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.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Defense did not address this recommendation directly in relationship to the drawdown of forces in Iraq. However, DOD took actions that met the intent of the recommendation. Specifically, the Department of Defense has taken several steps to improve operational planning for contract support during the drawdown of forces in Afghanistan. For example, the U.S. Forces in Afgahistan developed a process toidentify needed contract support during the drawdown and established an operational contract support drawdown cell to manage all aspects of contractor drawdown. According to DOD documents the establishment of this cell was based on the problems encountered in Iraq.

    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

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In April 2010, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) issued a fragmentary order to transition all current responsiblity for Iraq and Afghanistan to the CENTCOM Joint Theater Support Contracting Command (C-JTSCC). Among other things, this order required C-JTSCC to execute centralized contracting oversight for all Department of Defense (DOD) contracts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, and Pakistan. Further, C-JTSCC is also required to establish and chair a Joint Contracting Support Board to ensure synchronization and unity of effort for contracting, including establishing contract visibility procedures and reports and coordinating the enforcement of contract management policies. With the establishment of C-JTSCC and its responsibility to execute centralized contracting oversight for all DOD contracts in the CENTCOM area of responsiblity, unity of effort in contract management has been attained. This action was taken before all US forces and equipment in Iraq were drawn down in December 2011.

    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

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In March 2010, U.S. Army Central Command (ARCENT) published a business case analysis that outlined several possible courses of action and analysis to help the U.S. Army Materiel Command determine a best solution for how to manage the transition of the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) Base Life Support services contract in Iraq and Kuwait. The business case analysis outlined relevant facts, assumptions, constraints, and included a comparison of several possible courses of action using quantifiable and non-quantifiable costs and benefits. The business case analysis concluded with the recommendation that base and life support services in Iraq and Kuwait remain under LOGCAP III, rather than transferring to LOGCAP IV. ARCENT concluded that this course of action would provide the greatest overall benefit in support of the warfighter's requirements. According to ARCENT's business case analysis, the decision to preserve LOGCAP III in Iraq and Kuwait would provide optimum mission performance given cost, benefits, constraints and risks, including quantifiable and non-quantifiable factors. While this business case analysis was published nearly concurrently with GAO-10-376, in which we make the recommendation that the Secretary of Defense direct the appropriate authorities to assess and develop options to mitigate the risks associated with simultaneous LOGCAP contract transitions in Iraq and Kuwait, the decision to stay with LOGCAP III was significantly influenced by GAO's work and recommendation. According to a senior DOD official, GAO's analysis of the potential costs and risks of making the LOGCAP transition helped DOD address significant pressure it was under from Congress and the Wartime Contracting Commission to transition the contracts. Moreover, this same official stated that the decision to delay the transition from LOGCAP III to LOGCAP IV until after the August 31, 2010 change-of-mission date was based on GAO's recommendation.

    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

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In April 2010, GAO issued a report entitled, "Operation Iraqi Freedom: Actions Needed to Facilitate the Efficient Drawdown of U.S. Forces and Equipment from Iraq." During this review of DOD's planning for and execution of the drawdown from Iraq, we found that DOD had not determined whether the benefits of transitioning its major base and life support contract in Iraq, the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP), would outweigh the costs and risks that could be incurred as a result of the transition. Without adequate planning and review to identify and weigh the potential benefits, costs, and risks of making the LOGCAP transition in Iraq, DOD risked being unable to ensure that the planned transition of LOGCAP in Iraq would have been beneficial to the Government. Consequently, we recommended that the Secretary of Defense 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. In March 2010, U.S. Army Central Command (ARCENT) published a business case analysis that outlined several possible courses of action and analysis to help the U.S. Army Materiel Command determine a best value solution for how to manage the transition of LOGCAP Base Life Support services in Iraq. This business case analysis outlined relevant facts, assumptions, constraints, and included a comparison of several possible courses of action using quantifiable and non-quantifiable costs and benefits. This business case analysis concluded with the recommendation that base and life support services in Iraq remain under LOGCAP III, rather than transferring to LOGCAP IV. ARCENT concluded that this course of action would provide the greatest overall benefit in support of the Warfighter's requirements. According to ARCENT's business case analysis, the decision to preserve LOGCAP III in Iraq would provide optimum mission performance given cost, benefits, constraints, and risks, including quantifiable and non-quantifiable factors. While this business case analysis was published nearly concurrently with "Operation Iraqi Freedom: Actions Needed to Facilitate the Efficient Drawdown of U.S. Forces and Equipment from Iraq," in which we make the recommendation for conducting a cost benefit analysis of the transition from LOGCAP III to IV, a senior military official has noted, on at least two occasions, that the choice to re-evaluate the decision to transition from LOGCAP III to LOGCAP IV, and the decision to stay with LOGCAP III for base life support services in Iraq were significantly influenced by GAO's work and recommendation. During the exit conference for our engagement, this senior official noted that GAO's analysis of the potential costs and risks of making the LOGCAP transition in Iraq would help DOD address the significant pressure it was under from Congress and the Wartime Contracting Commission to make the transition as quickly as possible. Moreover, during the entrance to our subsequent Iraq drawdown engagement, held in June 2010, this same official said that the decision to delay the transition from LOGCAP III to LOGCAP IV until after the August 31, 2010 change-of-mission date was based on GAO's recommendation in "Operation Iraqi Freedom: Actions Needed to Facilitate the Efficient Drawdown of U.S. Forces and Equipment from Iraq." While we have not yet been able to quantity precise financial savings, the Department's decision to delay the transition from LOGCAP III to LOGCAP IV until after the August 31, 2010 change-of-mission will undoubtedly result in a significant reduction in contract transition costs and will improve the efficiency of contractor operations in Iraq during the drawdown and transition phases.

    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

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: No action was taken before US forces drew down in Iraq in December 2011.

    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

  6. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The department took no action with regard to this recommendation prior to the draw down of US forces from Iraq in December 2011.

    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

 

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