developing the annexes of an operation plan. According to several combatant command planning officials, base plans are important because most people reviewing an operation plan will look only at the base plan and, in some cases, annexes for which they are responsible. If the discussion of operational contract support is limited to the Annex W, awareness of contractor-related issues will be limited to those individuals who develop or review the annex. As a result, officials responsible for operational contract support planning told us that it is important that the base plan address the use and role of contractors. As a senior official responsible for logistics planning at one combatant command remarked, if something is not in the base plan, it might as well not be in the plan.
According to officials responsible for developing operation plans at the combatant commands, the base plans for their operation plans lack assumptions regarding the potential use or role of contractors. Joint Publication 5-0 states that plans are derived from the best available information and rely heavily on assumptions regarding the circumstances that will exist when a crisis arises. Assumptions are intrinsically important factors upon which the conduct of the operation is based. They provide suppositions about the current situation or future course of events, assumed to be true in the absence of facts, and are necessary to enable the commander to complete an estimate of the situation and select the course of action. Base plan assumptions are important because they are signed off on by the combatant commander and are reviewed by the Secretary of Defense. As a result, assumptions are used to focus attention of senior DOD leadership on factors that could present risks to mission success.
DOD acknowledges that contractors will likely play a significant role in support of future operations and has long recognized the risks inherent in its use of and reliance on contractors. However, combatant command officials responsible for writing operation plans told us that they were not aware of any assumptions specifically addressing the potential use or role of operational contract support in their base plans. Moreover, of the three base plans we were able to review, we found that there were base plan assumptions regarding critical factors such as sustainment and support of military forces. For example, one plan assumed sufficient strategic lift assets would be available to execute the mission. Another base plan contained assumptions regarding the availability of host nation or interagency support. However, none of the base plans we reviewed addressed contractor support requirements in their assumptions. Some combatant command officials noted that DOD’s planning guidance for base plans does not specify the need to develop assumptions on the potential need for contract support. According to these officials, modifying
GAO-10-472 Warfighter Support