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Highlights

The redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq, a process the Department of Defense (DOD) refers to as "reposturing," will be a massive and expensive effort. As of March 2008, for example, there were about 173,000 pieces of equipment in Iraq, worth about $16.5 billion, that will need to be returned to the United States. The redeployment process following Operation Desert Storm in 1991, a much shorter war, lasted at least 14 months. DOD guidance emphasizes the importance of early planning for this redeployment process. GAO performed this work under the Comptroller General's Authority. GAO examined the (1) status of logistical planning for reposturing U.S. forces from Iraq and associated assumptions and (2) extent to which DOD established roles and responsibilities for managing and executing retrograde from Iraq. GAO also identified issues that DOD will need to consider in its reposture planning. GAO reviewed documents and interviewed officials from over 20 DOD organizations in the United States and Kuwait.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
To enhance its ability to exercise its oversight responsibilities, Congress may wish to consider directing DOD to include in its briefings submitted in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, specific details on the status of its reposturing planning and how it intends to mitigate specific reposturing issues, including those we identified in this report, as well as other challenges the department envisions as it proceeds with its reposturing efforts.
Closed - Not Implemented
Congress never directed DOD to include in its briefings submitted in accordance with the NDAA for FY 2008 specific details on the status of its reposturing efforts. Moreover, a review of the DOD briefings--which took the form of quarterly reports that DOD submitted to Congress entitled "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq"--show that neither the issue of reposturing in general nor the specific issues related to the reposturing effort referred to in GAO-08-930 were ever addressed. Specifically, since the issuance of GAO-08-930, DOD issued 7 subsequent "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq" reports, none of which addressed the issues we outlined.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense 1. To ensure that DOD can efficiently and effectively retrograde its materiel and equipment from Iraq, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with CENTCOM and the military departments, should take steps to clarify the chain of command over logistical operations in support of the retrograde effort. These steps should address not only the Army field support brigades but also the theater property and retrograde support teams.
Closed - Implemented
Subsequent to this report, DOD and CENTCOM created several organizations to facilitate the retrograde of equipment from Iraq and support unity of effort. Specifically, Multinational Forces-Iraq created a Drawdown Fusion Center to provide a strategic picture of drawdown operations, identify potential obstacles, address strategic issues, and assist in the development of drawdown policy and guidance. Additionally, U.S. Army Central' Support Element-Iraq assisted in synchronizing and coordinating the drawdown-related activities of several Army organizations. Finally, the Department of the Army, with Army Materiel Command as the lead agency, created a Responsible Reset Task Force to facilitate the provision of disposition instructions for material retrograding out of Iraw and synchronize those instructions to facilitate the reset of Army equipment.
Department of Defense 2. The Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the military departments, should correct the incompatibility weaknesses in the various data systems used to maintain visibility over equipment and materiel while they are in transit.
Closed - Implemented
In September 2008, GAO issued a report entitled, Operation Iraqi Freedom: Actions Needed to Enhance DOD Planning for Reposturing of U.S. Forces from Iraq. During this review of DOD's planning for the drawdown from Iraq, we found that there was no unified or coordinated chain of command to define the roles and responsibilities of the variety of organizations engaged in retrograde operations, and that a significant manifestation of this lack of unity of command was the use of incompatible data systems to maintain visibility and accountability over equipment as it is retrograded. We recommended that the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the military departments, correct the incompatibility weaknesses in the various data systems used to maintain visibility over equipment and materiel while they are in transit. DOD concurred with this recommendation and took specific actions to rectify data system incompatibility issues. Partly in response to our recommendation, representatives from the Secretary of Defense's Lean Six Sigma office conducted reviews in 2009 to optimize theater logistics, including one of which focused on the processes for retrograding equipment from Iraq. Results from these studies contributed to the development of a new data system--the Theater Provided Equipment Planner. By conducting these studies and developing the new Theater Provided Planner data system, DOD has reduced its reliance on spreadsheets, eliminated data corruption errors, and has streamlined its processes for issuing disposition instructions for equipment retrograding from Iraq. This has put DOD in a better position to maintain visibility and accountability over equipment as it is retrograded.

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