The Government Accountability Office has urged the Defense Department to establish priorities among objectives under the European Reassurance Initiative and provide comprehensive estimates of ERI sustainment costs.
GAO said in a report published Friday that DoD has not evaluated ERI initiatives against missions funded under the department’s base budget, which could lead to a lack of understanding of the relative importance of ERI activities that are financed using overseas contingency operations funds.
The U.S. government launched ERI in 2014 to show commitment to the security of European allies following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
DoD has extended ERI objectives from short-term support for allies and partners to the long-term deterrence of Russian aggression, and the department will have requested a total of about $4.5 billion for ERI’s posture enhancements through the end of fiscal year 2017, GAO noted.
The congressional watchdog also found that the U.S. European Command and military services have yet to fully estimate the long-term costs of equipment maintenance and construction under ERI.
The lack of comprehensive sustainment cost estimates limits DoD’s capacity to evaluate affordability and plan for future spending, GAO reported.
DoD also restricts Congress’ view into resources needed to achieve ERI objectives because the department’s ERI budget request does not include future costs, the report said.
GAO recommended DoD to prioritize ERI posture initiatives against base budget initiatives; create cost estimates for sustainment initiatives; and inform Congress on future costs.