This is the 15th Lead Inspector General (Lead IG) report to the United States Congress on Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the overseas contingency operation to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The report covers the period July 1, 2018, to September 30, 2018, and summarizes the quarter’s key events and describes completed, ongoing, and planned Lead IG and partner agency oversight work related to OIR. This report also includes a brief overview on three other OCOs designated as such on February 9, 2018: Operation Yukon Journey, the Northwest Africa Counterterrorism operation and the East Africa Counterterrorism operation.
Regarding OIR, according to the DoD, ISIS has lost all territory it held in Iraq and remained in control of only one percent of territory it once held in Syria. However, the DoD and a report produced by a United Nations Security Council monitoring committee stated that an effective clandestine ISIS organization has moved underground and is acting as an insurgency in both countries. While the DoD reiterated its position that its mission remains the “enduring defeat” of ISIS, U.S. officials issued statements this quarter regarding Iran and Syria’s ongoing civil war that raised questions about the duration of U.S. troops in Syria.
The DoD reported to the DoD OIG that in its assessment, Iraqi Security Forces would need “years, if not decades” to become self-reliant. This, coupled with complications to OIR arising from Syria’s civil war, also raised the possibility of long-term U.S. military involvement in both countries. At the same time, congressional appropriations to support the DoD’s fight against ISIS decreased in FY 2019, and the DoS reprogrammed $230 in U.S. stabilization funds initially earmarked for Syria to support stabilization efforts in other countries.
This quarter, the Lead IG agencies and oversight partners completed 23 audit, evaluation, and inspection reports related to OIR. These reports examined contracts and equipment management, disbursements for overseas contingency operations, and sexual assault prevention and response program management. Additionally, the investigative components of the Lead IG agencies and their partner agencies conducted investigations that resulted in 1 criminal charge, 13 personnel actions, 1 suspension, 6 debarments, and 13 administration actions. The investigations involved wire fraud, procurement fraud, conspiracy to commit export violations, or diversion of humanitarian assistance.
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 overseas contingency operations.