Operation Iraqi Freedom:
Preliminary Observations on Iraqi Security Forces' Logistical Capabilities
GAO-07-582T: Published: Mar 9, 2007. Publicly Released: Mar 9, 2007.
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The National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, issued in November 2005, implies a conditions-based linkage between the development of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the size and shape of the U.S. presence there. The Department of Defense (DOD) reported to Congress in November 2006 that although the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior had about 323,000 trained and equipped forces, there was a serious shortcoming for both Ministries in the planning and executing of their logistics and sustainment requirements. According to DOD, without a developed logistical system the ISF will require continued Coalition support. Today's testimony addresses (1) the current state of the ISF's logistical capabilities, and (2) the challenges the ISF is facing to achieve logistical self-sufficiency. This testimony contains unclassified portions of a classified report that was issued on March 7, 2007. GAO's preliminary observations are based on audit work performed from January 2006 through March 2007.
Although the Ministry of Defense has an approved logistics concept in place, the implementation of that concept has been hampered by numerous challenges. For example, the development of national and regional logistics centers has lagged behind the development of other logistics formations because of manpower shortages, security issues, inadequate fuel stocks, poor maintenance, and funding procurement issues. DOD has asked for a total of $339.2 million to build and develop maintenance, warehouse, and base support facilities at the National Depot and for $73 million to build and outfit 58 dining facilities on Garrison Support Units and Regional Support Units. Coalition logisticians have emphasized to us that the development of all echelons of logistics units is crucial in order for the Ministry of Defense to become capable of independently sustaining its forces. Furthermore, the policies and procedures intended to guide implementation of the logistics concept have not been effectively distributed. In addition, the training of Iraqi logisticians and mechanics has been hindered by an insufficiency in the supply of Arabic-literate students, of fuel needed to power generators, and of cadre qualified to serve as faculty at the logistics schools. Finally, maintenance of the vehicle fleet poses challenges because of its diversity, the shortage of trained mechanics, and the Ministry's failure to budget for and maintain an authorized stockage level for equipment. As of December 2006, the Ministry of Interior has not approved the draft logistics concept that has been proposed by the Coalition. The reason for this is unclear. What is clear, however, is that since the summer of 2006, the Ministry has experienced significant challenges in its warehousing and supply, and maintenance activities. For instance, in July 2006, the Coalition was procuring and distributing equipment, vehicles, and weapons for the Ministry, in addition to funding a contractor to run warehouses and transport supplies to the Ministry's facilities. These challenges have continued, and the Ministry remains dependent on the Coalition to operate its warehouse system. In February, the Ministry was supposed to assume responsibility for running its warehouses. However, this has not happened. Moreover, in its fiscal year 2007 supplemental, DOD is requesting approximately $175 million for the construction and sustainment of Ministry warehouses and maintenance depots. Another example of the Ministry's continuing logistical challenges is vehicle maintenance. In August 2006 Ministry personnel were unable to maintain a certain type of American truck supplied to the ministry by the Coalition because its personnel were unable to work with the vehicles' computerized systems. In August 2006, the Ministry had 1,179 trucks of this type on hand. As of December 2006, Iraqi mechanics remained unfamiliar with these computerized systems which are found in most of the ministry's vehicles. Because the Iraqi National Police are not able to maintain their vehicles, the Coalition has let and funded a $130 million Baghdad Area maintenance contract to repair these vehicles.