GAO: Contract issues could slow Iraq drawdown
Stars and Stripes November 4, 2009
ARLINGTON, Va. — A series of contracting issues are among the potential complications that could hamper the U.S. drawdown from Iraq, according to a report by the investigative branch of Congress.
Many contracts are set to expire next year just at the height of U.S. efforts to draw down to 50,000 troops by the end of August, according to the Government Accountability Office.
“Executing the rapid movement of troops and equipment out of Iraq will require significant truck assets,” the report said.
“Transitioning the mission to a new contractor and requiring the new contractor to provide 23,000 trucks and crews could be daunting.”
As multiple Iraqi contractors assume responsibility for base support, more U.S. personnel will be required to oversee the contractors, limiting the number of troops who can go on operations, the report said.
Another issue is that more contractors may have to fill in for departing U.S. troops, but commanders have still not figured out how many contractors will be needed during the drawdown, the report said.
Army officials in Kuwait and the United States could not comment when asked if they wanted to respond to the issues raised in the GAO report.
Meanwhile, the Defense Department plans on handing over about $600 million in military equipment to the Iraqis, but the department is only allowed to give the Iraqis what the Army has deemed surplus. The list of equipment is currently being reviewed.
When the U.S. transferred the Ibn Sina hospital to the Iraqis, it was unable to transfer 100 pieces of vital equipment because of this limitation.
The report also noted problems with the Defense Department’s inventory system, which does not have complete and accurate data on about 28 percent of all department property in Iraq.
Making matters worse, the U.S. Army’s system to track shipping containers “is at best 25 percent accurate,” the report said. In one case, 200 containers listed as being in Iraq were actually in Afghanistan.
“Out of those containers entered in the data system, the location of over 7,000 could not be verified and the serviceability of 39 percent remained unknown,” the report said.
Last month, Michèle Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, told Congress that the Defense Department was committed to meeting the military and taxpayer’s needs in drawing down in Iraq.
“While doing all this presents significant challenges, we are confident that we are making progress towards our goals on the timeline laid out by the president,” she said.