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Cablegate: Admiral Fallon Discusses Security Cooperation With

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OO RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHIL #0609/01 0421127
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 111127Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5035
INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 8127
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 2775
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 8913
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 4783
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 3472
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 3612
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ISLAMABAD 000609

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/10/2028
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER MARR MOPS PK
SUBJECT: ADMIRAL FALLON DISCUSSES SECURITY COOPERATION WITH
GENERAL KAYANI

Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, Reasons 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY. Admiral William J. Fallon, USCENTCOM
Commander, met with Pakistan's General Ashfaq Kayani, Chief
of Army Staff, on 22 January. Kayani provided a snapshot of
Pakistan's current overall security situation and described
the status of counter-insurgency efforts in Swat. Fallon and
Kayani also discussed areas for expanded military assistance
and training, as well as Pakistan's way forward in improving
close air support. Finally, Kayani commented on improved
cooperation with Afghanistan. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) Admiral Fallon began by offering condolences on the
December 28 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir
Bhutto, and asking General Kayani for his assessment of the
current security situation. Kayani agreed Bhutto's death was
a tragedy and a destabilizing event for Pakistan,
particularly in Sindh province. Commenting on the overall
security situation, Kayani noted that, despite the rising
incidents of suicide attacks, things remained relatively
normal throughout the country. The Army had deployed more
broadly during the recent holy month of Muharram, (a period
often marked by sectarian violence), but had since returned
to their cantonments.

3. (C) Regarding Baitullah Mehsud, (generally considered
responsible for Bhutto's assassination), Kayani said that he
posed a serious problem for Pakistan. Mehsud had shifted his
focus from cross border attacks to internal assaults against
Pakistan security forces and was conducting training for
militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

ELECTIONS

4. (C) Regarding security for elections, Kayani stressed that
the Army should have no role in the February 18 election - an
exceptionally important election for Pakistan. It was, he
said, the Election Commission's duty to ensure free and fair
elections. The Army would only be involved if there were a
need to preserve law and order to facilitate elections.

SECURITY IN SWAT

5. (C) Kayani said the militants had been cleared from Swat's
population centers. They were, however, still present in
Peochar and adjacent tribal areas where pockets of resistance
remained. Kayani dismissed media reports of the resurgence
of extremist group Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi
(TNSM). The Frontier Corps had initially been tasked to
confront the militants in late October 2007, but within a few
weeks it became clear the Army would be needed. The Army
regained control of the area after 2 to 3 weeks.

6. (C) While Kayani felt the Army could not remain a
significant force there forever, he said there would be a
continuing need for troops to control entry routes into the
district. Also, the perception among some that continued
security was dependent on the presence of the Army had led to
plans for a small garrison in the area.

7. (C) The important thing, said Kayani, was that local
people were against the insurgents and it was key to the
Army's success to cultivate popular support. The Army has
distributed 1 million rupees (approximately 16,700 USD) in
development aid to Swat. (Kayani noted the Army had
previously offered similar assistance in FATA.) Kayani
asserted that it was now critical for civilian government to
take control in Swat.

MILITARY ASSISTANCE

8. (S) In response to Fallon's questions regarding military
assistance, Kayani first focused on the need for surveillance
assets. Emphasizing the urgent need for tactical SIGINT
capability for Pakistan's military aircraft, Kayani said he
understood the U.S. was working on this issue and would have
an assessment team in Pakistan shortly. Kayani said he was
not interested in acquiring Predators, but was interested in
tactical level Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs). He noted these
were expensive and asked if the U.S. could grant or loan them
to Pakistan.


ISLAMABAD 00000609 002 OF 003


CHALLENGES IN CLOSE AIR SUPPORT

9. (C) Kayani stated that President Musharraf had instructed
him to examine the various U.S. options available to enhance
Pakistan's close air support capability, but not to commit to
any of them. After considering the issue, Kayani had
concluded Pakistan could not accept U.S. aircraft in support
of Pakistan Army operations because it ran counter to the
Army's need to effectively handle combat operations on its
own.

10. (C) Kayani also noted his own policy of selective use of
aircraft in supporting operations as he felt employing combat
aircraft within Pakistan would send the message that the
level of conflict had escalated dramatically. He admitted to
reluctantly employing F-16s in South Waziristan within the
past few days, following direct assaults on Laddha Fort,
including hundreds of rocket attacks. (Note: The use of the
F-16s was presumably largely a show of force as the aircraft
can only be employed during the day, while the attacks were
at night. End Note.)

11. (C) Referring to the situation in Waziristan, Kayani
asked if Fallon could assist in providing continuous Predator
coverage of the conflict area. Fallon regretted that he did
not have the assets to support this request, but offered
Joint Tactical Aircraft Controller (JTAC) support for
Pakistani aircraft. Kayani demurred, saying that having U.S.
JTACs on the ground would not be politically acceptable.
Fallon then offered JTAC training for Pakistani troops.
After a brief discussion on the complexity of building a
night-capable, air-to-ground capability in the Pakistani
Army, Kayani conceded Pakistan could not currently undertake
such a big project.

12. (C) Kayani stated his preferred aerial support weapon
against militants continued to be the Cobra Attack
Helicopter. He observed ruefully that maintenance issues
still plagued the Army; one hour of flight time corresponded
to 24 hours of maintenance. Kayani said that only two
operational Cobras were available in the FATA. Fallon
responded that a U.S. Army helicopter maintenance team was
currently in Pakistan to provide both short and long term
recommendations to improve Pakistan's rotary sustainment.

OFFER OF ADDITIONAL U.S. TRAINING

13. (C) Fallon offered a more permanent training team at the
Special Service Group's Tarbela camp to complement the
current Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) program.
Kayani responded that a steady stream of U.S. Special Forces
trainers were already directing courses there throughout the
year. Fallon explained that the small Special Forces team he
was proposing could assist in ongoing training management, as
well as doctrine, command and control issues, and other
higher-level functions. Kayani said the Pakistan military
did not need training and asked Fallon to give priority to
his equipment requests. (COMMENT: It is the assessment of
CENTCOM and Post that the Pakistan military needs and would
benefit from additional Special Operations Forces and focused
counterterrorism training. END COMMENT)

FRONTIER CORPS TRAINING

14. (C) Kayani initially said equipping the Frontier Corps
was a higher priority than training, but LTG Salahuddin
Satti, his Chief of General Staff, and MG Ahmed Shuja Pasha,
Director General Military Operations, weighed in regarding
the importance of training. Kayani then conceded that
leadership training for the Frontier Corps was more critical,
but feared it would take years to show results.

AFGHANISTAN-PAKISTAN MILITARY COOPERATION

15. (C) Kayani said that the most recent Tripartite meeting
with ISAF General McNeill and Afghanistan General Bismullah
Khan on December 31 had gone well. He added that he had
given General Khan a ""blank check"" to send Afghanistan
National Army troops to Pakistan's military schools. He
praised the plan to establish multiple Border Coordination
Centers as a good concept that would enhance cooperation.


ISLAMABAD 00000609 003 OF 003


16. (U) Admiral Fallon has cleared this cable.

PATTERSON

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