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GAO-08-1128R: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

September 15, 2008: 

Congressional Committees: 

Subject: Global War on Terrorism: Reported Obligations for the 
Department of Defense: 

Since 2001, Congress has provided the Department of Defense (DOD) with 
about $807 billion in supplemental and annual appropriations, as of 
September 2008, primarily for military operations in support of the 
Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).[Footnote 1] DOD's reported annual 
obligations[Footnote 2] for GWOT have shown a steady increase from 
about $0.2 billion in fiscal year 2001 to about $139.8 billion in 
fiscal year 2007. The United States' commitments to GWOT will likely 
involve the continued investment of significant resources, requiring 
decision makers to consider difficult trade-offs as the nation faces an 
increasing long-range fiscal challenge. The magnitude of future costs 
will depend on several direct and indirect cost variables and, in some 
cases, decisions that have not yet been made. DOD's future costs will 
likely be affected by the pace and duration of operations, the types of 
facilities needed to support troops overseas, redeployment plans, and 
the amount of equipment to be repaired or replaced.[Footnote 3] 

DOD compiles and reports monthly and cumulative incremental obligations 
incurred to support GWOT in a monthly Supplemental and Cost of War 
Execution Report. DOD leadership uses this report, along with other 
information, to advise Congress on the costs of the war and to 
formulate future GWOT budget requests. DOD reports these obligations by 
appropriation, contingency operation,[Footnote 4] and military service 
or defense agency. The monthly cost reports are typically compiled 
within the 45 days after the end of the reporting month in: 

which the obligations are incurred.[Footnote 5] DOD has prepared 
monthly reports on the obligations incurred for its involvement in GWOT 
since fiscal year 2001. 

Section 1221 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 
2006[Footnote 6] requires us to submit quarterly updates to Congress on 
the costs of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom 
based on DOD's monthly Supplemental and Cost of War Execution Reports. 
This report, which responds to this requirement, contains our analysis 
of DOD's reported obligations for military operations in support of 
GWOT through June 2008. Specifically, we assessed (1) DOD's cumulative 
appropriations and reported obligations for military operations in 
support of GWOT and (2) DOD's fiscal year 2008 reported obligations 
from October 2007 through June 2008, the latest data available for GWOT 
by military service and appropriation account. 

Over the years, we have conducted a series of reviews examining funding 
and reported obligations for military operations in support of GWOT. 
Our prior work[Footnote 7] has found the data in DOD's monthly 
Supplemental and Cost of War Execution Report to be of questionable 
reliability. Consequently, we are unable to ensure that DOD's reported 
obligations for GWOT are complete, reliable, and accurate, and they 
therefore should be considered approximations. Based on this work, we 
have made a number of recommendations to the Secretary of Defense 
intended to improve the transparency and reliability of DOD's GWOT 
obligations. For example we have recommended that DOD (1) revise the 
cost reporting guidance so that large amounts of reported obligations 
are not shown in "other" miscellaneous categories and (2) take steps to 
ensure that reported GWOT obligations are reliable. In response, DOD is 
taking steps to improve GWOT cost reporting. For example, DOD has 
modified its guidance to more clearly define some of the cost 
categories and is taking additional steps to strengthen the oversight 
and program management of the cost reporting. Specifically, DOD has 
taken steps to improve transparency by requiring components to analyze 
variances in reported obligations and to disclose reasons for 
significant changes, and to affirm that monthly reported GWOT 
obligations provide a fair representation of ongoing activities. 
Furthermore, in February 2007, DOD established a Senior Steering Group 
including representatives from DOD, the Defense Finance and Accounting 
Service (DFAS), and the military services in an effort to standardize 
and improve the GWOT cost-reporting process and to increase management 
attention to the process. DOD established a GWOT Cost-of-War Project 
Management Office to monitor work performed by auditing agencies and to 
report possible solutions and improvements to the Senior Steering 
Group. DOD has started several initiatives to improve credibility, 
transparency, and timeliness. One of the initiatives is a quarterly 
validation of GWOT obligation transactions at each of the DOD 
components with the goal of having a sampling of all types of costs 
validated by the end of the fiscal year. Until all DOD efforts are more 
fully implemented, it is too soon to know the extent to which these 
changes will improve the reliability of DOD's cost reporting. 

