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Cablegate: Funding for Phase Ii Vietnam Unexploded Ordnance

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 HANOI 003236

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR PM-WRA, EAP-BCLTV, AND S-GHD; OSD PASS TO DR.
STERN; SOLIC PASS TO COL JORDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AMGT EAID MARR MOPS PREF PREL KHDP VM MAS
SUBJECT: FUNDING FOR PHASE II VIETNAM UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE
AND LANDMINE IMPACT SURVEY

REF: A. (A) SECSTATE 00214260
B. (B) HANOI 2049

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. THE CURRENT ESTIMATED COST PROJECTION
FOR PHASE II OF THE UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE AND LANDMINE
IMPACT ASSESSMENT AND TECHNICAL SURVEY IS USD 9.2
MILLION OVER THREE YEARS, WHICH INCLUDES TWENTY
MILITARY CLEARANCE TEAMS. THIS TOTAL REPRESENTS A COST
EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVE TO OTHER PLANNED NGO-EXECUTED
CLEARANCE ACTIVITIES IN VIETNAM, INCLUDING THOSE
SPONSORED BY THE USG. MINE CLEARANCE CARRIED OUT BY
MILITARY DEMINERS AS PART OF PHASE I WAS SOME OF THE
MOST COST EFFECTIVE MINE CLEARANCE TO DATE IN VIETNAM
AT LESS THAN USD 2K PER HECTARE. THE TOTAL COST FOR
PHASE II CLEARANCE WILL LIKELY BE OFFSET BY OTHER
GOVERNMENT DONORS, SOME OF WHICH HAVE RECENTLY
EXPRESSED INTEREST IN JOINING THE PHASE II EFFORT. USG
LEADERSHIP IN HUMANITARIAN MINE ACTION IN VIETNAM IS A
CRITICAL ELEMENT OF THE OVERALL BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP.
PHASE II OF THIS PROJECT IS ALSO VIEWED AS AN IMPORTANT
INDICATOR OF USG COMMITTMENT IN THE WIDER FIELD OF
HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE. IN LIGHT OF THESE FACTORS,
POST BELIEVES FUNDING FOR PHASE II SHOULD BE CONTINUED
INCREMENTALLY AT A LEVEL THAT WILL ALLOW PLANNING TO BE
COMPLETED IN FY06 AND THE FIRST STAGE OF A MULTI-PHASE,
MULTI-YEAR EXECUTION TO BEGIN IN FY07. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) POST IS IN RECEIPT OF REF A OUTLINING A RECENT
PM/WRA DECISION TO TERMINATE FOLLOW-ON FUNDING FOR
PHASE II. START-UP FUNDING FOR PHASE II OF THIS
PROJECT WAS RECOMMENDED BY POST IN ITS INPUT FOR THE
FY06 DEMINING COUNTRY PLAN (REF B).

3. (SBU) PHASE I OF THIS PROJECT WAS COMPLETED ON 14
NOVEMBER 2005 WITH THE PUBLICATION AND RELEASE OF A
FINAL REPORT. THIS REPORT WAS THE CULMINATION OF NEARLY
FOUR YEARS OF INCREASINGLY CLOSE COOPERATION BETWEEN
THE VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA FOUNDATION (VVAF) AND
THE CENTER FOR BOMB AND MINE DISPOSAL TECHNOLOGY
(BOMICEN) OF VIETNAM'S MINISTRY OF DEFENSE. PHASE I
WAS CONDUCTED IN THE THREE CENTRAL VIETNAM PROVINCES OF
HA TINH, QUANG BINH AND QUANG TRI FROM MARCH 2004 UNTIL
MAY 2005. DURING THIS PERIOD, OVER 5,000 PEOPLE WERE
INTERVIEWED IN 344 COMMUNES, PRODUCING A DATA SET THAT
HAS BEEN INCORPORATED INTO AN INFORMATION MANAGEMENT
SYSTEM FOR MINE ACTION (IMSMA) DATABASE, ALONG WITH
PRE-EXISTENT ARCHIVAL DATA MADE AVAILABLE BY THE U.S.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. ANALYSIS OF THIS DATA HAS
ALREADY HELPED IDENTIFY AND RANK ORDER THE MOST
SIGNIFICANT CLEARANCE PROBLEMS IN THESE PROVINCES BASED
ON THE INJURY RATE AND THE RELATIVE DEGREE OF SOCIO-
ECONOMIC IMPACT.

