This Lead Inspector General (Lead IG) report to the United States Congress is the 5th report on Operation Enduring Sentinel (OES). The report summarizes significant events involving OES and describes completed, ongoing, and planned Lead IG and partner agency oversight work. This report covers the period from October 1, 2022, through December 31, 2022.
ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K) remained the most significant terrorist threat in Afghanistan this quarter, launching attacks on high profile targets, including Taliban forces and foreign nationals.
ISIS-K did not conduct any attacks on U.S. interests in the region this quarter. While the group currently lacks the capacity to attack the United States directly, it may seek to inspire individuals to commit acts of violence rather than directing centrally managed attacks. The DoD did not provide any unclassified information on U.S. activities in and around Afghanistan this quarter.
The Taliban continued to develop its counterterrorism capabilities and employed new tactics to degrade ISIS-K, though the regime will likely struggle to disrupt terrorist attacks preemptively. The Taliban likely continued to have some success conducting house-to-house targeting of ISIS-K. However, the Taliban failed to prevent multiple ISIS-K attacks, including attacks on foreign nationals, which threaten the Taliban’s long-term goal of projecting an image of stable governance to build international legitimacy.
On December 21, the Taliban indefinitely suspended public and private education for girls above grade six. This announcement came one day after the Taliban had announced a ban on women’s access to college and university level education, drawing condemnation from the United States and the international community. Four days later, the Taliban instituted a ban on women performing humanitarian work with nongovernmental organizations (NGO) in Afghanistan.
The UN expects that this ban will significantly curtail its ability to provide assistance to those in need at a time of heightened humanitarian crises in Afghanistan. State said that as the international community considers any future steps toward recognition, it views the Taliban’s policies toward women unfavorably.
The number of Afghans in need of humanitarian assistance increased from 24.4 million in 2022 to a projected 28.3 million in 2023. Water, sanitation, and hygiene needs significantly increased due to continuing droughts. Protection needs increased over the previous year by 25 percent due to the Taliban’s new policies, particularly policies that relate to women’s participation in society. The Taliban’s ban on Afghan women working for NGOs resulted in significantly reduced access to humanitarian assistance, while the need for aid increased across the country, especially among women and girls.
Lead IG and partner agencies continued to conduct oversight projects related to these operations following the U.S. withdrawal and from Afghanistan. During the quarter, the Lead IG agencies issued three oversight reports, three audits, and one management advisory report related to OES.
The Inspector General Act of 1978 provides a mandate for the three Lead IG agencies—the DoD OIG, DoS OIG, and U.S. Agency for International Development 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.