oversight

Mission Iraq: State and DOD Face Challenges in Finalizing Support and Security Capabilities

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-06-28.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                            United States Government Accountability Office

GAO                         Testimony
                            Before the Subcommittee on National Security,
                            Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations,
                            Committee on Oversight and Government
                            Reform, House of Representatives

                            MISSION IRAQ
For Release on Delivery
Expected at 9:30 a.m. EDT
Thursday, June 28, 2012



                            State and DOD Face
                            Challenges in Finalizing
                            Support and Security
                            Capabilities
                            Statement of Michael J. Courts, Acting Director
                            International Affairs and Trade




GAO-12-856T
                                                 June 28, 2012

                                                 MISSION IRAQ
                                                 State and DOD Face Challenges in Finalizing
                                                 Support and Security Capabilities
Highlights of GAO-12-856T, a testimony
before the Subcommittee on National Security,
Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations,
Committee on Oversight and Government
Reform, House of Representatives


Why GAO Did This Study                           What GAO Found
The transition from a predominantly              The Departments of State (State) and Defense (DOD) planned for a civilian-led
U.S. military presence in Iraq led by            presence in Iraq consisting of more than 16,000 personnel at 14 sites in fiscal
DOD to a U.S. diplomatic presence led            year 2012. As of May 2012, State and DOD were reassessing the Mission Iraq
by State concluded on December 18,               presence, and State had a plan to reduce the presence to 11,500 personnel at
2011, when the last units of U.S.                11 sites by the end of fiscal year 2013. Even with the reductions, Mission Iraq
Forces-Iraq left that country. State and         would remain the largest U.S. diplomatic presence in the world. State and DOD
DOD agreed that State’s Mission Iraq             allocated an estimated $4 billion for the civilian-led presence for fiscal year 2012,
needed to meet certain support and               93 percent of which was for security and support costs. In addition, State
security criteria to be considered fully
                                                 requested $1.9 billion in police and military assistance and $471 million in other
mission capable, and State planned for
                                                 foreign assistance for fiscal year 2012. State officials said they are lowering their
Mission Iraq to meet those criteria by
October 1, 2011.
                                                 fiscal year 2012 and 2013 budget estimates as a result of reducing the presence.

In this statement, GAO provides its              The Government of Iraq’s commitment to the U.S. presence has remained
assessment of (1) the U.S. plans for             unclear. The Iraqi Foreign Minister questioned the size, location, and security
transitioning to the State-led diplomatic        requirements of U.S. sites. As of May 2012, Iraq had not signed all land-use,
mission in Iraq, (2) Iraqi commitment to         program, or operations agreements; State officials voiced concern about Iraq’s
the U.S. presence, (3) the extent to             ability to finalize these agreements. Iraq acknowledged a U.S. presence at 12
which State and DOD have established             sites, but State held title or had land-use agreements or leases for only 5 sites.
basic infrastructure and support for
                                                 Mission Iraq support functions were operational, but did not fully meet the three
Mission Iraq and (4) the extent to
                                                 mission-capable support criteria by the planned target date of October 1, 2011.
which State and DOD have established
personnel and site security for Mission          First, in establishing basic infrastructure and life support, Mission Iraq faced
Iraq. To address these objectives,               delays in housing, waste treatment, and food services. For example, State
GAO analyzed past and current                    terminated one of its construction contractors for nonperformance, which led to
transition and interagency planning              delays. Second, though medical services were in place by October 2011, as of
documents, bilateral correspondence,             May 2012, Mission Iraq was still completing contingency plans for emergency
and security assessments, as well as             evacuation from Iraq. Third, while not all communications systems were in place
past GAO reports. GAO interviewed                as planned by October 1, 2011, communication services were functional at all
State and DOD officials in Washington,           Mission Iraq sites as of May 2012.
D.C., and Iraq and conducted fieldwork
in Iraq at U.S. facilities in Baghdad,
                                                 Mission Iraq security capabilities were operational but did not fully meet the three
Basrah, Erbil, and Kirkuk from July              mission-capable security criteria by the planned target date of October 1, 2011.
through December 2011.                           First, as of May 2012, construction of site security features was not expected to
                                                 be completed at all Mission Iraq sites until September 2013. State and DOD also
What GAO Recommends                              experienced difficulty in recruiting, vetting, and training site security contractors
                                                 and, as a result, had to extend existing DOD security contracts. Second and
GAO is not making recommendations
                                                 third, Mission Iraq’s secure movement and emergency response capabilities
in this statement, which summarizes a
more detailed Sensitive but
                                                 were operational but not fully mission capable by the planned date of October 1,
Unclassified (SBU) briefing GAO                  2011. However, as of May 2012, emergency response was fully mission capable.
provided to Congress. The briefing and           In addition, State and DOD agreed that each department would establish secure
related SBU draft report included a              facilities at the sites each managed and would apply their own enhanced security
recommendation to DOD, whose                     measures. As of May 2012, State had conducted security assessments at its
official comments on the draft report            sites and had taken mitigating steps to address vulnerabilities. U.S. Forces-Iraq
are pending.                                     conducted security assessments at DOD-managed sites. DOD officials reported
                                                 some efforts to address the vulnerabilities identified by the assessments, but
                                                 DOD did not fully document such efforts. DOD officials noted that the
View GAO-12-856T. For more information,          assessments assumed a follow-on military force and said that DOD was not
contact Michael J. Courts at (202) 512-8980 or   obligated to address the vulnerabilities identified by U.S. Forces-Iraq. DOD has
courtsm@gao.gov.
                                                 plans to conduct new vulnerability assessments of its sites by July 2012.


