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Cablegate: Pag Discusses School Security

VZCZCXRO4851
OO RUEHDBU RUEHIK RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #2299/01 1981337
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 171337Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9165
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 002299

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO DAS GASTRIGHT, SCA/A, S/CRS, SA/PB, S/CT,
EUR/RPM
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR AHARRIMAN
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CENTCOM CG CJTF-82, POLAD, JICCENT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MARR PTER EAID NATO AF
SUBJECT: PAG DISCUSSES SCHOOL SECURITY


1. (SBU) Summary: On July 12 the Policy Action Group (PAG)
chaired by NSA Rassoul discussed school security. Education
Minister Atmar reported that there had been 20 attacks
against schools in the previous week. Education Minister
Atmar assessed that the Taliban have shifted their focus from
destroying school buildings to attacking students and
teachers. Atmar said that the GoA had decided that a "new
paradigm" for school security needed to be developed. He
said there also was a need to develop a new approach on
strategic communications to address the issue, but cautioned
that a balance would need to be struck in the messaging, as
it would be important to avoid creating a sense of panic
among students and their parents. On July 16, A/DCM attended
a meeting on school security chaired by Atmar and attended by
relevant Afghan interagency officials, as well as
international community representatives. Atmar advocated
developing plans to provide security at 1,000 schools in the
18 most vulnerable provinces. End Summary.

2. (SBU) On July 12 the regular Policy Action Group (PAG)
chaired by NSA Rassoul discussed school security (one of a
number of topics). Education Minister Atmar reported that
there had been 20 attacks against schools in the previous
week. Ten students and teachers had been killed in those
attacks, and seven wounded; two schools were burned. Atmar
assessed that the attacks on the students and teachers
indicated a recent trend in which the Taliban have shifted
their focus from destroying school buildings to attacking the
people studying and working there. He concluded that the
Taliban were frustrated by their inability to challenge
ISAF/OEF forces effectively, and thus were targeting schools,
students, and teachers with the objective of creating
resentment in the Afghan population against the GoA for not
being able to provide security.

3. (SBU) Atmar said that the Office of the National Security
Council (ONSC) had discussed the matter and decided that a
"new paradigm" for school security needed to be developed.
To that end, the ONSC was considering "community policing" or
an extension of the duties of Afghan National Auxiliary
Police (ANAP). President Karzai had instructed the ONSC to
discuss the matter further with the international community.
Atmar explained that there seemed to be more support for some
kind of local community-based security rather than attempting
to use the ANAP. He noted that the Ministry of Education had
met with the 34 MOI liaison officers to the provinces,
National Directorate of Security (NDS) representatives from
each of the provinces, and UNAMA to discuss the matter. The
next step would be convening a technical team to launch a
consultative process with provincial leaders. Atmar
requested the MOI to instruct governors to participate in the
consultative process, and asked that an ONSC representative
be assigned to participate in the meetings.

4. (SBU) Ambassador Wood emphasized the USG's strong support
for increasing school security, and noted the importance of
getting the word out about such Taliban barbarity, to build
support at the provincial level, where some governors might
assume that such attacks are only a local problem. NEA
Naderi concurred, arguing for the need to "create a sense of
outrage" among the Afghan population. Atmar noted that
President Karzai had spoken out on the issue frequently, but
acknowledged disappointment in the performance of GoA
mullahs, who "were not proactive enough" in condemning such
attacks. He said the mullahs felt vulnerable and feared they
would be targeted if they speak out. Atmar said there was a
need to develop a new approach on strategic communications to
address the issue, adding that he would welcome technical and
funding assistance from the international community in
developing a new approach. He cautioned, however, that a
balance would need to be struck in the messaging, as it would
be important to avoid creating a sense of panic among
students and their parents -- "there is a limit to how much
risk the parents can accept" in sending their children to
school. (Note: At its weekly meeting on July 15, the PAG's
Strategic Communications Working Group discussed at some
length the need for a new strategic communications approach

KABUL 00002299 002 OF 002


to this issue and agreed to work with the secretariat staff
at the National Communications Coordination Center to develop
a plan for PAG approval. End Note)

5. (SBU) On July 16, A/DCM participated in a meeting on
school security chaired by Atmar and attended by relevant
Afghan interagency officials, as well as international
community representatives. Atmar advocated developing plans
to provide security at 1,000 schools in the 18 most
vulnerable provinces. During the discussion, a general
consensus emerged in favor of a standing up local school
guard personnel, rather than attempting to employ the ANAP
for this specific purpose. A technical group was established
to develop a detailed proposal, including structures and
necessary resources. While most participants in the
discussion advocated that the school guards should not be
under the MOI chain-of-command, Atmar expressed some
reservations about having them under the Ministry of
Education, as that could possibly lead to misunderstanding
about his ministry's motives.
WOOD

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