Search

 

Cablegate: Series of Breakthroughs with Lao Military

VZCZCXYZ0004
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHVN #0094/01 0421021
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111021Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1814
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 7610
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 2906
RUEHPF/AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH 1927
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHMFIUU/CDR JPAC HICKAM AFB HI
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBK/USDAO BANGKOK TH
RUEHBK/CHJUSMAGTHAI BANGKOK TH
RHHMUND/COMMARFORPAC

UNCLAS VIENTIANE 000094

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP DAS MARCIEL,
DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MLS (BESTIC),
DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/RSP (RUNNING),
DOD FOR OSD-POLICY (STERN, SHUBERT),
DOD FOR DSCA (JENKINS),
PACOM FOR J52 (LACY, MA),
PACOM FOR J45 (NICHOLLS, SCHULER),
PACOM FOR PACAF/SGZ (CINCO, OH, PALMER),
PACOM FOR POLAD,
JPAC FOR MUNIPALLI,
PHNOM PENH ALSO FOR DATT (NORTON),
HANOI ALSO FOR DATT,
MARFORPAC FOR NOREN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: LA MARR MASS MOPS PREL
SUBJECT: SERIES OF BREAKTHROUGHS WITH LAO MILITARY

REF: A. 07 VIENTIANE 0092
B. 07 VIENTIANE 0625
C. 07 VIENTIANE 0725
D. 07 VIENTIANE 0790
E. 07 VIENTIANE 0840
F. 07 VIENTIANE 0914
G. 08 VIENTIANE 0061
H. 08 VIENTIANE 0083

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Ambassador called on Ministry of
National Defense (MND) Chief of Cabinet (Permanent Secretary)
Brigadier General Sisophonh Bang-one-seng-det February 8 to
deliver recently-received materials from the PACOM Chiefs of
Defense Conference which BG Sisophonh had attended. At the
meeting, BG Sisophonh provided answers to several pending
mil-mil issues. The discussion included the pending
first-ever exchange of Defense Attachs, English Language
training (ELT) at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) for
Lao military officers, a DLI survey of Lao ELT capabilities,
and MND attendance at the Asia Pacific Military Medicine
Conference (APMMC) in Singapore in April. Most interesting
is the possibility that the two Lao MND officials named for
DLI ELT will be the new Lao Defense Attache and his Deputy to
be posted to the Lao Embassy in Washington, D.C. this summer.
End Summary.

English Language Training (ELT)
-------------------------------
2. (SBU) BG Sisophonh checked to ensure that DLI would be
willing to offer two types of English language courses under
the Interntional Military Education and Training (IMET)
program for 2008: a two-month General English Course
(scheduled for June 4-August 15) as well as a longer Language
Instructor Course. He then told the Ambassador unofficially
that COL Khammy Labounthanh, currently MND Deputy Chief of
Cabinet, and MAJ Sonephet Phomlouangsy, currently a desk
officer in the MND External Relations Department, have been
selected to attend the General English Course (and not the
follow-on Instructor Course). According to BG Sisophonh, COL
Khammy -- previously a helicopter pilot trained on MI-8s and
MI-17s -- has "some English," while MAJ Sonephet has studied
in Australia. BG Sisophonh said he was happy with the
June-August course dates for the two students. (COMMENT:
Although BG Sisophonh did not say so explicitly, we believe
it is likely that COL Khammy and MAJ Sonephet have been
selected by MND to open the DATT Office in the Lao Embassy in
Washington, D.C. following their English Language training.
End Comment)

3. (SBU) DLI Survey: We mentioned that DLI wants to send a
specialist to undertake an English language survey in Laos --
possibly during March. BG Sisophonh said that MND welcomed
the specialist's visit. He added that the specialist could
test the English language levels of COL Khammy and MAJ
Sonephet before they go to DLI.

4. (SBU) BG Sisophonh inquired how many "scholarships" DLI
would be able to provide Laos this year. (NOTE: DLI had
originally discussed offering two Lao students both the
General English Course followed by the Instructor Course. End
Note.) Since MND was nominating COL Khammy and MAJ Sonephet
only for the two-month General English Course, we told BG
Sissophonh that funding for two slots at the six-month
Instructor Course (August 18-February 20) might/might be
separately available -- but we would have to check with DLI
to be sure. The ability of two other students to go directly
into the Instructor Course (without the General English

Course lead-in) would depend very much on their English
language levels. This could be discussed with the DLI
specialist. BG Sisophonh said he would be happy to have the
DLI specialist coming to do a survey in March test the
English levels of staff members to see if they would qualify
for the Instructor training -- and MND would work to better
prepare these staff members to be qualified for the
Instructor course.

