Pentagon and Air Force planners do not have a clear understanding of the A-10-divestment implications, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Wednesday. As a result it’s unclear how effective the service’s mitigation strategies will be, the GAO found. Combatant commanders use the A-10 for more than just close air support missions, the GAO found, and “divestment will result in reduced capacity and capability in these other areas.” For example, the report notes then-US Forces Korea Commander Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti testified in April 2015 that the loss of the A-10 would create a gap in the ability to defeat North Korean armor, but that the Air Force’s current plan would divest the A-10 squadron in South Korea in 2019 without a replacement. Furthermore, planners have not formally determined which aircraft, if any, would replace the A-10’s “Sandy” armed escort role in coordinating combat search and rescue missions. “The lack of clarity on the risks posed by A-10 divestment is evidenced by the fact that the decision was made without fully understanding the near-term impact on combatant command missions and before key decisions, including the feasibility of CSAR-Sandy replacements, were studied,” the report notes.
The GAO found the service also has not fully identified the capability gaps and risks an A-10 divestment would cause the joint terminal attack controller training mission because planners have not established clear mission requirements. The GAO said the decision of what to do with the A-10 is just an example of the challenging decisions the Pentagon will face when balancing current and future capabilities. “Without quality information that fully identifies gaps and associated risks resulting from divestment that can be used to develop mitigation strategies, DOD and the Air Force may not be well-positioned to best balance current demands and future needs,” the report notes.