                                                                                          United States Government Accountability Office
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Tierney, and Members of the
Subcommittee:

I am pleased to be here to discuss the transition from a predominantly
U.S. military presence in Iraq led by the Department of Defense (DOD) to
a U.S. diplomatic presence led by the Department of State (State). This
transition concluded on December 18, 2011, when the last units of U.S.
Forces-Iraq (USF-I) left the country and State assumed leadership for the
U.S. presence. State’s Mission Iraq, under the leadership of the U.S.
ambassador, is responsible for U.S.-Iraqi political, economic, cultural, and
security bilateral relations. State and DOD plans for a civilian-led
presence in Iraq included multiple sites in Baghdad and several
consulates and security assistance sites across the country. State and
DOD agreed that Mission Iraq needed to meet certain support and
security criteria to be considered fully mission capable, and State planned
for Mission Iraq to meet those criteria by October 1, 2011.

In this testimony, I will discuss (1) U.S. plans for transitioning to the State-
led diplomatic mission in Iraq, (2) Iraq government commitment to the
U.S. presence, (3) the extent to which State and DOD have established
basic infrastructure and support for the U.S. presence, and (4) the extent
to which State and DOD have established personnel and site security for
the U.S. presence. This testimony provides publicly releasable highlights
of our Sensitive but Unclassified briefing and is a continuation of our
efforts to review the planning and execution of the drawdown of U.S.
forces and equipment from Iraq and the buildup of the U.S. civilian-led
presence there.1

To address our objectives, we analyzed past and current transition and
interagency planning documents, bilateral correspondence, and security
assessments, as well as our past reports concerning Iraq. We interviewed
State and DOD officials in Washington, D.C., and in Iraq. We conducted
fieldwork in Iraq at U.S. facilities in Baghdad, Basrah, Erbil, and Kirkuk
from July through December 2011. We assessed the reliability of State-
provided staffing and budget data by interviewing officials and reviewing



1
 GAO, Iraq Drawdown: Opportunities Exist to Improve Equipment Visibility, Contractor
Demobilization, and Clarity of Post-2011 DOD Role, GAO-11-774 (Washington, D.C.:
Sept. 16, 2011); and Stabilizing Iraq: Political, Security, and Cost Challenges in
Implementing U.S. Government Plans to Transition to a Predominantly Civilian Presence,
GAO-10-718SU (Washington, D.C.: July 29, 2010).




Page 1                                                        GAO-12-856T Mission Iraq
                          documentation. We found the data were reliable for determining overall
                          estimated staffing levels and budget allocations. Due to broad
                          congressional and national interest in the U.S. engagement in Iraq, we
                          conducted this review under the authority of the Comptroller General of
                          the United States to conduct reviews on his own initiative.

                          We conducted this performance audit from May 2011 to June 2012 in
                          accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
                          Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain
                          sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our
                          findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that
                          the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
                          conclusions based on our audit objectives.


