Tuesday, 17 July 2012

GAO: US Faces Counter-IED Challenges in Af/Pak

Testimony by Charles Michael Johnson, Jr., director, international affairs and trade, before the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies, House Committee on Homeland Security, July 12, 2012

We identified four categories of assistance U.S. agencies have provided: (1) counter-IED training and equipment, (2) a counter-IED public awareness campaign, (3) training of border officials, and (4) legal assistance for laws and regulations to counter IEDs and IED precursors.

We found that each agency providing counter-IED assistance to Pakistan performs a unique role based on its specialized knowledge and expertise. DHS, for example, takes primary responsibility for border management and customs investigation training. DHS conducts joint regional training and operational exercises for both Pakistani and Afghan border officials, including international border interdiction training and cross-border financial investigation training. DHS also plays a lead role in Program Global Shield to foster cross-border cooperation and initiate complementary border management and customs operations.

According to DHS, the main goals of Program Global Shield are (1) to identify and interdict falsely declared explosive precursor chemicals, (2) to initiate investigations of smuggled or illegally diverted IED materials, and (3) to uncover smuggling and procurement networks that foster illicit trade.

According to agency officials, U.S. agencies work through various organizations to coordinate and share information related to assisting Pakistan with counter-IED efforts. These include the following:

    The U.S. Embassy-Pakistan Counter-IED Working Group helps to keep counter-IED efforts a priority. Coordinated by State, the group also includes participants from DHS, DOD, and the Departments of Justice and Agriculture as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development, the British High Commission, and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime.
    The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) leads DOD’s counter-IED efforts by providing intelligence and expertise on IEDs. For example, JIEDDO hosted a global conference on homemade explosives in fall 2011 that was attended by fertilizer producers and representatives from several agencies. JIEDDO conducted several studies and provided technical assistance to fertilizer producers on how they could mark the product to help inhibit smuggling.
    The Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan participates in regular discussions on counter-IED issues with Central Command (CENTCOM), Special Operations Command (SOCOM), JIEDDO, and the Counter-IED Working Group at the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, which includes DHS.

Our May 2012 report also found that U.S. agencies have developed a new performance indicator and three targets to track some U.S. assisted Pakistani counter-IED efforts. Specifically, State’s fiscal year 2013 Mission Strategic and Resource Plan—which is designed to reflect U.S. priorities in Pakistan—included a performance indicator to monitor Pakistan’s implementation of effective measures to prevent illicit commerce in sensitive materials, including chemical precursors used to make IEDs in Afghanistan.

State committed to improve assessment of its programs by looking for ways to broaden the scope of existing metrics in order to better reflect and evaluate interagency participation in counter-IED efforts. In its comments on a draft of our report, DHS noted that it is committed to working with interagency partners to improve capacity for tracking counter-IED efforts in Pakistan.

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