This is the 18th Lead Inspector General (Lead IG) report on Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the overseas contingency operation to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The report covers the period April 1, 2019 to June 30, 2019, and summarizes the quarter’s key events and describes completed, ongoing, and planned Lead IG and partner agency oversight work related to OIR.
During the quarter, ISIS continued its transition from a territory-holding force to an insurgency in Syria and solidified insurgent capabilities in Iraq. According to the Combined Joint Task Force–OIR (CJTF-OIR), ISIS carried out assassinations, suicide attacks, abductions, and arson of crops in both Iraq and Syria. In addition, ISIS established “resurgent cells” in Syria and sought to expand its command and control nodes in Iraq.
During the quarter, CJTF-OIR completed a partial withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, which it said decreased the support available to partner forces at a time when they needed training and equipping to respond to ISIS resurgent cells. CJTF-OIR reported that the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were unable to sustain long-term operations against ISIS militants. It said that in Iraq, the ISF often lacks the ability to maintain hold forces in territory cleared of ISIS militants, while in Syria, the SDF was “initially limited” in personnel, equipment, and intelligence to confront ISIS’s resurgent cells.
The Department of State (DoS) reported that Iraq’s government appointed several key ministers, but faced mounting popular discontent over its inability to provide basic services. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said that in Syria, the al Hol internally displaced persons camp and Rukban settlement remained humanitarian concerns. The DoD described the al Hol camp as a security concern due to the high number of ISIS family members and supporters in the camp, and continued to urge repatriation of ISIS supporters to their countries of origin.
This quarter, the Lead IG agencies and oversight partners issued 10 oversight reports related to OIR. These included reports related to combatting trafficking in persons and contract management and accountability in overseas contingency operations. As of June 30, 2019, the Lead IG agencies had 24 ongoing and 11 planned oversight projects, and 124 open investigations related to OIR.
Section 8L of 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.