GAO: Army Reserve in need of funds

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned the chairmen of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees yesterday that the Army Reserve is facing worsening personnel and equipment shortages.

In a report to Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), the GAO said the Army recently has begun several initiatives to improve the Army Reserve’s readiness and provide more deployment predictability for its soldiers.

But the 42-page report added that the Army lacks a comprehensive description of how the Reserve will be structured, manned and equipped.

“We found that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Army Reserve to continue to provide ready forces in the near term due to worsening personnel and equipment shortages,” the report said.

The GAO said the shortage is caused by the service’s practice of not maintaining its reserve units with all the personnel and equipment needed to deploy and of limiting the number of reservists and the time that they can be deployed. There is also a shortage of full-time support staff to develop and maintain unit readiness, the report said.

These challenges are compounded by emerging recruiting shortfalls, Congress’s watchdog organization said.

The Army Reserve provides combat support and combat service support units, such as medical and transportation units, to the Army. While Army Reserve members historically could expect to train one weekend a month and spend two weeks a year on limited deployments, some have been called upon to support ongoing military operations for a year or more since Sept. 11, 2001, the GAO said.

Warner and Hunter still have to make their picks for a 13-member commission on the National Guard and Reserve, which is designed to spell out the future missions and roles of the reserve forces and National Guard.