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Cablegate: After Action Meeting with Ministry of Defense And

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

030833Z Nov 05

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HANOI 002918

SIPDIS

UNCLASSIFIED U-290-05

SIPDIS

TAGS: VM
SUBJECT: AFTER ACTION MEETING WITH MINISTRY OF DEFENSE AND
VIETNAM VETREANS OF AMERICA FOUNDATION'S PARTNERSHIP.


PASS: PM/WRA PLEASE PASS TO MR. ED TRIMAKAS (U)

1. SUMMARY: ON 14 OCTOBER 2005, THE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE
(MOD) OF THE SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM (SRV) CONDUCTED
AN AFTER-ACTION MEETING TO REVIEW THE RESULTS OF PHASE ONE
OF THE LEVEL ONE LANDMINE AND UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE (UXO)
IMPACT ASSESSMENT AND TECHNICAL SURVEY CONDUCTED IN
PARTNERSHIP WITH THE VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA FOUNDATION
(VVAF) FROM MAY TO NOVEMBER 2004. THIS ASSESSMENT, AND
ASSOCIATED CLEARANCE EFFORTS, WERE SPONSORED BY THE U.S.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE'S OFFICE OF WEAPONS REMOVAL AND
ABATEMENT. THIS AFTER ACTION MEETNG WAS CONDUCTED FOR THE
BENEFIT OF THE DONOR, AS WELL AS TO INTRODUCE OTHER
CONCERNED ORGANIZATIONS, BOTH GOVERNMENTAL AND NON-
GOVERNMENTAL, TO THE RESULTS OF THIS PROJECT. DEPUTY CHIEF
OF MISSION AND MARINE AND NAVAL ATTACHE REPRESENTED THE
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT IN THIS MEETING.

2. ON 14 OCTOBER, THE MOD OF THE GOVERNMENT OF VIETNAM
(GVN) CONDUCTED AN AFTER ACTION REVIEW OF PHASE ONE OF A
LEVEL ONE LANDMINE AND UXO IMPACT ASSESSMENT AND TECHNICAL
SURVEY CONDUCTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH VVAF. THIS PROJECT WAS
THE PILOT PHASE OF AN INTENDED MULTI-PHASE EFFORT DESIGNED
TO PRODUCE A NATION-WIDE IMPACT ASSESSMENT OF ALL SIXTY-
FOUR PROVINCES OF VIETNAM. ADDITIONALLY, A TECHNICAL
SURVEY WAS CONCURRENTLY CONDUCTED TO CLEAR HIGH-PRIORITY
UXO/LANDMINE CONTAMINATION PRESENTING AN IMMEDIATE DANGER.
FOR THE PILOT PHASE, THE ASSESSMENT AND SURVEY FOCUSED ALL
ACTIVITIES ON THE THREE MOST-HIGHLY CONTAMINATED PROVINCES
OF QUANG TRI, QUANG BINH, AND HA TINH. APPROXIMATELY SIXTY
PERSONS WERE IN ATTENDENCE AT THIS MEETING, INCLUDING
REPRESENTATIVES OF SEVERAL FOREIGN EMBASSIES IN HANOI, NON-
GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS, VIETNAMESE GOVERNMENT
MINISTRIES, AND NUMEROUS MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS. THE HIGHEST
RANKING GVN REPRESENTATIVES IN ATTENDENCE WERE SRCOL HOANG
KIEN, COMMANDING OFFICER OF THE MOD'S ENGINEERING COMMAND,
AND MR. PHAM VAN QUE, DEPUTY DIRECTOR THE AMERICA'S
DEPARTMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

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3. PHASE ONE SURVEY BACKGROUND: DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN THE
U.S. GOVERNMENT (USG) AND THE GVN CONCERNING THIS PROJECT
BEGAN IN 2001. A PARTNERSHIP ACCORD BETWEEN VVAF AND THE
GVN'S IMPLEMENTING PARTNER (MOD) WAS SIGNED IN JANUARY
2002, BUT A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING (MOU) WAS NOT
SIGNED UNTIL JANUARY 2003 FOLLOWING THE EXCHANGE OF 35
DRAFTS. VIETNAM'S PRIME MINISTER PHAM VAN KHAI SIGNED A
PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION PLAN IN FEBRUARY 2004, AUTHORIZING
THE EXECUTION OF THE PROJECT. EXTENSIVE DELAYS IN PRODUCING
THESE DOCUMENTS CAUSED SIGNIFICANT COST OVERRUNS AND
NECESSITATED ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR VVAF IN FY05
(APPROXIMATELY $200 K). SURVEY TEAM TRAINING AND FINAL
COORDINATION TOOK PLACE BETWEEN MARCH AND MAY OF 2004.