4. (SBU) PARALLEL ACTIVITIES BY 17 BOMICEN TEAMS
SUCCESSFULLY CLEARED 421 HECTARES AT 2,761 SITES TO A
DEPTH OF ONE METER, REMOVING OVER 6,200 UXO-RELATED
ITEMS, INCLUDING FIVE LARGE (250-1000 LB) BOMBS, 1,283
BOMBLETS, 859 ARTILLERY OR MORTAR ROUNDS, 180 M79
SHELLS, 32 ANTI-PERSONNEL MINES, 24 HAND GRENADES AND
3,822 OTHER PIECES OF MISCELLANEOUS ORDNANCE. UXO
ITEMS DETECTED AT GREATER DEPTHS WERE MARKED AND
ASSIGNED TO LOCAL MILITARY OFFICES FOR SUBSEQUENT
CLEARANCE.

5. (SBU) THE FUNDAMENTAL PREMISE OF THIS PROJECT IS THE
RECOGNITION THAT IT IS NOT ECONOMICALLY FEASIBLE TO
CLEAR ALL 330,000 SQUARE KILOMETERS OF VIETNAM'S
TERRITORIAL LANDMASS, MUCH OF WHICH IS CONTAMINATED TO
SOME DEGREE BY EXPLOSIVE REMNANTS OF WAR (ERW).
CONSEQUENTLY, AN ASSESSMENT THAT MEASURES THE SOCIO-
ECONOMIC IMPACT OF PERSISTENT UXO/LANDMINE
CONTAMINATION IS INTENDED TO HELP PLANNERS DEVELOP A
STRATEGY FOR ALLOCATING SCARCE RESOURCES FOR
PRIORITIZED CLEARANCE, EDUCATION AND SURVIVOR
ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS.

6. (SBU) CURRENTLY, MINE CLEARANCE EFFORTS IN VIETNAM
UNDERTAKEN BY NGOS WITH INTERNATIONAL SPONSORSHIP ARE,
WITH FEW EXCEPTIONS, ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY FOCUSED ON THE
THREE CENTRAL VIETNAM PROVINCES SURVEYED IN PHASE I.
THE MAJORITY OF BOMICEN'S CLEARANCE ACTIVITIES ARE
CURRENTLY BEING CARRIED OUT IN SUPPORT OF LARGE-SCALE,
GOVERNMENT-DIRECTED INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
AT STATE-INVESTED INDUSTRIAL ZONES OR IN SUPPORT OF
INTERNATIONAL JOINT VENTURES. OTHER SMALL-SCALE AND
RELATIVELY LOW-ECONOMIC-IMPACT CLEARANCE REQUIREMENTS
ARE DIFFICULT TO SERVICE WITH AVAILABLE RESOURCES.
CLEARLY, DATA FROM A NATIONWIDE ASSESSMENT WOULD ASSIST
COMMUNITIES IN ALL 64 PROVINCES IN THE COMPETITION FOR
DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL MINE ACTION RESOURCES BASED
ON OBJECTIVELY DEMONSTRATED NEEDS.

7. (SBU) VIETNAM'S CURRENT LACK OF A NATIONAL MINE
ACTION STRATEGY REMAINS DISAPPOINTING AND INHIBITS
EFFICIENT RESOURCE ALLOCATION IN THIS AREA. PHASE II
WOULD PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE IN FACILITATING THE
DEVELOPMENT OF SUCH A STRATEGY BY PROVIDING THE BASIC
DATA NEEDED TO BEGIN TO PRIORITIZE THE GOVERNMENT'S
ACTIVITIES, WHILE IDENTIFYING WHERE NGOS CAN BE MOST
EFFECTIVE IN THEIR EFFORTS TO FILL THE RESOURCES GAP.
SECTION II (PARA 2.2) OF PART V (RECOMMENDATIONS AND
CONCLUSION) OF THE FINAL REPORT FOR PHASE I OUTLINES AN
INITIAL GOVERNMENT STRATEGY FOR CLEARING THE REMAINING
ERW FROM THESE THREE PROVINCES. THIS SHOULD BE TAKEN
AS AN ENCOURAGING STEP IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF A
COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY FOR THE ENTIRE COUNTRY.

