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Cablegate: Peru Mod Promotes Rapid Reaction Force to Assure

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DE RUEHPE #1063/01 0872146
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 282146Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4731
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4505
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7265
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0259
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR QUITO 1111
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 1193
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHOND/DIRONDCP WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L LIMA 001063

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/28/2017
TAGS: PTER PGOV MARR PE
SUBJECT: PERU MOD PROMOTES RAPID REACTION FORCE TO ASSURE
TERRITORIAL CONTROL/JOINT OPERATIONS CAPABILITY

REF: A. LIMA 513
B. LIMA 3259 (06)

Classified By: Pol-Mil Officer David Brooks for Reasons 1.4 (b,d)

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Summary:
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1. (C) Defense Minister Alan Wagner has been promoting the
idea of a multi-service rapid reaction force since September
2006. Dubbed the "Effective Basic Nucleus" (Nucleo Basico
Eficaz, NBE), the proposal calls for the creation of a
self-sufficient force that can operate in the air, on land
and at sea, and respond rapidly to a variety of threats.
Related goals of the NBE are to assure the GOP's control of
Peru's sovereign territory, a key priority in his effort to
establish Peru's defense posture. The Minister is using the
NBE concept to force greater jointness on the Peruvian Armed
Forces, which do not have strong traditions of interservice
cooperation. End summary.

2. (C) Peru MOD Alan Wagner has been promoting the idea of a
multi-service rapid reaction force since September 2006.
Dubbed the "Effective Basic Nucleus" (Nucleo Basico Eficaz,
NBE), the proposal calls for the creation of a
self-sufficient force that can operate in all three theaters
(air, land and sea) and that can respond rapidly to a variety
of threats, from terrorism to natural disasters. A related
goal of the NBE is to assure the GOP's control of Peru's
sovereign territory -- the centerpiece of the Minister's
effort to restructure the country's defense posture (ref A).

3. (C) The Coordinator of the MOD's Advisory Team, Enrique
Obando, laid out the genesis and the significance of this
concept in a meeting with Poloff, DATT and MAAG Chief on 3/7.
(Note: Obando is a defense intellectual of long-standing and
is considered to be a close advisor and confidant of Minister
Wagner. End Note.) Obando said that the NBE concept is
borrowed from inter-war German military thinking, and
promotes the idea of a joint unit that is self-sufficient and
integrates a variety of military capabilities which enable it
to operate at all levels (air, land, sea; anti-aircraft,
anti-tank, maritime). Obando said the idea was suggested in
mid-2006 to the MOD, who immediately adopted it as a baseline
concept and has been using it publicly since September 2006.

4. (C) Obando emphasized that the goal of this multi-capable
unit would be two-fold: to serve as a ready reaction force
against internal and external threats and to assure the GOP's
control of Peruvian territory. (Note: The notion parallels
the idea of the Green Squad, a special Peruvian Police Unit
created several years ago to serve as an independent reaction
forc that can take up the slack where local police have
failed due to inefficiency/corruption/etc. End Note.)
Obando stated that Peru, because of its vast geographic
diversity, long borders and lack of strong state presence in
areas remote from Lima, faces a wide range of strategic
challenges, from piracy and narcotrafficking to terrorism,
and so requires a single force with multifaceted capabilities.

5. (C) While the NBE concept is attractive, it has raised a
host of issues. Debates inside the military, both between
the services and within the MOD, have centered on the kinds
of equipment that should be purchased to create the multiple
operational capabilities desired. For example, should the
NBE have its own planes or have a better anti-aircraft
capability? Should it include an air arm, what type of
aircraft would best serve the NBE? Should it have tanks or
anti-tank weapons? Obando noted that the NBE concept compels
the different services to work together and to plan more
complementary purchases, rather than each separate service
developing its own, individualized modernization lists for
weapons without any overarching or intergrating policy
framework, as they have done historically.

6. (C) The MOD plans USD 653 million in purchases over the
next five years, with most of the money to be spent in year
two, and would like to use the NBE concept to determine what
to buy. The services, in contrast, would prefer to go on
with their own plans for weapons buying and adapt the items
bought to the NBE. The Air Force is slated to get the
largest share of the planned spending, about one-half the
total, with the Army and the Navy getting about one-quarter
each. This disproportionate amount for the Air Force is
explained by the expense in modernizing and updating
sophisticated aircraft like the MIG-29 as well as the
purchase of helicopters and transport aircraft.

7. (C) Comment: The NBE concept serves the MOD in a number
of ways. First, it enables him to talk about enhanced
national defense and increased weapons and equipment
purchases, things the military wants to hear, in terms
compatible with the Minister's modernization agenda (Ref B).
By invoking the NBE (rather than alleged threats from
neighbors), the Minister can talk tough on defense but also
build a flexible force that would be well suited to respond
to transnational threats like narcotrafficking and terrorism.
Joint, self-sufficient units would also be adaptable to
peacekeeping operations, which are of interest to Wagner.
Most important, the NBE is a lever that the Minister is using
to force greater jointness on a military whose services do
not have a strong history of cooperation, particularly in the
area of procurement.
STRUBLE

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