This is the 29th 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, 2022 – March 31, 2022. It summarizes the quarter’s key events, and describes completed, ongoing, and planned Lead IG and partner agency oversight work related to OIR.
In January, ISIS attacked a detention facility in Syria, demonstrating that while ISIS is degraded, it retains the ability to launch complex attacks. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which run the facility, were able to repel the attack and recapture many detainees, but only with significant Coalition ground and air support. While the SDF conducted some independent counter-ISIS operations during the quarter, they continued to rely on the Coalition for critical intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) support. In addition, the SDF and Coalition forces were frequently constrained and disrupted by forces aligned with the Syrian regime, Iran, Russia, and Turkey.
In Iraq, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) continued to make incremental progress towards operational independence, according to their Coalition advisors. While the ISF have the air power and ISR that the SDF lack, they do not use it effectively, often turning to the Coalition to provide this support. During the quarter, the protracted government formation process—which entered its 6th month—dominated Iraqi politics and delayed government reform efforts. Iran and Iran-aligned militias limited their attacks to preserve leverage during the government formation process, but continued to threaten U.S. and Coalition 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. The disrupted supply of wheat and other food staples led to increased food prices in both countries, higher costs for humanitarian organizations in Syria, and street protests in Iraq. The Department of State (DoS) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) continued to support stabilization and humanitarian activities in the two countries.
The Lead IG and partner agencies completed eight reports related to OIR during the quarter. These reports examined various activities including the Department of Defense (DoD) administration of COVID-19 vaccines to the DoD workforce, DoS fuel management at overseas posts, and USAID management of 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.