This Lead Inspector General (Lead IG) report to the United States Congress on Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) is the 11th quarterly report detailing the overseas contingency operation (OCO). The report summarizes significant events involving OFS and describes completed, ongoing, and planned Lead IG and partner agency oversight work. This report covers the period from October 1, 2017, to December 31, 2017.
Operation Freedom’s Sentinel began on January 1, 2015. U.S. forces conduct two complementary missions under OFS: 1) counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda, its associates in Afghanistan, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Khorasan (ISIS-K); 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 to develop self-sustaining Afghan security forces that are capable of maintaining security under responsible Afghan civilian authorities.
This quarter, the United States continued implementing its new South Asia strategy, which aims to use increased military, diplomatic, and social pressure to drive the Taliban to a negotiated reconciliation with the Afghan government. Under the strategy, the United States is deploying approximately 3,500 additional troops to Afghanistan to expand the mission to train, advise, and assist Afghan forces at the tactical level. The United States also expanded authorities for U.S. forces to attack the Taliban and their revenue sources, such as narcotics processing facilities.
U.S. and NATO commanders stated that this revised strategy changed the momentum in Afghanistan in favor of the ANDSF. However, one of the few unclassified metrics available to assess this progress, government control of population centers, showed no change from the previous quarter. In addition, the percentage of districts controlled by the government did not change.
This quarter, the Taliban continued shifting tactics from large-scale operations to high-profile terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings of Afghan army and police facilities. ISIS-K was also active, carrying out suicide attacks on Shia minority populations in Kabul.
Lead IG and partner agencies released ten reports during this quarter, which included an evaluation of the DoD’s implementation of the Leahy Law regarding child sexual abuse as it applies to DoD interaction with and support for the Afghan security ministries and the ANDSF; accountability of equipment supplied by the United States to the Afghan government; oversight of counter-narcotics operations; and the monitoring and overseeing of antiterrorism assistance program activities in Afghanistan. As of the end of the quarter, 69 oversight projects were either ongoing or planned.
Lead IG agency investigations this quarter resulted in one criminal charge, one misdemeanor conviction, seven suspensions, six debarments, seven personnel actions, two other administrative actions, and the removal of one employee from Federal employment. These included a guilty plea from a former U.S. Government employee who solicited $320,000 in bribes from contractors. There were 34 open investigations involving OFS-related programs and operations, including allegations of procurement, grant, and other program fraud; corruption; theft; trafficking-in-persons; and other offenses.
This quarter, United States Forces – Afghanistan again classified key personnel statistics and metrics used to assess the ANDSF. These figures, which were previously released publicly, are now included along with additional related information in a classified appendix. This appendix is distributed and made available to the appropriate government agencies and congressional committees.