This Lead Inspector General (Lead IG) report to the United States Congress on Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) is the eighth quarterly report detailing the overseas contingency operation (OCO). The report summarizes significant events involving OFS and describes completed, ongoing, and planned Lead IG and oversight partner agency work related to this OCO. This report covers the period from January 1, 2017 to March 31, 2017.
Under OFS, U.S. forces are conducting two complementary missions: 1) counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Khorasan (ISIS K), and their affiliates in Afghanistan; and 2) training, advising, and assisting the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led Resolute Support Mission. U.S. counterterrorism efforts remain focused on preventing Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists planning attacks against the U.S. homeland and against U.S. interests and partners. The objective of the Resolute Support Mission is the development of self-sustaining Afghan security forces that are capable of maintaining security under responsible Afghan civilian authorities.
The conflict in Afghanistan continued with little pause this quarter, as the Taliban staged high-profile bombings and coordinated attacks in attempting to expand its control in Afghanistan and destabilize the Afghan government. The ANDSF, with U.S. support, generally countered those attacks, resulting in what U.S. commanders described as a stalemate where neither side could significantly alter the combat environment. Although its numbers were significantly reduced by U.S. and ANDSF counterterrorism operations this quarter, ISIS-K remained a threat to Afghan security by demonstrating its ability to stage deadly, high-profile attacks in Kabul, the capital and largest city in Afghanistan. An ISIS-K attack on Kabul’s main military hospital in March killed at least 49 people and injured 96.
This quarter, the Inspectors General of the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of State (DoS), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) traveled to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Jordan to talk to commanders on the ground, the ambassadors in country, and the chiefs of the USAID missions and to hear the challenges they face. This was the first time the three Inspectors General who have Lead IG responsibilities traveled together in theater, an important step in support of a whole-of-government approach to oversight.
Lead IG agencies and an oversight partner released five reports related to OFS this quarter. Completed oversight work included a DoD OIG audit that found Afghan and coalition authorities failed to exercise adequate control over U.S.-funded contracts that provide fuel to the Afghan army. The Lead IG agencies and their oversight partners also had 36 ongoing and 13 planned oversight projects as of March 31, 2017, and were conducting 29 OFS-related investigations pertaining to alleged procurement fraud, corruption, and trafficking in persons.
In addition, the Lead IG for OFS, in coordination with the DoS and USAID Inspectors General and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, responded to a congressional requirement to report on FY 2017 oversight activities planned for Afghanistan. The report, which discussed the IGs’ oversight responsibilities, planned oversight activity and associated funding, and coordination processes to reduce overlap in oversight, was issued on February 21, 2017.