Oh boy after a dearth of GAO reports here is a Doozy.
Today the GAO released “Securing Stabilizing and Rebuilding Iraq: Key Issues for Congressional Oversight” There is A LOT in this report. It begins with this from the David M. Walker Comptroller General of the United States…
As the United States reviews its plans to secure, stabilize, and rebuild Iraq, I have enclosed a series of issue papers for consideration in developing your oversight agenda for the 110th Congress and analyzing the President’s revised strategy for Iraq. These papers are based on the continuing work of the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the 67 Iraq-related reports and testimonies we have provided to the Congress since May 2003.
There is much covered but I will focus on 2 areas.
First there is this regarding Iraqi forces standing up…
Increasing Iraqi security forces and transferring security responsibilities to them have not resulted in reduced violence. Rather, attacks increased throughout 2006. Although more Iraqi troops have been trained and equipped, high absenteeism and divided loyalties have limited their overall effectiveness.
The graphic below illustrates the point. (You can go to page 29 of the Pdf for larger image)</pScout
The first bar graph shows …Number of Iraqi security forces trained and equipped(in thousands)
The second bar graph shows…Number of Iraqi army battalions leading counter insurgency operations
The 3rd bar graph shows… Number of Attacks
The GAO poses these Oversight Questions given what it found above…
• Why have security conditions continued to deteriorate in Iraq even as the number of trained and equipped Iraqi security forces has increased and the Iraqi forces and government have assumed increasing responsibility for security?
• If existing U.S. political, economic, and security measures are not reducing violence in Iraq, what additional measures, if any, will the administration propose to stem the violence and facilitate the achievement of U.S. objectives, including an eventual drawdown of U.S. forces?
Second and related to the above is that the Department of Defense has refused to release Transition Readiness Assessment (TRA) reports on Iraqi units which are a “key measure of the capabilities of Iraqi forces.”
(Click Read More for the rest)—–
From the report…
DOD provided GAO with classified, aggregate information on overall readiness levels for the Iraqi security forces—including an executive-level brief—and information on units in the lead, but has not provided unit-level reports on Iraqi forces’ capabilities. According to MNF-I’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Effects, the best measure of the capabilities of Iraqi units and improvements in the security situation comes from commanders on the ground at the lowest level. We previously reported that GAO was working with DOD to obtain the unit-level TRA reports because they would be useful in more fully informing Congress on the capabilities and needs of Iraq’s security forces and in indicating how accurately DOD reports reflect the forces’ capabilities. As of January 2007, DOD still has not provided GAO with this unit-level TRA data.
Here are the Oversight Questions raised as a result of the above…
•Why has DOD not provided GAO and Congress with unit-level TRA reports?
• How does DOD assess the reliability of TRA reports and ensure that they present an accurate picture of Iraqi security forces’ capabilities and readiness?
• At what TRA rating level would Iraqi army units not require any U.S. military support? What U.S. military support would Iraqi units still require at TRA levels 1 and 2?
• How does DOD use unit-level TRA reports to assess shortfalls in Iraqi capabilities? What do DOD assessments show about the developmental needs of Iraqi security forces?
• How have changes in the TRA system and form affected the standards by which units are assessed? Have changes been made in the degree to which the commanders’ subjective judgment is used? If so, why?
• What threat levels, if any, do commanders assess Iraqi units against when determining a unit’s overall readiness rating? Is the threat level used consistently across all units?
As I said there is much to digest in this report and it raised over 70 oversight questions covering areas such as Iraqi forces capability, Iraqi government corruption, reconstruction challenges, oil production, electricity production, Iraqi foreign debt and consequences to US military of Iraq operations. Let’s hope every one in Congress reads it and answer these questions raised on the US strategy…
• What is the desired end-state of U.S. involvement in Iraq? How long, and at what cost, will it take to achieve a peaceful, stable, and secure Iraq?
• What political and economic incentives are needed to increase security, improve government capacity, and reduce corruption in Iraq?
• How will revised U.S. plans incorporate enhanced support for Iraqi security forces and national and provincial governments?
• How will revised U.S. plans assist the Iraqi government in developing a comprehensive anti-corruption strategy?
• If the President suggests a troop increase, what would be the mission of the additional troops?
• How long would they stay?
• How would the success of the mission be measured?
• What additional costs would the United States incur?
• To what extent does the administration’s revised strategy integrate the input and resources of the Iraqi government?