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Cablegate: Gradual Progress, but Visible Problems at Two Tajik-Afghan

VZCZCXRO9570
RR RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHDBU #1945/01 2981139
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251139Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8896
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1880
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 0361
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 1834
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1873

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DUSHANBE 001945

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV SNAR PINR TI AF
SUBJECT: GRADUAL PROGRESS, BUT VISIBLE PROBLEMS AT TWO TAJIK-AFGHAN
BORDER POSTS


DUSHANBE 00001945 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: An October 18 visit to two border posts
revealed extremely basic living conditions and a slow but solid
start to U.S.-funded reconstruction efforts. Soldiers at
Bakhorat and Bog outposts on the border with Afghanistan face
winter with limited electricity and supplies, and almost no
recreational options for off-duty hours. Soviet-era land mines
still pose a problem along the border. Skirmishes with
traffickers continue, but border guards have only limited
equipment to detect and detain individuals. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Living conditions at Bog exceed those at Bakhorat, 20
kilometers to the west. The dormitory at Bakhorat for enlisted
soldiers, for example, consisted of approximately 30 beds, with
pillows and blankets which appeared to exceed the ages of the
soldiers. The dormitory did not have any windows; when asked if
the soldiers got cold at night, the base commander replied "not
yet." The group shower was currently under construction and
inoperable. When asked where the soldiers bathe, the commander
replied: "We find places; sometimes in the river." Bakhorat had
a small volleyball court available for recreational use, but no
visible electronic equipment. By contrast, Bog had a
functioning television.

3. (SBU) International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL)
-funded interior and exterior reconstruction had begun at both
bases. The soldiers' barracks now feature plywood ceilings,
fiberboard wall coverings, and wooden flooring. Bakhorat had an
older but operable power generator; Bakhorat was also
temporarily housing a new generator, which was being used to
supply power to surrounding border posts. The Bakhorat base
commander stated the base currently received approximately four
hours of electricity each day, but little to none is expected in
the winter. The situation in Bog appeared better, where they
were planning to install heat/air conditioning units and a mini
Hydro-Electric Station (HES). INL-funded solar batteries also
supply power for communications equipment.

4. (SBU) Several active land mines still punctuate the
Tajik-Afghan border, most remnants of the Soviet-Afghan war,
laid by the Soviet army to prevent border incursions from the
Afghan mujahideen. The Bakhorat base commander stated the
immediate perimeter that surrounds the base had been cleared of
land mines and that the nearest mine field was four kilometers
away. The road leading to Bog had several warning signs posted
of mines in the immediate vicinity.

5. (SBU) Security: Sporadic firefights have taken place
between Tajik border patrols and Afghans attempting to illegally
cross the border. Authorities claim eleven Afghans have died
thus far in 2006. Some Tajik border guards have taken
casualties while on patrol, but none have been fatally wounded.
EmbOffs observed small Tajik foot patrols during the one-hour
drive from Bakhorat to Bog; some soldiers maintain stationary
positions on mountain cliffs that overlook the border area,
while others comprise mobile foot teams that patrol the river on
foot between border posts. Additionally, Bakhorat and Bog each
had a single watchtower, manned by a single soldier. While
these soldiers were armed, they had no night-vision goggles to
detect or interdict nocturnal crossings. The soldiers standing
post during our visit appeared more interested in observing
EMBOFFS than the Pyanj river that divides Tajikistan from
Afghanistan. Bog and Bakhorat currently do have radio
communications, which will be strengthened after the Office of
Defense Cooperation (ODC) and INL installs the Harris
communications network by summer 2007.

6. (SBU) The Bakhorat base commander requested three items. 1)
Their refrigerator had stopped working, and he requested a new
one since they currently lack an operable place to store meat or
bread. 2) 15 new wooden poles, to hang electric cables around
the perimeter of the base. 3) A new transformer to better
generate electricity for the base.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: Things remain bleak along the border.
Export and Border Security (EXBS) provided over 5,000 uniforms,
boots and related clothing to the Tajik Border Guards in
September 2006. Rumor has it that the majority of these
supplies are currently sitting in Dushanbe warehouses, rather
than at the border posts where they are most needed. INL will
begin providing an additional 10,000 winter uniforms the week of
October 30. The distribution of these important items will be a

DUSHANBE 00001945 002.2 OF 002


key issue for Embassy follow-up, particularly as winter
approaches. END COMMENT.
JACOBSON

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