4. PHASE ONE SURVEY EXECUTION: THE PILOT ASSESSMENT AND
SURVEY OF THE THREE PROVINCES BEGAN IN MAY 2004 AND WAS
CONCLUDED IN NOVEMBER 2004. DURING THE PILOT SURVEY, MORE
THAN 5,000 PEOPLE WERE INTERVIEWED (IN 344 OUT OF 558
COMMUNES IN THE THREE PROVINCES). MORE THAN 421 HECTARES
OF LAND WERE CLEARED, AND MORE THAN 6,000 PIECES OF
ORDNANCE AND RELATED MATERIAL WERE CLEARED AND DESTROYED BY
TEAMS FROM THE MOD'S TECHNOLOGY CENTER FOR BOMB AND MINE
DISPOSAL (BOMICEN).

5. DATA ENTRY INTO THE INFORMATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR
MINE ACTION (IMSMA) DATABASE WAS CARRIED OUT IN DECEMBER
2004, AND FROM JANUARY UNTIL OCTOBER 2005, VVAF AND MOD
COORDINATED THE ANALYSIS OF THE DATA, AS WELL AS THE
CONTENT AND FORMAT OF THE FINAL REPORT. THIS WAS A PERIOD
OF CONTENTION BETWEEN THE PARTNERS LARGELY DUE TO DIFFERING
IDEAS ABOUT THE NATURE OF THE REPORT, THE INTENDED USERS OF
THE DATA, AND THE RELATIVE SENSITIVITY OF THAT DATA WITH
RESPECT TO NATIONAL SECURITY. CONSEQUENTLY, THE DATE FOR
THIS MEETING WAS REPEATEDLY ADJUSTED FROM AN INITIAL DATE
SET FOR MID-JULY. THE MEETING WAS FINALLY CONDUCTED ONCE
ALL OF THE OUTSTANDING DISAGREEMENTS HAD BEEN RESOLVED TO
VARYING DEGREES OF SATISFACTION BY THE PARTNERS.

6. THE PHASE ONE AFTER ACTION MEETING WAS CONDUCTED IN LESS
THAN TWO HOURS. FOLLOWING INTRODUCTIONS, THE COMMANDING
OFFICER OF BOMICEN, SENIOR COLONEL (SRCOL) NGUYEN TRONG
CANH PROVIDED A POWERPOINT BRIEFING, DESCRIBING THE DESIGN,
EXECUTION AND RESULTS OF THE PILOT PROJECT. HIS BRIEFING
INCLUDED A HANDFUL OF RECOMMENDATIONS TO BE DISCUSSED
FURTHER FOR POSSIBLE IMPLEMENTATION DURING PHASE TWO OF THE
PROJECT. HE CONCLUDED HIS PRESENTATION BY STATING THAT THE
PROJECT DATA COULD BE MADE AVAILABLE TO STAKEHOLDER'S AND
DONORS FOLLOWING SUBMISSION OF A VALIDATED REQUEST.

7. SRCOL CANH'S BRIEFING WAS FOLLOWED BY COMMENTS BY SRCOL
KIEN, THE COMMANDING OFFICER OF MOD'S ENGINEERING COMMAND,
THE PARENT ORGANIZATION OF BOMICEN. SRCOL KIEN'S COMMENTS
HIGHLIGHTED THE PROBLEM OF UXO/LANDMINE CONTAMINATION IN
VIETNAM AND THE ENORMITY OF THE FINANCIAL COMMITMENT THAT
WOULD BE REQUIRED TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM. HE SUGGESTED THAT
IT WOULD TAKE QUOTE 12 BILLION U.S. DOLLARS UNQUOTE TO
ADEQUATELY ADDRESS THE PROBLEM, AND HE URGED CONTINUED U.S.
FINANCIAL SUPPORT.

