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Cablegate: Unamid Deployment Update

DE RUEHKH #1312/01 2421122
O 291122Z AUG 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On August 26 and 27, six senior leaders of UNAMID
separately discussed UNAMID deployment issues with poloffs. Most
officials dismissed 80% deployment by December 31 as unrealistic,
but predicted this goal may be reached by March 2009 if UNAMID
completes upgrades to Darfur's airports allowing 24-hour access to
UNAMID. These officials also discussed a "light deployment plan,"
phase IV security, staffing difficulties, and equipment and
transportation issues. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Polchief and poloff met the following UNAMID officials in
El-Fasher headquarters on August 26-27:

- Acting Deputy Director of Mission Support Wolfgang Weiszegger,

- Chief of Plans, J5 Colonel NMT Stafford

- Chief of Staff John Alstrom

- Deputy Joint Special Representative (D/JSR) for Operations and
Management Hocine Medili

- Director of Public Information Kamal Saiki

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- Political Officer to JSR Adada, Adam Day

- - - - - - - - -
3. (SBU) Chief of Staff Almstrom was the most optimistic official
about deployment, stating that UNAMID has a "reasonable chance" of
reaching its 80% deployment goal by the end of 2008. DJSR for
Operations and Management, Hocine Medili, was less confident saying,
"we might not reach 80% by the end of the year, but we will not miss
it by many months." Other officials hinted that TCCs (Troop
Contributing Countries) may back away from their commitments, as
their deployment dates are pushed farther back. Both Weiszegger,
the Director of Mission Support and Day, Adada's chief political
officer, stated that Thai troops may withdraw as their deployment
date is delayed and visa/passport issues plague some TCCs.

4. (SBU) The J5 Chief of Planning portrayed deployment as dependent
on the arrival of contingent-owned equipment (COE) and the
completion of necessary engineering work. "The military planner is
the last person in the chain," noted Stafford, and added that the
slow movement of COE "is the killer." Stafford cited the lengthy
distance between Port Sudan and Darfur, the poor road
infrastructure, and the extreme weather in Sudan all as significant
challenges in COE transportation. Stafford said that there are at
least four new camps being built in each sector, also putting a
major strain on resources. (Note: Stafford provided an electronic
copy of a UNAMID Force Deployment Brief to poloffs. This document
will be sent to AF/SPG, USUN, and the office of the special envoy on
Monday, September 1. End Note.)

5. (SBU) Adam Day cautioned that UNAMID "fudged the numbers" to
reach its 80% deployment goal by the end of 2008. Day warned that
this goal focuses on troops and not police, and that as the Kalma
camp attack demonstrated, Darfur's insecurity requires law
enforcement as much as peacekeeping.

- - - - - - - - -
6. (SBU) Several UNAMID officials proposed deploying troops with
minimum COE to the super camps as part of a "light deployment" or
"rapid deployment" plan. These troops would be flown to Darfur via
airlift, bringing just enough equipment for self-protection. Upon
arrival, these troops would then focus on camp force protection as
they wait for the arrival of their remaining COE. More troops would
arrive at fewer locations, but "if applied, the goal of reaching 80%
deployment by the end of 2008 might be possible," stated Medili.
Medili stated that this is an "in-house" concept that has not yet
been presented to troop contributing countries. Weiszegger noted
that deploying troops in this manner will ultimately be a "military
decision that may take some convincing." Military planner Stafford
appeared pessimistic about this approach, noting that it could make
many troops very vulnerable and "is probably not viable."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7. (SBU) Public Information Officer Saiki stated that the GOS and
UNAMID reached agreement "in principle" on allowing UNAMID night
flights, "though it does come with a price tag." Almstrom also
separately reported that negotiations over upgrades to the
El-Geneina airport are ongoing and would soon allow access to the
airport. (Note: Almstrom said he was not aware whether night

KHARTOUM 00001312 002 OF 004

flights were ongoing at the El-Fasher and Nyala airports. End
Note.) Medili stated that while the airport upgrades will require an
investment of money and time, the more complicating factor will be
coordinating with the Sudanese Civil Aviation authority as it will
maintain control of Darfur's airports and provide all of the
Sudanese personnel needed to run an airport (e.g. flight control
traffic managers, runway assistants, etc.). Overtime costs, complex
staffing schedules, and the availability/willingness of Sudanese
airport officials to staff the facilities after hours may all be
more difficult issues than the physical upgrades to the airports.
Medili stated that the current agreement between the GoS and UNAMID
allows flights from 7 am until 7 pm and that Sudanese control of the
airports is for obvious reasons a GOS requirement, as it would be in
any country. Medili stated that upgrading the Geneina airport would
give increased access to all of Darfur.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8. (SBU) All contacts stated that the approximately 300
non-essential staff were evacuated in July when UNAMID moved to
phase IV security have returned to their positions in El-Fasher.
Alstrom emphasized that this move to phase IV security would have
occurred without the July ICC proceedings as the number of security
incidents in the first six months of 2008 is already greater than
all of 2007. However, he emphasized that despite their return,
phase IV security is still in place and all employees are instructed
to have a "go-bag" ready.