5. (SBU) Apparently interested in local English Language
preparatory courses, BG Sisophonh asked the Ambassador
generally about the Lao-American College (LAC). The
Ambassador responded that this is a private college in
Vientiane. He mentioned that the Embassy has provided some
"scholarships" to send some local Lao officials for English
language training courses at schools like the LAC. (NOTE:
the Embassy Public Diplomacy Office has provided some grants
to the Foreign Ministry's Institute of Foreign Affairs and to
Lao National Radio to send some staff members to English
language courses at two local schools -- although not
actually at LAC. End Note.) BG Sisophonh said he would be
interested in discussing this further. (COMMENT: BG
Sisophonh appeared to have been hinting at a bit of
pre-training for COL Khammy, MAJ Sonephet, and the two
proposed English instructors. Since the local colleges
charge something in the range of $250/term per student, this
may be well worth considering -- and finding a way to offer
MND. End Comment.)

APMMC
-----
6. (SBU) APMMC: BG Sisophonh announced that MND was pleased
to accept PACOM's invitation for MND Medical Department
Director General COL Dr. Bounteun Bandavong to attend the
April Asia-Pacific Military Medicine Conference in Singapore
with a second officer (to be identified later) to accompany
to act as interpreter. (NOTE: COL Dr. Bounteun had expressed
interest during discussions with PACAF International Health
Affairs staff during a January 14-18 PACAF International
Health Affairs co-organized Avian Influenza workshop in
Vientiane. End Note.)

DATT Exchange
-------------
7. (SBU) BG Sisophonh asked about the possibility that the
first U.S. DATT would be at the O-5 (LTC) level. He
highlighted an MND regulation requiring that any Lao DATT in
any country had to be at the O-6 (COL) level. The Ambassador
responded that the United States has attaches at the BG level
(in Moscow and Beijing) as well as at both the O-6 and O-5
level throughout the world. However, attaches from other
countries in Washington, D.C. tended to be 0-6 or 0-7
officers. Having the Lao DATT in DC at the O-6 level seemed
appropriate.

8. (SBU) The Ambassador specified that our DATT position
would be created at the O-6 level. However, we were
interested in having an O-5 officer as our first DATT. The
Ambassador said he had a strong candidate -- an officer the
Ambassador has worked with in the past. The Ambassador has
great confidence that this officer will be able to work
closely with MND to ensure our military-military relationship
develops smoothly and comfortably. Our intention is that the
subsequent DATTs would be at the rank of Colonel. BG
Sisophonh said he understood the need to have personal
confidence in one's colleagues and added that he personally
agreed with this approach for the first U.S. DATT. BG
Sisophonh added his view that the DATT exchange, first
mentioned in 2000 and now possible as part of the rapid
improvement in our bilateral mil-mil relationship following
25 years of cooperation on the MIA accounting issue, was a
historical step forward.

COMMENT
-------
9. (SBU) Progress in our military-military relations has
proceeded quickly during the past year. Following our first
mil-mil talks in January 2007 (ref a), then-COL Sisophonh
participated in a Distinguished Visitors Orientation Tour to
implement IMET cooperation in June. While in Washington,
D.C., he told U.S. counterparts that the Government of Laos
(GOL) had agreed to a long-standing U.S. request to exchange
defense attaches. We have pushed the exchange during the
visit of OSD-Policy Desk Officer Shubert in September (ref
c), our second round of mil-mil talks in October (ref d),
PACOM Admiral Keating's visit in December (ref f), and our
Second U.S.-Lao Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue in January
2008 (ref h). During the year, MND has also participated in
two major avian influenza training programs -- supported by
MARFORPAC in August (ref b) and co-organized by PACAF
International Health Affairs in January 2008 (ref g) --
opening up military medicine as a new area for cooperation.
For MND to now be willing to move forward with sending
students to DLI training and to welcome a DLI survey marks
another significant step forward for the Lao military --
which has been more isolated from international cooperation
than most other parts of the GOL. As General Sisophonh
noted, finally being able to make progress on our general
mil-mil relationship is clearly possible because of the past
25 years of strong bilateral cooperation on the MIA
accounting process.
Huso

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC