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Shortcomings in Guidance Complicate DOD’s Efforts to Consistently Address Contract Support Requirements in Annex Ws across the Department

Annex W guidance does not identify how information at the service component level should be integrated into the Annex W or how to balance the levels of detail between a combatant command’s and a service component’s plans.

Several combatant command planners told us that as a result of limited information from the component commands, they were unable to provide details in their combatant command plans on the specific roles of contractors.

Shortcomings in guidance on how and when to develop Annex Ws have also complicated the ability of contract support planners to consistently address contract support requirements across DOD. According to planning officials, the current Annex W template was created with DOD’s most detailed plans in mind—level 4 plans or level 3 plans with time-phased force and deployment data. However, less than 10 percent of the combatant commands’ operation plans are at this level of detail. We found that the one-size-fits-all approach of the Annex W template makes it difficult for contract support planners to meet the current Annex W requirements for operation plans that are less detailed. This one-size-fits- all approach also contributes to a mismatch in expectations between senior DOD leadership and combatant command planners regarding the degree to which the Annex W should contain specific information on contract support requirements. We found that several senior DOD officials have the expectation that most combatant command plans should at least identify the capabilities that contractors may provide, regardless of the level of plan. For example:

Office of the Assistant Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Program Support) (ADUSD(PS)) officials told us that the Annex W should provide details on the numbers and roles of contractors required to support an operation. Other senior DOD officials involved in reviewing plans for contract support requirements told us that they expected that planners could figure out the major force elements needed under a plan and then determine the contractor support required.

However, the contract support planners and other officials responsible for developing the Annex Ws disagreed, stating that given the limited amount of information on military forces in most operation plans, the expected level of detail was difficult if not impossible to achieve. Senior DOD officials acknowledged these challenges but continue to believe that regardless of the level of detail of a plan, there should be some level of

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GAO-10-472 Warfighter Support

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