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Cablegate: Arf Disaster Relief Exercise Guidance and Action

VZCZCXRO5111
OO RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHC #2937/01 3242033
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 192026Z NOV 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA IMMEDIATE 8703
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON IMMEDIATE 7746
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 STATE 122937

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL EAID MARR MOPS ASEAN ARF RP
SUBJECT: ARF DISASTER RELIEF EXERCISE GUIDANCE AND ACTION
REQUESTS

REF: A. STATE 112442 B. STATE 106079


1. (U) This is an ACTION REQUEST for Embassies BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN,
BANGKOK, BEIJING, CANBERRA, COLOMBO, DHAKA, DILI, HANOI, ISLAMABAD,
JAKARTA, KUALA LUMPUR, MOSCOW, NEW DELHI, OTTAWA, PHNOM PENH, PORT
MORESBY, SEOUL, SINGAPORE, TOKYO, ULAANBAATAR, USEU BRUSSELS,
VIENTIANE, and WELLINGTON. Embassies MANILA and RANGOON are info.
Please slug for POL and relevant Department of Defense and USAID
offices in embassies.

SUMMARY
-------

2. (SBU) In order to advance a number of regional security objectives
in East Asia, the United States is closely supporting the Philippines
in its role as host of the first ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Disaster
Relief Exercise, set to take place May 4-8, 2009 in the Philippines.
All 27 ARF members will be invited to participate in the exercise,
termed a Voluntary Demonstration of Response (VDR). Initially and up
through the May 2009 exercise, embassies are asked to engage in a
sustained effort with host government officials to ensure strong and
appropriate participation. (Note: The Philippines has distributed a
list of civil-military capabilities requested from ARF governments.)
At post's discretion or if requested per para 4, posts should
approach host governments at a senior level regarding their
participation. Background on U.S. strategic objectives, the exercise
concept, timeline, funding assistance and human rights vetting issues
are outlined below. END SUMMARY.

OBJECTIVES
----------

3. (SBU) The Department requests the embassies in para 1 to pursue
the following objectives. Please complete these actions by December
2 in order to support VDR timelines and the success of the activity:

--Identify and report on a working-level POC at post to coordinate
embassy engagement with host governments on their participation in
the VDR and associated planning meetings through May 2009.

--Contact the local Philippines embassy in the host country
(ULAANBAATAR excepted) to gain insight into their own bilateral
discussions with host governments regarding the Philippines-issued
invitations to the VDR. If feasible, posts are encouraged to
coordinate future host government interactions on the VDR with
Philippines' embassy officials.

--Inquire with appropriate host government officials about their
government's notional level and type of participation in the VDR and
express USG support for host government participation.

--Inform appropriate host government officials that U.S. and
Philippines' VDR exercise planners will be available to further
discuss the VDR and ARF members' participation at the upcoming
December 4-6 ARF Inter-Sessional Meeting (ISM) on Disaster Relief in
Banda Aceh, Indonesia.

--Inform host government officials from eligible developing countries
that funding requests, if requested by the embassy and host
government officials, for participating civil and military agencies
may be available in accordance with the procedures explained in para
11.

--(If Asked) Inform host governments that Leahy Vetting is not
required by the USG for VDR participants. (see para 12 for details).

--(For TOKYO and CANBERRA only) Request that host governments
identify any potential funding assistance they may offer to
developing countries as discussed in the Trilateral Strategic
Dialogue (see para 14).

4. (SBU) The Department requests embassies in para 1 to pursue the
following objectives by December 31 and, if necessary, beyond this
date:

--Maintain active engagement with host government interagency in
order to maximize prospects for their participation in and knowledge
about the VDR.

--Work with host government officials to identify specific niche,
civil-military capabilities host governments wish to offer as their

STATE 00122937 002 OF 003


contribution to the VDR and which they would discuss at the January
19-23 ARF Multinational VDR Planning Conference in Manila.

--(BANGKOK, BEIJING, CANBERRA, NEW DELHI, TOKYO, SEOUL, and SINGAPORE
only) Encourage, at a senior level, strong host government
civil-military participation in the VDR given their experience and
capacity as major assisting nations in regional humanitarian relief
operations.

REPORTING DEADLINE, POC, and BACKGROUND DOCUMENTS
--------------------------------------------- ----

5. (U) Posts are requested to report back on initial actions taken by
December 2 and subsequently as necessary throughout the exercise
planning process. POCs for any questions, additional background are:

--State EAP/RSP Kevin Sheives (sheiveskw@state.gov, 202-647-1217)
--PACOM J71 Steve Mellinger (steve.mellinger@pacom.mil, 808-477-8238)
--USAID/OFDA Jeff Hensel (jeff.hensel@ofda.gov, 808-477-9641)

6. (SBU) Copies of the exercise supporting documents with further
background have been distributed by State Department country desks.
They can also be accessed via the State Department Intranet website:
http://eap.state.gov/EAPOffices/RSP/ARF.cfm. These documents for
embassy background only include:
--a brief for USG interagency officials only,
--list of ARF meeting participants that received an October 9, 2008
brief on the exercise
--the October 9, 2008 brief on the exercise given to all countries in
ARF
--a copy of the official Philippines-issued invitation and
information paper


BACKGROUND
----------

7. (SBU) STRATEGIC U.S. OBJECTIVES: As a co-sponsor for the VDR, the
U.S. hopes to accomplish a variety of regional security objectives
through this exercise and the broad participation of ARF members.
These strategic objectives are to:

--Provide a major deliverable for strengthening ARF to become a more
relevant, credible, and action-oriented institution.

