National Audit Office: mobilisation stockpile requires a systematic approach

Toomas Mattson | 6/12/2013 | 2:11 PM

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TALLINN, 12 June 2013 - The National Audit Office audited the effectiveness of the formation, maintenance and renewal of the stockpile required for mobilisation and increasing the military readiness of the Defence Forces and found that the activities of the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Forces in the formation of the material resources needed to attain the desired defence capability requires considerably stronger coordination.

However, the National Audit Office commends the Ministry of Defence for paying attention to many of the problems highlighted in the audit in the new long-term National Defence Development Plan for 2013-2022. Firstly, the long-term goals in the development plan now comply with financial forecasts and the development plan also sets the priorities to determine the wartime units that are to be equipped with material resources during the period of the development plan. However, the new development plan does not give enough attention to the involvement of civil resources.
In the opinion of the National Audit Office it is important that carrying out the goals of a long-term military defence development plan are well thought through and coordinated to guarantee that maximum defence capability is attained and maintained in the context of limited resources.
The audit, however, indicated that the Ministry of Defence had not coordinated the activities required to carry out the Military Defence Development Plan for 2009-2018 adequately. The general conceptual basis, specific action plans, budgets, procurement plans etc. were not developed at the start of the activities. No specific target levels or deadlines were set for the activities carried out for the attainment of goals. There was also no systematic reporting on completion of activities.
The Military Defence Development Plan for 2009-2018 that formed the basis for planning the material resources required for mobilisation was impossible to complete from the moment of its approval due to the recession. Despite this the planned goals of defence capability were not adjusted.
The lack of realistic long-term goals meant that no long-term procurement plans were made from 2009-2012 and equipment was acquired on the basis of plans made for one year. There were also no clear agreements about the defence capacities developed as priorities, which would have helped focus procurements on equipping units of key importance in guaranteeing defence capabilities in a situation where the budget had been cut.
The lack of goals and clear priorities meant that equipment was often procured and allocated to units on the principle that each wartime unit should have something without giving attention to the unit’s capability to perform its operative duties in the planned extent.
The Minister of Defence and the Commander of the Defence Forces did not have an up-to-date overview of the equipment of wartime units. No regular overview of how well wartime units are manned and equipped, or of their formation readiness, was prepared or submitted, because the format and presentation frequency of reports had not been agreed on. However, various people in the General Staff of the Defence Forces have this information (in different structural units), but since it is located in different databases, summarising it all would take a lot of manual work.
The main reason why a lot of manual work is required to obtain an overview of how well the wartime units are manned and equipped is the lack of a national central mobilisation register. The statutes of a central mobilisation register were approved at the end of 2004, but no register has so far been fully developed and implemented. According to plans the mobilisation register should be the central link that gives an overview of how well wartime units are manned as well as of the level of their training and equipment (incl. civil resources) – an overview of the unit’s capability to perform the planned operative tasks. The central register would take data from different sub-registers and present a consolidated view. Development of the register has been suspended for many years.
The Defence Forces are unaware of the extent of the civil resources they can count on.In addition to the own assets of the Defence Forces they also need assets from the civil sector for the military defence of the state. According to plans, the civil resources involved on the basis of contracts is first taken into use in addition to the assets of the Defence Forces in case a military threat emerges, with national defence duties being the last to be added.
As at May 2012 the Defence Forces had prepared and submitted a proposal detailing the resources they need from the civil sector. The Board of Defence Resources mapped the material resources that can be obtained from the civil sector, but they mostly focussed on the area of national defence duties and gave less attention to mapping the assets owned by the state and local authorities (incl. companies owned by the state and local authorities). However, the latter should be the first to be used in the event of a threat. The lack of a complete overview of the resources that can be obtained from the civil sector makes it difficult to plan the resources that must be acquired for the Defence Forces themselves.
The National Audit Office also finds that the National Defence Duties Act must be updated. The effective National Defence Duties Act was adopted in 1995. The act lacks sufficiently detailed organisation of the legal relationships related to national defence duties, which obstructs the future processing of national defence duties.
On the basis of the audit the National Audit Office did not ascertain any circumstances that indicate serious problems in the storage, usability and inspection of stockpiles. Annual stocktakes of stockpiles and inspections of readiness work well in the Defence Forces and generally meet their objectives. This guarantees that existing stockpiles are preserved and usable. However, the Defence Forces have no overview of unnecessary stockpiles, as this aspect is not assessed during stocktakes.
