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Cablegate: Failure Is Not an Option: Planning for the Next

VZCZCXRO4520
OO RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #1836/01 3281551
ZNY EEEEE ZZH
O 241551Z NOV 07 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5630
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8264
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1902
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9374
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0303
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0402
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 1015
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0033
RHHEAAA/13AF INTEL ANDERSEN AFB GU
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0583
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUENAAA/SECNAV WASHDC
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKDIA/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

UNCLAS E F T O SECTION 01 OF 03 DHAKA 001836

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

AIDAC
DCHA/OFDA FOR ROBERT THAYER
AID/W FOR AA MARK WARD AND ANE ANNE DIX
DCHA/FFP FOR MATTHEW NIMS AND PAUL NOVICK
ROME FOR FODAG
BANGKOK FOR RDM/A TOM DOLAN, BOB BARTON
KATHMANDU FOR USAID OFDA BILL BERGER AND SUE MCINTYRE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: BG EAID MARR MASS MOPS PGOV PINR PREL
SUBJECT: FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION: PLANNING FOR THE NEXT
PHASE OF U.S. CYCLONE SIDR RESPONSE

REF: A. DHAKA 1830

B. DHAKA 1796

1. (SBU) Summary: In only a week's time, the United States
has been able to develop and implement an impressive
humanitarian response to the devastation caused by Cyclone
Sidr, which laid waste to large stretches of Bangladesh's
southwestern coastal region when it made landfall on November
15. This timely and robust response has been warmly received
by the Bangladeshi people and has been welcomed by the
Caretaker Government and Bangladesh military. The USG team
on the ground is building momentum, completing its initial
assessment of the needs of those affected and is coordinating
with other donors and the GOB to deliver assistance where
needed. Even before the emergency relief phase kicks into
high gear, we are planning for the medium term relief and
longer term reconstruction of this moderate Muslim nation
with its vulnerable population. We must ensure a smooth
transition from relief to recovery to avoid any delays in the
CTG's electoral and reform roadoaps. The investments that
the USG makes at this time will pay dividends in the future,
both here and beyond the region. End Summary.

Helping a Friend in Need

2. (SBU) Even before Cyclone Sidr came ashore with
devastating impact on November 15, the USG was busy
mobilizing its disaster response capabilities. Just as the
USG-funded disaster preparedness work helped save countless
lives in the coastal areas, our internal USG planning in
Dhaka, Washington, and Honolulu positioned us to respond
immediately to the crisis. Since the disaster declaration
was issued on November 16, the USG has mobilized an OFDA/DART
team, deployed a Humanitarian ASsistance Survey Team, and
integrated these elements into an interagency response under
the direction of the COM. Within days, we were able to
organize visits by Director of Foreign Assistance and USAID
Administrator Henrietta Fore and Commander United States
Pacific Command Admiral Timothy Keating. Combined, this
inter-agencyresponse signaled the importance that the United
States placed on helping a long-term friend during its hour
of need.

Return of the Angels from the Sea

3. (SBU) While USAID/OFDA funding began to flow immediately
following the disaster declaration, and additional assistance
arrived soon thereafter, the main story this week has been
the return of the "Sea Angels," as the U.S.S. Kearsarge and
other DOD assets arrived in Bangladesh to add the US
Military's unique capabilities to our coordinated disaster
response. In meetings with Director Fore and with Admiral
Keating, Bangladesh's senior civilian and military leadership
has welcomed U.S. assistance, recalling the vital role that
the USG played in responding to the devastating 1991 cyclone
during Operation Sea Angel (Note: By coincidence, one of the
vessels steaming towards Bangladesh to assist in relief
operations is the U.S.S. Tarawa, which was the flagship of
the 1991 effort). Initially, the Caretaker Government
appeared divided regarding the need to accept foreign
assistance in the relief operations, for domestic political
reasons. This attitude turned around when the scope of the
challenge facing the government became apparent and as those
involved in the 1991 operations realized the need to again
reach out for help. From the beginning, there has been an
outpouring of appreciation from the Bangladeshi public and a

DHAKA 00001836 002 OF 003


great deal of interest in the press about the US response.
Even the Saudi Government's offer of USD 100 million has been
overshadowed by the high level U.S. visits and the
expectation regarding the Kearsarge's arrival. Across the
board, political parties have welcomed the U.S. assistance,
and efforts by some to stir up local opposition to a U.S.
role have fallen flat.

The Three "D's" in Action

4. (SBU) Since their arrival, the USAID/DART and DOD HAST
teams have been working closely with the country team, the
GOB's civilian and military agencies, and our international
and local partners to carry out thorough assessments of the
needs in the response, relief, and rehabilitation phases.
These teams are currently assembling detailed needs analyses
which will form the basis for recommendations for future
resource requirements. On November 24, the Government's
disaster coordinator, Adviser M.A. Matin, and senior
Bangladeshi military officers flew to the U.S.S. Kearsarge
for a briefing on the MEU's capabilities and for discussions
of possible ways in which the USG can provide assistance. As
noted in other messages, we see crucial needs in the areas of
potable water, distribution, and medical assistance in the
short term. Medium term needs include shelter and food
security, with longer term reconstruction of infrastructure
clearly needed. Our strategy is to employ all instruments of
national power, focused on the need to employ our diplomatic,
defense, and development resources in the most effective
manner. We have been able to steadily build momentum and are
poised for the initiation of relief operations this week.

U.S. Staying Until the Job is Done

5. (SBU) While it is still too early to estimate the
precise duration of the emergency response phase, our
consistent message (underscored by our senior visitors) has
been that we will be involved in this efgort for as long as
it takes. At present, we are focused on the emergency relief
phase. Even as we address immediate needs, we are also
actively planning for medium and longer term responses to the
relief and reconstruction challenges. Thus, our civil and
military assessment teams are also looking at how we can
employ future resources most effectively and identifying
potential opportunities should additional funding become
available. We understand that similar discussions are also
underway in Washington, and we welcome the opportunity to
contribute to the planning process. Our goal is to avoid any
impression that the U.S. will "cut and run" before the job is
complete.

Saving for a Rainy Day

6. (SBU) While it is correct to focus on the humanitarian
needs of the affected population, we cannot afford to forget
the importance of supporting the Caretaker Government as it
works to implement the electoral roadmap and implement
reforms prior to holding elections before the end of 2008.
Even before the cyclone hit, there were concerns in some
quarters that preparations for elections were stalling. At
the same time, the Caretaker Government was struggling with
how to respond to rising inflation and threats of an economic
slowdown (see septel on the CDA a.i.'s pre-cyclone meeting
with Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed). The investments we
make now in shoring up the government and freeing up
resources to focus on longer-term reform and election

DHAKA 00001836 003 OF 003


preparations are important to ensuring that the government
succeeds. Stronger military-military ties, and an enhanced
image for the United States will also stand us in good stead.
We may have to mak% withdrawals from our "good will" fund in
order to ensure that all involved keep to their commitments.

Comment

7. (SBU) The USG is uniquely positioned to lead
international efforts to respond to the cyclone. Those
living in southeastern Bangladesh in 1991 will never forget
Operation Sea Angel, just as the victims of the Southeast
Asian Tsunami or the Pakistan earthquake will never forget
the role that the United States played in their hours of
need. We have a unique opportunity to again remind
Bangladeshis and the larger international community of the
positive role that the United States plays in the world. In
order to take advantage of this opportunity, we must continue
to employ all instruments of national power--diplomatic,
information, military, and economic--in a coherent manner.
We need to commit the resources needed to ensure that we will
remain engaged "until the job is completed."
Pasi

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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