--Build regional and Philippines' humanitarian assistance capacity
and civil-military interoperability for major, multinational relief
operations.

--Highlight major power military cooperation in Southeast Asia to
dampen the perception of a zero-sum competition for influence in the
region.

--Provide actual care to local populations in the Philippines either
affected by a recent disaster or in underdeveloped areas.

8. (U) EXERCISE CONCEPT: Following remarks by Secretary Rice and
Philippines Foreign Secretary Romulo at the July 24, 2008 ARF
Ministerial, ARF Foreign Ministers agreed to conduct an ARF
multinational disaster relief exercise, termed Voluntary
Demonstration of Response (VDR). As host nation, the Philippines in
mid-November, 2008 sent invitations to the remaining 26 members of
ARF. Through USPACOM, OFDA, and State Department, the United States
is heavily supporting the Philippines and ARF in the VDR's conceptual
development, planning, funding, and execution. In coordination with
the Philippines as host nation, participating countries will provide
niche, civil-military capabilities to deploy during the May 4-8
exercise in response to the natural disaster scenario in Central
Luzon described by the supporting exercise documents (see para 6).
ARF countries should try to identify which specific capabilities they
may be able to deploy for the VDR. For some ARF countries, observer
status may correspond to their level of interest or capacity.

9. (U) EMBASSY ROLES: As laid out in the Philippines-issued
invitations, the specific capabilities that each ARF nation provides
will be approved and de-conflicted bilaterally between each
participating nation and the Philippines in advance of and during the
VDR planning conferences. Identification by host governments of
specific capabilities prior to the January 19-23 multinational
planning conference will be critical to the success of the process,
including de-conflicting those capabilities with those offered by
other participants. The identification of planning requirements and
the availability of these capabilities may be difficult for some
countries. Embassies are requested to assist host governments in
identifying these requirements and facilitate host government
participation in the VDR.


STATE 00122937 003 OF 003


10. (U) VDR TIMELINE:
--October 9, 2008: All ARF countries received a briefing by the
Philippines on major exercise details during an ARF Inter-Sessional
Group Meeting (ref A). (Note: List of meeting participants and
sample brief found via para 6.)
--Mid-November, 2008: Through diplomatic correspondence, the
Philippines invited all 27 ARF members to the VDR and associated
planning meetings.
--December 5-6, 2008: U.S. and Philippines exercise planners will be
available on the margins of the ARF Inter-Sessional Meeting (ISM) on
Disaster Relief in Banda Aceh, Indonesia to answer questions and
discuss ARF nations' participation.
--January 19-28, 2009: Multinational Initial Planning Conference
(Manila) and Initial Site Survey (Central Luzon).
--March 9-18, 2009: Multinational Final Planning Conference (Manila)
and Final Site Survey (Central Luzon)
--May 4-8, 2009: Multinational ARF VDR Exercise (Central Luzon).

11. (SBU) FUNDING PROCESS: The exercise will be self-funded by each
participating country. USPACOM has requested Combatant Commander
Initiative Funds (CCIF) (under $1 million) which could cover military
assistance for Title Ten-eligible developing countries participating
in the VDR. In addition, State EAP has set aside limited funds
(roughly $50k of Economic Support Funds (ESF)) for assistance for
civilian participation from ESF-eligible developing countries (Note:
Please contact EAP/RSP POC if you have questions regarding the
eligibility of your countries). If host governments would like to
request CCIF or ESF funding, they need to inform USEMB staff
(Political and military assistance sections) of their request and
expected needs. For funding and travel assistance for their
participation in the (what do we mean by required? January and March
planning conferences (which participants are expected to attend),
USEMB staff should inform the para 5 POCs by December 19, 2008 of the
request. For funding and travel assistance for the May 4-8, 2009 VDR
exercise itself, USEMB staff should inform the para 5 POCs by
February 27, 2009. (Note: The United States is also discussing with
Japan and Australia their possible funding assistance to developing
countries. See para 14)

12. (U) VETTING: Security force participants in the various VDR
planning and exercise activities do not need to be vetted under
applicable DOD or State Leahy vetting requirements. The VDR and
planning meetings leading up to it are multilateral exercise
activities rather than training events. As the VDR is a multilateral
exercise and not training, military participants (self-funded or
funded through CCIF) do not require vetting under DoD Leahy
requirements, and do not trigger State Leahy vetting requirements.
State ESF funds will not be used to support either military or law
enforcement participants and thus participants who benefit from State
funding do not fall under applicable vetting requirements for the use
of foreign assistance funds.

13. (SBU) LEGAL AND POLICY ISSUES: The Philippines, as host, has
issued invitations to Burma and DPRK as they did to other ARF
countries. These countries will work out their participation
bilaterally with the Philippines. The Philippine government is aware
of U.S. policy concerns regarding the participation of Burma and the
DPRK. We expect that Burma and DPRK, if they choose to participate,
will join the exercise as observers. In addition, the U.S. has legal
concerns in regards to China's military participation. The United
States will work bilaterally with China to ensure the military
capabilities provided by China are consistent with Department of
Defense policy.

14. (U) (TOKYO and CANBERRA only): Through the Trilateral Strategic
Dialogue (TSD), the United States has encouraged both Japan and
Australia to offer a robust contribution to the ARF exercise to
enable their participation in the exercise. We hope Australia and
Japan would be able to determine potential funding assistance by
mid-December (ref B). If Australia and Japan are able to provide
assistance, the United States will refer funding requests to them as
needs are made known to U.S. embassies. We would then ask Japan or
Australia to coordinate bilaterally with the requesting countries.

15. (U) Department greatly appreciates posts' assistance in this
matter.
RICE

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