While establishing sound cost reporting procedures and oversight is 
clearly important, the reliability of the cost-of-war reports also 
depends on the quality of DOD's accounting data. Factors contributing 
to DOD's challenges in reporting reliable cost data include long- 
standing deficiencies in DOD's financial management systems. We are 
aware that DOD has efforts under way to improve these systems as well. 

We have also made recommendations to improve transparency and fiscal 
responsibility related to funding the war on terrorism and to permit 
the Congress and the administration to establish priorities and make 
trade-offs among those priorities in defense funding. Specifically, we 
recommended that DOD (1) issue guidance defining what constitutes the 
"longer war against terror," identify what costs are related to that 
longer war, and build these costs into the base defense budget; (2) 
identify incremental costs of the ongoing GWOT operations that can be 
moved into the base budget; and (3) in consultation with the Office of 
Management and Budget, consider limiting emergency funding requests to 
truly unforeseen or sudden events.[Footnote 8] We will continue to 
review DOD's efforts to implement these recommendations as part of our 
follow-up work on GWOT. 

Scope and Methodology: 

To conduct our work, we analyzed applicable annual and supplemental 
appropriations from fiscal year 2001 through fiscal year 2007 and for 
fiscal year 2008 through June 2008, the latest GWOT appropriations 
provided, as well as DOD's appropriation allocation documents. We also 
analyzed DOD's monthly Supplemental and Cost of War Execution Reports 
from September 2001 through June 2008, the latest data available. 
Specifically, we identified appropriated amounts primarily intended for 
GWOT and reported GWOT obligations for each operation, military 
service, and appropriation account. 

We are continuing to review DOD's fiscal year 2008 funding and reported 
obligations, including the reliability of the reported obligations. We 
are also reviewing the processes, including models and other tools, 
used to estimate GWOT funding requirements. We plan to report on this 
work in September 2008. 

We conducted this performance audit from August 2008 to September 2008 
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. 

Summary: 

As of September 2008, Congress has appropriated a total of about $807 
billion primarily for GWOT operations since 2001. Of that amount, about 
$187 billion has been provided for fiscal year 2008 and about $65.9 
billion has been appropriated for use in fiscal year 2009. DOD will 
likely request additional funds for fiscal year 2009. DOD has reported 
obligations of about $594.9 billion for military operations in support 
of the war from fiscal year 2001 through fiscal year 2007 and fiscal 
year 2008 (October 2007 through June 2008). The $212.1 billion 
difference[Footnote 9] between DOD's appropriations and reported 
obligations can generally be attributed to certain fiscal year 2008 
appropriations; multiyear funding for procurement, military 
construction, and research, development, test, and evaluation from 
previous GWOT-related appropriations[Footnote 10] that have yet to be 
obligated; and obligations for classified and other items, which DOD 
considers to be non-GWOT related, that are not reported in DOD's cost- 
of-war reports.[Footnote 11] This difference also includes the $65.9 
billion appropriated for fiscal year 2009. As part of our ongoing work, 
we are reviewing DOD's rationale for reporting its GWOT related 
obligations. 

Figure 1 shows the increase in DOD's cumulative reported GWOT 
obligations and cumulative GWOT appropriations from fiscal year 2001 
through fiscal year 2007 and for fiscal year 2008 (October 2007 through 
June 2008). The appropriations amount does not include the fiscal year 
2009 appropriation of $65.9 billion. 

Figure 1: DOD's Cumulative Reported GWOT Obligations and Cumulative 
GWOT Appropriations for Fiscal Years 2001 through 2007 and for Fiscal 
Year 2008 through June 2008: 

[See PDF for image] 

This figure is a combination vertical bar and line graph depicting the 
following data: 

Fiscal year: 2001; 
Cumulative GWOT appropriations: $17 billion; 
Cumulative reported GWOT obligations: $0.2 billion. 

