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Cablegate: Scenesetter for Marforpac Pandemic/Avian Influenza

VZCZCXRO3158
PP RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHPF #0399/01 0720120
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 130120Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8170
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA PRIORITY
RUHEKBC/COMMARFORPAC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 PHNOM PENH 000399

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR CA/OCS/ACS, EAP/EX, EAP/MLS, G/AIAG, MED
STATE ALSO FOR OES/PDAS/PCI ASTEWART AND OES/IHA DSINGER
HHS FOR STEIGER AND OGHA ELVANDER
CDC FOR NCID COX
USAID FOR ANE/AA KUNDER, GH/HIDN CARROLL, OFDA LEVY
BEIJING FOR ESTH - SELIGSOHN AND SHAPIRO
BANGKOK FOR CDC MALISON AND CHONG, USAID FOR BRADSHAW, MED
FOR MCCOY
JAKARTA FOR NAMRU BLAIR, USAID KRAMER
HANOI FOR USAID ZVINAKIS, HHS IADEMARCO AND DENNIS
VIENTIANE FOR BAUER AND CORWIN
RANGOON FOR TIDWELL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/12/2017
TAGS: PREL TBIO SENV ECON CASC CB
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR MARFORPAC PANDEMIC/AVIAN INFLUENZA
TEAM

Classified By: Jennifer Spande for reason 1.4 (b)

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. While fully normal relations between the
United States and Cambodia have eluded both countries since
diplomatic relations began more than a half century ago, the
bilateral relationship has improved markedly over the last
few years. Cooperation is particularly close on security and
health issues, such as counter-terrorism and intel-sharing,
POW/MIA matters, HIV/AIDS, and avian influenza. Cambodia has
made significant strides in veterinary and human avian
influenza (AI) surveillance and has developed an AI
preparedness plan. While mil-mil ties have deepened
considerably in the past 18 months, including with the first
US navy ship visit in 30 years, US cooperation with the
Cambodian military pales in comparison to assistance from
Vietnam and China. The embassy continues to press the Royal
Government of Cambodia (RGC) on efforts to fight corruption
and to improve its human rights and political openness
record. END SUMMARY.

Avian/Pandemic Influenza Preparations in Cambodia
--------------------------------------------- -----

2. (U) In Cambodia, the first human cases of H5N1 influenza
were detected in 2005 when four human cases were identified
and all resulted in death. Most recently in March 2006, two
additional human cases were found, bringing the total number
of human infections to six, all of them fatal. Over the past
3 years, the Ministry of Agriculture has investigated,
intervened, and reported to the international community more
than 23 significant bird mortality outbreaks due to H5N1.
The H5N1 virus is widely circulating amongst domestic and
free range poultry. The current AI situation in Cambodia
remains at a WHO Phase 3 status.

3. (U) Cambodia has responded to this problem by developing
an emergency pandemic preparedness plan which intends to not
only prepare for a pre-pandemic status but also a pandemic
(Phase 4) level alert. The Prime Minister has appointed the
National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) as the lead
ministry for coordinating the implementation of the National
Comprehensive Pandemic Plan within all government ministries.
The lead technical agencies include the Ministry of
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and Ministry of
Health (MOH). Cambodia has made considerable strides in the
enhancement of both the veterinary and human AI surveillance
and early warning systems from the national to the village
level. Additionally, there is an incredible multi-media
information, education, and communication (IEC) campaign.
USG agencies, the UN, and other donors have contributed
substantial technical and financial support to the RGC toward
developing the pandemic early warning surveillance systems
and disease outbreak and containment capacity.

Growing Mil-Mil Ties
--------------------

4. (C/REL AUS NATO) The Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF)
remains an ineffective force that suffers from being the
legacy of the factional reconciliation which ended the civil
war in the early 90's. It was created to amalgamate the
armed forces of all contending groups and enable subsequent
demobilization. Some demobilization occurred in the 90's.
The RCAF has recently recommenced this effort, demobilizing
7000 personnel in calendar year 2006 funded by internal
government resources. However, it is still top heavy, with
over 700 generals in a force nominally of around 107,000, and
actually (discounting ghost soldiers and age/health
ineffective soldiers) less than 60,000. Within the nominal
force, the Army is overwhelmingly predominant, followed by
the Gendarmerie, Navy and Air Force. Its equipment is
primarily aging Warsaw Pact material, much of which is
non-operational. The Defense budget has averaged around less
than US 70 million for the last several years, but was
increased to USD 78 million for 2007. The basic pay for a
soldier is around USD 25 monthly, and even generals receive

PHNOM PENH 00000399 002 OF 003


less than USD 400 monthly. Military personnel survive
through additions to their salary for occupying particular
positions, through corruption, and (for many lower and
mid-ranking personnel) taking second and even third jobs,
which results in their rarely being present for duty. The
major exception is the B70 Brigade, the only unit located in
Phnom Penh, which serves as the regime protection unit and
includes the Prime Minister's personal bodyguard.

