September 27, 2021

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Secretary Antony J. Blinken and President of Palau Surangel Whipps, Jr. Before Their Meeting

10 min read

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Surangel Whipps, Jr., President of Palau

Washington, D.C.

Treaty Room

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good morning, everyone.  Good to see you.  I’m very, very pleased to have President Whipps from Palau here today in the State Department.  Palau is a strong partner for the United States, a leader on climate, a model on COVID response, and, of course, a strong voice for a free and open Indo-Pacific.  So I couldn’t be more pleased that the president is here at the State Department.  We’ve got a broad agenda to cover.  But first and foremost, welcome, Mr. President.  Thank you for being here.

PRESIDENT WHIPPS:  Well, thank you so much, Secretary Blinken, for having us and hosting us today.  We are extremely excited to be here and honored to be here, and really with being in the halls of the most powerful country in the world that values freedom and democracy and people’s rights, and to be able to be a partner and really work together in promoting those values.  Whether it’s on climate change or a free and open Indo-Pacific, Palau is – just wants to partner with the United States to promote those values of freedom and democracy around the world.  In fact, our people are allowed to join the U.S. military and serve side by side in promoting those values and defending that freedom.  And we’re just grateful to be a partner and look forward to many years of working together.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Thank you all.  (Inaudible.)

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For example, the Army made certain assumptions about the length of time units would spend in each stage of the ARFORGEN cycle, assumed that units would have all the vehicles that were included in their modified table of organization and equipment, and assumed units would accomplish all the training in the Army’s training strategy. However, prior GAO reports and Army readiness reports have both shown that units do not always have all the equipment, including vehicles included in their modified table of organization and equipment, available when they are conducting training. Army officials have also acknowledged that many units are not currently executing the ARFORGEN training cycle and the Army’s training strategy as envisioned. To the extent that units do not have all of their equipment, including vehicles, or complete all recommended training, the units’ actual miles driven may differ from the Army’s full spectrum training mile metric. 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To the extent that all training does not occur or other assumptions do not hold true, requirements could differ from estimates derived from the Training Resource Model. According to an Army official, the Training Resource Model is one of several sources of information the Army considers when developing its funding requests for training. For example, the official stated the Army uses historical data on actual miles driven to adjust its funding requests to more closely reflect actual conditions.Why GAO Did This StudyIn 2008, the Army issued a field manual that identified the need to expand its training focus so units would be trained and ready to operate across a full spectrum of operations including offensive, defensive, stability, and civil support operations. To support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, for the last several years, the Army has focused its ground force training on preparing units for counterinsurgency operations. With the withdrawal from operations in Iraq, fewer units are engaged in counterinsurgency operations and now have more time to train for full spectrum operations.To reflect the shift in training focus, the Army, in April 2011, updated its training strategy and also established a new metric to measure training activity—referred to as the full spectrum training mile metric. This metric replaced the Army’s traditional tank mile metric, which represented the average number of miles the Army expected to drive its tanks while conducting training. In its fiscal year 2012 budget materials, the Army provided background information on its transition to the new metric, and, starting in fiscal year 2012, began using the new metric.House report 112-78 directed GAO to review the Army’s transition to the full spectrum training mile metric and report its findings by February 28, 2012. To address this mandate, we determined (1) how the Army's full spectrum training mile metric differs from its traditional tank mile metric; (2) the key assumptions associated with the full spectrum training mile metric and to what extent these assumptions reflect actual conditions; and (3) to what extent the Army uses the full spectrum training mile metric to measure training execution and develop training cost estimates and related funding needs. Additionally, for background purposes, this report includes information on how training is reflected in the Army’s operation and maintenance budget-justification materials.For more information, contact Sharon L. Pickup at 202-512-9619 or pickups@gao.gov.
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