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Military Transformation: Progress and Challenges for DOD's Advanced Distributed Learning Programs

2003; Ensign, J; Akaka, D.K.; Hefley, J.; Ortiz, S.P.; Curtin, N.P.

The Department of Defense (DOD) spends more than $17 billion annually for military schools that offer nearly 30,000 military training courses to almost 3 million military personnel and DOD civilians, much of it to maintain readiness. To better meet the diverse defense challenges of the future, DOD is transforming its forces, including its training, for a post-Cold War environment that favors more rapid deployment and responsiveness. DOD’s Training Transformation Strategy emphasizes the use of Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative programs such as Internet-based training as critical to achieving the department’s training and overarching transformation goals and to deliver the highest quality training cost effectively anytime, anywhere, whether active duty, reserve, or civilian personnel. ADL Initiative is instruction that does not require an instructor’s presence; can use more than one media; and emphasizes the use of reusable content, networks, and learning management systems. The authors initiated this review of DOD’s ADL Initiative programs, pursuant to their basic legislative responsibilities, because of the importance DOD has placed on them as a key to achieving the department’s transformation efforts. Specifically, they addressed the following questions: (1) What are DOD’s expectations for the programs? (2) How is DOD managing ADL and what progress is being made in implementing the programs? and (3) What major challenges are affecting the programs’ implementation? The authors did not assess the effectiveness of the programs at this time because most are in the early stages of implementation; thus, their objective was to provide a baseline document concerning the focus, status, and magnitude of DOD’s ADL Initiative programs. In late August and early September 2002, GAO briefed Congress on the results of their work. This report summarizes and updates the major observations provided at those briefings. Army, Navy and Marine Corps, Air Force, and Joint Staff ADL Initiative plans are included.