The Lead Inspector General Report to the United States Congress on Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) has been published. the 88-page report covers the period of January through March 2020. This quarterly report is required by Congress.
The Inspector General’s of the Department of Defense, Department of State, and USAID contribute to the report. The DoD IG is the lead for the report. Usually there is a classified appendix containing information about OFS; however, the coronavirus pandemic has precluded that work.
Operation Freedom’s Sentinel is a two-part mission for the United States. The first is to conduct the U.S. counterterrorism mission against al Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – Khorasan. The second part is to, in concert with NATO and other Coalition nations, develop the capacity of the Afghan security ministries and to train, advise, and assist the Afghan security forces.
Withdrawal Agreement. In February the Taliban and the U.S. signed an accord the outlined the departure of U.S. troops from Afghanistan over an 14-month period. The first stage of the withdrawal is the departure of thousands of U.S. troops to bring the military personnel level to 8,600 by mid-July 2020.
Taliban Activity. The Taliban have not decreased their scale of violence and military operations. Although they are not attacking U.S. forces it has continued to attack the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). Usually this quarterly report contains information about the scale and level of Taliban activities. This quarter, however, the Department of Defense said that it was not releasing that information.
Afghan Government – Taliban Talks. The withdrawal agreement with the U.S. obligated the Taliban to begin negotiations with the Afghan government for a peaceful and political resolution to the conflict. Other than the beginnings of the release of prisoners by both sides not much progress has been made on this front.
Presidential Election. The results of the September 2019 presidential election was finally announced – with President Ghani winning by a slight margin. The vote was contested by former Chief Executive Officer Abdullah. This put the government into a state of turmoil. Recently both sides of the dispute have come to an agreement; with President Ghani apparently sharing some political power with Abdullah.
Coronavirus. The COVID-19 pandemic put many of the train, advise, and assist efforts on hold. Some troops departed Afghanistan early due to the cessation of some advisor missions. The ANDSF has also scaled back operations due to the virus.
Contents of Report
- Status of the Conflict
- Measures of the Conflict
- Partner Force Development
- Diplomacy and Political Developments
- Development and Humanitarian Assistance
- Support to the Mission
The respective inspector generals provided oversight on a number of activities. These include planning, audits, inspections, evaluations, and investigtations.
There are several appendices including ones that describe the methodology for preparing this report, ongoing OFS oversight projects, planned OFS oversight projects, acronyms, maps, and endnotes (366).
- The IS of Khorasan Province has been weakened but is still active
- Afghan Local Police (ALP) funding to end this fall
- ANA-TF Expansion – the Afghan’s ‘hold force’
- March air strike data against the Taliban was not released
- Insider attacks against ANDSF remains high
- Seven U.S. military personnel died in Afghanistan during the quarter
- U.S. to vacate five military bases in Afghanistan
- Remote advising took place instead of personal face-to-face interactions – telephone, text, email, etc. used instead
- RS has changed how the ADNSF is assessed (once again)
- Elimination of checkpoints remains a priority (as always)
- More CH-47s, less UH-60s for Afghan Air Force
This report provides a detailed summary of events in Afghanistan during the first three months of 2020. It provides an update on the political, diplomatic, and military situation as well as the status on the train, advise, and assist mission to further develop the Afghan security ministries and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. This report, along with the recent SIGAR quarterly report to Congress, will keep the reader informed on the current situation in Afghanistan.
Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, Lead Inspector General Report to the United States, May 2020, covering January 1, 2020 to March 31, 2020.