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Cablegate: Inconsistencies Force Agwai to Change His Unamid

VZCZCXRO4804
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0672/01 1250437
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 040437Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0708
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0194
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000672

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, SE WILLIAMSON
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: INCONSISTENCIES FORCE AGWAI TO CHANGE HIS UNAMID
PRIORITIES

REF: A. KHARTOUM 650

KHARTOUM 00000672 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY. United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur
Force Commander Martin Luther Agwai lamented in a May 2 conversation
with FieldOff that "inconsistencies are forcing me to change my
priorities" with regard to UNAMID deployment, as articulated reftel.
The most damaging of these inconsistencies from Agwai's perspective
is UN Headquarters' preoccupation with numbers versus quality of
incoming troops to the mission. Equally deleterious in Agwai's
opinion is the current tendency of troop-contributing countries to
pick and choose how and where to deploy. Agwai assessed that if the
trend currently exhibited by the Egyptians and the Ethiopians on
deployment of their second battalions continues, "then this mission
will be ineffective." It may be too late to do anything about the
Egyptian and Ethiopian deployment, but it is not too late to ensure
that this practice does not happen again. We need to deliver the
message to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that even if he refuses to
listen to his DPKO advisers in New York, he cannot ignore his Force
Commander on the ground. END SUMMARY.

"THERE ARE FACTORS BEYOND MY CONTROL"
-------------------------------------
2. (SBU) In a sobering two-hour meeting with FieldOff on May 2,
United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Force
Commander (FC) Agwai admitted that as much as he tried to stop them,
inconsistencies in deployment expectations and practices were
forcing him to re-evaluate his priorities for UNAMID deployment, as
reported reftel. In particular Agwai singled out the focus by the
UN, especially the Secretary-General (SYG), and the international
community on quantity instead of "quality and capacities" for
incoming troops to the mission. Agwai reiterated the message he
delivered to the Security Council on April 22, that the focus should
be on boosting the capacity of the ten existing UNAMID battalions
and of the existing camps to accommodate them. He noted that
current efforts seemed geared towards giving resources to additional
battalions which, if brought in, would exceed the troop ceiling
allowed under UNSCR 1769.

3. (SBU) Agwai also lamented the focus on the issue of
self-sustainability of incoming troops. He noted that except for
the current Nigerian battalion rotating (NIBATT 1), all previous
UNAMID rotations in the recent past have been of AMIS troops, which,
he pointed out, have never been and which are not now
self-sustaining. "These inconsistencies," he stated, "are forcing
me to change my priorities." The FC said he no longer knew what
battalion was arriving when or at what force strength level.
UNAMID's inability to receive 800-man battalions was due, in Agwai's
estimation, to the absence of the Heavy Support Package of engineers
and other assets meant to lay the groundwork for expanded
battalions. "Where is the Dutch Level II hospital in El Fasher?"
Agwai demanded. "And where is the Pakistani Level III hospital in
Nyala?" [NOTE: These are both valid questions; the only talk of
field hospitals has been of the incoming Nigerian Level II. END
NOTE].

4. (SBU) FieldOff pointed out that Department of Field Support
Under-Secretary-General Jane Holl Lute, even after her visit to
Darfur, had herself been pushing numbers into Darfur, saying that
she expected 15,000 troops on the ground by December 31. The FC
noted that Holl Lute "has always qualified this statement" and
conditioned it on "many ifs" - namely, if there are air
capabilities, if there is accommodation and if supply roads are
maintained.

NUMBERS OBSESSION CAUSING BAD DECISIONS ON TCCS
--------------------------------------------- --
5. (SBU) FC Agwai blamed the "numbers obsession" for SYG Ban's
decision, against the advice of Department of Peacekeeping
Operations Under-Secretary-General Guhenno, to accept a second
Egyptian battalion for UNAMID. "I don't know what I am going to do
with this battalion," Agwai admitted, since Egypt refuses to split
it into companies to deploy to Shangil Tobaye and to Um Kadada, per
Agwai's initial deployment plan, so it will now be sitting only in
Um Kadada. Agwai noted that Ethiopia had followed Egypt's lead by
proclaiming that its second UNAMID battalion would not go to Kulbus
and Silea, as the FC had intended, but rather only to Kulbus, with
the flimsy promise that its forces would patrol to Silea. Agwai
insisted there was "no way to change Ethiopia's mind" on this point,
adding that all he could do in response was to remind the Ethiopian
Defense Minister that the Ethiopian battalion would have an area of
responsibility to dominate and that how it chose to do so would be
up to the Commanding Officer.

6. (SBU) Agwai noted that Ethiopia also planned to send a Brigadier
General with its battalion, based on the MOU it struck in New York
with UN Headquarters. Agwai said that there was no place at the

KHARTOUM 00000672 002.2 OF 002


moment for this BG but that Ethiopia was content to let him idle in
the mission until a job was created for him. He confided that a
competition had already begun between Ethiopia and Egypt, given
their relatively equal number of contributions to UNAMID, for slots
as Sector Commander or for Chief of Staff. Because these two TCCs
can produce enough troops (though of questionable quality) to
satisfy New York's number obsession, they are deemed acceptable.
Meanwhile Senegal has sent only quality troops, though not a great
quantity of them, and will accordingly lose the battle for mission
leadership. "If this practice continues," Agwai declared, "this
mission will be ineffective."

7. (SBU) "My major concern," said Agwai, "is that other TCCs will
now start picking and choosing where they want to deploy." He
lamented that UNAMID military leadership lacked the freedom and
autonomy to move troops to where it needs them, as was his
experience under UNAMSIL in Sierra Leone. He explained that Force
Generation in New York was too wedded to a classical troop-to-task
model of peacekeeping to be able to provide UNAMID with the
necessary mobility.

COMMENT
-------
8. (SBU) It is a sad state of affairs when the commanding officer of
a peacekeeping mission cannot have the last word on how to deploy
the troops committed to his charge and when he is forced to change
his mission priorities accordingly. Agwai has a proven track record
in UN peacekeeping missions, as well as in the Nigerian armed
forces, and he has a stated commitment to seeing through the bulk of
UNAMID deployment (he told FieldOff that despite some second
thoughts in late 2007, he has no plans to leave UNAMID before 2009).
Nonetheless, Agwai's decision-making authority is being usurped the
SYG's political expediency considerations in New York. Agwai's
hands are further tied by a Department of Field Support (DFS) that
has been making promises it cannot keep since the Heavy Support
Package. While we understand the need to support the SYG in getting
boots on the ground, an equally important objective is ensuring that
UNAMID is an effective peacekeeping force with quality troops in the
right places. Post again suggests that USUN intercede to ensure
that the SYG respects the Force Commander's ability to make military
decisions and that the SYG does not makes any more deals on TCCs
that give them vetting rights over deployment options, per ref B
recommendation. We must also take DFS to task on unanswered
deployment questions, particularly with regard to outstanding
enabling assets.
FERNANDEZ

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