Cablegate: Unamid Is Its Own Worst Enemy On Deployment

DE RUEHKH #0434/01 0840544
P 240544Z MAR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: For at least the second time in four months,
UNAMID leadership in El Fasher has attempted to use logistical
considerations as an excuse for delaying deployment of the
peacekeeping force in Darfur. The latest attempt, articulated by
the Chief of Planning, was in direct response to Special Envoy
Williamson's March 5 declaration that the United States intended to
see deployed 3,600 troops by the end of May 2008. While UNAMID
officials in El Fasher insist they share the U.S. goal of expediting
deployment of the peacekeeping operation (which has seen not even
300 new troops brought in since the January 1 Transfer of
Authority), they advocate a go-slow approach to avoid stretching its
already-strained infrastructure even thinner. The debate
illustrates the perennial disconnect between UNAMID leadership on
the ground and that at New York Headquarters, and the USG seems
caught in the middle. However, our plans to push ahead with
obtaining inventory lists from reluctant Sector Commanders for
battalions to be augmented seem to have sparked progress, as both
DPKO and UNAMID now appear amenable to a deployment compromise
reconciling UN, UNAMID and USG priorities. Still, there is no
reason to believe that this instance will be the last time UNMAID
tries to cut off its nose to spite its face on troop deployment.

2. (SBU) On March 20 UNAMID Planning Chief summoned EmbOffs in El
Fasher to Force Headquarters to present an e-mail based on a
PowerPoint presentation that the Planning Chief had given the day
before to UNAMID Senior Management. The e-mail had been sent to the
UN Department of Peacekeeping Operation (DPKO) on March 19 by the
Planning Chief in an attempt to stave off the U.S. move to equip and
deploy all Rwandan battalions according to UN standards and to
rotate them by the end of May, per Special Envoy Williamson's March
5 remarks at the UN Security Council stakeout. "If these intentions
are right as I heard them," the Chief warned, "it's going to screw
us." He went on to say that while UNAMID shares the U.S. intention
to expedite UNAMID deployment, it thinks the U.S. emphasis on
bringing in four Rwandan battalions by May will undermine the
overall mission.

3. (SBU) The Planning Chief first outlined UANMID's priorities to
show the divergence with those of the USG. First was deployment of
the Egyptian and Ethiopian battalions not to where they are
"logistically easy" - Nyala and El Fasher, respectively - but rather
to where they are "operationally sound" - Umm Kadada and
Kulbus/Silea, respectively. [NOTE: On the sidelines of this
discussion, the Planning Chief noted that if the Egyptians brought
in a third battalion, their troop numbers would exceed those of the
Senegalese, which could lead the Egyptians to seek a Sector
Commander (SC) appointment. The Chief expressed concern over this
possibility, citing the Deputy SC in El Geneina, an Egyptian, as a
poor example to follow. END NOTE]. Despite the priority UNAMID
places on this adjustment in deployment plans, however, the Planning
Chief said the UN has not yet secured formal agreement with either
the Egyptian Defense Ministry or the Ethiopian Government to request
the change of venue for those countries' incoming battalions.

4. (SBU) Next among UNAMID's priorities, which the Planning Chief
claims the Force Commander (FC) shares, are expanding the existing
base camp at Kulbus to accommodate a half battalion; building new
base camps at Silea and Korma (the latter of which he claimed was
all the more important as Korma is in a JEM-held area); expanding
the camps at Tine and Umm Barru; and expanding the camp at Umm
Kadada to accommodate the Egyptian battalion.

5. (SBU) According to the Planning Chief, UNAMID sees U.S.
intentions for the Rwandans as potentially undermining the
operation. Carrying out the U.S. priority of equipping and rotating
four Rwandan battalions by "this blasted deadline" of end May, for
example, would require creation of 120 extra bedspaces in each
location to accommodate the additional forces, which in turn would
require additional land procurement to accommodate bed expansion -
in short, such tasks would usurp the attention and resources UNAMID
engineers would have otherwise spent focusing on the FC's stated
priorities over the next two to three months. The Chief continued
that rotating the four Rwandan battalions would further stretch
UNAMID's already taxed helicopter assets and would potentially
jeopardize ration re-supply schedules. Furthermore, the Planning
Chief argued, the Rwandans had indicated they do not plan to rotate
until fall, vice May, 2008. Finally, the Planning Chief reiterated
the sentiment expressed by the Deputy Force Commander that simply
equipping these Rwandan battalions would not by default render them
self-sustaining, something that the UN was neither able nor willing
to do.

