Cablegate: Country Team Assessment for Small Arms Foreign


DE RUEHNR #1449/01 1641456
P 121456Z JUN 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. The Government of Kenya has been a close partner for the
U.S. in many areas, including in military cooperation.
They have provided important support in the Global War on
Terror in spite of the risk they face, and it is in our
interest to help them modernize their military forces to
better provide that support. The Kenyans are in the
process of seeking vendors to modernize their small arms
inventory, and our Security Assistance Office was recently
able to convince the Kenyan Ministry of Defense to submit a
request for U.S.-manufactured M-16A4/M-4 carbine rifles
rather than the Chinese-manufactured equivalent. The
completion of this sale would represent one of the largest
of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa with a low risk of
unauthorized proliferation. Should the sales expand to
other countries in the region (as we expect), there would
also be an opportunity to shape the small arms landscape in
the region and shrink the size of the illegal small arms
market. Country Team strongly recommends the expedited
approval of this request, as a delay in delivery could
result in a loss of the sale. End Summary.

Kenya: A Close and Important Regional Partner

2. The Government of Kenya has demonstrated outstanding
support for U.S. and coalition operations in the Horn of
Africa (HOA) region. They have allowed a continuous US DoD
presence in Manda Bay that allows for training and combined
operations in support of counter-terrorism operations and
anti-piracy actions. They have maintained one of the only
long-term access agreements that allows unparalleled
cooperation for U.S. military aircraft, permits DoD
personnel to enter and exit the country by simply
presenting an ID card, provides a safe location for hub
operations throughout the HOA region, and provides a Status
of Forces Agreement that safeguards US DoD personnel.
Kenya is among our strongest supporters in the region and a
key friend in the regional war on terror.

3. Since the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi,
the Government of Kenya has provided firm support for the
Global War on Terrorism, but Kenya's threat profile for
terrorist attack remains one of the highest on the
continent. Due to its strategic location and the stability
of its pro-democracy government, Kenya is a top priority
country for support from the United States. Even though
Foreign Military Funding was suspended from 2005 until
January of 2008 because of ASPA sanctions, Kenya continued
to work with the U.S. in creating a joint strategic
approach to coastal and border security in a 2005 white
paper endorsed by the Kenyan Chief of General Staff. (Note:
The strategy in now in the process of being updated. End

Military Planning to Upgrade Outdated
Small Arms Stocks...And Talking To China

4. The Kenyan military is planning to modernize its
military -- in particular, its small arms stocks -- by
replacing the (nearly obsolete) German-made 7.62mm G3
rifle, which is standard issue for military personnel. The
Government is already in the process of re-tooling its
ammunition factory to manufacture smaller, lighter 5.56mm
ammunition to accommodate the phase-in of new weapons, and
it has been in discussions with several countries,
including China, to find a suitable vendor.

...But They'd Like to Buy American

5. The desire on the part of the Kenyans to increase the
interoperability between Kenyan and U.S. military forces
and the persistent effort by the Security Assistance Office
in Kenya to engage the Kenyan military has led to an
agreement by the Kenya Ministry of Defence (KMOD) to
modernize with U.S.-manufactured equipment, particularly M-
16A4 and M-4 carbine rifles in lieu of procuring similar
weapons from China, specifically the Chinese export 5.56mm
caliber carbine, the QBZ95/97.

6. To this end, the Kenyan Government recently submitted a
Letter of Request for 10,000 M-16A4/M-4 carbine rifles and
150 MK-19 grenade launchers. Based on our discussions with
KMOD, this will likely represent the first in a series of
such purchases that will ultimately result in the purchase
of over 40,000 weapons, with all associated accessories,
over the next three to five years. This series of
purchases will re-arm Kenya's Army, Navy, and Air Force and
are in line with the current and projected strength of
Kenya's armed forces. Over time, the dollar value of these
Foreign Military Sales cases is be expected to exceed
USD60-80 million; likely one of the largest set of sales of
their kind in sub-Saharan Africa.

7. The requested equipment would modernize Kenya's
military, but not fundamentally alter its force structure.
Changes would include a complete fielding of new individual
firearms for all military personnel. These weapons systems
are not considered to be sensitive technology.

