This Lead Inspector General (Lead IG) report to the United States Congress is the 5th quarterly report on Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines (OPE-P), the overseas contingency operation to support the Philippine government’s fight against ISIS affiliates and other terrorist organizations. This report summarizes significant events related to this operation and describes ongoing and planned Lead IG and partner agency oversight work. This report covers the period from October 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.
This quarter, ISIS-Philippines (ISIS-P) remained in a weakened state but still posed a threat to security in the southern Philippines. The group has been without a unified leadership or command structure since the end of the 2017 siege of Marawi. Divided into at least four factions with approximately 300-550 total fighters, ISIS-P engaged in clashes with Philippine security forces and carried out opportunistic terrorist attacks, including the bombing of shopping mall, which killed 2 and wounded 34.
U.S. support to the Philippines under OPE-P consists primarily of aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support. More than half the DoD’s $108.2 million budget for OPE-P in FY 2019 is for contracted and U.S. military aerial surveillance support to the Philippine forces. DoD officials stated that the Armed Forces of the Philippine struggles to meet its own intelligence needs due to a lack of necessary assets, inefficient utilization of its limited assets, and insufficient organizational infrastructure to process and utilize gathered intelligence. Outside of OPE-P, the DoD provided the Philippine government with training and materiel to enhance its fighting capacity, including small arms, military trucks, and a 10-day joint training exercise with U.S. Marines.
This quarter, the Lead IG issued its first oversight project related to OPE-P. The DoD OIG’s evaluation of DoD Oversight of Bilateral Agreements with the Republic of the Philippines found that the DoD’s Joint Staff Directorate for Logistics did not have adequate visibility of $13 million in transactions for logistical support sold to the Philippines. Additionally, Lead IG and partner agencies had four ongoing oversight projects related to OPE-P and two planned projects.
This quarter, due to the lapse in Federal appropriations and the resulting partial government shutdown, the Offices of Inspector General of the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development did not participate in the production of this report, and the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development did not review this report or provide input. However, all three inspectors general concur on the content of this report.
Section 8L of the Inspector General Act of 1978 provides a mandate for the three Lead IG agencies—the DoD, DoS, and USAID Offices of Inspector General—to work together to develop and carry out joint, comprehensive, and strategic oversight. Each Inspector General retains statutory independence, but together they apply their extensive regional experience and in-depth institutional knowledge to conduct whole-of-government oversight of this overseas contingency operation.