Readiness of the Force

Captain Victor G. Guillory, United States Navy,

J-3 Readiness Division: Current Assessments Branch Chief

April 29, 1998

It is important that we look at readiness in the context of strategy. The current strategy, which was validated by the QRD, has three pillars: shaping, responding, and preparing (readiness). Shaping refers to military contacts and the daily level of operations with our allies and friends. Responding refers to what happens when the military must be used as an option to get a solution to a problem. Readiness plays an important role in both shaping and responding.

There are certain things that drive readiness but there is no single template for readiness in all of the armed forces. It is very service-specific. The first readiness driver is major theater war and small-scale contingency response requirements. Certain parts of our military have to be there early in the fight. A second component of readiness is forward deployment. This is especially true for the Navy. Flexibility during a crisis is also important, as is the coordination of transportation. We need the transportation to move forces from where they are to where they need to be. Highly professional skills are also important for readiness. To be effective at what you do for a living means you have to practice on a routine basis. Finally, morale, leadership and teambuilding are also important.

We assess readiness by looking at three major levels: service, Commander-in-Chief (CINC), and the Joint Staff. Service readiness refers to the services’ responsibilities to provide people, equipment, and training. This is the ability to maintain the daily needs of these forces. At the CINC level, readiness refers to the CINC’s responsibility for regional readiness to receive ready forces, to synchronize them into fighting forces, and to execute the requirements of that CINC. At the Joint Staff, the Chairman has the responsibility to look across the CINCs and test those forces against our strategy, to articulate the risks that result and to report on the readiness of the force to Congress and higher authorities.

The process we use to assess readiness at all levels is called the Joint Monthly Readiness Review (JMMR). The JMMR assesses the current readiness of the force to perform missions. It gives a warfighting scenario and a start date to commanders and requires them to provide a 12 month projection of their readiness. The services take this, go back to their staffs, and see where their forces are today and what their capabilities are for executing the warfighting scenario. The next part of the JMMR involves meetings where all the information generated by the services is sent to the Joint Staff and we review it to see where the readiness shortfalls are. It is the Vice Chairman’s responsibility to assess these shortfalls and to manage the readiness of the force. This all normally occurs in the first month of the three month JMMR cycle. The next two months are devoted to working the deficiencies that are found and to looking for near and long term solutions. This all comes to a head in the feedback JMMR that occurs in the third month when the Vice Chairman, the number two person in each service, and SOCOM get together to discuss the near term fixes that are necessary to ensure we can successfully execute the warfighting scenario that started the whole process.

We also have a responsibility to report readiness to the civilian leadership. This is done in a senior readiness oversight council. An executive summary of the JMMR is provided to the number two person in OSD, to the Under-secretaries and to a group of about 15-20 other people. A summary is also provided in a readiness report to Congress. Three things are included: current readiness, projected readiness in 12 months, and readiness according to the given warfighting scenario.

Related to the JMMR is the JROC process, which deals with the acquisition and programmatic implications of readiness. The JROC takes the deficiencies identified by the HMMR and groups them into four categories. One is things that are not fixable. For example, if our tanks are too heavy for the bridges in Korea, we are not going to fix the bridges, but we need to be aware of the problem. Another category is deficiencies that can be fixed, such as equipment shortages. We can budget to buy these things. A third type of deficiency involves problems that are already under study in the JROC. We have teams that look at future needs and at ideas and options for meeting them. The fourth category of deficiencies is the most important: those problems that have been identified but have not yet been put into a study and for which a solution has yet to be determined.

We are always refining the JMMR process. It has been scrutinized by the General Accounting Office and we are communicating our needs to Congress. But there is always the need to do more. The most recent change to the JMMR has been to expand what we look at. In the beginning, we focused on CINC-identified warfighting deficiencies. After a hundred or so JMMRs, we feel like we are doing well here. What we are finding is that we need to focus more on service deficiencies such as recruitment, retention and morale. These areas are coming under increased scrutiny.

The number one threat to readiness today is tempo. That is, the pace of the things that we have to do. Today we are committed to modernizing the force but we only have limited funds with which to do so. This means that to modernize, we have to close bases and streamline the force. This creates stress and adds to tempo problems. Tempo impacts equipment, training, but the biggest impact is on quality of life. And this is something that we are focusing on at all levels and with great concern.

Captain Victor Guillory has served on the Joint Staff in the Operations Directorate of the Readiness Division since April 1996. His previous assignments include the commissioning Executive Officer of the USS GETTYSBURG and commanding officer of USS UNDERWOOD. He has also served in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations as the Area Defense/Battle Group C3 action officer. He is a graduate of the National Defense University’s Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Sharon Weiner -- Rapporteur

Back to Seminar Schedule, Spring 1998