Fiscal year: 2002; 
Cumulative GWOT appropriations: $31 billion; 
Cumulative reported GWOT obligations: $29.4 billion. 

Fiscal year: 2003; 
Cumulative GWOT appropriations: $100 billion; 
Cumulative reported GWOT obligations: $98 billion. 

Fiscal year: 2004; 
Cumulative GWOT appropriations: $166 billion; 
Cumulative reported GWOT obligations: $69.2 billion. 

Fiscal year: 2005; 
Cumulative GWOT appropriations: $269 billion; 
Cumulative reported GWOT obligations: $254 billion. 

Fiscal year: 2006; 
Cumulative GWOT appropriations: $385 billion; 
Cumulative reported GWOT obligations: $352.5 billion. 

Fiscal year: 2007; 
Cumulative GWOT appropriations: $554 billion; 
Cumulative reported GWOT obligations: $492.2 billion. 

Fiscal year: 2008 October-December; 
Cumulative GWOT appropriations: $741 billion; 
Cumulative reported GWOT obligations: $594.9 billion. 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD and appropriations data. 

Notes: Appropriations amounts reflect totals provided in supplemental 
and annual appropriations legislation. Reported GWOT obligations 
include Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom, and 
Operation Iraqi Freedom, and generally reflect costs reported in DOD's 
cost-of-war reports. However, the fiscal year 2002 and 2003 figures 
include about $20.1 billion that according to DOD officials was war 
related but not reported in DOD's cost-of-war reports. GAO has assessed 
the reliability of DOD's obligation data and found significant 
problems, such that these data may not accurately reflect the true 
dollar value of GWOT obligations. 

[End of figure] 

Of DOD's total cumulative reported obligations for GWOT through June 
2008 (about $594.9 billion), about $462.1 billion is for operations in 
and around Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and about $104.8 
billion is for operations in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, the 
Philippines, and elsewhere as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. The 
remaining about $28 billion is for operations in defense of the 
homeland as part of Operation Noble Eagle. 

As figure 2 shows, DOD's reported obligations for Operation Iraqi 
Freedom have consistently increased each fiscal year since operations 
began. The increases in reported obligations for Operation Iraqi 
Freedom are in part due to continued costs for military personnel, such 
as military pay and allowances for mobilized reservists, and for rising 
operation and maintenance expenses, such as higher contract costs for 
housing, food, and services and higher fuel costs. In addition, the 
need to repair and replace equipment because of the harsh combat and 
environmental conditions in theater and the ongoing costs associated 
with the surge strategy announced in January 2007, which provided for 
the deployment of additional troops, have further increased obligations 
for Operation Iraqi Freedom. In contrast, DOD's reported obligations 
for Operation Noble Eagle have consistently decreased since fiscal year 
2003, largely because of the completion of repairs to the Pentagon and 
upgrades in security at military installations that were onetime costs, 
as well as a reduction in combat air patrols and in the number of 
reserve personnel guarding government installations. Reported 
obligations for Operation Enduring Freedom have ranged from $10.3 
billion to $20.1 billion each fiscal year since 2003. Recent increases 
in reported obligations for Operation Enduring Freedom are in part 
caused by higher troop levels in Afghanistan, the costs associated with 
training Afghan security forces, and the need to repair and replace 
equipment after several years of ongoing operations. 

Figure 2: DOD's Reported GWOT Obligations for Fiscal Years 2001 through 
2007 by Operation: 

[See PDF for image] 

This figure is a stacked line graph depicting the following data: 

Reported GWOT obligations per fiscal year: 2001; 
Operation Noble Eagle: $0.1 billion; 
Operation Enduring Freedom: $0.1 billion; 
Operation Iraqi Freedom: 0; 
Total: $0.2 billion. 

Reported GWOT obligations per fiscal year: 2002; 
Operation Noble Eagle: $14.2 billion; 
Operation Enduring Freedom: $15 billion; 
Operation Iraqi Freedom: 0; 
Total: $29.1 billion. 

