approach makes it harder for them to meet the current Annex W requirements. Further, while DOD’s guidance requires Annex Ws for the combatant commands’ most detailed plans, the guidance leaves it to the combatant commanders to determine which additional, less detailed operation plans require an Annex W. However, there is no specific guidance to guide the combatant commanders in determining which plans should include an Annex W. As a result, we found that some combatant commanders took a more expansive view than others regarding which plans require the annex.
The one-size-fits-all approach to Annex Ws and the lack of specific guidance regarding which plans require an Annex W has resulted in a mismatch in expectations between senior DOD leadership and combatant command planners regarding the degree to which Annex Ws will contain specific information on contract support requirements. Senior decision makers may therefore assume that the combatant commands have adequately addressed contractor requirements in a plan, even though many plans do not contain Annex Ws or lack the expected details on the anticipated contractor support needed to execute the mission. As a result, they risk not fully understanding the extent to which they will be relying on contractors to support combat operations and being unprepared to provide the necessary management and oversight of deployed contractor personnel.
In discussions with combatant command officials responsible for developing operation plans, we found that detailed information on operational contract support requirements is generally not included in other sections or annexes of these plans. Although the Annex W is intended to be the focal point within an operation plan for discussing operational contract support, DOD guidance underscores the importance of addressing contractor requirements throughout an operation plan, including the base plan and other annexes as appropriate. However, we found that nonlogistics personnel tend to assume that the logistics community will address the need to incorporate operational contract support throughout operation plans. We also found the following:
Base plans generally lack information or assumptions on operational contract support, according to DOD planners. 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. 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. If the base plan contains only limited information on the use and role of contractors, this will restrict the
GAO-10-472 Warfighter Support