GAO: Training gaps in DOD missile defense

Tuesday - 7/19/2011, 6:12pm EDT

By Jory Heckman
Federal News Radio

The Defense Department's Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) lacks the coordination it needs between organizations in the event of an emergency, a new study has shown.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found DoD has not developed a standard training plan for BMDS organizations - namely the Army, Navy, and Air Force - to work together. This lack of cooperation, the report said, could severely limit the ability of BMDS to respond to an actual attack.

"DOD lacks visibility over the total resources that may be needed to support ballistic missile defense training since the funds are currently dispersed across MDA [the Missile Defense Agency] and some of the services' budget estimates do not separately identify ballistic missile defense training," GAO wrote in its report.

The split between DOD and MDA has led to disagreement over spending. DOD, for example, has set aside a $300 million requirement in the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense program. MDA has not included it in its budget plans.

GAO estimated DOD plans to spend $4 billion for ballistic missile defense training from fiscal years 2011-2016. However, some of the services' resources for ballistic missile defense training are not easily identifiable because some training is funded as part of other training programs.

While current training exercises include more than one combat command post, they rarely call on the coordinated efforts of several posts at once.

Since 2002, DOD has spent more than $80 billion in developing the BMDS.

GAO recommended DOD set up a task force to develop a strategy for integration and training, and set a deadline to complete training cost estimates and funding agreements.

DOD generally agreed with GAO's recommendation, but did not set a specific deadline.

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Jory Heckman is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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