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Army Stryker Brigades: Assessment of External Logistics Support Should Be Documented for the Congressionally Mandated Review of the Army's Operational Evaluation Plan.

GAO-03-484R March 25, 2003

We are reviewing the Army's plans for deploying and sustaining Stryker brigades. We plan to complete our review and report the results in June 2003. In the meantime, the Army will be conducting an operational evaluation of the first Stryker brigade from late April through May 2003 as required by law. The purpose of this letter is to bring attention to issues concerning the adequacy of the Army's proposed operational evaluation plan. The operational evaluation is intended to facilitate an understanding of the initial brigade's overall capabilities. The evaluation was first directed by the conference report accompanying the 2001 defense authorization act. Subsequently, Congress included the requirement in Section 113 of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2002, which provides that (1) the Secretary of the Army is to evaluate the brigade's execution of combat missions across the full spectrum of potential threats and operational scenarios, (2) the Department of Defense's Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) must approve the Army's operational evaluation plan before the evaluation may be conducted, and (3) the Secretary of Defense is to certify to Congress that the results of the operational evaluation indicate that the Stryker brigades design is operationally effective and operationally suitable. In this letter, we address the adequacy of the Army's operational evaluation plans for assessing the Stryker brigades' external logistics support--that is, the personnel, equipment, and services that will augment these brigades. Stryker brigades are organized and equipped to deploy rapidly and to execute early-entry operations immediately on arrival--potentially, into remote areas of the world. By design, Stryker brigades do not have the capability to sustain operations in this type of environment beyond several days or to perform other than minor vehicle repair and equipment maintenance. Thus, the brigades require the assistance of external logistics support for essential supply and maintenance services. Integrating external logistical support with the brigades' limited support structure is therefore a key concept of the Stryker brigades' organizational and operational design and is essential to effectively supporting and sustaining these brigades in combat.

According to the Army's plans, external logistical support will not be formally assessed during the operational evaluation. Instead, the Army is planning to conduct separate, informal assessments of some external support concepts, but information about the scope and methodology for these assessments is not included in the operational evaluation plan that the Army will be submitting to DOT&E for its required review and approval. As a result, DOT&E will not have all of the information it needs from the Army to determine whether the operational evaluation will be conducted in a way that demonstrates that the brigades' design is both operationally effective and operationally suitable. Specifically, DOT&E will not be in a position to know whether the first brigade will be sufficiently assessed during the operational evaluation nor will it be able to determine whether the results can provide a complete understanding of the brigade's overall capabilities. This lack of information could hamper the ability to certify the results of the operational evaluation. The Army does not believe that external support should be included as a formal part of the operational evaluation because the people and processes that provide it are not a part of the brigade's organization. Accordingly, we are making recommendations to the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation regarding documentation of Army plans for assessing external logistics support during the operational evaluation and reporting on results of the external support assessment.
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Publication:General Accounting Office Reports & Testimony
Date:May 1, 2003
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