Based on the audit results the National Audit Office advised the Minister of Defence to specify the priorities arising from the objectives of the National Defence Development Plan for 2013-2022, i.e. the order in which, the level to which and the time when priority wartime units are equipped to guarantee the performance of their operative duties when necessary. Equipment priorities must be the direct input for the preparation and updating of a long-term procurement plan and carrying out procurements on the basis of this plan.
The National Audit Office is also of the opinion that it is necessary to establish reporting that would guarantee the Minister of Defence with constant and systematic reports about the level to which the objectives in the achievement of the desired defence capability have been attained. The reporting system must give the Ministry of Defence regular and up-to-date overviews of the formation readiness of wartime units.
The National Audit Office also recommended approving specific goals for the development of a mobilisation information system (incl. a central mobilisation register) and a specific work plan for their achievement. Completion and implementation of a central mobilisation register should be guaranteed, as it would allow the Ministry of Defence and the General Staff of the Defence Forces to obtain constant overviews of the achievement of the desired defence capability goals.
Comments of the Minister of Defence on the audit of the National Audit Office
The Minister of Defence commended the National Audit Office for the work it did and would like to continue cooperating with the National Audit Office in assessing the implementation of the National Defence Development Plan in the coming years.
The Minister of Defence agreed with the main conclusions highlighted in the audit.According to the minister the resolution of most problems has already started and the recommendations made by the National Audit Office overlap with the activities planned for the implementation of the National Defence Development Plan for 2012-2022.
The Minister of Defence pointed out that the new National Defence Development Plan guarantees systematic management of attaining the desired level of defence capability and sets specific target levels, priorities, deadlines and a regular reporting process. According to the minister the procurement plan prepared on the basis of the Development Plan does set priorities and realistic goals for the procurement of the material resources necessary for the preparation of military defence. The minister says that these activities guarantee that the priority reserve units of the Defence Forces are fully equipped with weapons and other equipment and stockpiles, and the Minister of Defence and the Commander of the Defence Forces have a real-time overview of the equipment of units.
The minister admitted that the area of government of the Ministry of Defence was not prepared for such a sudden and steep (up to 38%) decrease in resources during the recession from 2009-2010, which is why during those years they focused on the performance of the procurement contracts already entered into and the procurement plan was cut in areas where it was not covered with contracts.
The Minister of Defence agreed with the National Audit Office’s conclusions that the National Defence Duties Act is out of date and therefore a serious obstacle to the implementation of civil resources in equipping the reserve units of the Defence Forces. This is why the Ministry of Defence launched the process of rewriting the act in 2012, and in 2013 the Ministry of Defence, the Board of Defence Resources, the Defence Forces and the companies belonging to the Estonian Defence Industry Association will carry out training in the implementation of national defence duties where they will test the methodology prepared.
The planning, formation, maintenance and usability of the material resources required to guarantee the defence capability planned in the Military Defence Development Plan for 2009-2018 were assessed in the audit.
Achievement of the goals related to the operative structure of the Defence Forces and the preparation (incl. training) of the staff of the Defence Forces were not assessed during the audit. This is why no opinion on the defence capability of the Defence Forces is given in the audit.
In 2011 the Government of the Republic decided to increase defence expenditure to 2% of GDP from 2012. Defence expenditure in the state budget for 2012 amounted to 341 million euros, which was over 50 million euros more than in 2011. The objective of increasing defence expenditure is to increase defence capability. NATO has advised the state to allocate 2% of GDP for defence expenditure and it has also been Estonia’s promise to NATO.
Military capability is increased according to the objectives of the long-term Military Defence Development Plan. Preparing the necessary staff is not enough for achievement of the defence capability set forth in the development plan, as the stuff must also be equipped with the necessary weapons, ammunition and other equipment.
Spending money on national defence, including military service, is of no use in increasing the state’s defence capability if the state lacks the necessary equipment and logistical capability for the rapid formation of wartime units in the event of a threat. The lack of the required material resources and failure to organise their use mean that the Defence Forces may not achieve the required level of military capability at the required speed in the event of a threat.
Access restrictions
The National Audit Office will not publish the full text of the audit report, because it is subject to the ‘internal use only’ access restriction. The annexes to the audit constitute state secrets.
Toomas Mattson
Head of Communication Service, National Audit Office
640 0777
51 34 900
  • Posted: 6/12/2013 2:11 PM
  • Last Update: 11/10/2015 5:27 PM
  • Last Review: 11/10/2015 5:27 PM


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