8. (SBU) BEYOND THE IMMEDIATE PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS OF
TERMINATING USG SUPPORT FOR PHASE II, SUCH AN ACTION
ALSO HAS THE POTENTIAL TO HAVE DAMAGING EFFECTS ON THE
OVERALL BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP. PHASE I/II HAS ALREADY
TAKEN ON THE PATINA OF A FLAGSHIP PROGRAM BETWEEN THE
USG AND THE GOVERNMENT OF VIETNAM IN AN AREA THAT
REMAINS HIGHLY VISIBLE AND EMOTIVE. THE IMPORTANCE OF
BILATERAL COOPERATION ON PHASE I HAS BEEN REPEATEDLY
AFFIRMED DURING DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN SENIOR U.S. AND
VIETNAMESE LEADERS. THE VALUE OF A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN
AN AMERICAN NGO AND VIETNAM'S MILITARY, WHICH HAS
TRADITIONALLY BEEN CONSERVATIVE AND INWARD-LOOKING,
SHOULD NOT BE PREMATURELY DISMISSED. CONTINUED CONTACT
NOT ONLY WITH NATIONAL LEVEL MILITARY AGENCIES (I.E.,
ENGINEERING COMMAND AND BOMICEN), BUT ALSO AT THE
PROVINCIAL AND DISTRICT LEVEL THROUGH COORDINATION WITH
LOCAL MILITARY DEMINING UNITS, IS GOOD FOR THE OVERALL
RELATIONSHIP AND FOR ENCOURAGING MILITARY INTERACTION
WITH OTHER CIVILIAN ORGANIZATIONS. IN FACT, MOD
REPRESENTATIVES FOR THE FIRST TIME RECENTLY ATTENDED A
LANDMINE WORKING GROUP PROJECT REVIEW CONFERENCE, HELD
IN HUE ON 2 DECEMBER 2005 BY VARIOUS NON-GOVERNMENTAL
ORGANIZATIONS WORKING IN THE FIELD OF MINE ACTION.

9. (SBU) REF A NOTED A FIGURE OF APPROXIMATELY USD 13
MILLION OVER THREE TO FOUR YEARS TO COMPLETE PHASE II.
BASED ON BEST AVAILABLE DATA, POST BELIEVES THIS FIGURE
IS OVERSTATED. VVAF ESTIMATES THE COST OF PHASE II TO
BE $6.36 MILLION OVER THREE YEARS, WITH AN ADDITIONAL
$2.83 MILLION TO EQUIP AND DEPLOY 20 RESPONSE TEAMS TO
CONDUCT TECHNICAL VERIFICATION AND HIGH-PRIORITY
CLEARANCE. WHILE LESSONS FROM THE PHASE I EXPERIENCE,
ESPECIALLY FROM THE PLANNING PERIOD, INDICATE THE
POTENTIAL FOR COST OVERRUNS DUE TO EXTENDED AND LENGTHY
NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN THE IMPLEMENTING PARTNERS, THE
RELATIONSHIP THAT HAS DEVELOPED BETWEEN VVAF AND
BOMICEN PERSONNEL OVER THE LAST FOUR YEARS MITIGATES
AGAINST THIS. EARLY INDICATIONS FROM PHASE II PLANNING
MEETINGS SUGGEST THAT THE PLANNING PERIOD FOR THE
FOLLOW-ON EFFORT WILL BE FACILITATED BY SHARED PAST
EXPERIENCES AND LESSONS LEARNED. MANY SUBSTANTIVE
ISSUES HAVE ALREADY BEEN RESOLVED.

10. (SBU) THE LEARNING CURVE FOR THE VIETNAMESE
MILITARY DURING PHASE I, BOTH INSTITUTIONALLY AND AT
THE INDIVIDUAL LEVEL, WAS STEEP, BUT POST BELIEVES THAT
MOD IS NOW WILLING TO MOVE FORWARD AT A QUICKER PACE IN
PLANNING AND EXECUTING PHASE II. WHILE IT IS PREMATURE
TO SUGGEST THAT BOTH PARTNERS SHARE A UNIFIED VISION ON
HOW TO PROCEED IN PHASE II, IT IS CLEAR THAT THEY ARE
MORE COMFORTABLE WORKING WITH EACH OTHER AND ARE
CAPABLE OF ARRIVING AT COMPROMISE SOLUTIONS THAT
SATISFY THE OBJECTIVES OF THE PROJECT WHILE
CONCURRENTLY SAFEGUARDING VIETNAM'S VALID STATE
SECURITY INTERESTS.