Reported GWOT obligations per fiscal year: 2003; 
Operation Noble Eagle: $6.3 billion; 
Operation Enduring Freedom: $15.9 billion; 
Operation Iraqi Freedom: $46.4
Total: $68.6 billion. 

Reported GWOT obligations per fiscal year: 2004; 
Operation Noble Eagle: $3.8 billion; 
Operation Enduring Freedom: $10.2 billion; 
Operation Iraqi Freedom: $57.2 billion; 
Total: $71.3 billion. 

Reported GWOT obligations per fiscal year: 2005; 
Operation Noble Eagle: $2.1 billion; 
Operation Enduring Freedom: $10.7 billion; 
Operation Iraqi Freedom: $72 billion; 
Total: $84.8 billion. 

Reported GWOT obligations per fiscal year: 2006; 
Operation Noble Eagle: $0.8 billion; 
Operation Enduring Freedom: $14.2 billion; 
Operation Iraqi Freedom: $83.4 billion; 
Total: $98.4 billion. 

Reported GWOT obligations per fiscal year: 2007; 
Operation Noble Eagle: $0.5 billion; 
Operation Enduring Freedom: $20.1 billion; 
Operation Iraqi Freedom: $119.1 billion; 
Total: $139.8 billion. 

Cumulative total, 2002-2007: 
Operation Noble Eagle: $27.9 billion; 
Operation Enduring Freedom: $86.2 billion; 
Operation Iraqi Freedom: $378.1 billion; 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD data. 

Notes: Operation Iraqi Freedom began in fiscal year 2003; therefore no 
obligations were reported in fiscal years 2001 and 2002 for this 
operation. Reported GWOT obligations generally reflect costs reported 
in DOD's cost-of-war reports. However, the fiscal year 2002 and 2003 
figures include about $20.1 billion that according to DOD officials was 
war-related but not reported in DOD's cost-of-war reports. GAO has 
assessed the reliability of DOD's obligation data and found significant 
problems, such that these data may not accurately reflect the true 
dollar value of GWOT obligations. 

[End of figure] 

In fiscal year 2008, through June 2008, DOD's total reported 
obligations of about $102.7 billion are about three-fourths of the 
total amount of obligations DOD reported for all of fiscal year 2007. 
Reported obligations for Operation Iraqi Freedom continue to account 
for the largest portion of total reported GWOT obligations by 
operation--about $84 billion. In contrast, reported obligations 
associated with Operation Enduring Freedom total about $18.6 billion, 
and reported obligations associated with Operation Noble Eagle total 
about $106.7 million. 

The Army accounts for the largest portion of reported obligations for 
fiscal year 2008 through June 2008--about $74.7 billion, eight times 
higher than the almost $9.1 billion in obligations reported for the Air 
Force, the military service with the next greatest reported amount. 
Among appropriation accounts, operation and maintenance, which includes 
items such as support for housing, food, and services; the repair of 
equipment; and transportation to move people, supplies, and equipment, 
accounts for the largest reported obligations--about $55.6 billion. 
Reported obligations for procurement account for about 22 percent of 
reported obligations or about $22.1 billion. Of the $43.6 billion 
provided to DOD for procurement in fiscal year 2007, approximately 12 
percent, or $5.4 billion, has yet to be obligated and remains available 
in fiscal year 2008. 

Figure 3 shows DOD's reported obligations for fiscal year 2008 through 
June 2008 by DOD component and appropriation account. 

Figure 3: DOD's Reported GWOT Obligations for Fiscal Year 2008 through 
June 2008, by DOD Component and Appropriation Account: 

[See PDF for image] 

This figure contains two pie-charts depicting the following data: 

DOD's Reported GWOT Obligations for Fiscal Year 2008 through June 2008, 
By DOD component: 
Army: $74.7 billion (72.7%); 
Air Force: $9.1 billion (8.9%); 
Navy: $7.4 billion (7.3%); 
Marine Corps: $7.0 billion (6.9%); 
Other DOD components: $4.4 billion (4.3%). 

