An Islamic State flag flies near the border of Turkey and Syria.

An Islamic State flag flies near the border of Turkey and Syria. Lefteris Pitarakis/AP file photo

Anti-ISIS Operation Gets Its Own Inspector General

Pentagon watchdog to lead audits of military and foreign aid campaigns.

Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. military’s campaign of airstrikes coupled with training of local troops to degrade the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, now has its own inspector general to watch for waste in the effort.

Jon Rymer, the Defense Department watchdog, was named on Dec. 17 as the nation’s first lead inspector general for an overseas contingency operation. He was appointed by Phyllis Fong, chair of the intergovernmental Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. The designation was required under a 2013 amendment to the 1978 Inspector General Act.

“I welcome the opportunity to work with my colleagues at the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development Offices of Inspector General to leverage our existing resources as we begin this critical mission,” Rymer said in a statement. “Our coordination, to date, has resulted in developing a framework to provide comprehensive and independent oversight over all federal programs and operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve through either joint or individual audits, inspections and investigations.”

Rymer appointed State Department IG Steve Linick as his deputy.

Part of their assignment will be to determine when oversight of programs, spending, grants and contracts falls to State and USAID and when Rymer’s office should assume responsibility.

Rymer said he plans to issue the first lead inspector general report in April 2015.

 “This is exactly the kind of accountability and oversight that’s needed to protect taxpayer dollars when America takes military action -- especially after the stunning waste we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who authored 2012 legislation overhauling wartime contracting practices. “As the critical mission against ISIS is executed, these reforms should help strengthen Americans’ confidence that our resources are being used effectively and efficiently.”