This Lead Inspector General (Lead IG) report to the United States Congress is the 14th report on Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the overseas contingency operation to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the 3rd report on Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines (OPE-P) to support the Philippine government’s fight against ISIS affiliates and other terrorist organizations. This report summarizes significant events involving these operations and describes completed, ongoing, and planned Lead IG and partner agency oversight work. This report cover the period from April 1, 2018 to June 30, 2018.
This quarter, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) began a new phase of operations to defeat ISIS in Iraq and provided security for major events, including the Iraqi parliamentary elections in May. The ISF also coordinated with Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting ISIS in remaining pockets in Syria, providing cross-border air and ground support. Two separate Shia alliances were projected to win the most seats in parliament, though as of the end of the quarter, a recount was underway.
In Syria, the SDF gained ground against ISIS after Kurdish fighters belonging to the SDF resumed offensive operations on May 1, following a 2-month “pause.” In June, the United States and Turkey agreed on a roadmap for the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from the northern Syrian town of Manbij, which had been a longstanding Turkish demand. Meanwhile, the Administration’s decision last quarter to suspend more than $200 million in funding for stabilization disrupted some programs aimed at creating the conditions necessary for refugees and internally displaced people to return to areas liberated from ISIS.
In the Philippines, U.S. forces continued to conduct training and intelligence sharing for Philippine forces who engaged in a series of low-level clashes with ISIS-Philippines (ISIS-P). Approximately 250 U.S. military advisers supported Philippine counterterror operations. According to DoD officials, the number of jihadist rebels claiming ISIS affiliation dropped to 200 from 1,000 last year. While ISIS-P has lacked a single leader since October 2017, 5 leaders have vied for the position of emir.
The Lead IG agencies and our oversight partners issued 16 oversight reports related to OIR and 1 report related to OPE-P this quarter. These reports examined various activities, including contract and equipment management; disbursements for contingency operations; and sexual assault prevention and response program management. Lead IG investigations related to OIR resulted in 1 arrest, 2 criminal charges, 29 personnel actions, 3 suspensions, and 12 debarments.
On May 29, 2018, the DoD Inspector General was designated as the Lead IG for three new overseas contingency operations related to counterterrorism activities. Two are in Africa and one is in the Middle East. These operations, which are currently classified, seek to degrade al Qaeda and ISIS-affiliated terrorists in specific sub-regions of these areas.
Section 8L of the Inspector General Act of 1978 provides a mandate for the three Lead IG agencies—the DoD, Department of State, 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 these overseas contingency operations.