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Cablegate: Spla Defense White Paper

VZCZCXRO6437
OO RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #0542/01 0991430
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 081430Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0501
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 000542

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: SPLA DEFENSE WHITE PAPER

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The long-awaited SPLA Defense White Paper provides
a concise overview of SPLA's mission and objectives, while
highlighting capacity issues and a framework to tackle them. The
challenge will be in its implementation - the document codifies the
military's weaknesses that require support and repair. It also
creates new institutions and policy subsets that will require
resources and action. The white paper establishes an SPLA Command
Council, reservist force, and Inspector General, in addition to
parameters for DDR and civilian conscription. While less
comprehensive in the areas of personnel and financial management,
the white paper succeeds somewhat in defining the roles of the
Minister for SPLA Affairs (strategic policy) and SPLA Chief of Staff
(operations). The paper charts out a defensive-oriented SPLA force
structure with a sizeable peacetime support mandate subordinate to
civilian agencies. However the paper is thin on definition of force
requirements; once it more clearly defines its strategic posture,
the SPLA will need to focus on rightsizing and DDR because the
current size of the SPLA is not sustainable. END SUMMARY.

----------
BACKGROUND
----------

2. (SBU) The white paper's own development has been a testament to
the challenges currently facing the SPLA. Competent, qualified
drafters were in limited supply, critical operations and policy
personnel were temporarily felled by serious illness, and tensions
and proxy-conflict between Khartoum and Juba took many officers
tasked to the DWP -- to include its Chairman -- away from the
business at hand. What began as an historic joint civil-military
undertaking (a task that shut down the Government of Southern Sudan
for seven days in September 2007 and saw participation by a majority
of the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly and more than two-thirds
of the South's governors) subsequently simply broke down in internal
paralysis and capacity problems. It took constant pushing by
USG-funded Security Sector Transformation Training/Advisory Team
Members and two sets of U.S. military advisors to finally bring the
DWP to completion, with generally complementary assistance from
DFID. The Special Envoy's and ConGen Juba's reiteration of the
white paper's importance to USG security sector transformation (SST)
further helped nudge its completion.

3. (SBU) Although the DWP will be submitted to the SSLA once it
opens this spring (its opening date has been thrice postponed),
Minister for Presidential Affairs Luka Biong Deng told ConGen PolOff
on April 1 that the white paper does not require legislative
approval. The document sent to the Department (reftel) has been
approved by President Kiir, the Southern Sudan Defense Council, and
the GOSS Council of Ministers.

-------------------------------------------
FINALLY, A JOB DESCRIPTION FOR THE MINISTER
-------------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Critically, through its division of labor between military
command roles and ministerial-level policy oversight and
implementation, the Defense White Paper (DWP) fills a void left by
the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan that has exacerbated
long-standing personal friction between the SPLA Affairs Minister
Dominic Dim Deng and SPLA Chief Oyai Deng Ajak. The Minister now
holds formal responsibility for all acquisitions, financial
oversight and general policy formation, whereas the Chief of Staff
is responsible for determining personnel and equipment requirements,
and also the design and management of military support units
(signals, medical, engineering, intelligence, etc.) His duties
include management oversight of special staff functions, to include
the Inspectorate General, Military Justice Unit, medical corps, and
military police. (COMMENT: USG-funded Training/Advisory Team
members had been advocating for placing such units under the
Minister for SPLA Affairs. Save for one member of the Southern
Sudan Legislative Assembly, Government of Southern Sudan
policy-makers were absent from the final drafting session in Addis
Ababa. This may have impacted this component of the paper. END
COMMENT.)

------------------
BOXING IN DIM DENG
------------------

5. (SBU) The DWP also establishes two new regulatory agencies: the
SPLA Command Council and an Inspectorate General (though there is
little detail on how the IG will function). The Command Council is
charged with oversight and "ensuring coordination between the
Ministry and SPLA military command." It is to be composed of at
least thirty individuals, to include Commander-in-Chief Kiir, Deputy
Commander-in-Chief Paulino Matiep, Chief of Staff Oyai Deng Ajak,

KHARTOUM 00000542 002 OF 003


Ajak's five deputies, fifteen division commanders and all SPLA
branch directors. Ostensibly a coordination mechanism, the white
paper's description of its duties reflects continuing tensions
between current Minister Dominic Dim Deng and Chief of Staff Oyai
Deng Ajak, exacerbated since the Minister's appointment by what SPLA
officers, rank-and-file, and observers alike describe as Dim Deng's
"in the weeds, micro-managerial style," and a consistent pattern of
"over-reach" into the operational depths of the SPLA.

