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Cablegate: Establishing an Embassy Field Presence in El Fasher --

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKH #1595 1901108
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091108Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3575

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001595

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, AF/RSA, AF/EX, AND S/CRS
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL AMGT US SU
SUBJECT: ESTABLISHING AN EMBASSY FIELD PRESENCE IN EL FASHER --
UPDATE AND LOGISTICAL CHALLENGES

1. (U) This is an action request. Please see paragraph 6.

2. (SBU) Summary: ARC officers established a rudimentary field
presence in El Fasher with communications, transportation, and
working capabilities adequate in the short term. Limitations to
medium and long term operations include the lack of appropriate
radio programming, office equipment, and insufficient work space to
accommodate meetings, interpreters, and expanded ARC operations.
End summary.

3. (SBU) Active Response Corps (ARC) officers Eythan Sontag and Brad
Purinton arrived July 2 in El Fasher, where they will provide an
Embassy field presence for at least 90 days. The immediate focus in
El Fasher is three-fold: First, establish adequate living and
working quarters to serve as a base of operations; second, develop
contacts with Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) signatories, AMIS, the
UN, and the NGO community to gain greater situational awareness; and
third, proceed as quickly as possible, in collaboration with the
African Union and OTI, in standing up the DPA Implementation Office.
Recent activities related to the second two tasks are described
septel.

4. (SBU) ARC officers and S/CRS Senior Security Advisor Tod Wilson
are currently occupying small connex spaces (each room is
approximately 8 feet by 12 feet) on a PAE compound close to the AMIS
camp. ARC officers converted one space into rudimentary working
quarters, which serves as a temporary office, dining room, and
meeting area. While sufficient in the short term, the current
living and working conditions pose a number of limitations for
medium and long term operations. PAE, while accommodating, has
indicated repeatedly that its space is in high demand with other
short-term visitors. Additionally, the tiny work area - already
full with office equipment, communications gear, ARC officers (plus
Tod Wilson), and the two recently hired translators - precludes
holding any sizeable (more than one person) meetings there. Another
consideration is that the work space is the only suitable holding
area for the interpreters; when ARC officers leave the premises,
interpreters may be left for short periods of time unattended, which
presents a less than ideal situation regarding information and
equipment security. (NOTE: ARC officers have no reason to believe
that the interpreters are untrustworthy, but only seek to raise this
point to underscore some of the necessary improvisations given the
current living/work conditions. END NOTE).

5. (SBU) In addition to the interpreters, El Fasher field officers
also have two rented vehicles with local drivers at their disposal.
ARC officers understand that two replacement (later model) vehicles
have been acquired through the Embassy and will be shipped
imminently to El Fasher. Communication capabilities are improving,
though there remain radio issues to resolve. The PAE camp has
limited accessible Internet access (three LANs in the cafeteria),
which serves as a back-up to the two BGANs in the field. BGAN
connectivity is generally reliable, though often slow. Access to
and use of the Department of State Intranet (ONE) system is so slow
as to be nearly ineffective (there is a significant delay in
opening, typing and retrieving email/documents; it may take up to
ten minutes to send a two-line email and much more time to access
Intranet sites and/or folders). Telephone capability include local
cell phones, and Thuraya, BGAN and Iridium satellite voice
communications; all work generally well, though local cell phone
service frequently fails after 2200 hours (local). Programming
handheld radios remains a challenge. While UNMIS granted
authorization to several of their internal nets, neither the Embassy
nor the ARC has the appropriate programming equipment to load the
frequencies. UNMIS advised acquiring a "code plug," which would
allow them to program the radios. ARC officers are also awaiting a
response on programming equipment requested from Washington.

6. (U) Action requested: Embassy Field Office El Fasher requests
that radio programming equipment previously requested per Ref A be
expedited for delivery to Post.

7. (U) Field Office El Fasher thanks Department in advance for its
continued assistance and support.

HUME

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