The position of Army inspector general was created by George Washington to improve the training, drills, discipline and organization of the ragtag Continental Army. The office still fulfills that role by monitoring compliance; for example, it inspects the Army's chemical- and nuclear-materials systems.
Its self-described mission is “to inquire into, and periodically report on, the discipline, efficiency, economy, morale, training and readiness throughout the Army.”
The agency is not an independent watchdog. It does not report to Congress, but to the Secretary of the Army and the Army Chief of Staff. The IG’s office has only limited subpoena authority; it cannot, for instance, subpoena civilian witnesses.
The agency has reviewed cases involving soldiers injured or killed by friendly fire. It has handled sexual-harassment complaints. And it has produced reports on alleged abuses against detainees by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It does not handle criminal investigations, which it leaves to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command.