USG Interests: Better Security, More
Interoperability, Influence Over Future Sales

8. Supplying Kenya with this equipment has long-term
benefits that squarely fit U.S. national interests. Not
only will this sale solidify our relationship with the
Kenyan military, it will also contribute to the Kenyans'
ability to control their porous borders, which will result
in improved stability and security in the region. Also, by
moving from their current small arms weapon (7.62 mm) to a
5.56mm weapon, the Kenyans would be interoperable with U.S.
and NATO forces, which would assist in their full
integration into future peacekeeping missions on the
Continent. Kenyan officials have hinted that the remainder
of Kenya's security forces could also over time be equipped
with U.S.-manufactured small arms.

9. The Kenyans are also investigating the possibility,
through the Security Assistance Office at Post, of
obtaining a license agreement with the manufacturer to
produce spare parts for and possibly manufacture new
weapons at their ordnance factory. If this came to
fruition, we might expect that the neighboring countries
would offer a market for U.S.-manufactured small arms as
well. If neighboring countries also adopt this weapon
system and responsibly dispose of their excess (7.62mm)
weaponry, we could expect the availability and market for
the ubiquitous AK-47 variant 7.62mm weapons to drop
dramatically. Also, the purchase of U.S. military
technology guarantees U.S. influence over future arms
sales. The implications for the reduction of illegal small
arms proliferation and trafficking in Northeast Africa are

What Will the Neighbors Think?

10. We expect only positive reactions from neighboring
countries, and believe they will want to adapt to the same
weapons system in the future. This is evidenced by the
fact that dozens of nations worldwide are now seeking to
convert to U.S. manufactured small arms. The superior
quality of the M-16A4 and M-4 has resulted in demand that

far exceeds supply. As such, it is very important to USG
interests that priority partner countries like Kenya are
moved to the top of the procurement list.

11. Kenya at any one time has between 200 and 250 U.S.
military personnel in-country. There have not been any
negative incidents or reactions to these personnel in

Operation, Maintenance, Support

12. Training will be required initially, as these weapons
systems have not been utilized in Kenya before, but the
number of personnel required will be small. We are
expecting that a small initial cadre will be required to
teach the use and employment of the weapons as well as an
initial cadre for maintenance of the weapons systems. Once
the initial groups of Kenyan military are trained, we
expect that the Kenyans will be able to continue training
the remainder of their forces on their own.

13. The Kenyans have a maintenance program in place for
their existing small arms inventory, and they will
institute similar procedures to properly maintain U.S.-
manufactured weapons. The Kenyans have expressed an
interest in developing their own capability to manufacture
spare parts, which, in close coordination with the U.S.,
could make for a sustainable long-term weapons maintenance

Kenyan Military Can Safeguard
and Account For Small Arms

14. The proliferation of small arms is a definite problem
in the region, and Kenya is no exception. There is a
vigorous black market for AK-47s reportedly coming from
Uganda, Southern Sudan, South Ethiopia, and Somalia.
Traditionally, illegal arms have been used by pastoralists
to protect their herds from cattle raiders. Since the
post-election crisis, we have heard reports of a surge in
the illegal small arms trade for militias and internally
displaced persons.

15. We have heard no reports, however, that small arms from
the Kenyan military have found their way to the black
market, and the military successfully resisted attempts
during the post-election crisis to divert their weapons
stocks to militias. The Kenyan Army provides excellent
security at facilities where weapons are stored, and their
100 percent weapons accountability policy includes field
checks during operational maneuvers. Kenya is an active
member of The Regional Center for Small Arms (RECSA), which
is headquartered in Nairobi and was formed to prevent,
combat and eradicate stockpiling and illicit trafficking in
small arms and light weapons in the Great Lakes Region and
Horn of Africa. At a recent RECSA conference, the
Government of Kenya committed to labeling all small arms
owned by the police and military forces to prevent

16. The black market for weapons in Africa centers on
7.62x39mm weapons like the AK-47, because they (and
ammunition for them) are available in abundance. The
Kenyan military's use of the G3 rifle (which uses 7.62x51mm
NATO ammunition) is a poor sell on the black market, as the
only ammunition available for it is manufactured in a
government-run ammunition factory in Eldoret (where
ammunition does not have a history of being "leaked.")
Nevertheless, we would encourage the Kenyans to phase out
the G3 in a responsible manner: once the military no longer
needs them, they could be transferred to the police forces
that use both G3s and AK-47s, and sponsor a destruction or
U.S. Government buy-back program so that old AK-47s do not

end up on the black market. If we were to eventually allow
the Kenyans to develop the capacity to manufacture M16A4/M4
weapons in Kenya for sale to other regional military forces
(many of whom still do use AK-47s, which no doubt do
contribute to the black market problem), the U.S. would
retain control of the sale of those weapons and could
leverage it to encourage further AK-47 destruction or buy-
back programs.

