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Overseas Contingency Operations: Observations on the Use of Force Management Levels in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria

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Technical Report

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U.S. Government Accountability Office Washington United States

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The United States has engaged in multiple efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria since declaring a global war on terrorism in 2001. Currently, in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, U.S. forces are deployed under force management levels set by the administration. Force management levels and similar caps limit the number of U.S. military personnel deployed to a given region and have been a factor in military operations at least since the Vietnam War. Force management levels were also used to shape the drawdowns of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In June 2016, the President announced that the force management level for Afghanistan is 9,800. According to DOD, in September 2016 the United States authorized additional troops for Iraq and Syria, for a total of 5,262. Todays testimony discusses some of the actions DOD has taken to maximize military capabilities while operating under force management levels in ongoing operations. In preparing this statement, GAO relied on previously published work related to operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria since 2001. What GAO Recommends GAO made 18 recommendations in prior work cited in this statement. DOD has implemented 12 of them. Continued attention is needed to ensure that some recommendations are addressed, such as improving visibility in total Special Operations funding to determine whether opportunities exist to balance deployments across the joint force.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations

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