GAO Report on U.S. Military Readiness

May 4, 2023 7:19 AM

The following is the May 2, 2023, Government Accountability Office report, Military Readiness: Improvement in Some Areas, but Sustainment and Other Challenges Persist.

From the reports

What GAO Found

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Readiness ratings increased in the ground domain and declined in the sea domain from fiscal year 2017 through fiscal year 2021—the most recent data at the time of GAO’s analysis—with mixed changes in the air and space domains.

GAO’s prior work has identified a wide range of persistent challenges in each domain as the Department of Defense (DOD) seeks to improve readiness.

Looking to the future, DOD will have to balance rebuilding the readiness of its existing force with its desire to modernize. DOD is developing and deploying new weapon systems and considering new approaches for how its units organize and operate. However, DOD will depend on much of today’s force for decades to come, requiring continued focus on the readiness of its existing forces.

Why GAO Did This Study

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Nearly 2 decades of conflict has degraded military readiness. To maintain the U.S. military’s advantage across all domains in a new security environment characterized by greatpower competition, DOD is working to rebuild and restore readiness while also modernizing its forces. DOD’s readiness rebuilding efforts are occurring in a challenging context that requires the department to make difficult decisions regarding how best to address continuing operational demands while preparing for future challenges.

This statement (1) describes how readiness has changed from fiscal year 2017 through fiscal year 2021 in the ground, sea, air, and space warfighting domains and (2) provides information on readiness challenges in the ground,
sea, air, and space domains.

This statement is based on published work primarily since 2020 that examined military readiness, operations, and sustainment, among others, in the ground, sea, air, and space domains. To perform this prior work, GAO analyzed Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Space Force readiness, maintenance, personnel, and training data and interviewed cognizant officials.

What GAO Recommends
GAO has made dozens of recommendations in its prior reports to help improve readiness in

each of the domains. Some of the recommendations remain unimplemented, as discussed in the testimony.

Download the document here.

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