Army, Marines aren't reporting military readiness details on the same basis

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U.S. Army military exercise.

Petar Petrov/AP

The Department of Defense has developed a military readiness reporting system to integrate information from all branches and better assess its capabilities. The Army and Marine Corps have taken steps to improve their readiness reporting, but units are still reporting data inconsistently.

The system determines whether a unit can accomplish mission tasks and what types of resources or training might be necessary. Every month, 6,000 Army units and 350 Marine Corps units report this information, which is then dispersed to Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the combatant commanders, the secretaries of the military departments and the Chief of the National Guard Bureau. Reporting helps identify operation and campaign plans, determine unit readiness and analyze the resource shortages.

The Government Accountability Office found that the services are not meeting reporting deadlines or linking resource and training mission assessments with capability assessments. Until internal controls improve, GAO said decision makers will be using readiness information based on inaccurate reporting.

Army and Marine Corps units are using different time frames when reporting their readiness data. The Marine Corps requires units to submit reports every 30 days, but almost half of the reports were late. Army units were reporting data sporadically, some on the 15th of the month, as was required, while others began collecting data on different dates and submitted their reports for review on different dates.

GAO found inconsistent reporting in the Army’s unit status which includes a three-phase assessment of unit readiness.

Army units interpreted the personnel readiness regulations differently, thus creating further inaccuracies. Some units reported the actual personnel on hand, while other units reported what was included in their official manning document, even if it differed from the actual personnel on hand. Marine Corps officials said equipment numbers are automatically entered into the system, but some units have adjusted the data so that it does not match the central data source.

 “Without further clarifying guidance, effective quality assurance reviews, or system mechanisms to prevent the submission of inconsistent information, the services cannot be assured that they are providing decision makers within and outside of DOD with timely and consistent readiness reporting data,” the GAO said.

FAST FACT: Between a quarter and a third of Marine Corp units failed to coordinate between resources and training mission analysis with capability assessments.

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