State and DOD Face Challenges in Finalizing Support and Security Capabilities

State and DOD Face Challenges in Finalizing Support and Security Capabilities

GAO-12-856T, Jun 28, 2012

View Report (PDF, 11 pages)

What GAO Found

The Departments of State (State) and Defense (DOD) planned for a civilian-led presence in Iraq consisting of more than 16,000 personnel at 14 sites in fiscal year 2012. As of May 2012, State and DOD were reassessing the Mission Iraq presence, and State had a plan to reduce the presence to 11,500 personnel at 11 sites by the end of fiscal year 2013. Even with the reductions, Mission Iraq would remain the largest U.S. diplomatic presence in the world. State and DOD allocated an estimated $4 billion for the civilian-led presence for fiscal year 2012, 93 percent of which was for security and support costs. In addition, State requested $1.9 billion in police and military assistance and $471 million in other foreign assistance for fiscal year 2012. State officials said they are lowering their fiscal year 2012 and 2013 budget estimates as a result of reducing the presence.

The Government of Iraq’s commitment to the U.S. presence has remained unclear. The Iraqi Foreign Minister questioned the size, location, and security requirements of U.S. sites. As of May 2012, Iraq had not signed all land-use, program, or operations agreements; State officials voiced concern about Iraq’s ability to finalize these agreements. Iraq acknowledged a U.S. presence at 12 sites, but State held title or had land-use agreements or leases for only 5 sites.

Mission Iraq support functions were operational, but did not fully meet the three mission-capable support criteria by the planned target date of October 1, 2011. First, in establishing basic infrastructure and life support, Mission Iraq faced delays in housing, waste treatment, and food services. For example, State terminated one of its construction contractors for nonperformance, which led to delays. Second, though medical services were in place by October 2011, as of May 2012, Mission Iraq was still completing contingency plans for emergency evacuation from Iraq. Third, while not all communications systems were in place as planned by October 1, 2011, communication services were functional at all Mission Iraq sites as of May 2012.

Mission Iraq security capabilities were operational but did not fully meet the three mission-capable security criteria by the planned target date of October 1, 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 experienced difficulty in recruiting, vetting, and training site security contractors and, as a result, had to extend existing DOD security contracts. Second and third, Mission Iraq’s secure movement and emergency response capabilities were operational but not fully mission capable by the planned date of October 1, 2011. However, as of May 2012, emergency response was fully mission capable. In addition, State and DOD agreed that each department would establish secure facilities at the sites each managed and would apply their own enhanced security measures. As of May 2012, State had conducted security assessments at its sites and had taken mitigating steps to address vulnerabilities. U.S. Forces-Iraq 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 assessments assumed a follow-on military force and said that DOD was not obligated to address the vulnerabilities identified by U.S. Forces-Iraq. DOD has plans to conduct new vulnerability assessments of its sites by July 2012.

Why GAO Did This Study

The transition from a predominantly U.S. military presence in Iraq led by DOD to a U.S. diplomatic presence led by State concluded on December 18, 2011, when the last units of U.S. Forces-Iraq left that country. State and DOD agreed that State’s 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 statement, GAO provides its assessment of (1) the U.S. plans for transitioning to the State-led diplomatic mission in Iraq, (2) Iraqi commitment to the U.S. presence, (3) the extent to which State and DOD have established basic infrastructure and support for Mission Iraq and (4) the extent to which State and DOD have established personnel and site security for Mission Iraq. To address these objectives, GAO analyzed past and current transition and interagency planning documents, bilateral correspondence, and security assessments, as well as past GAO reports. GAO interviewed State and DOD officials in Washington, D.C., and Iraq and conducted fieldwork in Iraq at U.S. facilities in Baghdad, Basrah, Erbil, and Kirkuk from July through December 2011.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is not making recommendations in this statement, which summarizes a more detailed Sensitive but Unclassified (SBU) briefing GAO provided to Congress. The briefing and related SBU draft report included a recommendation to DOD, whose official comments on the draft report are pending.

For more information, contact Michael J. Courts at  (202) 512-8980  or courtsm@gao.gov.

http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/591997.pdf

 

Testimony

Before the Subcommittee on National Security,

Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations,

Committee on Oversight and Government

Reform, House of Representatives

For Release on Delivery

Expected at 9:30 a.m. EDT

Thursday, June 28, 2012

GAO-12-856T

United States Government AccountabilityOffice

GAO

United States Government Accountability Office

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

June 28, 2012

MISSION IRAQ

State and DOD Face Challenges in Finalizing

Support and Security Capabilities

Why GAO Did This Study

The transition from a predominantly

U.S. military presence in Iraq led by

DOD to a U.S. diplomatic presence led

by State concluded on December 18,

2011, when the last units of U.S.

