The US government has failed to account for nearly $715.8 million in weapons and equipment funneled to its Syrian allies involved in the multinational counter-offensive against Daesh, according to a report released on February 13, 2020 by the Department of Defense.
The objective of this audit was to determine whether the DoD properly accounted for and stored Counter-Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Train and Equip Fund (CTEF) equipment designated for Syria (CTEF-S) from procurement through divestment (transfer of ownership and accountability from the DoD to the DoD-approved Vetted Syrian Opposition [VSO]) in accordance with guidance.
The U.S. Government strategy to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) directed the DoD to conduct a campaign to degrade, dismantle, and ultimately defeat ISIS. The focus of the DoD’s strategy to counter ISIS is to work with the VSO in Syria and the Government of Iraq’s Iraqi Security Forces to build key security force capabilities, help professionalize security forces in Syria and Iraq, and promote long-term stability in these countries and the region. Specifically, in FYs 2017 and 2018, the DoD sought to successfully counter ISIS through training, equipping, and sustaining the VSO and Government of Iraq’s Iraqi Security Forces in Iraq.
In December 2018, the DoD began planning for the safe, professional withdrawal of U.S. personnel from Syria while maintaining its efforts to defeat ISIS. For FY 2020, the DoD budget requested $300 million, including $173.2 million for weapons, ammunitions, vehicles, and other CTEF-S equipment, to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS. The FY 2020 DoD budget request states that equipping, sustaining, and enabling the VSO is critical to the DoD’s approach
SOJTF-OIR personnel did not account for the budgeted $715.8 million of CTEF-S equipment for FYs 2017 and 2018 from procurement through divestment in accordance with DoD Instruction 5000.64 and Army Regulation 735-5. For example, SOJTF-OIR personnel did not maintain comprehensive lists of all equipment purchased and received. This occurred because SOJTF-OIR personnel allowed multiple entities involved with CTEF-S equipment to store records in numerous locations instead of designating a central repository for all supporting accountability documentation.