8. SRCOL KIEN'S COMMENTS WERE FOLLOWED BY EMBASSY DEPUTY
CHIEF OF MISSION (DCM), WHO REAFFIRMED THE USG'S COMMITMENT
TO PHASE II OF THIS PROJECT. STATING THE NECESSITY OF A
NATIONAL MINE ACTION STRATEGY FOR VIETNAM, THE DCM OPINED
THAT THIS SURVEY WAS AN ESSENTIAL FIRST STEP TOWARDS
ACHIEVING THAT END.

9. THE DIRECTOR OF VVAF'S INFORMATION MANAGEMENT AND MINE
ACTION PROGRAMS (IMMAP) WAS THE FINAL SPEAKER. HE BRIEFLY
HIGHLIGHTED THE UNIQUENESS OF THE WORKING RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN VVAF AND THE VIETNAMESE MOD, BEFORE DELVING INTO A
SUBSTANTATIVE ENUMERATION OF MANY OF THE LESSONS LEARNED
FROM THE PILOT PROJECT, MANY OF WHICH BUTTRESS ARGUMENTS
CALLING FOR A MORE-DETAILED PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION PLAN
PRIOR TO PROCEEDING ONTO PHASE II. HE ALSO SUGGESTED THAT
THE GOAL SHOULD NOT BE TO MAKE VIETNAM UXO/LANDMINE
CONTAMINATION FREE, BUT RATHER TO MAKE VIETNAM IMPACT FREE
FROM SUCH CONTAMINATION.

10. ACCORDING TO THE PUBLISHED AGENDA, THIS MEETING WAS
SUPPOSED TO HAVE ENDED WITH A PERIOD OF QUESTIONS AND
ANSWERS OPEN TO ALL ATTENDEES. HOWEVER, FOLLOWING THE VVAF
REPRESENTATIVE'S COMMENTS, A BOMICEN REPRESENATIVE
INDICATED THAT THE MEETING WAS OVER. HE DIRECTED THE
ATTENDEES TO ADJOURN TO THE CORRIDOR OUTSIDE OF THE MEETING
ROOM, WHERE FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS COULD BE DISCUSSED OVER
LIGHT REFRESHMENTS. UPON QUESTIONING, SRCOL KIEN INDICATED
THAT BOMICEN HAD BEEN CONFUSED BECAUSE THE QUESTION AND
ANSWER SESSION HAD NOT BEEN LISTED ON THEIR VERSION OF THE
AGENDA.

11. AS REGARDS PHASE II, VVAF HAVE PROPOSED TO WORK AGAIN
WITH THE MOD UNDER A NEW AGREEMENT TO CONDUCT A FOLLOW-ON
UXO/LANDMINE IMPACT SURVEY OF THE REMAINING SIXTY-ONE
PROVINCES IN VIETNAM. THEIR ESTIMATED COST OF THIS PROJECT
IS $6.3 MILLION FOR THE SURVEY OVER A PERIOD OF THREE
YEARS. VVAF AND MOD WOULD ALSO LIKE TO ADD A MORE
SUBSTANTIAL TECHNICAL RESPONSE CAPABILITY TO THE SURVEY
TEAMS TO IMMEDIATELY DISPOSE OF CRITICAL LANDMINE/UXO ITEMS
FOUND DURING THE SURVEY. VVAF ESTIMATES THAT TECHNICAL
RESPONSE CAPABILITY OF TWENTY TEAMS WOULD ADD APPROXIMATELY
$2.8 MILLION OVER THE SAME THREE-YEAR PERIOD. RECENT USDAO
HANOI DISCUSSIONS WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF THE AUSTRALIAN
AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (AUSAID) INDICATE AN
INTEREST IN SUPPLEMENTING U.S. SPONSORSHIP OF PHASE II IN
THE AREA OF CLEARANCE.

12. COMMENTS: THE AFTER-ACTION MEETING WAS LESS
COMPREHENSIVE THAN SUGGESTED BY ORGANIZERS. IT WAS A
POSITIVE MILESTONE IN THE PROCESS OF DEALING WITH VIETNAM'S
UXO HOWEVER, IF FAILED TO RESOLVE LINGERING CONCERNS BY
MANY PARTIES ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT OF VEITNAM'S COMMITMENT
FOR PHASE ONE.

13. LESSONS FROM PHASE I INDICATE THAT THE GVN HAS NOT YET
FULLY SUBSCRIBED TO THE LEVEL OF MINISTERIAL INTEGRATION
NECESSARY TO DEVELOP AND EXECUTE A SURVEY OF THE MAGNITUDE
OF PHASE II WITHOUT A PROLONGED PERIOD OF NEGOTIATIONS. A
PERIOD OF NEGOTIATIONS THAT EXTENDS BEYOND THE TIME FRAME
ENVISIONED BY VVAF'S OPTIMISTIC SCHEDULE IS LIKELY TO
RESULT IN COST OVERRUNS THAT MAY JEOPARDIZE THE LONG-TERM
SUSTAINABILITY OF THIS PROJECT, AND SIMULTANEOUSLY DENY
MUCH-NEEDED FUNDING TO OTHER WORTHY PROJECTS.

14. THE CHIEF OF MISSION'S FY06 COUNTRY PLAN RECOMMENDED
THAT YEAR ONE FUNDING FOR THE EXECUTION OF PHASE II OF THE
LANDMINE IMPACT ASSESSMENT AND TECHNICAL SURVEY PROJECT
($3,036,798) BE MADE CONTINGENT UPON SATISFACTION OF A FIRM
TIMETABLE FOR COMPLETING NEGOTIATIONS LEADING TO THE
ISSUANCE OF A GVN APPROVED PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION PLAN AND
A LIST OF PROJECT DELIVERABLES. THE INABILITY OF THE
PROJECT PARTNERS TO SATISFY THIS TIMETABLE WOULD LIKELY
NECESSITATE A RE-EVALUATION OF THE FUTURE VIABILITY OF THIS
PROJECT.

15. IT WAS UNLIKELY THAT BOMICEN DID NOT HAVE THE QUESTION
AND ANSWER PERIOD LISTED ON THEIR SCHEDULE. THEIR RETICENCE
TO OPEN THE MEETING TO QUESTIONS PROBABLY INDICATES THAT
BOMICEN FELT UNPREPARED TO ANSWER DETAILED QUESTIONS ABOUT
THE DESIGN OF THE SURVEY OR ABOUT PLANS FOR SUBSEQUENT
PHASES OF THE EFFORT.

16. THE TIMIDITY OF BOMICEN TO ANSWER HARD QUESTIONS DURING
THIS MEETING AS WELL AS THEIR CONTINUED APPEAL TO QUESTIONS
OF NATIONAL SECURITY TO POSTPONE DIFFICULT DECISIONS MAY
NOT AUGUR WELL FOR ACHIEVING THE AMBITIOUS MILESTONES OF
PHASE II.

17. FINALLY, WHILE MOD LEADERSHIP CONTINUES VERBALLY TO
REAFFIRM THEIR BELIEF IN THE STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE OF THIS
PROJECT, MID-LEVEL LEADERS RESPONSIBLE FOR EXECUTING THE
GVN'S INCUMBENT RESPONSIBILITIES APPEAR DECIDELY LESS
ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT THE PROSPECTS FOR OR NECESSITY OF PHASE
II. THE RATE OF PROGRESS IN PLANNING FOR PHASE TWO BEARS
CLOSE WATCHING TO ENSURE THAT U.S. GRANT DOLLARS ARE BEING
WISELY DISPENSED COMMENSURATE WITH MILESTONES ACHIEVED.

18. THE MOD PRESENTATION AND ASSOCIATED VVAF SUPPORTING
DOCUMENTATION, AS WELL AS THE FINAL REPORT FOR PHASE I IS
AVAILABLE IN ELECTRONIC FORMAT AND CAN BE E-MAILED UPON
REQUEST.

19. POC FOR THIS MESSAGE IS MAJ ROBERT LUCIUS, USMC,
MARA/ALUSNA, 84-4-772-1500, EXT 2307, LUCIUSRE@STATE.GOV.

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