As the battles to retake the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Baiji have stalled, the U.S.-led operation to train and assist the Iraqi Army is facing its own internal problems, according to a Pentagon Inspector General report released Wednesday.
The 48-page report is critical in its observations of the day-to-day workings of Operation Inherent Resolve’s Iraqi train and assist program. The issues involve miscommunication between coalition training personnel and their command, delivery of incomplete equipment, unknown supply warehouse contents and inadequate billeting for Iraqi Army personnel.
When the program started in Oct 2014, just a few months after the Iraqi army was routed from Mosul by the Islamic State, approximately $1.6 billion was allocated to help train 12 Iraqi brigades. As of June 2015, $316.8 million had been spent to do so, according to the report. While the money was primarily for shoring up the Iraqi military, it has also been used to enable local partner forces such as the Kurdish Peshmerga in northern Iraq.
Here are the four issues raised by the report. (While there were two additional recommendations in the report, both were classified and subsequently redacted.)
At a number of coalition training sites, living conditions for Iraqi Army forces were abysmal. The report indicates that this is because of improper funding from the government of Iraq. At the site in Besmaya, the Iraqi brigade commander noted that his forces had no running water. Housing units that were built to house two or four soldiers had 14 soldiers living inside.
At the facility at Taji and Al Asad trainees had no access to running water and limited power, and at Al Asad Iraqi troops were responsible for getting their own food.
According to the report, these living conditions have contributed to low morale among Iraq trainees.
The report indicates that U.S. and Iraqi personnel “did not have accurate knowledge of the contents of individual supply warehouses under Iraqi control.”
This was due in part to Iraqi forces keeping U.S. troops from inspecting the depots. Without proper access, the report says that keeping a proper inventory has been impossible and the coalition could be purchasing supplies and equipment that are already available.
One of the problems is that the Iraqi army keeps inventory with small, unreliable pieces of paper, according to the report. The report also says that the United States’ inability to keep a proper inventory of Iraqi supplies might mean that weapons and equipment are going to militias that the U.S. forces in Iraq had not agreed to support.
One of the first issues noted in the report involves the dissemination of a campaign plain to advisers helping train Iraqi soldiers. According to the report, the advisers knew of their current mission—to train Iraqi counter attack brigades—but many were not aware of any follow-on or future operations.
“None of those we spoke with appear to be fully informed,” the report read.
In response to the IG’s claim, Operation Inherent Resolve’s command said it would communicate the campaign plan better.
According to the report the “pseudo-foreign military sales” program utilized by Operation Inherent Resolve and the Defense Security Operation Agency purchased and requested numerous pieces of equipment that arrived incomplete. For instance, 300 M-16s were issued to Iraqi training forces but only included seven cleaning kits for the rifles. Also, 250 MRAPS (Mine resistant vehicles) were shipped from Iraq and Afghanistan but were missing key components because they had not been explicitly requested.
According to the report, these issues occurred because of a lack of formal quality assurance program that should be implemented in various parts of the supply chain.
Read the whole report here.