Operation Inherent Resolve Lead Inspector General Quarterly Report to Congress July 1, 2023 to September 30, 2023

Overseas Contingency Operations

Under the Lead Inspector General framework, the Inspectors General for the Department of Defense, Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development conduct oversight of and report on the overseas contingency operation "Operation Inherent Resolve" (OIR).  The mission of OIR is to advise, assist, and enable partner forces until they can independently defeat ISIS in designated areas of Iraq and Syria, in order to set conditions for long-term security cooperation frameworks.  The broader counter-ISIS campaign includes supporting the Iraqi government and local Syrian partners with civilian-led stabilization activities.  This report also discusses the planned, ongoing, and completed oversight work conducted by the Lead IG agencies and our partner oversight agencies during the quarter. 

ISIS capabilities remained degraded and the group operated in survival mode in Iraq and Syria, with an ongoing loss of leadership and revenue. ISIS attack numbers continued to decline, and become less sophisticated and complex. Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) continued to improve some capabilities, while key deficits persist, including rotary wing readiness and Kurdish Security Forces (KSF) reform. During the quarter, the ISF continued to experience deficits in mission planning, intelligence, artillery, and logistics capability. Clashes between local Arab forces and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) prompted concerns that ISIS could exploit the situation. Coalition forces continued to partner with the SDF in the northeast and the Syrian Free Army (SFA) further south at the At Tanf Garrison. Other forces operating in Iraq and Syria—particularly Iran, Türkiye, Russia, and the Syrian regime—increased Coalition force protection needs, distracted partner forces, and escalated the risk of further conflict. This included an ongoing threat from Iran and Iran-aligned militia groups against U.S. and Coalition forces; Turkish military strikes targeting SDF personnel in northern Syria and the IKR; and dangerous or harassing Russian aircraft activity in and around Coalition aircraft and bases.

There was limited progress toward U.S. goals to improve governance, promote economic growth, and address humanitarian crises in Iraq and Syria. The Iraqi government began to implement its new budget—which includes increases to welfare payments, public sector salaries, and infrastructure spending. The budget heavily depends on the continuation of relatively high oil prices to meet target revenues and includes a number of provisions that have been challenging to implement given the stalled negotiations between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraqi government. USAID reported that tight bank liquidity in Iraq constrained organizations that it supports. In Syria, the U.S. Government continued to support areas affected by the February 2023 earthquake while addressing emerging challenges, such as rising food prices and the failure of a key water station in Hasakah governorate. State remained concerned about reports of human rights abuses—including abuses against children—and attacks by the SDF, Turkish-supported forces, and other organizations.

Operation Inherent Resolve Lead Inspector General Report in Brief, July 1, 2023 to September 30, 2023