9. (SBU) Almstrom noted that Phase IV security and the potential
for a formal ICC indictment against Bashir create an unpredictable
situation. Almstrom commented, "You wonder what is the right thing
to do, and I can tell you I'm not sleeping well at night thinking
about a dark scenario where [following an ICC indictment] the GoS
cuts off supply flights, and UNAMID runs out food and water within
three days for its personnel." Medili noted that the Phase IV
security will result in increased transportation costs for private
Sudanese transportation contractors, as "risk is translated into
financial terms." Day separately stated that Phase IV security will
particularly affect the deployment of full police units "as staff
ceilings have been put in place that will affect the civilian and
police side." (Note: On August 28, DJSR rejected this assertion
saying that Phase IV security was not related to staff ceilings.
Post will continue to look into this discrepancy. End Note.) Day
noted that it is very difficult for the mission to drop from Phase
IV security to a lower level. Describing it "as a distraction," Day
noted that this security level is essentially the opposite from

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
10. (SBU) Almstrom stated that current staffing for political and
civil affairs positions stands at 50%. Almstrom added that the UN
bureaucracy, while bringing necessary standards into the hiring
process, is incredibly slow with "many bureaucratic hurdles."
Almstrom stated that visa issuance "is getting better" for UNAMID
personnel. He noted that the GoS appears to not/not be
discriminating against visa applications form Western countries.
Weiszegger differed with Almstrom, saying that the one exception to
GoS cooperation on visas is for Australian, Canadian, and American
military liaison officers. Almstrom stated that Western military
observers/liaisons would be a great asset to UNAMID. Weiszegger
agreed with Almstrom saying that although the GoS has been more
responsive on many visas, it has not responded to visa requests for
Canadian, Australian, and American force protection and military
liaison positions. "They are probably taking a closer look into
their backgrounds," speculated Weiszegger. Day stated that visas
would be much easier to obtain for these military liaisons if "we
forget to put their ranks on the visa applications as we did for the
first two US liaison officers." (Comment: Day said he would pursue
this with Alstrom, and Alstrom himself promised to follow up on the
issue and get back to us. End comment.)

11. (SBU) DJSR Medili also emphasized the difficulty of recruitment
and retention saying that it is important to create conditions in
UNAMID camps and facilities so that civilian UN/AU staff will accept
jobs and stay in them. He said that 70 new job offers were recently
declined, "as candidates e-mail people they know here and they hear
about the poor conditions." In an earlier meeting, Day separately
told poloff that UNAMID needs an infusion of American talent at the
senior-level of UNAMID. . Day commented, "I'm the only American
around here, and it shows - I spend two hours every day editing
reports." Day noted that there is a plan to bring on several
editors to help with this task in the long-term. Day stated that
competent and experienced American logistics and transportation

KHARTOUM 00001312 003.2 OF 004

managers seconded to UNAMID would be a big addition to the hybrid
force. Day also revealed that some talented Americans have been
declined for important positions, as the UN bureaucracy reverse
discriminates against Westerners and the "African character of the
mission" is used in hiring decisions.

- - -
12. (SBU) DJSR Medili stated that PAE's contract for ongoing
projects will officially end on September 14. After this date, PAE
will only be allowed to start de-demobilizing and transitioning its
projects to UNAMID. "De-mobilization does not mean leaving the
hand-over process unfinished," noted Medili. PAE is currently
working double shifts trying to complete its ongoing work.
According to Medili, PAE complaints of GoS restrictions on PAE
flights and visas are exaggerated, as a large number of PAE flights
clog Darfur's limited airport capacity and some of their requests
for visas came very late (e.g. for a soil stabilization expert.)
Medili noted that UNAMID will attempt to directly hire approximately
500 PAE national staff when the company closes all of its operations
in Sudan. Stafford described the end of PAE's contract as "a serious
loss" and "body blow." Adam Day stated that since PAE now provides
security for its own construction sites, UNAMID will lose more
operational capacity when it takes over construction of PAE sites as
it will be forced to use its existing troops for force protection.
Day said that they have received three proposal for replacement
contracts for PAE, but "the only one that is not American is a lot
more expensive." Medili stated that there are a few outstanding
issues with PAE, including a poorly constructed transit camp in
Nyala. Medili emphasized that he was reluctant to discuss this
issue in depth as the camp is entirely flooded and "this is one
issue with PAE that may very well have to be resolved with
litigation," although he also said that there appears to be an
agreement with DPKO to avoid any litigation and simply move on.
Overall, these UNAMID interlocutors were very positive about the
work that PAE has been able to accomplish.

