Cablegate: Life at Ndu: Training Pakistan's Next Generation of Military Leaders
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 001825
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/12/2018
TAGS: PGOV PK PREL
SUBJECT: LIFE AT NDU: TRAINING PAKISTAN'S NEXT GENERATION OF MILITARY LEADERS
REF: ISLAMABAD 1073
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, Reasons 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (C) Summary: Pakistan's National Defense University's curriculum is designed to foster national pride, but many of its students and instructors have an anti-American bias. Their attitudes demonstrate why we should continue our efforts to increase IMET opportunities, especially those aimed at the generation of Pakistani military who were ineligible for IMET during the sanctions years. We should also consider an exchange program of instructors to broaden understanding of the U.S. End summary.
2. (C) On April 29, Poloff met with U.S. Army Colonel Michael Schleicher, who currently is attending the Senior Course at National Defense University (NDU). The following cable details his perceptions of the course, his classmates, and his instructors.
3. (C) Pakistan's National Defense University (formerly National Defense College) currently is lead by Lieutenant General Hamid Khan, the former 11th Corps Commander. NDU has two courses: students at the colonel and brigadier rank attend the Senior Course and obtain the equivalent of a master's degree; the Junior Course is for students at the lieutenant colonel and colonel rank.
4. (C) Instruction for the Senior Course centers around three pillars that emphasize national pride. Students are first instructed on classic nation state development, which includes use of Islamic texts. The second pillar uses Pakistan's foundation documents--such as the works of Mohammad Ali Jinnah (the George Washington of Pakistan) and the country's first constitution--to discuss why Pakistan was created and how this legacy should impact the country's future policies. Economic courses--the third pillar--make up approximately half of course lectures, with particular focus on macroeconomics and regional water and energy issues.
5. (C) The Directing Staff--along with guest speakers--provide lectures that are read from scripts usually meticulously vetted in advance. Lecturers often "teach" their students information that is heavily biased against the United States. Throughout this year's course, only a handful of non-Pakistanis were invited to speak as guest lecturers.
6. (C) The Senior Course this year includes 135 classmates, approximately 25 of whom are military officers from Pakistan's allies (including the U.S., Britain, Canada, China, Islamic Countries, South Africa, Nigeria, and Libya). Pakistani senior civil servants are also allowed in the class.
7. (C) Most of the Pakistani students in this year's class are approximately 50 years old; almost all had parents who were born in British-India. During his professional and personal interactions with the students, Col. Schleicher estimated that approximately a third of his class was religiously devout, a third of his class was moderately religious, and less than a third of his class was overtly secular. Of the 135 Senior Course students, only two openly drank alcohol. Col. Schleicher believed the secular students felt peer pressure to appear more religious than they actually were.
8. (C) The Pakistani military students appeared to come from wealthy families or from military families and were proud they received amenities, including private-quality schools and good health care, as an incentive to stay in the military. Officers at the brigadier rank touted their privileges, including a house, car, and a driver. The NDU students also obtained financial perks, such as a free trip
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for a pilgrimage that could be taken at the end of the class' official travels.
9. (C) There is one woman in this year's Senior Course; last year there were two women in the class. During all trips and visits, the separation of men and women is strictly observed. For example, there are separate buses for the female student and the officers, wives. The Directing Staff includes a woman member, Ambassador Raanan, who previously represented Pakistan in Turkmenistan.
10. (C) Although the class is conducted in English, few students are truly fluent. Some of the foreign students are functionally illiterate in English.
11. (C) Course instructors often had misperceptions about U.S. policies and culture and infused their lectures with these suspicions. For example, one guest lecturer--who is a Pakistani one-star general--claimed the U.S. National Security Agency actively trains correspondents for media organizations. Some students share these misconceptions despite having children who attended universities in the U.S. or London. For example, some did not believe the U.S. used female pilots overseas; they were convinced female pilots were restricted to flying within U.S. borders. Others thought the CIA was in charge of U.S. media (and that MI-5 was in charge of the BBC). Students in the Junior Course shared many of the biases prevalent in the Muslim world, including a belief the U.S. invaded Iraq for its oil and that 9/11 was a staged "Jewish conspiracy." In contrast to criticism of the U.S., students and instructors were adamant in their approval of all things Chinese.
12. (C) Comment: When Ambassador addressed NDU last year, she received astonishingly naive and biased questions about America. With Washington's support, post is working to dramatically increase IMET opportunities for officers and NCOs. We need, in particular, to target the "lost generation" of Pakistan military who missed IMET opportunities during the sanctions years. The elite of this crop of colonels and brigadiers are receiving biased NDU training with no chance to hear alternative views of the U.S. Given the bias of the instructors, we also believe it would be beneficial to initiate an exchange program for instructors.