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Cablegate: Kunduz Governor Nervous As Security Trends Negative

VZCZCXRO5683
RR RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #3025/01 3251310
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201310Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6183
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 003025

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM
STATE PASS TO AID FOR ASIA/SCAA
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR WILKES
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF-101 POLAD

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ETRD EFIN AF

179235
2008-11-20
08KABUL3025

Embassy Kabul
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
08KABUL841
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 003025
DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM
STATE PASS TO AID FOR ASIA/SCAA
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR WILKES
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF-101 POLAD
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PREL ETRD EFIN AF

SUBJECT: KUNDUZ GOVERNOR NERVOUS AS SECURITY TRENDS NEGATIVE

REF: KABUL 841

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Although the violence in Kunduz Province has not
reached levels found elsewhere in Afghanistan, security incidents
are on the rise. Increasingly organized and deadly insurgent
attacks throughout the summer and autumn have frayed the nerves of
officials in Kunduz Province. Regular rocket, improvised explosive
device (IED) and suicide attacks against the PRT, combined with
sophisticated assaults against ANP positions, have increasingly
frustrated Kunduz Governor Mohammad Omar, who feels the needs of the
Northeast are neglected. Under increasing pressure, Omar has
traveled to Kabul to lobby for more resources. He used the occasion
also to meet with the Ambassador to underscore his concerns.

2. (SBU) A number of high-profile attacks against coalition forces
throughout the summer and autumn underscore what has been a
troubling year for PRT Kunduz. Earlier in the year, Berlin
dispatched a 200-strong airborne infantry company to shore up
near-perimeter security after a series of rocket attacks on the PRT
in the latter half of 2007 (REFTEL). While this temporarily
neutralized the immediate threat, their numbers were reduced in June
to 120 and rocket attacks resumed in August. That same month, an
IED killed one German soldier and wounded three. In October, a
suicide bomber killed two German soldiers on patrol. Five Afghan
children were also killed in the attack. So far this year, five
suicide bombers in Kunduz Province have attacked German forces. All
three German military deaths in Afghanistan this year occurred in
Kunduz's Chahar Dara District.

3. (SBU) Afghan security forces have been plagued with a series of
personnel changes, resource limitations and disruptions which have
strained efforts to effectively combat increasingly sophisticated
insurgent activity in Kunduz. In July, Chief of Police Mohammad
Ayoub Salangi transferred to Kabul and was replaced in August by
General Rizzaq Ayuby. While General Rizzaq, who served as temporary
Police Chief of Kabul from April to August, has made an impression
as an innovator, he has yet to firmly establish himself. Also this
summer, the ANP was compelled to dissolve its 100-man protective
detail, used to guard NGO and international facilities, in order to
shore up the dwindling number of regular ANP soldiers caused by this
summer's Tashqil enforcement. Further straining ANP resources is
the regular seconding of ANP troops to troubled provinces further
south.

4. (SBU) In September, the Afghan Army replaced the 2nd Kandak
(battalion). Newly arrived in the province, the 3rd Kandak was
quickly dispatched to Badakhshan and Takhar Provinces in support of
the Voter Registration process. The 360 man Kandak is widely seen
as stretched too thin, as its area of responsibility includes
Baghlan, Badakhshan, Kunduz and Takhar Provinces. The arrival of
the new Kandak has also created structural difficulties in its
relationship with the PRT. Whereas the previous Kandak's German
Operational Mentor and Liaison Team (OMLT) was well integrated with
the PRT command structure, the Croatian OMLT has found communication
more difficult, at times straining coordination efforts.

5. (SBU) In recent weeks, the ANP has found itself on the defensive
as attacks have become increasingly sophisticated. A frontal
assault on the Chahar Dara District Headquarters, while without
casualties, was notable in its utilization of a classic three-point
attack strategy. The newly appointed Police Chief of Chahar Dara
District was attacked by an IED, had to seek medical treatment in
India and has just recently returned. In addition, the technical
level of attacks has increased, with the recent introduction of
jammer-proof IEDs to the province. Provincial officials have
responded to the increased disruption in Chahar Dara by dispatching
50 extra ANP, NDS and ANA personnel to the district to supplement
existing ANSF forces.

6. (SBU) The picture, however, is not entirely bleak. While the ANA
and ANP personnel changes were disruptive, the new ANA Commander and
ANP Chief have made a positive impression. The ANP's General
Rizzaq, for example, has worked closely with the U.S. Army CSTC-A
Police Mentoring Team to train a Quick Reaction Force of up to 50
officers who will be able to conduct operations throughout the
district. Baghlan Province is now also considering a similar,
though shorter, training program. Chahar Dara and Imam Sahib
Districts are now also completing their Focused District Development
KABUL 00003025 002 OF 002
training cycle, with Khanabad District the next to be trained. This
program has brought about a noticeable increase in morale and
effectiveness. Most importantly, there are signs the general public
does not want to move down the road to insurgency, despite ongoing
insurgent intimidation campaigns. A recent suicide plot directed
against ISAF forces unraveled when villagers in Khanabad District
overpowered the handler, who is now in NDS custody. The suicide
attacker himself exploded on his motorbike far from his potential
victims (SEPTEL).

7. (SBU) Local officials remain frustrated by the lack of resources
and the belief the Taliban are now targeting Kunduz Province for
destabilization on a priority basis. Governor Omar has expressed
disappointment with German tactics, as IED and suicide incidents
increase and joint security activities yield few results. He
believes the German forces are too conservative in their methods and
when the PRT acts, it is only with large numbers after days of
preparation, allowing insurgent forces plenty of time to vacate an
area. Omar has repeatedly expressed the need to set up a
multi-lateral quick reaction force to quickly act upon intelligence.
NDS Chief Majid, for his part, lays blame with the judicial system
and has ready anecdotes of arrested insurgents being subsequently
released due to corrupt and frightened officials. Governor Omar
recently traveled to Kabul to lobby for additional reserve
policemen, funding to reinstate the ANP protection unit and an ANA
Kandak devoted to Kunduz Province alone.

8. (SBU) While in Kabul, Governor Omar also met on November 16 with
the Ambassador to reiterate his concerns. He said the Taliban has
decided to target his province because it previously was one of its
military and political bases, many TB supporters had escaped
following the Taliban's fall and those people continued to provide
backing. He also cited poverty as a factor influencing some popular
attitudes. Omar indicated that while in Kabul he was approaching
both MOI and NDS to request help. The Ambassador said he would
speak to Minister of Interior Atmar regarding the law enforcement
presence in Kunduz but would of course support the Minister's
decisions.

9. COMMENT: Although one of the longest serving governors in
Afghanistan, Omar faces these worsening security challenges at a
time when he is widely perceived as weak and increasingly
disconnected. Omar's frustration ultimately lies in his inability
to respond effectively to escalating security concerns with his
limited resources. Lack of ANSF manpower, the drying up of
actionable intelligence due to insurgent intimidation, the continued
power wielded by local strongmen and a weak government
infrastructure all contribute to his security problems. This year's
opening of Kunduz's Joint Provincial Coordination Center, CSTC-A and
EUPOL mentoring of ANP forces and continuing joint-action exercises
and operations with the German PRT have all worked to raise the
level of ANSF operational effectiveness. Without the resources to
build on these successes, however, Omar will continue to feel hemmed
in and his position remains unstable.
WOOD

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