This is the 30th 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 April 1, 2022 – June 30, 2022. 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. While the frequency and lethality of ISIS attacks continued to decline in Iraq and Syria during the quarter, ISIS remained an ongoing threat to U.S. interests in the region. Of particular concern was ongoing
ISIS violence in the al-Hol displaced persons camp in Syria. In June, Coalition forces captured a senior ISIS bomb maker and facilitator, and U.S. forces killed a top ISIS leader in Syria in July, after the end of the quarter. In May, foreign ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS said that ISIS Iraq and Syria remained a priority; but they also expressed concern about the evolving ISIS threat in Africa and the “growing threat” of ISIS-Khorasan in Asia.
U.S. military activity related to OIR focuses on advising and enabling of partner forces as they build their capacity to fight ISIS independently. These partner forces made intermittent progress during the quarter. For example, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) ground forces directed air-to-ground strikes on ISIS targets using Iraqi aircraft for the first time, but supply chain challenges due to the war in Ukraine and stalled government formation hindered progress in maintenance and sustainment. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued to harden detention facilities holding ISIS detainees, but fundamental security vulnerabilities remain, including poor physical conditions, and a guard force with limited capabilities.
Meanwhile, third party actors continued to undermine the OIR mission. Iran-aligned militias continued sporadic attacks on U.S. and Coalition facilities in Iraq. Turkish forces waged a new military offensive against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Iraq, while Turkey announced its intent to launch a new offensive into northern Syria. The SDF warned that a Turkish incursion would shift its focus away from the ISIS fight and jeopardize security at detention facilities and displacement camps housing ISIS family members. The Russian military carried out escalatory activity in Syria, where Russian aircraft struck an outpost near the At Tanf Garrison, which houses U.S. forces.
The defeat ISIS mission 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 war in Ukraine exacerbated dire economic and humanitarian conditions in Syria and Iraq by increasing food prices in both countries. The Department of State and USAID continued to support stabilization and humanitarian activities in the two countries.
The Lead IG agencies completed six reports related to OIR during the quarter. These reports examined various activities that support OIR, including whether the Army effectively accounted for Government-furnished property provided to the base operations and security support services contractor in Kuwait at facilities that support OIR; whether the DoD and DoS effectively monitored contractors’ adherence to policies related to preventing trafficking in persons; and whether USAID effectively managed awards and humanitarian assistance programs in Iraq and Syria.
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.