This is the 33rd Lead Inspector General (Lead IG) report to the United States Congress on Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the overseas contingency operation to advise, assist, and enable local partner forces until they can independently defeat ISIS in designated areas of Iraq and Syria, thereby setting conditions for the implementation of long-term security cooperation frameworks.
The report covers the period January 1, 2023 – March 31, 2023. It summarizes the quarter’s key events, and describes completed, ongoing, and planned Lead IG and partner agency oversight work related to OIR.
Through OIR, U.S. and Coalition forces seek the defeat of ISIS in designated areas of Iraq and Syria. ISIS capabilities remained “degraded” by the steady removal of ISIS leaders in Iraq and Syria but the group continued to spread its ideology and conduct attacks. ISIS remained focused on bolstering its ranks by freeing its fighters from detention and indoctrinating and recruiting children at the al-Hol displaced persons camp in Syria.
Türkiye, Iran, Russia, and the Syrian regime continued to impact the OIR campaign. Iran-aligned militias escalated hostilities towards U.S. and Coalition forces in Syria during the quarter, including unmanned aerial system (UAS) attacks in March that killed one U.S. contractor and wounded 25 U.S. personnel, prompting U.S. defensive action. Tensions also remained high between Turkish-backed forces and the SDF, which continued to prepare for a possible and destabilizing Turkish military ground invasion into northern Syria, though the immediate threat of a ground incursion appeared to diminish following the February earthquakes.
U.S. military activity related to OIR focuses on advising and enabling of partner forces as they build their capacity to fight ISIS independently. Iraqi and Syrian partner forces continued counter-ISIS operations, often without Coalition support. However, partner forces in both countries continued to rely on the Coalition, particularly for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) support.
The OIR mission to defeat ISIS depends, in part, on addressing basic needs for food, water, and shelter; repatriating and reintegrating thousands of displaced Iraqis and Syrians; and strengthening economic opportunity and hope across the region. The United States announced more than $100 million to respond to the February earthquakes in Syria. The earthquakes’ impact on U.S. military and stabilization operations was limited, as those activities occur in the northeastern part of the country, which was not as severely impacted by the earthquakes.
Lead IG and partner agencies completed two reports related to OIR during the quarter, one on the DoD’s handling of Service members who experienced a traumatic brain injuries and the other on the Army’s management of prepositioned equipment, including equipment that supports OIR.
The Inspector General Act of 1978 provides a mandate for the three Lead IG agencies—the DoD OIG, DoS 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.