Search

 

Cablegate: Mil-Mil Relations with Laos: Exchanging Defense

VZCZCXRO0274
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHVN #0725/01 2611027
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181027Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1530
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0175
RHMFIUU/CDR JPAC HICKAM AFB HI
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUND/COMMARFORPAC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 VIENTIANE 000725

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS (BESTIC);
STATE FOR EAP/RSP (RUNNING);
DOD FOR OSD-POLICY (STERN, SHUBERT);
DOD FOR DSCA (JUDKINS)
PACOM FOR J52 (MILLER, LACY);
PACOM FOR J45 (NICHOLLS);
PACOM FOR PACAF/SGZ (CINCO, DUONG, PALMER);
PACOM FOR POLAD (MCADEN);
MARFORPAC FOR LTC JACKMAN;
JPAC FOR MUNIPALLI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID LA MARR MASS MOPS PREL
SUBJECT: MIL-MIL RELATIONS WITH LAOS: EXCHANGING DEFENSE
ATTACHES; IMET

REF: A. VIENTIANE 0092
B. VIENTIANE 0625
C. VIENTIANE 0720
D. SOMERS-LACY E-MAILS OF 09/17/07
E. SOMERS-GRAGASIN E-MAIL OF 09/18/07

1. (SBU) Summary: Moving forward with the exchange of defense
attaches during the coming year and training opportunities
for Lao military personnel under the International Military
Education and Training (IMET) and other programs were key
topics discussed during the visit of DOD OSD-Policy Lao Desk
Officer Tom Shubert to Vientiane. These discussions are a
useful prelude to the second round of mil-mil talks scheduled
for mid-October in Vientiane. Although we were warned that
mil-mil ties could only expand at a pace acceptable to the
Lao side, that pace has proved faster than we expected since
the first round of mil-mil talks held this past January. End
summary.

Defense Attache Exchange
------------------------
2. (SBU) In September 17 meetings with Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (MFA) Europe and America Department Director General
Southam Sakonhninhom and Ministry of National Defense (MND)
Permanent Secretary (Chief of Staff) Brigadier General
Sisophonh Bang-One Sengdet, visiting DOD OSD-Policy Lao Desk
Officer Tom Shubert highlighted that DOD (DIA) is moving
forward with the Defense Attache process, expecting to set up
the DATT office at the Embassy by summer 2008 and working to
identify the best individual to be the DATT as soon as
possible. Until that individual is available, Shubert noted,
a current U.S. DATT in the region could help cover Laos
temporarily. Sisophonh said that MND is prepared to send a
DATT and a Deputy to Washington, D.C. as soon as the USG is
ready to move the exchange forward.

3. (SBU) NOTE: the USG has proposed the exchange of defense
attaches for several years. The first indication the
Government of Laos (GOL) is ready for the process to move
forward came during then-COL Sisophonh's ten-day visit to the
United States for a Distinguished Visitors Orientation Tour
(DVOT) in June. The DVOT is the first step in moving forward
with an International Military Education and Training Program
for Laos. Mr. Shubert accompanied the Lao delegation during
the DVOT. COL Sisophon, the third most senior officer in the
MND hierarchy, was promoted to brigadier general after his
return from the United States. End Note.

IMET and Medical Training
-------------------------
4. (SBU) Apparently enthusiastic from his visit to the
Defense Language Institute facility and Fort Sam Houston in
San Antonio during the DVOT, BG Sisophonh was keen to
identify how many English-language training slots as well as
medical training slots the USG would be offering Laos under
the IMET Agreement. The Ambassador and Mr. Shubert both
responded that the two sides needed to work closely together
to identify what types of medical personnel the GOL is
interested in sending to U.S. training.

5. (SBU) Shubert said he expected English language training
during the coming year would begin with two Lao military
officials being invited to attend DLI/San Antonio. One might
be the MND DATT to be posted in DC to upgrade English
language skills and to learn military terminology and
language usages. The second miloff might be at DLI for a
longer period of training and then return to Laos as a
certified English language teacher. Once a certified English
language instructor had completed the training, Shubert said
he thought that IMET funding could be used for a language lab
set-up in Vientiane to allow the certified teacher to train
more military students locally.


VIENTIANE 00000725 002 OF 003


6. (SBU) BG Sisophonh expressed strong interest in having
senior MND medical officers receive opportunities to attend
DLI to enhance English language skills and then go on to
specialized medical training to enhance their medical skills.
The discussion included specialities such as surgery,
orthopedics, and radiology among others. While the U.S. side
suggested MND identify the medical specialities in which it
would like to have personnel trained, BG Sisophonh urged the
U.S. side to identify a short list of training opportunities,
and MND would choose appropriate personnel to send.

October Mil-Mil Talks
---------------------
7. (SBU) The two sides agreed discussions of these training
programs, and other possible issues such as unexploded
ordnance (UXO) training for the Lao military as well as the
broader PACOM Humanitarian Assistance program, should be
continued in more detail during next month's mil-mil talks.
DG Southam advised strongly against trying to change the
dates, as PACOM had suggested, to October 24-25. According
to Southam, MND has been preparing to hold the talks as the
USG originally requested on October 18-19, and any attempt to
change the dates would be very difficult for MND. LTC
Khamsing later agreed October 18-19 are the preferred dates,
and the Embassy has passed this information to PACOM J52 (ref
D). Southam also noted Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign
Minister Thongloun looks forward to discussing bilateral
relations including mil-mil ties with senior State Department
officials in New York at the UNGA.

