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Cablegate: Argentine Deputy Defense Minister On Bilateral

VZCZCXRO2307
RR RUEHQU
DE RUEHBU #2134/01 3021828
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 291828Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9596
INFO RUEHZH/HAITI COLLECTIVE
RUEHGT/AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA 0315
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0883
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BUENOS AIRES 002134

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MARR KPKO AR HA
SUBJECT: ARGENTINE DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER ON BILATERAL
RELATIONS, TRAINING AND PEACEKEEPING

1. (SBU) Summary: Ambassador discussed bilateral cooperation
and training and Argentina's strong support for peacekeeping
operations, particularly in Haiti, with new Vice Minister of
Defense Alfredo Forti. Forti explained that the MOD is
carefully evaluating the bilateral agreement on professional
military education exchange (due for renewal) to make sure it
meets the MOD's and services' current needs. He noted that
the nine Latin American and Caribbean MINUSTAH-contributing
countries had agreed to look at the creation of an
association of peacekeeping training centers to better share
experiences, best practices and, perhaps, form policy.
Formation of the Argentine-Chilean joint peacekeeping force
(Southern Cross) continues with the two countries dealing
with interoperability challenges. A joint group plans to
visit UN PKO in November to better understand UN standards
and requirements. In a related matter, Argentina will be
augmenting its commitment to Haiti, sending two Coast Guard
(Prefectura Naval) patrol boats to Haiti as part of a
six-nation maritime contingent assisting regional
counternarcotics efforts. End Summary.

THE BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP
--------------------------
2. (SBU) Ambassador and EmbOffs met with new Vice Minister of
Defense (actual title is Secretary for Military Affairs)
Alfredo Forti and the Ministry's Chief of Cabinet Raul Garre
on October 23. Ambassador commented on the vigorous state of
bilateral relations, noting the recent visits of Argentine
MOD delegations to Washington, D.C. of Argentine
Undersecretaries Montenegro (Strategic Planning and Resource
Management) and Bellagio (Education). Forti and Garre
explained that the MOD was reviewing carefully all of its and
the services training and education needs and agreements to
try and bring them into line with the military's new doctrine
and defense strategies, based on recent implementation of the
1988 Military Law.

3. (SBU) Forti explained that the MOD has outlined five broad
areas of cooperation with the U.S.: strategic planning;
defense resource management; reform of the professional
military education system; science and technology and
training and development of civilian personnel within the MOD.

PROFESSIONAL MILITARY EDUCATION
-------------------------------

4. (SBU) The 10-year U.S.-Argentine bilateral agreement with
the MOD, covering exchange of military exchange students,
expires this year. Forti and Garre stressed their intention
to renew the agreement but noted that they were looking
carefully at the terms of reference and its scope and would
likely be suggesting some amendments. They explained that
the situation is very different today and that there are new
priorities not contemplated ten years ago. For instance,
there were only three military education institutes ten years
ago; now there are five. Education is limited to uniform
personnel under the expiring agreement. They wanted to look
at the possibility of including civilian defense personnel.
They also want to focus strongly on planning, management,
budget and resource issues. Garre stated that they want to
look at military education issues and the possibility of the
exchange of military health professionals. Garre also said
they were looking at the reciprocity of the agreement to
ensure equal treatment, particularly regarding the status of
exchange students in the respective countries.

PEACEKEEPING AND SOUTHERN CROSS
-------------------------------

5. (SBU) In response to Ambassador's recognition of and
stated appreciation for Argentina's continued contribution to
PKOs, particularly MINUSTAH, Forti explained that Argentina
and Chile continue in their work to make the joint
peacekeeping force (Southern Cross) operational. They are
working on the many interoperability challenges from
equipment and technology to doctrine and strategy. He said
that a joint group will visit UN PKO offices in November to
better familiarize themselves with UN standards and practices.

6. (U) Forti commented on the political and cultural
significance of Southern Cross. He explained that 2008 marks
the 30th anniversary of the Beagle Channel crisis, over which
the two countries narrowly avoided going to war. Forti said
they hope to have Southern Cross fully operation and ready to
deploy in time for this significant anniversary.

BUENOS AIR 00002134 002 OF 002

7. (SBU) In another new development, Forti outlined for the
Ambassador plans to create a Latin American and Caribbean
association of peacekeeping training institutions. He said
that at the last meeting of the nine Latin American and
Caribbean MINUSTAH troop-contributing countries, the MODs had
agreed to support the Argentine/Chilean initiative to create
the association to better share experiences, information and
best practices. Eventually, the association could help
coordinate policy issues related to PKOs as well. Such an
association already exists in Africa, he explained. He also
noted that the U.S. and Canada would be invited to
participate as observers.

8. (U) Forti also commented briefly on the news that
Argentina would be contributing two Prefectura Naval (Coast
Guard) patrol boats to MINUSTAH. While the legislature has
to approve the commitment, Forti said the political decision
had been made. The idea of the two patrol boats is to join a
12-boat "South American" squadron focused on interdicting the
burgeoning drug trafficking.

BIOGRAPHIC NOTES
----------------

9. (SBU) Forti is an articulate and open interlocutor with an
extensive professional background as a political consultant
throughout Latin America. Just prior to taking the position
as Secretary for Military Affairs, Forti was Argentina's
ambassador in Guatemala. He has a Masters in Public
Administration from Harvard's JFK School of Government and an
undergraduate degree in International Relations from American
University's school of International Service. Forti, like
many of his generation, is strongly affected by Argentina's
"Dirty War." In 1977, at the age of sixteen, he, his
siblings and his mother, were pulled off an Aerolineas flight
scheduled to fly to Venezuela where Forti's father was
already in exile. After one week in detention, the children
were separated from their mother and dropped off in a Buenos
Aires neighborhood. They never saw their mother again.
Accounts indicate she was taken to a clandestine detention
center in Arenales, Tucuman, and apparently killed there.
WAYNE

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