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Cablegate: Goma Situation Report for December 11, 2007

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OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #1360/01 3461552
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 121552Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7229
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 001360

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM MOPS PREL PREF KPKO CG
SUBJECT: Goma Situation Report for December 11, 2007

SENSTIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

Note: The following report was provided by Embassy Kinshasa's
political officer in Goma. End note.

1. (SBU) Summary: FARDC's military campaign west and north of
Sake collapsed December 10 and the military plan, which MONUC North
Kivu Brigade Commander General Narayan describes as a very good
plan, now "goes back to square one." Nkunda's zone of control
returns to what it was in August 2007, minus the village of Kimoka
and strategic "Celtel ridge" above Sake, which remain under FARDC
control (Note: latest news is that Nkunda is also pressing Celtel
ridge). Nkunda has retaken Mushaki and even the towns of Karuba and
Bihambwe which had fallen to FARDC in October. FARDC appears to
have run out ammunition and will have to restock. Some fighting has
occurred in the Rutshuru sector. End Summary.

FARDC's 14th brigade runs away in battle
------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) North Kivu Brigade Commander General Indrajeet Narayan,
visibly angered but maintaining professional poise, gave Goma poloff
December 11 the following account of events over the preceding day.
Nkunda's forces, which had gathered on the ridges around Mushaki,
descended on the 14th Integrated Brigade, assigned to consolidate
FARDC control over Mushaki, on the afternoon of December 10. The
brigade disintegrated, making its retreat to Sake. Nkunda's forces
were now present in Mushaki, Karuba (south of Mushaki), and Bihambwe
(west of Mushaki), and were rumored to be on their way to Ngungu to
the southwest, which they had controlled for most of the year.

3. (SBU) Meanwhile, according to Narayan, the FARDC 81st brigade
also partially collapsed. That brigade, after the fall of Mushaki
to FARDC, had moved west on the Masisi road and had thereafter
divided, with one its battalions assigned to hold the key village of
Katale (near and on the road to Masisi), and the remainder moving
eastward cross-country with a view toward cutting the road between
Kirolirwe and Kitchaga and thereby bottling up Nkunda. According to
Narayan, the battalion holding Katale remained intact, protecting
Masisi, but the portion of the 81st brigade that had moved eastward
"fell apart," with its commander, Col. Philemon Yav escaping (by
means unknown), brigade-less, to Sake. MONUC-Goma Political Affairs
chief Gernot Sauer informed poloff separately that a battalion of
the recently-renamed 82nd brigade (formerly the 116th), involved in
the assault on Nkunda's forces at Kingi and Kabati (north of Sake),
had also "broken and run," with one company commander killed.

Pass the Ammunition
-------------------

4. (SBU) Narayan said that the FARDC would not be able to
recommence its military campaign against Nkunda "for at least two
months." The plan had been "a very good plan" and it could still
work, but FARDC would need fresh troops. Narayan said that a
principal factor in the collapse of the campaign was, simply, that
the FARDC had run out of ammunition. In a mere few days, it had run
through all its stocks of ammunition, including for its helicopters.
Narayan said that the campaign should not have started with too
little ammunition, or its use should have been better planned.
MONUC had provided transport, but ammunition supply planning was the
province of FARDC. Narayan said that FARDC 8th Military Region
commander General Vainqueur Mayala had cited to him as the reason
for the collapse that the soldiers had not been paid, but Narayan
saw that claim as "an excuse." Meanwhile, FARDC Chief of Staff
Dieudonne Kayembe was expected in Goma in the course of the day.

5. (SBU) Poloff related that he had heard from journalists that
there had also been fighting on the Rutshuru axis, with the fall to
Nkunda's forces of the village of Katuba to the east of Rumangabo,
near the Ugandan border. Narayan said that there had only been an
"exchange of stand-off fire" (shooting at a distance) five miles
east of Rumangabo, but this exchange "appeared to be nothing very
serious." Meanwhile, there was no activity on the Tongo axis
(east-west corridor north of the volcanoes, connecting Nkunda's
heartland to his pocket bordering Uganda and Rwanda). "The Tongo
thrust" by the FARDC was "now a faint dream."

Back to Square One
------------------

6. (SBU) Sauer, in a separate conversation, said that the military
situation west and north of Sake had now "gone back to square one,"
with Nkunda occupying the same terrain he had held last August,
minus the village of Kimoka (just north of Sake) and the strategic
Celtel ridge (northwest and directly above Sake), which FARDC
continued to control. (Sauer called back a few hours later, in
mid-afternoon, to say that there was now fighting on Celtel ridge.)

KINSHASA 00001360 002 OF 002


The FARDC had retaken Karuba and Bihambwe in mid-October and now
lost them again. However, Sauer said, Nkunda faced somewhat the
same problems of "consolidation" and "control" as did the FARDC, so
it was not accurate to characterize Nkunda's present hold on this
area as "control." Sauer said that, whatever now transpired in the
area, MONUC was determined to defend Sake "by all available means."
It would not countenance eleventh-hour scrambling to save Sake as it
had done a year ago, using its combat helicopters. Sake was deemed
essential to the defense of Goma. MONUC was equally determined to
defend the town of Rutshuru, though not the entire Goma/Rutshuru
axis. Sauer said that there were reports of human rights violations
by FARDC in this military campaign, including killing of Tutsis and
a massacre at a church near Mushaki, but MONUC had not verified such
reports.

7. (SBU) Comment: At December 12 meeting with Ambassador Garvelink
and A/F special advisor Shortley, MONUC Force Commander General
Boubakar Gaye (pls protect) said that the ammunition excuse for the
Mushaki retreat was a flimsy pretext. Gaye noted that if the
Congolese military had proper management procedures in place, MONUC
could have easily provided it with needed ammunition. He expressed
great concern over FARDC's inability to meet soldiers' basic needs,
its deficient leadership, and command and control issues,
emphasizing in particular that coordination and communication among
senior officers were inadequate. End comment.

Garvelink

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