Operation Inherent Resolve Lead Inspector General Quarterly Report to Congress October 1, 2023—December 31, 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. Lead IG and partner agencies completed two oversight reports related to OIR during the quarter: the DoD’s management of military units’ use of biometrics to identify friendly forces during overseas operations, and State’s construction of the central power plant at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. As of December 31, 2023, the Lead IG agencies and their partner agencies had 17 ongoing and planned projects related to OIR.

During this quarter, the investigative branches of the Lead IG agencies and their partner agencies opened 8 new investigations and coordinated their work on 62 open investigations. In addition, each Lead IG agency maintains its own hotline to receive complaints specific to its agency. During the quarter, the DoD Hotline investigator referred 96 cases to Lead IG agencies or other investigative organizations.

Iran-aligned militia groups carried out at least 134 attacks on U.S interests in Iraq and Syria during the quarter, injuring U.S. and Coalition personnel. The attacks were linked to the Israel-Hamas conflict that erupted in early October.3 Militias used a variety of one-way attack drones, rockets, and missiles in near daily attacks on U.S. and Coalition forces. U.S. forces responded with strikes against Iran-aligned forces and their facilities in Syria and Iraq, warning that the United States would not tolerate attacks on its forces. The DoD deployed additional defensive capabilities to the region and significantly bolstered force protection measures and defensive capabilities in Iraq and Syria. Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) said that while the attacks created a more challenging operating environment, Coalition forces remained committed to the counter-ISIS mission and to advising, assisting, and enabling partner forces.

ISIS continued to operate in a survival posture in both Iraq and Syria. ISIS continued to conduct attacks against civilians, Iraqi and Syrian partner forces, and regime forces in Syria. The group remained incapable of mounting large, complex attacks locally or externally, even as Coalition forces increased their focus on force protection due to the Iran-aligned militia attacks. In Iraq, due to counter terrorism pressure, the ISIS threat was largely contained, though ISIS continued to exploit security gaps between federal Iraq and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR), and conducted sporadic attacks, mostly in Shia communities. In Syria, ISIS concentrated attacks in the Syrian Desert, where it came under increased pressure from Syrian regime and Russian forces.

Operation Inherent Resolve Lead Inspector General Report in Brief, October 1, 2023—December 31, 2023