfair comparison to what you just mentioned in contact, shortage of daylight and other problems. Under this test, can you compare the National Guard and the Reserves with the regular Army. Is that a fair comparison?
Mr. CARROLL. Sir, if I could add to what Mr. Davis has already said? The Army has, at the present time, one set of critical tasks that applies to all soldiers regardless of whether they are Active component soldiers, Army Reserve, or Army National Guard. Those lists of critical tasks are contained in what is called a "Soldiers' Manual for each Military Occupational Specialty.”