Congress’s watchdog arm this week raised questions on how effectively the Pentagon and U.S. State Department are overseeing projects linked to multi-billion dollar Global Train and Equip program primarily intended to improve counterterrorism capabilities for U.S. partner nations like Jordan, Niger, and Afghanistan.
In an audit released on Wednesday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that only eight (about 40 percent) of 21 Global Train and Equip projects undertaken in 2016 and 2017 at the cost of nearly $2 billion resulted in improved capabilities for aid recipient forces.
The GAO cited proposal design shortfalls, equipment suitability and procurement problems, partner nation failings, and staffing shortages as the reason for the project failures.
DOD assessment reports for 2016 and 2017, which included baseline and post-implementation assessments of recipient units’ capabilities for 21 Global Train and Equip projects, indicated some progress in building partner capacity. For 8 of the 21 projects, the recipient units’ capability levels were assessed as having increased by at least one rating level after the project’s implementation.
Although the recipient units for the remaining 13 projects were assessed as showing no change in capability levels, the assessment reports for some of these projects described some positive project outcomes.
The 2006 bill first authorized the Global Train and Equip program. Since then, it has supplied, at the expense of the American taxpayer, training, weapons, and other supplies for local forces through hundreds of initiatives across the globe, the watchdog notes.
GAO’s recent audit covers the status of funding the Pentagon allocated for Global Train and Equip projects in fiscal years 2009 through 2017, estimated at $4.1 billion.
The watchdog determined that the Pentagon’s track record in assessing the effectiveness of Global Train and Equip is lackluster.
Of 262 Global Train and Equip projects carried out by the Pentagon between 2206 and 2015, the U.S. military only assessed a third for success, the GAO revealed, noting:
In 2012 through 2017, the Department of Defense (DOD) prepared assessment reports for 31 percent of the projects (82 of 262 projects) it had implemented in 2006 through 2015.1 These 82 projects account for 28 percent of the nearly $3 billion DOD allocated for the program in those fiscal years.
In 2017, an audit by the Pentagon’s inspector general also found problems with the Global Train and Equip program.