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GAO: AFSOC Mobilization Doesn’t Fully Support Air Guard Needs

Washington Report

A new Government Accountability Office report finds that additional actions are needed to effectively manage the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve portion of Air Force Special Operations Command.

The report, released last month, finds the AFSOC mobilization process doesn’t meet Air Guard and Air Force Reserve requirements for timely and reliable information.

GAO researchers found that despite an increasing reliance on Guardsmen and Reservists, AFSOC struggles to consistently coordinate with reserve units and personnel on anticipated demand and mission requirements.

The shortcomings are caused by AFSOC’s “limited organizational capacity to conduct the planning, coordination and execution of involuntary mobilizations.”

AFSOC officials told investigators that the command has submitted requests for additional resources to create such a capacity, but that those requests were not funded in 2018 or 2019 as other requests received higher priority.

The GAO found AFSOC began regularly using involuntary mobilizations in recent years after historically relying on using volunteerism, which is more flexible and requires less up-front planning.

The study also found that the reserve components often do not provide AFSOC with complete information on which units could be used to support special operations missions. Such information would help provide units with advanced notification, “facilitating deployment preparation activities and helping personnel make arrangements with civilian employers or in their personal lives.”

Investigators also identified concerns regarding AFSOC’s practice of communicating directly with units, rather than formally coordinating with Guard and Reserve commands. Such communications typically occur only a few days before a requirement is needed.

AFSOC officials said the informal communication allows them to expedite the identification of available personnel, but headquarters officials for the Air Guard and Air Force Reserve said the process impedes on their ability to strategically manage and appropriately resource units.

The full GAO study is available online at www.gao.gov/assets/710/703265.pdf.