- - - - -
13. (SBU) DJSR Medili emphasized that there has been a noticeable
improvement in the transportation pipeline from Port Sudan,
specifically noting improved movement through customs, increased
usage of railways and roads, and the use of more transportation
contractors. Medili stated that the backlog of containers "will
soon be resolved," and said that UNAMID is looking at some
innovative ways to transport COE, including driving, rather than
shipping, UNAMID vehicles coming from Port Sudan. Weiszegger stated
that UNAMID just closed a competitive bidding on freight providers,
receiving 18 bids, many of which he is confident will be able to
provide service to UNAMID. Weiszegger also stated that UNAMID is
considering hiring third-party full- service transportation
logistics providers (offering customs clearance, storage and
warehousing, and shipment to Darfur.) "There is capacity in the
transportation market in Sudan that we need to tap into," stated
Weiszegger. Weiszegger added that UNAMID will soon conduct a vender
market seminar to potential contractors in Nyala this week, and more
in Khartoum and El-Fasher in the future.

- - - - - - -
14. (SBU) Chief of Staff Almstrom emphasized that UNAMID
unofficially uses its current helicopters for occasional
surveillance and reconnaissance missions. He said that these
transport helicopters are not designed for this, and that he
questions this practice. Almstrom said that if UNAMID had attack
helicopters, the July 8 attack UNAMID forces resulting in 8 deaths
might not have happened. The attack lasted over two hours, noted
Almstrom, and the attack helicopters could have made "quick work" of
the force opposing UNAMID. With respect to UNAMID's need for attack
helicopters, Saiki stated that UN standards require not only night
flight capabilities but also the ability to operate in a hot, dusty,
and harsh environment. (Note: His rationale for this is that since
the attackers know that UNAMID has no helicopters, they can attack
at any time. If UNAMID receives helicopters that do not have night
flight capability, the attackers will know to attack only at night.
End note.) This, in addition to the need for a competent crew and
maintenance team, make the helicopter issue more complicated than
just night capability, noted Saiki. Alstrom and Stafford noted that
the patrol that was attacked July 8 was 100 kilometers from its base
with only one radio and little support, which Stafford termed
"insane" from an operational point of view, given the lack of air
support. Chief of Planning Stafford noted that for deployment
purposes, there is a need for three Illyushin-76 airplanes more than
helicopters. Stafford has already requested these air assets from
New York and is awaiting a response.

KHARTOUM 00001312 004 OF 004

- - -
15. (SBU) Weiszegger said many of the Canadian armored personnel
carriers (APCs) are approximately thirty years old and require
constant maintenance by PAE and rare spare parts. He said that when
PAE's service contract expires, UNAMID will attempt to hire PAE's
local 500 local staff, something that PAE may consider despite a no-
poaching clause in their contract. Hiring PAE's international staff
is more complicated for UNAMID (due to non-poaching clauses in the
contract with PAE,) but UNAMID is still attempting to hire some of
the international staff on an individual basis. In the August 27
morning operations brief for General Agwai, J4 reported that
although 77% of all APCs are serviceable, contingent- owned APCs
have much lower serviceable rates. (Note: For example, the COE APC
rate for South Darfur is at 43%. End Note.)

- - - - -
16. (SBU) Most UNAMID officials (with the exception of the outgoing
Day,) appeared more optimistic than several months ago with respect
to deployment issues. The improved pipeline for shipments based on
new contracts was especially positive, as previously UNAMID seemed
to be in paralysis as to how to solve the problem of the 3000
containers (and 5000 shipments overall). Although very few of these
senior UANMID officials are confident that they will reach a
December 31st deployment goal of 80%, most appeared optimistic t
that this goal could be reached by March 2009. The "light
deployment" or "rapid deployment plan" appears to serve little
purpose, if only to bring more troops in to sit in large camps in
major cities in Darfur. Despite their newfound optimism, UNAMID has
great challenges that will require new energy, flexibility, and
coordination with the GoS and member states. The lack of
helicopters (both transport and attack) as well as the lack of
formed police units (FPUs) and force protection to support them
(septel) currently are the main obstacles to UNAMID achieving its
core mission objectives.


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