DOD's Reported GWOT Obligations for Fiscal Year 2008 through June 2008. 
by appropriations account: 
Operations and maintenance: $55.6 billion (54.1%); 
Procurement: $22.1 billion (21.5%); 
Military personnel: $13.7 billion (13.4%); 
Other: $9.7 billion (9.5%); 
Military construction: $0.7 billion (0.7%); 
Research, development, test, and evaluation: $0.6 billion (0.6%); 
Working Capital Fund: $0.3 billion (0.3%). 

Total: $102.7 billion. 

Source: GAO analysis of DOD data. 

Notes: Obligation figures may not add to $102.7 billion because of 
rounding. The "Other" portion of the appropriation account pie chart 
includes programs designed to reimburse coalition countries for 
logistical and military support, to train and equip the Afghan National 
Army and Armed Forces of Iraq, and to execute the Commanders Emergency 
Response Program. GAO has assessed the reliability of DOD's obligation 
data and found significant problems, such that these data may not 
accurately reflect the true dollar value of GWOT obligations. 

[End of figure] 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD agreed with our 
point that the difference between the GWOT appropriated and obligated 
amounts is partly due to certain GWOT appropriated amounts that will 
not result in obligations in a cost-of-war report. DOD further 
commented on our prior recommendation that the incremental costs of 
ongoing operations for the war on terrorism be built into the base 
defense budget. It stated that DOD cannot make this decision without 
the approval of the Office of Management and Budget and we should 
direct our recommendation to that Office. We continue to believe that 
DOD could identify additional incremental GWOT needs that could be 
moved into the base budget and that doing so would assist the Congress 
and the department in evaluating priorities and that doing so would 
assist the Congress and the department in evaluating priorities and 
making tradeoffs among all funding needs. Furthermore, our 
recommendation specifically stated that DOD consult with the Office of 
Management and Budget on these matters. DOD's comments are included in 
enclosure I in this report. 

We are sending copies of this report to interested congressional 
committees; the Secretary of Defense; the Under Secretary of Defense 
(Comptroller); and the Director, Office of Management and Budget. We 
will also make copies available to others upon request. In addition, 
this report will be available at no charge on the GAO Web site at 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. 

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please 
contact me at (202) 512-9619 or pickups@gao.gov. Contact points for our 
Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on 
the last page of this report. Key contributors to this report are 
listed in enclosure II. 

Signed by: 

Sharon L. Pickup:
Director, Defense Capabilities and Management: 

Enclosures - 2: 

List of Committees: 

The Honorable Carl Levin:
Chairman:
The Honorable John McCain:
Ranking Member:
Committee on Armed Services:
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye:
Chairman:
The Honorable Thad Cochran:
Ranking Member:
Subcommittee on Defense:
Committee on Appropriations:
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Ike Skelton:
Chairman:
The Honorable Duncan L. Hunter:
Ranking Member:
Committee on Armed Services:
House of Representatives: 

The Honorable John P. Murtha:
Chairman:
The Honorable C. W. Bill Young:
Ranking Member:
Subcommittee on Defense:
Committee on Appropriations:
House of Representatives: 

[End of section] 

Enclosure I: 

Comments from the Department of Defense: 

Office Of The Under Secretary Of Defense: 
Comptroller: 
1100 Defense Pentagon: 
Washington, DC 20301-1100: 

September 12, 2008: 

Ms. Sharon Pickup: 
Director, Defense Capabilities and Management: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street, N.W. 
Washington, DC 20548: 

Dear Ms. Pickup: 

This is the Department of Defense (DoD) response to the Government 
Accountability Office (GAO) Draft Report GAO-08-1128R, "Global War On 
Terrorism: Reported Obligations for the Department of Defense," dated 
July 31, 2008 (GAO Code 351259). 

