Operation Iraqi Freedom:

Actions Needed to Facilitate the Efficient Drawdown of U.S. Forces and Equipment from Iraq

GAO-10-376: Published: Apr 19, 2010. Publicly Released: Apr 19, 2010.

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The drawdown from Iraq is a complex operation of significant magnitude. Established drawdown timelines dictate a reduction in forces to 50,000 troops by August 31, 2010, and a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by December 31, 2011. While DOD has made progress toward meeting these goals, a large amount of equipment, personnel, and bases remain to be drawn down. Moreover, escalating U.S. involvement in Afghanistan may increase the pressure on DOD to efficiently execute the drawdown. Due to broad congressional interest in drawdown issues, GAO performed this work under the Comptroller General's Authority. GAO examined (1) the extent to which DOD has planned for the drawdown from Iraq in accordance with set timelines, and (2) factors that may impact the efficient execution of the drawdown. To evaluate these efforts GAO reviewed documents and interviewed officials from over 20 DOD organizations in the U.S., Kuwait, and Iraq.

Several DOD organizations have issued coordinated plans for the execution of the drawdown and created new organizations to oversee, synchronize, and ensure unity of effort during the drawdown. To date, DOD reports that its drawdown efforts have exceeded its goals. For example, in January 2010, DOD reported that it had exceeded its target figure for withdrawing wheeled and tracked combat vehicles in Iraq, among other items, by over 2,600 pieces, yet a large amount of personnel, equipment, and bases remain to be drawn down. However, DOD has not (1) fully included contracted support in its operational planning for the drawdown, (2) allowed sufficient time in its guidance to ensure that all contracted services can be put on contract in a responsible manner, or (3) clearly defined the roles and responsibilities of various contract validation review boards. Several other issues may impede the efficient execution of the drawdown from Iraq. First, challenges associated with the planned simultaneous transition of several major contracts may lead to the interruption of vital services. Second, DOD has not determined whether the benefits of transitioning its major base and life support contract in Iraq outweigh the costs and risks of doing so. Third, shortages of contract oversight personnel may increase the risk of fraud, waste, and abuse. Fourth, key decisions concerning equipment that will be retrograded from Iraq have yet to be made. And finally, DOD lacks precise visibility over its inventory of equipment and shipping containers. While DOD has begun to address some of these issues, GAO has not fully assessed DOD's actions.

Status Legend:

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  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To facilitate DOD's ability to efficiently conduct the drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment from Iraq in accordance with established timelines, the Secretary of Defense should direct the appropriate authorities to evaluate the risk of having too few qualified contract oversight personnel in light of the planned proportional increase in the number of Iraqi contractors during the drawdown and take steps to rectify, if needed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To facilitate DOD's ability to efficiently conduct the drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment from Iraq in accordance with established timelines, the Secretary of Defense should direct the appropriate authorities to conduct an analysis of the benefits, costs, and risks of transitioning from LOGCAP III to LOGCAP IV and other service contracts in Iraq under current withdrawal timelines to determine the most efficient and effective means for providing essential services during the drawdown.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To facilitate DOD's ability to efficiently conduct the drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment from Iraq in accordance with established timelines, the Secretary of Defense should direct the appropriate authorities to assess and develop options to mitigate the risks associated with the upcoming simultaneous contract transitions in Iraq and Kuwait.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To facilitate DOD's ability to efficiently conduct the drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment from Iraq in accordance with established timelines, the Secretary of Defense should direct the appropriate authorities to ensure unity of effort in contract management is attained through the clarification of the roles and responsibilities of the various contract review boards in the CENTCOM theater.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To facilitate DOD's ability to efficiently conduct the drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment from Iraq in accordance with established timelines, the Secretary of Defense should direct the appropriate authorities to ensure that joint doctrine regarding operational planning for contract support is followed and that operational personnel identify contract support requirements in a timely manner to avoid potential waste and abuse and facilitate the continuity of services.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To facilitate DOD's ability to efficiently conduct the drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment from Iraq in accordance with established timelines, the Secretary of Defense should direct the appropriate authorities to clarify in existing planning the extent to which Kuwait and other locations in southwest Asia can support the temporary staging of equipment and materiel retrograded from Iraq while DOD is finalizing the disposition instructions for certain types of equipment.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

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