Forces-Iraq left that country. State and

DOD agreed that State’s 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 statement, GAO provides its

assessment of (1) the U.S. plans for

transitioning to the State-led diplomatic

mission in Iraq, (2) Iraqi commitment to

the U.S. presence, (3) the extent to

which State and DOD have established

basic infrastructure and support for

Mission Iraq and (4) the extent to

which State and DOD have established

personnel and site security for Mission

Iraq. To address these objectives,

GAO analyzed past and current

transition and interagency planning

documents, bilateral correspondence,

and security assessments, as well as

past GAO reports. GAO interviewed

State and DOD officials in Washington,

D.C., and Iraq and conducted fieldwork

in Iraq at U.S. facilities in Baghdad,

Basrah, Erbil, and Kirkuk from July

through December 2011.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is not making recommendations

in this statement, which summarizes a

more detailed Sensitive but

Unclassified (SBU) briefing GAO

provided to Congress. The briefing and

related SBU draft report included a

recommendation to DOD, whose

official comments on the draft report

are pending.

What GAO Found

The Departments of State (State) and Defense (DOD) planned for a civilian-led

presence in Iraq consisting of more than 16,000 personnel at 14 sites in fiscal

year 2012. As of May 2012, State and DOD were reassessing the Mission Iraq

presence, and State had a plan to reduce the presence to 11,500 personnel at

11 sites by the end of fiscal year 2013. Even with the reductions, Mission Iraq

would remain the largest U.S. diplomatic presence in the world. State and DOD

allocated an estimated $4 billion for the civilian-led presence for fiscal year 2012,

93 percent of which was for security and support costs. In addition, State

requested $1.9billion in police and military assistance and $471 million in other

foreign assistance for fiscal year 2012. State officials said they are lowering their

fiscal year 2012 and 2013 budget estimates as a result of reducing the presence.

The Government of Iraq’s commitment to the U.S. presence has remained

unclear. The Iraqi Foreign Minister questioned the size, location, and security

requirements of U.S. sites. As of May 2012, Iraq had not signed all land-use,

program, or operations agreements; State officials voiced concern about Iraq’s

ability to finalize these agreements. Iraq acknowledged a U.S. presence at 12

sites, but State held title or had land-use agreements or leases for only 5 sites.

Mission Iraq support functions were operational, but did not fully meet the three

mission-capable support criteria by the planned target date of October 1, 2011.

First, in establishing basic infrastructure and life support, Mission Iraq faced

delays in housing, waste treatment, and food services. For example, State

terminated one of its construction contractors for nonperformance, which led to

delays. Second, though medical services were in place by October 2011, as of

May 2012, Mission Iraq was still completing contingency plans for emergency

evacuation from Iraq. Third, while not all communications systems were in place

as planned by October 1, 2011, communication services were functional at all

Mission Iraq sites as of May 2012.

Mission Iraq security capabilities were operational but did not fully meet the three

mission-capable security criteria by the planned target date of October 1, 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

experienced difficulty in recruiting, vetting, and training site security contractors

and, as a result, had to extend existing DOD security contracts. Second and

third, Mission Iraq’s secure movement and emergency response capabilities

were operational but not fully mission capable by the planned date of October 1,

2011. However, as of May 2012, emergency response was fully mission capable.

In addition, State and DOD agreed that each department would establishsecure

facilities at the sites each managed and would apply their own enhanced security

measures. As of May 2012, State had conducted security assessments at its

sites and had taken mitigating steps to address vulnerabilities. U.S. Forces-Iraq

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

assessments assumed a follow-on military force and said that DOD was not

obligated to address the vulnerabilities identified by U.S. Forces-Iraq. DOD has

plans to conduct new vulnerability assessments of its sites by July 2012.

View GAO-12-856T. For more information,

contact Michael J. Courts at (202) 512-8980 or

courtsm@gao.gov.

Page 1 GAO-12-856T Mission Iraq

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 2 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

2012, Mission Iraq planned to have more than 16,000 personnel at 14

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

for security and logistical support. As of May 2012, State and DOD

shared responsibility for managing U.S. personnel and sites in Iraq: State

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.

Mission Iraq Planned

for a Robust

Presence, but Is in the

Process of

Downsizing

Page 3 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 4 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

Mission Iraq, the Government of Iraq’s commitment to State’s planned

U.S. presence has remained unclear. Iraqi officials have raised a number

of questions about the planned U.S. presence. For example, the Iraqi

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.

Iraqi Commitment to

the Evolving U.S.

Presence Is Unclear

Page 5 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

mission-capable support criteria by the planned target date of October 1,

2011. State and DOD identified three support criteria for Mission Iraq:

  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.

State and DOD Have

Not Finalized Support

Capabilities

Page 6 GAO-12-856T Mission Iraq

Iraq is a “critical threat” post with additional special conditions, State’s

most dangerous designation, and Mission Iraq personnel and facilities

face numerous threats, including routine rocket and mortar attacks, car

and roadside bombs, small arms fire, and kidnapping. This environment

requires extraordinary funding to provide additional security and support

capabilities, primarily provided by contractors.

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.

State and DOD Have

Not Finalized Security

Capabilities in a

Dangerous

Environment

Page 7 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.

Courts at (202) 512-8980 or courtsm@gao.gov. In addition, contact points

for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be

found on the last page of this statement.

Individuals who made key contributionsto 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.

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