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Audit of United States Military Equipment Retrograded from Syria (DODIG-2020-075)

Audit

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Publicly Released: April 2, 2020

Objective

The objective of this audit was to determine whether the DoD has secured and accounted for U.S. Military equipment retrograded from Syria.

 

Background

In support of Operation Inherent Resolve, to degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the U.S. Military has maintained troops and equipment in Syria since 2014. On December 19, 2018, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. Military would begin withdrawing troops from Syria. As a result of this announcement, the U.S. Military planned the withdrawal of equipment from Syria, which included unit-owned equipment and theater-provided equipment (TPE). Unit-owned equipment accompanies the deploying unit to Southwest Asia and returns with the unit when the unit redeploys. TPE is non-unit equipment owned by U.S. Army Materiel Command that is available for issue to units in Southwest Asia.

The U.S. Military withdraws TPE from Syria through the retrograde process. Retrograde is the process of moving non-unit equipment from a forward location to a restoration program or another location to satisfy a different requirement. TPE retrograded from Syria included items such as vehicles, laptops, and communication devices, but did not include any lethal equipment. As of August 2019, the Army had retrograded 1,124 pieces of TPE, valued at $45.6 million, from Syria.

 

Findings

We identified instances where the Army did not properly account for U.S. Military equipment retrograded from Syria. From a universe of 1,124 pieces of TPE valued at $45.6 million, we reviewed TPE retrograded from Syria through the Erbil Redistribution Property Accountability Team (RPAT) facility and selected a statistical sample of 192 pieces of TPE valued at $6.9 million. Of the 192 pieces of TPE in our sample, the Army properly accounted for 113 pieces of TPE, valued at $2.8 million. However, 79 of the 192 pieces of TPE, valued at $4.1 million, were not properly accounted for as required by DoD Instruction 5000.64 and 401st Army Field Support Battalion–Southwest Asia Standard Operating Procedure 755-1. Specifically, the Army did not ensure that:

• 69 pieces of TPE transferred to distribution and disposition warehouses were continuously accounted for in accountable property systems of record, and

• 10 pieces of found-on-installation equipment were accounted for in the Global Combat Support System–Army.

The Army did not continuously account for 69 pieces of TPE because Internet connectivity problems, from second through fourth quarter FY 2019, prevented Erbil RPAT personnel from entering TPE transfers in the Army War Reserve Deployment System. In addition, Erbil RPAT personnel stated that the Army did not follow guidance to properly account for 10 pieces of found-on-installation equipment due to the increase in equipment turned in to the RPAT facility caused by the unexpected withdrawal from Syria.

Although we identified accountability problems, we verified the existence of all equipment in our sample and determined that the Army did not lose any of the TPE in our sample. Although the Army did not lose any of the TPE in our sample, we statistically projected that the Army did not continuously account for 559 pieces of TPE (see Appendix B for the statistical sample plan and projection). TPE that is not accounted for while being transferred is at an increased risk of loss. In addition, if the Army does not enter found-on-installation equipment into the accountable property systems of record, Army officials have less visibility of the available equipment to make supply-chain decisions. By properly accounting for TPE in an accountable property system of record, the Army can reduce the risk of asset loss. Adequately accounting for TPE will also provide the Army better TPE visibility and improve asset management. Improvements in TPE accountability will positively impact future equipment retrogrades from Syria and retrogrades from other future contingency locations.

Regarding the security of U.S. Military equipment retrograded from Syria, we determined that the Army properly secured storage facilities at Camp Arifjan that contained U.S. Military equipment retrograded from Syria. We assessed physical security at two equipment storage lots and a secure equipment warehouse where TPE was stored. We determined that the Army followed the physical security requirements for Army property as stated in Army Regulation 190-51 and the Army Pre-positioned Stock–Kuwait and Qatar Security Plan. Because the Army properly secured the storage facilities at Camp Arifjan, the Army did not lose any TPE in our sample that was retrograded from Syria and stored at Camp Arifjan facilities. By continuing to follow existing physical security requirements, the Army will reduce the likelihood of lost or stolen TPE at the Kuwait RPAT.

 

Management Actions Taken

During the audit, we held discussions with RPAT personnel and the Commander of the 401st Army Field Support Battalion–Southwest Asia regarding transferred TPE and found-on-installation accounting discrepancies that we identified. The Erbil RPAT personnel resolved the Internet connectivity problems by entering TPE transfers into an in-transit status in the Army War Reserve Deployment System to ensure TPE was continuously accounted for. In addition, RPAT personnel took immediate action to correctly account for found-on-installation equipment still located at the RPAT facility. Furthermore, the Commander issued a memorandum to RPAT personnel in December 2019 reiterating the need to follow existing guidance to account for found-on-installation equipment. Management actions taken addressed the concerns we identified; therefore, we are not making any recommendations.

 

This report is the product of Proj. No. D2019-D000RG-0159.000