Cablegate: Sri Lanka and Ata Training: A Plea for It To

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

(U) Prior to his departure for R&R Ambassador Wills asked
that the following message be sent.


1. (U) I have recently heard that S/CT and DS/ATA no longer
consider Sri Lanka a priority country when determining which
countries should benifit from the Anti-Terrorism Assistance
(ATA) Training Program.

2. (U) I hope that this is not true. The ATA program has been
extremely effective in training SL forces and in extending
American influence as the GSL for 20 years has battled one of
the world's deadliest terrorist groups, the LTTE (an FTO
listed group).

3. (SBU) I have served in many countries where the ATA
program existed -- most recently as DCM in India where I
cancelled the program due to Indian abuse. I am cognizant of
the potential benifit ATA can yield to a country as well as
the program's potential to be misused.

4. (SBU) I think the case to continue ATA training in Sri
Lanka is strong. Sri Lanka consistently receives
compliments from ATA instructors and State Department escort
officers. Here, unlike what was the case in India, this
needed program is very much appreciated -- especially by the
current pro-US government. The program has had an impact.
Sri Lanka incorporates ATA curriculum into its police
training. It sends candidates who can directly benifit from
the training - not political cronies. Recent ATA graduates
include the Acting Inspector General of Police and likely
successor to the recently deceased IGP and many other
high-level police officials. The corresponding benifit to
the USG from ATA training is immense as competent, pro-US
officers take positions of responsibility in the effort
against terror. The ATA program review in 2001 found that
Sri Lanka was indeed using the training in an efficient and
productive manner.

5. (SBU) On the heels of the Sri Lankan Prime Minister's
meeting with President Bush and the recent visit of Deputy
Secretary Armitage to Sri Lanka, decreasing ATA's engagement

in this country would send the wrong message. At a time when
we are increasing assistance to Sri Lanka, a reduction or
elimination of one of our highest profile and most successful
programs, and in one of our highest priority areas, to wit
the fight against terror, causes me concern.

6. (U) I respectfully ask that S/CT and DS/ATA consider the
above when deciding which countries should benifit from ATA
training. In my view, Sri Lanka deserves this program. It's
a program which should be increased rather than reduced.

7. (U) Thank you very much, Ambassador E. Ashley Wills



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