This is the 28th 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 October 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021, 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, U.S. forces in Iraq completed their transition to an advise, assist, and enable role. The transition stemmed from agreements associated with the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Dialogue and occurred gradually over multiple preceding quarters.
ISIS remained entrenched in Iraq and Syria during the quarter. Although U.S. partner forces in Iraq and Syria were able to conduct successful operations against ISIS without Coalition involvement during the quarter, they also continued to rely on Coalition support. Combined Joint Task Force-OIR (CJTF-OIR) reported that the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) continued to experience organizational shortcomings—ranging from inefficient command and control systems to ineffective maintenance and logistical processes—that hindered its ability to operate independently. The Syrian Democratic Forces, while able to gather intelligence through their human intelligence networks, remained fully dependent on the Coalition’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, according to CJTF-OIR.
The Iraqi government successfully held parliamentary elections on October 10. The DoS reported that Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) executed technically sound elections with support from the international community, including substantial USAID support through the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, a UN Assistance Mission in Iraq monitoring mission, and significant UN technical electoral assistance. During the quarter, repatriation efforts continued with 128 Iraqi families returning to Iraq from the al-Hol camp in Syria. Meanwhile, the Amriyat al-Fallujah camp in Anbar province was declared “closed” and reclassified by the Iraqi government from a formal IDP camp to an informal site, leaving the Jeddah 5 camp as the only formal IDP camp in federal Iraq.
In Syria, CJTF-OIR reported that Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) operations continued to limit ISIS's ability to reconstitute, move and stage high profile attacks in northeastern Syria. During the quarter, the U.S. Government continued efforts to repatriate and reintegrate displaced persons in Syria. Authorities in Syria continued to facilitate the safe and voluntary return and reintegration of Syrians from displaced persons camps who wished to depart to their home communities.
The Lead IG and partner agencies completed 10 reports related to OIR this quarter. The Lead IG and partner agencies continued 11 projects related to OIR and 14 were planned.
Section 8L of the Inspector General Act of 1978 provides a mandate for the three Lead IG agencies—the Department of Defense OIG, DoS OIG, and United States 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.