5. (C/REL AUS NATO) The RCAF conducts foreign defense
cooperation with a variety of countries with and outside the
region, including (in order of assessed value) Vietnam,
China, Australia, France, the US, Thailand, Indonesia,
Malaysia, Singapore and India. China and Vietnam are the
major players, with programs in excess of USD 3 million
annually each, and are generally in competition with each
other for influence. For the Royal Cambodian Navy, this
meant that the Chinese agreement to provide a USD 60 million
no interest loan to increase maritime capability over time
resulted in Vietnam--in very short order--donating two ocean
going patrol ships and providing operational funding for
quarterly joint maritime patrols/training exercises.

6. (SBU) Mil-mil cooperation between the RGC and USG has
been expanding dramatically in the last 18 months. The
initial increase was the result of consultations with
Congress in 2004. As remaining sanctions have been allowed
to expire, cooperation has grown rapidly. As a result, for
example, while Cambodia received no FMF in 2004, it received
USD 992,000 at the end of FY05 and USD 990,000 at the end of
FY06, and in the FY07 Continuing Resolution is earmarked for
an additional USD 1 million. Cambodia became eligible for
IMET for the first time in FY06 (with a modest sum) and the
focus has been on increasing English language instruction
capability and establishing some US style defense cooperation
management capability. As you are aware, when COMPACOM
visited Cambodia last year, he committed PACOM to support
this expansion--both with inherent PACOM resources and in the
overall budget process. He directed deployment of an
assessment team to work with Cambodia to develop a long term
program. This has resulted in a joint agreement for US
efforts in Cambodia to focus on English language training,
building capacity on border control, counter narcotics,
counter-terrorism, mobility, and participation in
international peacekeeping operations The RCAF does have a
naval ground component but it is so small and poorly
supported by the Cambodians that putting resources towards
building capacity there is not supported by the Country Team,
nor is it part of the joint PACOM/RCAF long term plan.

7. (SBU) Recognizing the limited resources available,
MARFORPAC may want to consider engagement in specialty areas,
and look at medical, EOD, or engineering. Humanitarian
Assistance activities, such as the medical clinic constructed
by the Marines in Kampong Chhnang in 2005, would provide the
greatest overall support to the Mission. We hope your
proposal for both an ENCAP and a MEDCAP this summer is still
on track. Work with the government on AI/PI has been
primarily done through the Centers for Disease Control and
USAID. We look forward to our discussion on 17 March
focusing on AI/PI. We would appreciate examining your
proposal for a SMEE, as it is not clear to us that this would
not duplicate efforts already conducted.

Cambodia Matures as an International Actor
------------------------------------------

8. (SBU) Since reestablishing diplomatic relations in 1992
following the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, the U.S.
and Cambodia have incrementally but steadily strengthened
their ties, albeit with occasional setbacks as a result of
Cambodian human rights transgressions. The momentum of this
deepening relationship has increased in recent years and
Cambodia has begun taking a more responsible position in
international affairs. The RGC has sent peacekeepers to
Sudan (a company of de-miners), supported Guatemala's bid for

PHNOM PENH 00000399 003 OF 003


the UNSC seat and taken a more publicly critical stance on
Burma.

Keeping Political Space Open, Human Rights Are Priorities
--------------------------------------------- ------------

9. (SBU) The level of political violence in Cambodia has
fallen since the early 1990s, but there remain serious
concerns regarding human rights and democratization. Like
other countries in the region, Cambodia's leaders have used
its weak and easily influenced judiciary to pursue legal
cases against critics and the political opposition. For
example, many see the current breach of trust case against
Prince Norodom Ranariddh as an attempt to discredit his newly
formed political party before the upcoming local elections.
The PM has had a very public falling out with the UN's
Special Rapporteur for Human Rights for Cambodia, Kenyan
constitutional lawyer Yash Ghai, due to what the PM considers
as unduly harsh criticism of the human rights situation in
Cambodia. International observers will closely monitor the
local commune council elections scheduled for April 1, 2007
and the national elections in summer 2008. Cambodia's
previous three national elections have shown improvement
during each five-year cycle, with diminishing levels of
political violence, but intimidation and vote-buying continue
to be problematic.

Corruption Remains Endemic
--------------------------

10. (SBU) In 2006, Transparency International ranked
Cambodia 151 out of 163 countries in its corruption
perceptions index; Burma was the only country in Asia ranked
lower than Cambodia. There has been continued and widespread
land grabbing by government officials and the politically
well-connected. Enactment of an anti-corruption law has
dragged on for years, with the government showing little
inclination to adopt legislation that would lead to strong
enforcement. Rather than embrace the reforms that would
garner increased investment and the new jobs that would be
created, some in the RGC appear to be banking on the future
income from its as-yet-untapped oil and gas reserves, which
should come on stream after 2009. Donors are concerned that
the current corrupt political environment could lead to
misuse of future revenues that are badly needed to reduce
poverty in the country.
MUSSOMELI

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