11. (SBU) REF A ALSO SUGGESTED THAT THE PROJECTED COST
FOR PHASE II OUTWEIGHS THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS. POST
DISAGREES. WHILE IT IS DIFFICULT TO QUANTIFY THE LONG-
TERM BENEFITS OF A STUDY OF THIS NATURE, IT IS CLEAR
THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF VIETNAM NEEDS A NATIONAL
STRATEGY TO DEAL WITH THE VERY REAL PROBLEM OF ERW.
DOMESTIC RESOURCES AND INTERNATIONAL DONATIONS OF MONEY
AND EQUIPMENT TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM ARE BOTH
CURRENTLY INADEQUATE. A NATIONAL ASSESSMENT OF THIS
TYPE WILL NOT ONLY FACILITATE ALLOCATION OF CURRENT
RESOURCES, BUT WILL ALSO ALLOW BOTH NATIONAL AND LOCAL
AUTHORITIES TO IDENTIFY AND JUSTIFY REQUESTS FOR
FURTHER AID. IT WILL ALSO PROVIDE THE ONLY OBJECTIVE
EVALUATION OF VIETNAM'S OVERALL PROGRESS IN DEALING
WITH THE PROBLEM OF ERW. ALREADY, OTHER INTERNATIONAL
ORGANIZATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS HAVE EXPRESSED AN
INTEREST IN RECEIVING THE DATA FROM PHASE I IN ORDER TO
STUDY THE POSSIBILITY FOR FUTURE PROJECTS IN VIETNAM.
IN ADDITION TO VARIOUS AGENCIES OF THE GOVERNMENT OF
VIETNAM, COPIES OF THE FINAL REPORT HAVE BEEN
DISTRIBUTED TO 17 EMBASSIES, 25 NGOS, VARIOUS UNITED
NATIONS OFFICES IN HANOI AND SEVERAL BUSINESSES,
INCLUDING SHELL, SIEMENS AND BHP BILLITON, LTD. SINCE
A PRESENTATION OF PHASE I RESULTS AT THE RECENT
LANDMINE WORKING GROUP PROJECT REVIEW CONFERENCE,
SEVERAL OTHER NGOS WORKING IN VIETNAM HAVE OFFERED UP
THEIR OWN DATA FOR INCLUSION IN THE IMSMA DATABASE.

12. (SBU) CONTINUED SUPPORT FOR BOMICEN'S EFFORTS TO
UNDERTAKE TECHNICAL CLEARANCE ALONGSIDE THE SURVEY
TEAMS PROVIDES A VERY COST EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVE TO NGO
CLEARANCE OPERATIONS. AS NOTED ABOVE, 17 MILITARY
DEMINING TEAMS DEDICATED TO THE PHASE I EFFORT CLEARED
421 HECTARES DOWN TO A DEPTH OF ONE METER. THE COST
FOR THIS EFFORT WAS APPROXIMATELY USD 800,000. PHASE
II PROPOSES TO EQUIP AND EMPLOY TWENTY TECHNICAL
RESPONSE TEAMS AT A COST OF APPROXIMATELY USD 950,000
PER YEAR. THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT HAS ALREADY
INDICATED AN INTEREST IN EXPANDING THE CLEARANCE
CAPACITY ASSOCIATED WITH PHASE II BY FUNDING ADDITIONAL
TEAMS.

13. (USD) BY WAY OF COMPARISON, IN FY06, MAG-AMERICA
HAS PROPOSED TO USE FOUR TEAMS TO CLEAR 20 HECTARES IN
QUANG BINH PROVINCE AT A COST OF USD 1.5 MILLION OVER
12 MONTHS, AND 30 HECTARES IN PHU THO PROVINCE AT A
COST OF USD 1.8 MILLION OVER A PERIOD OF 15 MONTHS
USING AN ADDITIONAL FOUR TEAMS. WHILE THE TECHNICAL
STANDARDS EMPLOYED AND QUALITY OF THE RESULTS ACHIEVED
MAY VARY SOMEWHAT BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND NGO DEMINING
PERSONNEL, POST BELIEVES IT IS ALMOST ALWAYS PREFERABLE
TO EQUIP AND TRAIN GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL BECAUSE THEY
ARE MORE OPERATIONALLY FLEXIBLE, MORE MOBILE AND HAVE A
MORE ROBUST NETWORK TO PROVIDE THE FULL SPECTRUM OF
REQUIRED MEDICAL, LOGISTIC AND ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT.
IT ALSO SUPPORTS THE USG OBJECTIVE OF EXPANDING
NATIONAL CAPACITY.