-----------------------------------------
FORCE STRUCTURE AND A NEW RESERVIST CORPS
-----------------------------------------

6. (SBU) The DWP rolls out a new SPLA force structure, one that
soberly assesses the military's budget constraints. Minister for
Regional Cooperation Barnaba Benjamin announced during the Canadian
Foreign Minister's visit to Juba on March 27 that the SPLA's budget
will decrease starting in 2009. The SPLA's decision to maintain a
light-infantry focus - albeit one supported through civil air
defense -- reflects "fiscal realities which limit growth of
mechanized capabilities." Despite known cash influxes from other
sources, the white paper's stated force structure mirrors this
mindset: an active ground-based military force supported
logistically via air and riverine transportp_AIQlomatic efforts."

--sV!oMQDt and revealing the degree to which a
skills-transfer program is essential for DDR, the DWP identifies two
areas of SPLA support to civilian agencies. The SPLA will support
Organized Forces (police, fire, prison, and wildlife brigades) only
when directed by President Kiir. The transformation of the SPLA
engineering corps into road construction battalions and their
secondment to the Ministry of Roads and Transport is an innovative
use of occasionally underutilized manpower - one with immediate
public relations dividends. Moreover, it offers actionable means by
which the SPLA can build financial self-reliance in the near-term
and provide vocational skills training to soldiers.

---------------
DWP SHORTFALLS
---------------

8. (SBU) The DWP falls short of adequately defining personnel and
force structure requirements. The paper does not address any
"rightsizing" or DDR issues, no doubt because the SPLA is actually
in a "wait and see" mode regarding whether it should be on a war
footing or should shift to a more defensive posture. However, over
time maintaining a 180,000-strong force is unsustainable. Moreover,
the DWP is lacking in clarity on the management and structure of it
military force. The document addresses the establishment of a
reservist force, civil service, "Recruitment Command," and civilian
conscription, which make policy sense but are, in fact, divorced
from the reality of the South. This may be an example of the DWP
"saying the right thing" without fleshing out a serious plan.

9. (SBU) Another problem is that the DWP appears to abandon the
current "in-house" training approach in exchange for targeted
recruitment or conscription of skilled professionals. However, the
Ministry of Health states there are only 42 formally trained nurses
throughout the South. In addition, the Ministry for Legal Affairs
and Constitutional Development (MOLA) Minister faces immense
difficulties attracting qualified (and English-speaking) legal
personnel - this despite the fact MOLA pays the highest civil
servant salaries of any GOSS institution. (NOTE: The MOLA
Undersecretary makes approximately USD $150,000 per year. END NOTE.)
The white paper's premise that the SPLA can hire consultants should
volunteers prove insufficient forces the SPLA to prepare for
additional expenditures.

10. (SBU) The DWP's commitment to provide for its troops is
surprisingly robust, but out of touch with current resource
realities. There is currently no pension scheme in place for either
the GOSS or SPLA, yet the DWP promises soldiers will be provided
with pay, pension, housing, water/food, health care, education,
sports and recreation opportunities and awards.

11. (SBU) The SPLA deserves credit for the establishment of an
Inspector General position with both inspection and audit

KHARTOUM 00000542 003 OF 003


capabilities. However, the white-paper fails to establish
guidelines for enhanced procurement regulations and commits the SPLA
to adhere to currently non-existent SSLA anti-corruption
legislation.

12. (SBU) The strengths and weaknesses of the DWP, and the long and
sometimes tortuous road to its final production, is typical of the
functioning of the GoSS/SPLA. Starting off with the best of
intentions, a lack of capacity to maintain a sustained effort to
complete the task meant months of delays and breakdowns. Managerial
talent in the South is spread thin and is subject to the pushes and
pulls of conflicting priorities and the demands of constant
management by crisis. Although, as noted, some of the DWP's goals
are clearly beyond the reach of the GoSS at the present time, it has
set at least the stage for a possible thoughtful, managed
transformation of the SPLA into a more capable regular military
force.

FERNANDEZ

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