6. (SBU) The Acting CISS articulated his own list of impediments to
expedited deployment, despite eventually admitting that preparing
for the arrival of only one plused-up Rwandan battalion would likely

KHARTOUM 00000434 002 OF 002

be doable. He reiterated the Deputy FC's stance on the need to
guarantee self-sustainment among the incoming troops, mentioning in
particular the areas of tentage, generators, water distillers and
kitchens. He worried about the lack of engineers to prepare the
ground for this influx of new troops and about deQQE; Package) still sitting in Port Sudan. Lastly, the Acting
CISS reminded that the incoming battalions would be deploying during
the rainy season, which would necessitate the use of UN aircraft
since roads would be largely impassable. In addition to repeating
the Planning Chief's concerns about the strain such a situation
would present for UN air operations scheduling, he also worried
about UN air capacity: "You can't put everything into an Mi-26."

7. (SBU) The Planning Chief acknowledged that UN Headquarters in New
York and UNAMID Headquarters in El Fasher disagreed over how to deal
with the U.S. stated intention to equip and deploy four Rwandan
battalions and rotate them in May. He scoffed that the UN "did not
have the balls to tell the Special Envoy 'no'," and he berated UN HQ
for its insiQQ+3 into Nyala and
the Ethiopian battalion into El Fasher, instead of putting them in
more mission-critical areas elsewhere in Darfur. The Planning Chief
said that New York needed to approach the Government of Ethiopia as
soon as possible about the venue change to discourage the GOE from
first waiting for an Egyptian response to the proposed switch. In a
statement that hinted at a disconnect within UNAMID leadership
itself, the Chief acknowledged that his recommendation against the
U.S. plan could be overruled by the FC, should such a directive come
from New York. In a subsequent meeting on March 22, the Acting Chief
of Integrated Support Services (CISS) shared the Planning Chief's
sense of frustration with New York's inactivity on the
Egyptian/Ethiopian front.

--------------------------------------------- --
8. (SBU) The Planning Chief requested a meeting several hours later
with EmbOffs, in which he elaborated on possible ways forward,
something he had been unwilling or unable to provide to EmbOffs in
the earlier discussion. Initially the Planning Chief suggested that
bringing in and accommodating all four Rwandan battalions would be
feasible if they were each reduced by one company. Later he said
that he had spoken with DPKO and come to the conclusion that to
bring in one 800-man Rwandan battalion by end May, along with
deploying the Egyptian and Ethiopian battalions, could satisfy both
UNAMID and U.S. needs. The Acting CISS inquired about USG plans for
equipping battalions beyond just the Rwandans, reminding that if
that were the case, "$100 million won't go very far."

9. (SBU) The Planning Chief acknowledged that New York shared our
concern that the FC's priorities seemed to be shifting, but he
assured that the FC and UNAMID were on the same page [NOTE: The FC
will return to El Fasher March 23, at which time we can better
assess his perspective on the Rwandan issue]. The Planning Chief
was supportive of the U.S. plan to conduct spot-checks of existing
Rwandan equipment during the week of March 24, blaming the lack of a
complete and detailed response from the sectors to the FC's request
to provide inventory lists on "immature communications."

10. (SBU) COMMENT: Earlier this year DPKO Under-Secretary-General
Guehenno warned that full UNAMID deployment would take the better
part of 12 months. Given the problems that UNAMID has faced so far
in the realms of contracting, procuring, recruiting, accommodating
and feeding, just to name a few, Guehenno's prophecy seems to be
self-fulfilling. While these logistical challenges are real, it is
important for us to keep UNAMID's feet to the fire with regard to
expediting deployment. It is just as important to maintain pressure
on UN HQ to overcome its political indecisiveness on issues
affecting UNAMID progress, namely the Egyptian and Ethiopian
deployments. The March 23 arrival in El Fasher of a team from New
York tasked with working on an overdue Integrated Deployment Plan
for UNAMID could do much to improve communication and cooperation
between the two sides of the Darfur peacekeeping coin. In the
meantime it is also important for us to bear in mind that it will
very shortly be our turn to deliver on the "compromise" reached with
UNAMID. Once the contract for outfitting the Rwandan battalion is
awarded by the end of March, the pressure will be on to ensure that
deadlines are met to keep this deployment on track for 3,600 by May
31. Given that so few deadlines are met in Darfur, this will be a

11. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.


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