                          State and DOD planned for a robust presence in Iraq. For fiscal year
Mission Iraq Planned      2012, Mission Iraq planned to have more than 16,000 personnel at 14
for a Robust              sites (see fig. 1), making it the largest diplomatic presence in the world.
                          Of the 16,000, about 14,000 were to be contractors primarily responsible
Presence, but Is in the   for security and logistical support. As of May 2012, State and DOD
Process of                shared responsibility for managing U.S. personnel and sites in Iraq: State
Downsizing                managed 8 sites and DOD, under Chief of Mission authority, managed 6
                          sites. Mission Iraq also planned to have the largest State-led police and
                          military security assistance programs in the world—the Police
                          Development Program and the DOD-administered Office of Security
                          Cooperation-Iraq (OSC-I). According to DOD officials, U.S. Forces-Iraq
                          planning for OSC-I assumed that a follow-on U.S. military force would be
                          approved by both governments and provide OSC-I with additional support
                          functions. The bilateral decision not to have a follow-on force led to a
                          reassessment of U.S. military-to-military engagement planning, resulting
                          in an increase in the OSC-I presence.




                          Page 2                                                GAO-12-856T Mission Iraq
Figure 1: State- and DOD-Managed Sites in Iraq




As of May 2012, State and DOD were reassessing the Mission Iraq
presence and had a plan to reduce the Mission to 11 sites and to 11,500
personnel by the end of fiscal year 2013. For example, the number of
advisors expected for the Police Development Program has decreased
from a planned 350 in early 2010 to well under 100 planned today. State
and the Government of Iraq are further refining the program to be smaller
and more narrowly focused. Furthermore, State also intends to turn over
the primary Police Development Program and OSC-I sites to Iraqi control
by the end of fiscal years 2012 and 2013, respectively.



Page 3                                              GAO-12-856T Mission Iraq
                      State and DOD allocated about $4.5 billion to establish the civilian-led
                      presence from fiscal years 2010 through 2011, and they allocated an
                      estimated $4 billion for fiscal year 2012. Security and support costs
                      accounted for 93 percent of State and DOD’s fiscal year 2012 estimated
                      allocations. In addition, State requested $887 million for police assistance
                      and $1 billion for military assistance for fiscal year 2012, as well as an
                      additional $471 million in other foreign assistance.2 State officials said
                      they lowered their fiscal year 2012 estimates and may see additional
                      savings from the fiscal year 2013 request as a result of reducing the
                      Mission Iraq presence.


                      Throughout the planning and implementation of U.S. efforts to establish
Iraqi Commitment to   Mission Iraq, the Government of Iraq’s commitment to State’s planned
the Evolving U.S.     U.S. presence has remained unclear. Iraqi officials have raised a number
                      of questions about the planned U.S. presence. For example, the Iraqi
Presence Is Unclear   Foreign Minister questioned the size, location, and security requirements
                      of U.S. sites. Furthermore, U.S. security contractors were unable to
                      obtain Iraqi visas from January through April 2012. As of May 2012, Iraq
                      was issuing visas to U.S. security contractors.

                      The United States and Iraq have not finalized certain agreements
                      regarding the U.S. presence and are no longer pursuing others. As of
                      May 2012, Iraq had not signed all land-use, program, or operations
                      agreements, and State officials expressed concern about Iraq’s ability to
                      finalize these agreements. For example, State legal officials noted that
                      Iraq had acknowledged a U.S. presence for 12 of the 14 sites at which
                      Mission Iraq currently operates. However, State held title or had signed
                      land-use agreements or leases for only 5 of the 14 sites. According to
                      State officials, Mission Iraq also was unable to secure a written program
                      agreement for the Police Development Program, has decided to stop
                      pursuing a formal agreement, and, as mentioned previously, plans to
                      dramatically reduce the size and scope of the program. In addition, while
                      Mission Iraq and the Iraqi government exchanged diplomatic notes
                      concerning OSC-I, according to DOD officials, Mission Iraq has been



                      2
                       State did not provide us with a detailed breakdown for its fiscal year 2012 foreign
                      assistance accounts requests, including police and military assistance, or its fiscal year
                      2013 Diplomatic and Consular Programs account and foreign assistance accounts
                      requests.




                      Page 4                                                             GAO-12-856T Mission Iraq
                        unable to secure an explicit agreement that would allow OSC-I to conduct
                        its full range of security cooperation activities.


                        Mission Iraq support functions were operational, but did not fully meet
State and DOD Have      mission-capable support criteria by the planned target date of October 1,
Not Finalized Support   2011. State and DOD identified three support criteria for Mission Iraq:
Capabilities               completion of basic infrastructure and life support,

                           access to medical facilities and evacuation capability, and

                           provision of communication services.

