Advancing U.S. Efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan

Video Message: Jacquelyn L. Williams-Bridgers

Jacquelyn L. Williams-Bridgers

Managing Director, International Affairs and Trade

(202) 512-3101

  • U.S. foreign policy goals to secure, stabilize, and rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan and mitigate the terrorist threat in Pakistan will challenge the new administration and next Congress. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been provided to the Department of Defense (DOD) for military operations in these countries as well as to the State Department and U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help address security, stabilization and reconstruction, and capacity-building efforts. Nevertheless, the achievement of U.S. objectives to stabilize regional conflicts remains on the horizon, in part because of shortcomings in planning, coordination, and ongoing assessments of progress in achieving U.S. goals across multiple agencies and a multitude of programs and activities. Since 2003, GAO has issued more than 170 reports on these and related topics. Specifically, in:

    • Iraq The United States has spent 5 years and over $800 billion to stabilize and rebuild Iraq.  Much has changed since the United States articulated a strategy in January 2007 to stem the high levels of violence and foster national reconciliation.  That strategy needs to be updated.
    • Afghanistan As U.S. efforts to secure, stabilize, and rebuild Afghanistan continue, greater management attention and oversight is needed to ensure nascent infrastructure and institutions are sustained. Key challenges that will need to be addressed include: mitigating escalating violence; addressing record levels of opium poppy cultivation; and developing a coordinated and detailed U.S. plan that includes intermediate milestones and clearly defined roles of the Departments of Defense and State for building, training, and equipping fully capable and sustainable Afghan National Security Forces.
    • Pakistan The United States, through the Departments of Defense, State, USAID, and others, has provided billions of dollars in military, economic, and developmental assistance to the Pakistani government to enhance its ability to address the terrorist threat in tribal areas as well as growing instability issues.  These agencies need to work together and in conjunction with the Pakistani government to develop a comprehensive plan to address the terrorist threat and to enhance oversight and accountability over Pakistani reimbursement claims for coalition support funds.

^ Back to topWhat Needs to Be Done

No matter what policy choices are made, new approaches are needed that better integrate military, diplomatic, and development assistance into strategic, interagency plans. Incoming policy-makers will need to:

  • Update the U.S. strategy for helping Iraq achieve key security, legislative, and economic goals.

    Highlights of GAO-08-1031 (PDF)

  • Establish clear accountability for managing logistical operations to support the reposturing of U.S. forces, once decisions are made, including closing sites in Iraq, managing contractors, and caring for service members as they return home.

    Highlights of GAO-08-930 (PDF)

  • Develop a coordinated and detailed plan for building and sustaining Afghan army and police forces, nascent government institutions and infrastructure.

    Highlights of GAO-08-661 (PDF)

  • Reach consensus on a comprehensive plan and regional partnerships to combat the terrorist threat and close the safe havens along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

    Highlights of GAO-08-622 (PDF)

^ Back to topKey Reports

Combating Terrorism: The United States Lacks Comprehensive Plan to Destroy the Terrorist Threat and Close the Safe Haven in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas
GAO-08-622, April 17, 2008
Stabilizing and Rebuilding Iraq: Iraqi Revenues, Expenditures, and Surplus
GAO-08-1031, August 5, 2008
Afghanistan Reconstruction: Progress Made in Constructing Roads, but Assessments for Determining Impact and a Sustainable Maintenance Program Are Needed
GAO-08-689, July 8, 2008
Afghanistan Security: Further Congressional Action May Be Needed to Ensure Completion of a Detailed Plan to Develop and Sustain Capable Afghan National Security Forces
GAO-08-661, June 18, 2008
Combating Terrorism: Increased Oversight and Accountability Needed over Pakistan Reimbursement Claims for Coalition Support Funds
GAO-08-806, June 24, 2008
Operation Iraqi Freedom: Actions Needed to Enhance DOD Planning for Reposturing of U.S. Forces from Iraq
GAO-08-930, September 10, 2008