Human Rights Considerations

17. While human rights considerations are important when
contemplating any weapons sale, we believe that there would
be no adverse consequences that will come from the
modernization of existing small arms inventories. On the
contrary, there is a potential benefit if the responsible
weapons conversion of regional military forces results in a
smaller black market for the now-ubiquitous AK-47. Should
the Kenyans choose to modernize to 5.56mm weapons but
instead buy Chinese, we will lose the ability over the long
term to influence the destruction on proliferation-
sensitive weapons in regional military arsenals.

18. The African continent has become a dumping ground for
the world's small arms, and the easy availability of
weapons has worsened the human toll of violent conflicts
and crime across Africa. Our advocacy for this sale
signals the recognition of our dual responsibility to
protect human rights and to build the capacity of the
Kenyan military to fulfill its legitimate mission (which
includes peacekeeping -- Kenya is a leading contributor to
them and hosts the International Peace Support Training
Center). By providing low proliferation-risk weapons to a
responsible military force, we meet both obligations.
Should we move forward with other potential sales in the
region, it will become even more important to ensure the
reduction of black-market-friendly weapons and to prevent
the creation of a new 5.56mm-based black market. This will
require careful consideration of each potential partner
military force.

Financing Would Not Break Kenya's Bank

19. Kenya will be using a combination of Foreign Military
Financing (FMF) and national funds to purchase this
equipment. Kenya's weapons modernization program has been
planned and budgeted for several years, and the small arms
sale is one of many taking place. (Note: Other sales
include major systems, such as helicopters, unmanned aerial
vehicles and artillery systems from multiple companies in
multiple nations, including South Africa and China. End
Note.) The sale of U.S.-manufactured small arms under
Foreign Military Sales (FMS) opens the door to the use of
FMF grant aid to fund a portion of the purchase, which will
actually lessen the burden on the Kenyan budget by reducing
the amount of national funds required to complete the

20. The total expected value over the course of the
complete sale could reach USD80 million over the next three
to five years, or approximately USD20 million per year on
average (assuming that the entire military is equipped with
new weapons). The GoK's FY 2007/08 budget (July-June)
planned expenditures of Ksh 693.6 billion (USD 9.9
billion), and revenues of Ksh 428.8 billion (USD 6.1
billion), left a Ksh 264.8 billion (USD 3.8 billion)
deficit, equivalent to 5.3 percent of Gross Domestic
Product, which was covered by the proceeds from
privatizations of state-owned corporations and Initial
Public Offering (IPO) receipts. A USD 20 million small
arms sale would represent approximately two percent of the
annual budget.

21. On the other hand, the security and economic impact for
U.S. interests has the potential to be significant. The
Kenyan military is planning to cancel purchases of other
equipment to fund the purchase of the initial allotment of
the U.S.-manufactured weapon systems. If a licensing
agreement is eventually granted for Kenyan manufacture of
these systems and neighboring countries join in the
procurement (with proper USG permissions in place), the
total monetary value might be expected to climb into the
hundreds of millions, possibly billions of dollars over the
next 15 years. Because of the proliferation-sensitive
small arms inventories of many of the region's military
forces, it is entirely feasible that we have the
opportunity to positively influence the small arms
landscape and culture in Northeast Africa through this
watershed initiative.

Fast Track Delivery Needed to Ensure Sale

22. In light of these facts, Embassy Nairobi strongly
recommends that the USG rapidly facilitate the purchase of
the M-16A4/M-4s as well as MK-19s. The Kenyans have
expressed to us that, as much as they prefer U.S.-
manufactured equipment, any significant delay in
manufacturing or delivering these items would force them to
reconsider their request. Post asks that this initiative
be fast-tracked to the best of our capabilities. We do not
want the Kenyans to re-initiate their dealings with the
Chinese or any other nations to obtain small arms due to
delays in U.S. procurement.

© Scoop Media

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