We are pleased you included in your report the steps the Department 
continues to take to improve Global War on Terror (GWOT) cost reporting 
and to increase management attention and focus on the Cost of War (CoW) 
reports. The Status of Funds report, scheduled to replace the CoW 
report in October 2008, is one example where the Department is taking 
action to improve both the reliability and usefulness of CoW reporting. 

We agree with the comment in the draft report that the difference 
between the GWOT appropriated and obligated amounts is partly due to 
certain GWOT appropriated amounts that will not result in obligations 
on a CoW report. The Congress, since FY 2001, has provided amounts in 
GWOT appropriations that will not result in obligations posted to the 
Department's CoW report, (i.e., non-DoD classified appropriations, 
increased baseline fuel costs, etc.). We welcome the opportunity to 
discuss these amounts with you. 

The GAO recommends that incremental costs of ongoing operations be 
built into the base defense budget. This is not a decision the 
Department of Defense can make without the approval and support of the 
Office of Management and Budget and we suggest you direct this 
recommendation to that organization for comment. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

Jeanne M. Karstens: 
Director for Operations: 

[End of section] 

Enclosure II: 

GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Sharon Pickup, (202) 512-9619 or pickups@gao.gov: 

Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the contact named above, Ann Borseth, Assistant 
Director; Richard Geiger; Linda Keefer; Ron La Due Lake; Lonnie 
McAllister; Eric Petersen; and Angela Watson made key contributions to 
this report. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the President 
announced a Global War on Terrorism, requiring the collective 
instruments of the entire federal government to counter the threat of 
terrorism. Ongoing military and diplomatic operations overseas, 
especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, constitute a key part of GWOT. 
These operations involve a wide variety of activities, such as 
combating insurgents, training the military forces of other nations, 
and conducting small-scale reconstruction and humanitarian relief 
projects. 

[2] According to Department of Defense, Financial Management 
Regulation, 7000.14-R, vol. 1, "Definitions" (Dec. 2001), xvii, 
obligations are incurred through actions such as orders placed, 
contracts awarded, services received, or similar transactions made by 
federal agencies during a given period that will require payments 
during the same or a future period. 

[3] For more information see GAO, Securing, Stabilizing, and Rebuilding 
Iraq: Key Issues for Congressional Oversight, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-308SP] (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 
9, 2007); and Global War on Terrorism: Observations on Funding, Costs, 
and Future Commitments, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-
bin/getrpt?GAO-06-885T] (Washington, D.C.: July 18, 2006). 

[4] DOD defines contingency operations to include small, medium, and 
large-scale campaign-level military operations, including support for 
peace-keeping operations, major humanitarian assistance efforts, 
noncombatant evacuation operations, and international disaster relief 
efforts. 

[5] Department of Defense, Financial Management Regulation, 7000.14-R, 
vol. 12, ch. 23. This regulation generally establishes financial policy 
and procedures related to DOD contingency operations. Volume 6A, 
chapter 2, and volume 3, chapter 8, of the DOD Financial Management 
Regulation also include provisions to ensure the accuracy of cost 
reporting. 

[6] Pub. L. No. 109-163,  1221(c) (2006). 

[7] For more information see GAO, Global War on Terrorism: DOD Needs to 
Improve the Reliability of Cost Data and Provide Additional Guidance to 
Control Costs, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-05-
882] (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 21, 2005); and Global War on Terrorism: 
DOD Needs to Take Action to Encourage Fiscal Discipline and Optimize 
the Use of Tools Intended to Improve GWOT Cost Reporting, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-08-68] (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 6, 
2007). 

[8] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-08-68]. 

[9] We calculated this difference by comparing available data on 
appropriations and reported obligations. 

[10] Appropriations for military personnel and operation and 
maintenance are usually available for 1 year, while appropriations for 
research, development, test and evaluation are usually available for 2 
years; procurement funds (with the exception of ship-building funds, 
which are sometimes available longer) are usually available for 3 
years; and military construction funds are usually available for 5 
years. 

[11] We have not reviewed DOD's determination of what appropriations 
should be considered non-GWOT. 

[End of section] 

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