Fundamentals of Military Readiness

Each year the Department of Defense (DOD) requests and Congress authorizes and appropriates billions of dollars in Operations and Maintenance (O&M) funding to support what the DOD calls readiness. Additionally, other types of defense appropriations may be used to contribute to producing, sustaining, or otherwise enabling readiness. DOD defines readiness as “the ability of military forces to fight and meet the demands of assigned missions.” What precisely this means is a matter of ongoing discourse among congressional leaders and defense officials alike. This report applies the analogy of a production line to explain the process. The readiness production process includes three fundamental parts: Building initial readiness. This includes providing initial training and testing along with proper resourcing, so that warfighters can progress to advanced training. Increasing readiness. This includes providing advanced individual and unit training, testing, and proper resourcing, so that warfighters are qualified and resourced to deploy with their operational units. Sustaining readiness. This includes the continual training and resourcing of units, prior to and following deployments, in order to ensure units remain ready for future assigned missions. Related to the readiness production process are the assessment and reporting of military readiness. This report includes an overview of selected readiness systems, assessments, and sample metrics used to inform military and congressional leaders. These include: the Defense Readiness Reporting System (DRRS); the Chairman’s Readiness System (CRS); the Quarterly Readiness Report to Congress (QRRC); Mission Capable (MC) rates; and Aircraft Availability (AA) rates.  Purchase this volume