Lao CHOD Attendee
-----------------
8. (SBU) Mr. Shubert mentioned CDRPACOM ADM Keating's
interest in visiting Laos in December to help press for a GOL
response on attending the CHOD in Honolulu October
30-November 2, since ADM Keating would be the host. DG
Southam said he was sure the Defense Minister would welcome a
visit by the PACOM Commander to Laos. The Ambassador
subsequently provided BG Sisophonh with background on the
content of CHOD meetings. BG Sisophonh informed the visitors
that the Defense Minister would not be able to attend and
promised MND would provide the name of the alternate as soon
as possible. (NOTE: PACOM's deadline for response to the
CHOD invitation was September 14.)

9. (SBU) At the informal working-level dinner, Mr. Shubert
was told that MND would most likely nominate BG Sisophonh to
attend the CHOD meeting, with LTC Khamsing accompanying as
interpreter. The Embassy has also passed this preliminary
information to PACOM via e-mail (ref E). With the Minister
unavailable, and the Deputy Defense Minister, Major General
Somphet Thipmala, formerly Governor of Vientiane Province,
just appointed to his position in July and not ready for
international travel, BG Sisophonh is a logical choice.

COMMENTS
--------
10. (SBU) Both DG Southam and BG Sisophonh congratulated the
Ambassador on his lengthy discussion with President Choummaly
Sayasone during last week's presentation of credentials
ceremony (ref C) and were well aware the President had
expressed his support for expanding mil-mil ties during the
discussion of bilateral relations. We are pleased that BG
Sisophonh confirmed MND is preparing to send a DATT and an
Assistant to Washington, D.C. as soon as DOD is ready to
assign a permanent DATT to Embassy Vientiane. The Embassy
hopes funding will be available so that both the MND DATT and
the Assistant can spend 2-3 months at DLI/San Antonoio for
English language training. We expect the Assistant will be
selected to have relatively good English and act as
interpreter in DC; having this person exposed to the
opportunity to upgrade skills and master military terminology
will make communication easier. We expect in contrast the

VIENTIANE 00000725 003 OF 003


DATT candidate may have a less solid English language
background, so some basic English training, and exposure to
the international military culture at DLI/San Antonio not
only would build goodwill but would also broaden the DATT's
world view -- to our advantage.

11. (SBU) We look forward to the October mil-mil talks to
examine more closely BG Sisophonh's interest in advanced
training for military medical officers. We are pleased that
bilateral mil-mil relations have made significant progress
since our opening talks in January of this year (ref A), at
which time we appeared to be limited to "Subject Matter
Expert Exchanges" (SMEEs) as the level of training we might
be able to offer MND. Perhaps in addition to the range of
training opportunities that BG Sisophonh and his DVOT
colleagues saw at Fort Sam Houston, the highly successful
MARFORPAC/PACAF Avian Influenza Workshop in early August (ref
B) -- attended by MND Medical Department Director General COL
Dr. Bounteun Bandavong -- has helped to move MND thinking
forward on improving bilateral mil-mil ties, especially in
the medical field. While we remain careful to say these
improvements will be "at a pace acceptable to the Lao side,"
MND appears comfortable with a somewhat more rapid pace than
we had first expected.

12. (SBU) We are pleased MND is considering sending a
representative to the CHOD meeting and believe that BG
Sisophonh would be a good choice. MND has relatively few
officers at the rank of general. Even fewer have had a
positive relationship with the United States. BG Sisophonh,
Permanent Secretary (Chief of Staff) in MND, is not only one
of the highest ranking MND officials available, he was one of
the group of MND officials involved in the POW/MIA accounting
process more than two decades ago when it began and continues
to support our Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC)
Detachment 3 program of activities. Representing MND during
the DVOT tour and being able to visit Washington, D.C., San
Antonio, and San Francisco as part of the program gives him
more recent exposure to the United States than any other
senior MND officer. Finally, his support for the exchange of
defense attaches, which he announced during the DVOT visit,
is another positive element.
HUSO

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Washington Riot And The Georgia Results
Hong Kong and Washington DC. On the same morning, the tyrants in power in Beijing and their counterpart in the White House have shown how they refuse to accept the legitimacy of any different points of view, and the prospect of losing power… More>>

WHO: Vaccination No Guarantee Of Virus Eradication

In the final World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 press conference of the year, on Monday, senior officials warned that the virus is 'not necessarily the big one', and that there is a real chance of another, more serious pandemic spreading ... More>>

Covid: Two Billion COVID Vaccine Doses Secured, WHO Says End Of Pandemic Is In Sight

The end of the pandemic is in sight but we must not let our guard down, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, as he welcomed the news that the global vaccine partnership COVAX has lined up almost two billion doses of existing ... More>>

UN: Guterres To Seek Second Five-year Term
António Guterres will be seeking a second five-year term as UN Secretary-General, which would begin in January 2022.... More>>


UN Rights Office: Iran Execution Of Child Offender Breaks International Law

The execution of an Iranian man for a crime allegedly committed when he was 16 years old has been condemned by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) and raised concerns over violations of his right to a fair trial. In a statement released on Thursday, ... More>>

UN News: Fighting Displaces Over 500,000 In Northern Mozambique, Reports UN Refuge Agency

Attacks by armed groups in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado, Nampula, Zambezia and Niassa provinces have displaced more than 530,000 people, many of whom have been forced to move multiple times, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday. According to ... More>>