14. (SBU) POST RECOMMENDS THAT FUNDING FOR PHASE II NOT
BE TERMINATED IN ITS ENTIRETY. ADEQUATE FUNDING SHOULD
BE MADE AVAILABLE TO VVAF TO CARRY OUT PLANNING FOR
PHASE II UNTIL THE END OF FY06. SUCCESSFUL DEVELOPMENT
OF A MULTI-YEAR, MULTI-PHASED PLAN OF EXECUTION
BEGINNING IN FY07 AND EXTENDING FOR THE PROJECTED LIFE
OF THE PROJECT SHOULD BE USED AS THE CRITERIA TO
REINFORCE SUCCESS AND TO DEVELOP SUBSEQUENT GRANT
PROPOSALS FOR FOLLOW-ON EXECUTION FUNDING IN THE COMING
YEARS. FOR EXAMPLE, FOR THE NEXT PHASE OF THIS
PROJECT, POST RECOMMENDS LIMITING THE SURVEY TO THREE
TO FOUR ADDITIONAL PROVINCES. THE FUNDING FOR EACH
SUBSEQUENT SUB-PHASE BEYOND THIS ONE SHOULD BE
PREDICATED ON ITS TIMELY COMPLETION. THIS WILL PERMIT
STAGGERED FUNDING FOR THE LIFE OF THE PROJECT AND ALLOW
NOT ONLY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, BUT ALSO OTHER POTENTIAL
DONORS, TO OBSERVE AND THEN TO REINFORCE SUCCESS. IT
WILL ALSO PERMIT DONORS TO WITHDRAW SUPPORT IF THE
RESULTS DO NOT MEET EXPECTATIONS. PREMATURE
TERMINATION OF FUNDING FOR PHASE II WILL NOT ONLY
REFLECT ADVERSELY ON THE USG COMMITMENT TO VIETNAM'S
DEVELOPMENT OF A NATIONAL MINE ACTION STRATEGY, BUT MAY
ALSO JEOPARDIZE OTHER STREAMS OF INTERNATIONAL DONOR
FUNDING. MANY DONORS LOOK TO THE USG FOR LEADERSHIP IN
THIS AREA, AND WITHDRAWAL OF U.S. SUPPORT FROM THIS
FLAGSHIP EFFORT MAY BE PERCEIVED AS A LACK OF
CONFIDENCE IN THE PROJECT GOALS, THE PARTNERS, OR BOTH.
A UNRELATED PLANNED DECREASES IN USAID HUMANITARIAN
PROGRAM FUNDING FOR VIETNAM FROM USD 4 MILLION IN FY 05
TO USD 1 MILLION IN FY 06 MAY FURTHER EXACERBATE
NEGATIVE GOVERNMENT OF VIETNAM PERCEPTIONS OF USG
COMMITMENT TO HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE IN VIETNAM.

15. (SBU) WE LOOK FORWARD TO THE UPCOMING VISIT OF THE
DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF PM/WRA IN FEBRUARY 2006 AND THE
OPPORTUNITY TO DISCUSS NOT ONLY PHASE II, BUT ALSO
OTHER WAYS TO FACILITATE THE DEVELOPMENT OF NATIONAL
DEMINING CAPACITY IN VIETNAM, STRATEGIC MINE ACTION
PLANNING, TRAINING SUPPORT, AS WELL AS OTHER U.S.
GOVERNMENT SUPPORT TO INTERNATIONAL NGOS IN THE AREAS
OF MINE ACTION, MINE RISK EDUCATION AND VICTIM'S
ASSISTANCE.

16. (U) THE POINTS OF CONTACT AT ARE MAJOR R.E. LUCIUS,
MARINE AND NAVAL ATTACHE, (84-4) 772-1500, EXT. 2307 OR
PROGRAM ASSISTANT MS. NGO KIM THUY, (84-4) 772-1500,
EXT. 2232; UNCLAS E-MAIL: LUCIUSRE@STATE.GOV,
NGOTK@STATE.GOV AND CLASSIFIED EMAIL: DILUCRE@
NOTES.DAWN.DIA.SMIL.MIL.
MARINE

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