From DOD to State in the New Dawn Process: A Troubled Transition


2012-07-28 by Richard Weitz

The handoff of the Iraq mission from the Department of Defense (DOD) to the Department of State (DOS) has represented one of the most complex military-to-civilian transitions in American history.

DOS has taken over many DOD programs while changing their missions and scale.

Mission Iraq, under the leadership of the U.S. ambassador, is responsible for U.S.-Iraqi political, economic, security, and cultural relations and has established a presence at many sites Iraq, including several in Baghdad, and at consulates and security assistance sites across the country.

To support Iraq-wide program at the regional level, the United States transformed the mixed military-civilian Provisional Reconstruction Trams (PRTs) into exclusively civilian-run consulates or embassy branch offices, where they continued to support the provincial governors and councils. In addition to promoting police training, the new entities helped coordinate the work of other international organizations, moderate communal tensions, strengthen Iraqi civil society and public institutions to provided public services, support displaced persons, and encourage foreign investment and economic diversification. DOS and DOD share responsibility for managing U.S. sites and personnel in Iraq.

DOD personnel have worked closely with the DOS to ensure a successful transition. The Pentagon assigned a staff officer to the transition team to serve as a liaison and solve day-to-day issues for the DOS. The two departments also established a combined equipping board to feed recommendations for equipment sourcing to senior leaders. A joint team monitored the handoff of the remaining DOD locations in Iraq to the DOS or the Government of Iraq (GOI) to identify and address any transition problems.

The Defense Department continues to support DOS by assigning DOD to State-led posts, loaning the State Department equipment, and assisting with logistical and other support contracts. DOS reimburses DOD for all the equipment loans, contracts, and services it provides. For instance, the Defense Logistics Agency provides embassy personnel with food and fuel, while State uses the DOD Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) for general facility operation, food service, laundry, and other services.

A new Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq (OSC-I) is the main institution overseeing U.S. security assistance to Iraq.

The Office was initially established in June 2011, enlarged in October 2011, and came under DOS Chief of Mission authority in December 2011, though it is still administered by DOD. The OSC-I determines Iraq’s needs, aligns them with U.S. and Iraqi interests, establishes requirements for continued U.S. support, and assesses the regional impact of arms sales. The activities supported by OSC-I include advising, training, and equipping the ISF, supporting professional military education, and planning joint military training exercises. For example, “train-the-trainer” programs aim to build capacity within the Iraqi Ministries of Defense and Interior so that they can lead their overall training efforts.

The OSC-I staff consists of some two hundred full-time military and civilian personnel as well as 750 Security Assistance Team personnel and 3,500-4,000 security and support contractors for specific projects.  Their current focus is to strengthen the ISF through various U.S. Security and Defense Cooperation and U.S. Security Assistance programs. They assist the development of Iraq’s Ministries of Defense and Interior as well as the Iraqi Army, Air Force, Navy, and Police.

OSC-I executes the Foreign Military Sales (FMS), the International Military Education and Training (IMET), and the remnants of Iraq Security Forces Fund (ISFF) programs.

ISFF funding expires at the end of FY2012, but the GOI is now eligible to receive Foreign Military Financing (FMF). There are hundreds of FMS cases in various phases of implementation, for defense technology made and supplied by U.S. companies, valued at $11.6 billion as of mid-2012 (the ninth largest in the world). Items scheduled for delivery include M1A1 tanks, patrol boats, air defense radar and artillery, armored personnel carriers, patrol craft, self-propelled and towed howitzers, and soon airplanes and related aviation platforms.

In particular, Iraq plans to buy 36 F-16s, valued at approximately $6 billion, with deliveries are scheduled to begin in September 2014. U.S. contractors will teach Iraqis how to use their U.S. weapons and provide other support services. The Iraqi Defense Ministry is meeting the U.S. statutory requirements to share at least 20% the costs of purchases and demonstrate a commitment to building the institutional capacity to maintain U.S.-purchased equipment. Some $850 million was allocated to FMF for FY2012, for which no matching assurances are necessary.

As of April 2012, 1,369 U.S. government employees were operating in Iraq under Chief of Mission authority, including some 150 uniformed military personnel, while 16,973 contractors–U.S. citizens, Iraqis, and third-country nationals–were supporting all U.S. agencies in Iraq. The State Department manages eight sites, while DOD, under the Embassy’s Chief of Mission authority, manages six sites. DOS administers one of the largest U.S. police development programs in the world, while overseeing the DOD-administered OSC-I, which has grown larger after the United States and Iraq failed to agree that U.S. troops could remain in Iraq beyond 2011.

The State Department will spend an estimated $4 billion to support Mission Iraq in the FY2012 (more than 90% of this total goes simply to provide security for U.S. government personnel), as well as additional $887 million for police assistance, $1 billion for military assistance for fiscal year 2012, and an additional $471 million for other foreign assistance.

The State Department is now on a “glide path” toward a reduced presence that eventually will produce a U.S. government in-country presence comparable to that found in comparable U.S. missions in other countries. The intent is to gradually streamline and normalize our operations in a methodical, phased fashion by decreasing the number of U.S. diplomats and contractors, employing more Iraqis, and buying more goods and services from the local economy.

For example, the State Department plans for the Iraqi government to assume control over the primary PDP sites by the end of FY2012 and the primary OSC-I sites by the end of FY2013.

Current plans are for Mission Iraq to have only 11 sites and 11,500 personnel in Iraq by the end of FY2012, including fewer than 100 advisors under the Police Development Program. It is also working to replace U.S. and third-country contractors with Iraqi nationals.

The positive factor driving this reduction is that the Iraqi security environment remains troubled but stable, with no massive breakdown of law and order or a renewal of the insurgency or sectarian civil war of earlier years.

The negative drivers are that the U.S. budget is under severe resource constraints and the Iraqi government wants a reduced U.S. government footprint on its territory.

Evidence of this later constraint became obvious when the al-Maliki government delayed issuing entry visas to Americans and the Iraqi authorities limited the movement of U.S. government personnel and contractors, even within Baghdad, and prevented them from using Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles and “little bird” helicopters.

The activities of the OSC-I are also constrained due to the expiration in 2011 of the Iraq-U.S. Security Agreement and Status of Forces Agreement without replacement agreements, leading to uncertainty regarding force protection, passport and visa requirements, air and ground movement, and land use agreements for FMS sites.

Even so, al-Maliki recently complained to CENTCOM Commander General James Mattis that the United States needed to accelerate its weapons deliveries and ignore the warnings of some Kurdistan leaders that the Baghdad government might use them to suppress their autonomous region rather than defend Iraq from external threats.

U.S. officials are contemplating how to leverage these weapons sales to influence al-Maliki to moderate his divisive domestic policies and reconcile with his opponents by embracing a genuine power-sharing agreement.

The Congress can help strengthen how the United States runs its stabilization and reconstruction operations by enacting H.R. 3660, which would reduce costs and raise efficiency by consolidating the various management authorities and functions involved in stabilization and reconstruction operations in a new body called the U.S. Office for Contingency Operations.

The intent, long supported by the now deceased Project on National Security Reform (PNSR), is to overcome stove-pipes and promote a whole-of-government approach.

The Congress should also establish a Special Inspector General for Overseas Contingency Operations, making the SIGIR, and its Afghan equivalent SIGAR, a permanent oversight body for stabilization and reconstruction operations, especially in non-permissive security environments.