At various stages throughout the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has withdrawn equipment from its stored, or prepositioned, stock sets around the world, as well as from its afloat stocks, thus depleting a large portion of its prepositioned stocks. The Army prepositions equipment at diverse strategic locations in order to field combat-ready forces in days rather than the weeks it would take if equipment had to be moved from the United States to the location of the conflict. The Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS) program supports the National Military Strategy and is an important part of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) overall strategic mobility framework. The APS program depends on prepositioned unit sets of equipment and sustainment stocks to enable troops to deploy rapidly and train with prepositioned equipment before beginning combat operations. As we testified in January 2007 and March 2006, however, sustained continuing operations have taken a toll on the condition and readiness of military equipment, and the Army faces a number of ongoing and long-term challenges that will affect both the timing and cost of equipment repair and replacement, particularly to its prepositioned stocks. Over the past several years, GAO and other audit agencies have reported on numerous long-standing problems facing DOD’s and the Army’s prepositioning programs, including a lack of centralized operational direction; unreliable reporting on the maintenance condition of equipment; equipment excesses at some prepositioned locations; and systemic problems with requirements determination and inventory management. In September 2005, we recommended that DOD develop a coordinated departmentwide plan and joint doctrine for the department’s prepositioning programs. In February 2007, we reported that while the Army expected to finalize its implementation plan for prepositioning stocks by December 31, 2006, DOD would not complete its departmentwide strategy before mid-April 2007. We recommended that the Secretary of Defense direct the Secretary of the Army to take steps to synchronize the Army’s prepositioning strategy with the DOD-wide strategy, to ensure that future investments made for the Army’s prepositioning program would align with the anticipated DOD-wide prepositioning strategy. In addition, the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 required the department to establish a departmentwide prepositioning strategic policy by April 2007.
Army officials stated that its worldwide APS equipment sets, including APS-3, would be reconstituted in synchronization with the Army’s overall equipping priorities when properly funded and in accordance with the official Army worldwide APS reconstitution strategy known as Army Prepositioned Strategy 2015 (APS Strategy 2015). According to DOD officials, the Army’s equipping priorities will be based on evolving conditions and operations such as the availability of equipment and duration of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example. As of December 2007, the Army had not established its overall equipping priorities. Additionally, the Army’s APS reconstitution strategy is not correlated with a DOD-wide APS strategy, because, according to DOD officials, a DOD-wide prepositioning strategy does not exist. DOD officials explained that the services are responsible for equipping strategies and that the Joint Staff, consistent with current policy, conducts assessments of the services’ prepositioned programs to determine their relationship within the DOD-wide strategic context. DOD officials do not believe additional synchronization of strategies is required. According to DOD, the War Reserve Materiel Policy provides ample policy guidance on war reserve materiel requirements and war reserve materiel positioning while the allocation process is outlined in the Joint Strategic Capability Plan. DOD officials believe publication of the War Reserve Materiel Policy and Joint Strategic Capability Plan satisfies the congressionally mandated requirement contained in the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. Nonetheless, as we recommended in our September 2005 and February 2007 reports, a DOD-wide strategy would set direction and a shared foundation for the services’ prepositioning programs. Synchronizing a DOD-wide strategy with the Army’s prepositioning strategy would ensure that future investments made for the Army’s prepositioning program would align with the anticipated DOD-wide strategy. Without a DOD-wide prepositioning strategy, DOD risks inconsistencies between the Army’s and the other services’ prepositioning strategies, which may result in duplication of efforts and resources. We continue to believe a DOD-wide strategy is needed in addition to broad strategic guidance.