                        Mission Iraq faced delays in establishing basic infrastructure and life
                        support, such as housing, waste treatment, and food services. For
                        example, State terminated one of its construction contractors for
                        nonperformance, which led to delays at that site. Also, according to State
                        officials, State received excess DOD-furnished generators but was given
                        equipment with different specifications than expected. This led to delays
                        because State had to reconfigure its already-constructed facilities to
                        accommodate the equipment received. Medical services were in place by
                        October 2011. However, as of May 2012, Mission Iraq was still
                        completing contingency plans for the emergency evacuation that had to
                        be revised to reflect the absence of in-country U.S. combat forces. While
                        communication services were functional at all Mission Iraq sites as of May
                        2012, not all communications systems were in place as planned. In
                        addition, Mission Iraq had not finalized or was no longer pursuing certain
                        agreements with Iraq concerning postal service, telecommunications, and
                        radio frequency management.

                        We also have ongoing work addressing State’s reliance on DOD for
                        contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, including State’s use of DOD’s
                        primary support contract, the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, or
                        LOGCAP, contract.




                        Page 5                                                 GAO-12-856T Mission Iraq
                         Iraq is a “critical threat” post with additional special conditions, State’s
State and DOD Have       most dangerous designation, and Mission Iraq personnel and facilities
Not Finalized Security   face numerous threats, including routine rocket and mortar attacks, car
                         and roadside bombs, small arms fire, and kidnapping. This environment
Capabilities in a        requires extraordinary funding to provide additional security and support
Dangerous                capabilities, primarily provided by contractors.
Environment              Mission Iraq security capabilities were operational but did not fully meet
                         mission-capable security criteria by the planned target date of October 1,
                         2011. State and DOD identified three security criteria for Mission Iraq to
                         be considered fully mission capable:

                            completion of secure and protected facilities,

                            provision of secure ground and air movement, and

                            provision of emergency response capability.

                         State and DOD security capabilities are not finalized. Construction of
                         security features was not expected to be completed at State-managed
                         sites until February 2013 and at DOD-managed sites until September
                         2013, in part due to contractor performance. To mitigate resulting
                         vulnerabilities, Mission Iraq frequently employs “field expedient”
                         measures.3 State and DOD also experienced difficulty in recruiting,
                         vetting, and training their 7,000 contractors to provide security support for
                         Mission Iraq and, as a result, had to extend existing DOD security
                         contracts. Mission Iraq’s secure movement capability was operational but
                         not fully mission capable by the planned date of October 1, 2011. For
                         example, in October 2011, vehicle communication issues in Basrah
                         prevented State from carrying out some secure movements. Based on
                         our review of State and DOD documentation, emergency response
                         capability was operational but was not fully mission capable by the
                         planned date. However, as of May 2012, emergency response was fully
                         mission capable.




                         3
                          According to State officials, additional information on these measures is sensitive but
                         unclassified and cannot be released publicly.




                         Page 6                                                            GAO-12-856T Mission Iraq
                   State and DOD agreed that each department would take responsibility for
                   establishing secure facilities at the sites it managed.4 Both departments
                   also decided to apply their own enhanced security measures at the sites
                   each managed. As of May 2012, State had conducted security
                   assessments at the sites it managed and had taken mitigating steps to
                   address vulnerabilities. Prior to its withdrawal from Iraq, USF-I conducted
                   security assessments at DOD-managed sites. DOD officials reported
                   some efforts to address the vulnerabilities identified by the USF-I
                   assessments, but DOD did not fully document such efforts. DOD officials
                   noted that because USF-I assessments assumed a follow-on military
                   force, DOD was not obligated to address the vulnerabilities identified by
                   USF-I. DOD has informed us of plans to conduct new vulnerability
                   assessments of its sites by July 2012.


                   Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Tierney, and Members of the
                   Subcommittee, this concludes my statement. I would be happy to answer
                   any questions you may have at this time.


                   For further information on this statement, please contact Michael J.
Contacts and       Courts at (202) 512-8980 or courtsm@gao.gov. In addition, contact points
Acknowledgements   for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be
                   found on the last page of this statement.

                   Individuals who made key contributions to this testimony include Judy
                   McCloskey, Assistant Director; Tara Copp; Thomas Costa; David Dayton;
                   Brandon Hunt; Mary Moutsos; Shakira O’Neil; and Michael Rohrback. In
                   addition, Martin de Alteriis, Johana Ayers, Katy Crosby, Lisa McMillan,
                   Valérie Nowak, Jeremy Sebest, and Gwyneth Woolwine provided
                   technical assistance and additional support for this testimony.




                   4
                    While DOD-managed sites fall under Chief of Mission authority, DOD’s U.S. Central
                   Command signed a memorandum with Mission Iraq taking on security responsibility for
                   certain personnel and locations, including the sites it manages.




(320922)
                   Page 7                                                        GAO-12-856T Mission Iraq
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