This is the 12th Lead Inspector General (Lead IG) report to the United States Congress on Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the overseas contingency operation (OCO) to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It also includes the 1st quarterly report on Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines (OPE-P), the new OCO to support the Philippine government’s fight against ISIS affiliates and other terrorist organizations.
The report covers the period Oct. 1, 2017, to Dec. 31, 2017, and summarizes the quarter’s key events according to the five Strategic Oversight Areas adopted by the Lead IG agencies for OIR: Security, Governance and Civil Society, Stabilization, Support to Mission, and Humanitarian Assistance. The report on OPE-P addresses the new mission, background and status of operations, and humanitarian assistance. Lastly, the report describes completed, ongoing, and planned Lead IG and partner agency oversight work related to OIR and OPE-P.
This quarter, the Lead IG agencies and oversight partners released seven reports related to OIR. These included reports related to counternarcotics activities, health and safety standards at U.S. military facilities, and best practices for humanitarian assistance efforts in non-permissive environments, such as Syria. In total, 52 oversight projects related to OIR and one related to OPE-P were ongoing as of December 31, 2017.
Between Oct. 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2017, Iraqi Security Forces, supported by a U.S.-led Coalition of 73 nations and organizations, liberated significant territory from ISIS, including Raqqah, the capital of ISIS’s self-proclaimed “caliphate.” In Iraq, ISIS forces were routed from their remaining strongholds in Anbar province, leading the Iraqi Prime Minister to declare victory over ISIS in that country. U.S. and Coalition forces continued to train, advise, assist, and equip partner forces in both countries. The report also provides a brief overview of the Syrian civil war, including challenges to U.S. and Coalition efforts posed by Iran’s support for pro-Syrian regime forces, Russian military activity, and Turkey’s involvement in northern Syria.
In the Philippines, U.S. military advisors provided support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines in their fight against ISIS affiliates and other terrorist organizations. These violent extremists, operating under the banner of ISIS, seized the southern provincial capital city of Marawi and held it for four months. While the militants were eventually defeated in Marawi, they were believed to be regrouping elsewhere during the quarter. Meanwhile, significant infrastructure damage and a large number of displaced residents presented challenges for reconstruction.
Section 8L of the Inspector General Act of 1978 provides a mandate for the three Lead IG agencies—the DoD OIG, Department of State OIG, and USAID OIG—to work together to develop and carry out joint, comprehensive, and strategic oversight. Each IG retains statutory independence, but together they apply their extensive regional experience and in-depth institutional knowledge to conduct whole-of-government oversight of these OCOs.