Security Assistance:

Actions Needed to Assess U.S. Activities and Ensure Timely Inspections of Equipment Transferred to Lebanon

GAO-20-176: Published: Dec 18, 2019. Publicly Released: Dec 18, 2019.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Elizabeth Field
(202) 512-2775
fielde1@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

The United States provided nearly $1.5 billion in weapons, training, and other assistance to Lebanese security forces between 2013 and 2018. We reviewed how State and DOD oversaw and assessed the effectiveness of this assistance in several areas.

For example:

State and DOD found Lebanese forces improved in key areas, such as border security, but gaps in performance information limited State's ability to measure progress.

State and DOD conducted required inventory checks on U.S.-provided equipment. However, DOD was sometimes late in doing so.

We recommended actions to collect better performance information and ensure timely inspections.

These weapons are part of the security assistance provided to Lebanon.

Rifles and scopes

Rifles and scopes

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Elizabeth Field
(202) 512-2775
fielde1@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

What GAO Found

The Departments of State (State) and Defense (DOD) reported progress in meeting security objectives in Lebanon, but gaps in performance information limit their ability to fully assess the results of security-related activities. State and DOD report improvements in Lebanese security forces' capabilities in key areas, such as border security. As part of monitoring such improvements and assessing the performance of security activities in Lebanon, State created related indicators but has not established targets for all of these indicators. Furthermore, State's data were incomplete for 11 of the 15 indicators GAO analyzed. For example, performance data for three indicators did not identify the number or percentage of people who received security training, as called for by the indicator. Without addressing these gaps, State has limited ability to determine to what extent it is achieving the intended results of its security-related activities in Lebanon.

State and DOD use two primary safeguards to limit the risk of terrorist organizations benefitting from U.S. assistance to Lebanon. First, State routinely reviews the leadership of the Lebanese military and police forces and has determined they are not controlled by a foreign terrorist organization. Second, State and DOD vet potential trainees to ensure they do not have known or suspected ties to terrorism.

Example of U.S. Equipment Provided to the Lebanese Armed Forces

Highlights_5_v2_sniper rifles photo_103067_njd

Consistent with end-use monitoring requirements, State and DOD conducted required inventory checks of equipment provided to Lebanese security forces, but DOD did not meet its timeliness standards for nearly one-third of its observations. According to DOD officials, the method DOD uses to determine when it should complete annual inspections does not consider the date of the equipment's last inspection, which results in some inspections taking longer than prescribed by DOD's timeliness standards. Without conducting checks in a timely manner, DOD cannot fully ensure the equipment is properly accounted for and safeguarded.

Why GAO Did This Study

Since 2013, State and DOD have obligated nearly $1.5 billion in assistance to support Lebanese security forces. U.S. support for Lebanon is complicated due to the prominent role in the country of Hizballah, an Iranian-backed terrorist organization, which retains considerable influence as a major political party and a militia. The U.S. support includes equipment and training to build the capacity of Lebanese security forces. The equipment provided is subject to end-use monitoring requirements, which seek to ensure items are properly accounted for in Lebanon's inventory.

GAO was asked to review U.S. security assistance provided to Lebanon since 2013. For fiscal years 2013 through 2018, this report (1) examines to what extent State and DOD assessed progress toward achieving strategic objectives related to security; (2) describes safeguards to limit the risk of U.S. assistance benefitting terrorist organizations; and (3) evaluates State and DOD end-use monitoring checks of equipment provided to Lebanese security forces. GAO analyzed State and DOD reports, documents, and data; and interviewed officials in Washington, D.C. and Beirut, Lebanon.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making three recommendations: 1) State should establish, as appropriate, and consolidate targets for its security-related performance indicators; 2) State should collect complete performance data for security-related indicators; and 3) DOD should revise its approach for determining when end-use monitoring inspections are to be completed to consider the date of last inspection. State and DOD concurred with these recommendations.

For more information, contact Elizabeth Field at (202) 512-2775 or fielde1@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct the Department's relevant bureaus to work with Embassy Beirut to establish, as appropriate, and consolidate targets for each of the security-related performance indicators. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency Affected: Department of State: Office of the Secretary

  2. Status: Open

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct the Department's relevant bureaus to work with Embassy Beirut to collect and review performance data for key security-related performance indicators. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency Affected: Department of State: Office of the Secretary

  3. Status: Open

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct DSCA to revise the inspection due dates it establishes for items requiring enhanced EUM for the Office of Defense Cooperation in Beirut to align with DOD's standards for EUM by considering the date of last inspection. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Office of the Secretary of Defense

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Jun 25, 2020

Jun 23, 2020

Jun 18, 2020

Jun 16, 2020

Jun 3, 2020

May 29, 2020

May 22, 2020

May 19, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here