Cablegate: Unamid Deployment Update

DE RUEHKH #1468/01 2770939
O 030939Z OCT 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary: In a September 28 meeting with poloff, UNAMID
officials reiterated the belief that 60% deployment is possible by
the end of 2008. Road and rail transport of COE remains ongoing, but
the lack of an air bridge and adequate air assets remain a
significant obstacles to accelerated deployment. To fill the void
left by PAE's impending departure, UNAMID has proposed that the UN
Office For Project Services (UNOPS) take responsibility for project
implementation, while hiring of PAE local staff and relying on a mix
of local and regional contractors to complete camp construction.
Such an arrangement will be much less efficient that a turnkey
provider such as PAE, they said, and could take until late 2009 to
put into place. Until then, troops will have to live in "austere"
conditions. UNAMID is also actively engaging in contingency planning
for a possible Phase 5 evacuation in October, which is drawing time
and resources away from deployment issues. End Summary.


2. (SBU) On September 28 poloff met separately with Wolfgang
Weiszegger, Deputy Director for Mission Support, and Colonel NMT
Stafford, Chief, J5 Plans for a follow-on update on UNAMID
deployment issues (Reftel). The latest estimates for enabling units
scheduled to deploy include a 350 person Bangladeshi multi-role
logistics unit to Nyala on October 17-20 (an advance party deployed
on September 21) and a 150 person Egyptian medium transport unit to
Nyala on October 27-30, according to Weiszegger. Stafford noted that
330 person Pakistani Level III hospital unit to Nyala and 150 person
Pakistani engineering company to Geneina are scheduled to deploy in
late October or early November.

3. (SBU) A big push is being made to deploy Ethiopian troops,
including enabling units comprised of a 300 person multi-role
logistics unit and a 120 person medium transport unit, but no flight
dates have been set yet. The same applies for the remainder of the
Ethiopian infantry battalion to be deployed in Kublus and Sealeh.
Latest estimates for the deployment of 600+ person Egyptian infantry
battalion to Um Kadada are late October to early November. Stafford
noted that pre-deployment reconnaissance for the Ethiopian second
battalion (to Graida and Buram) was completed from September 17-21,
while reconnaissance fro the Tanzanian battalion headed to Muhajeria
and Khor Achebe is scheduled for October 1-5. UN/DFS and DPKO remain
at odds as to the speed of deployment for reinforcements of former
AMIS battalions, with UN/DFS pushing for accelerated light
deployment while DPKO is taking a more cautious approach, said
Stafford, who was frustrated by the indecision in New York.

4. (SBU) Deployment remains subject to delivery of the
contingent-owned equipment (COE). Geographically, the biggest
transport difficulties lie in West Darfur (where the majority of
Ethiopian troops will deploy.) Weiszegger noted that UNAMID
transport contractors have resisted moving equipment by road there
as a result of the rainy season, despite the fact that other traffic
has made it through. "We're trying to convince them otherwise," he
said. Elsewhere, Weiszegger noted that container shipments are
ongoing both by road and by rail (though they have ground to a halt
for the long Eid holiday.) He stated that the entire backlog of
freight in El Obeid should be cleared within two weeks. UNAMID
contractors claim they can clear the rest within 45-60 days, which
will provide a substantial boost towards a targeted deployment of 60
or even 70% by the end of 2008.

5. (SBU) Weiszegger's biggest concern regarding deployment issues is
the lack of an air bridge and adequate air assets. He noted that
while UNAMID has received the green light from the Civil Aviation
Authority (CAA) for assistance in upgrading the three airports,
discussions are ongoing, and no timetable has been set. As such,
airport upgrades "won't have an effect on accelerated deployment",
though they will help eventually, he said. The cost estimates for
projects at each airport are somewhere between U.S. $10 and $15
million each. The one upgrade that could produce an immediate
impact is the opening of a new airstrip in Geneina, but it is only
able to handle small aircraft (though with future upgrades Geneina
will eventually be Antonov AN124 capable.)


6. (SBU) With regard to camp construction, Weiszegger stated that
PAE has been making good progress on all three "supercamps," noting
that the 1250-person camp in El Fasher is near completion, awaiting
only the delivery of fuel and water tanks, currently in customs
clearance. Both the Chinese and Egyptian engineering contingents
have been making significant contributions to camp construction, he

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said, and are expected to play a continuing "self-help" role in the
post-PAE era. UNAMID is also requesting that all new battalions
deploy with a light engineering capacity of 50 to 100 men to help
make up for the loss of PAE.

6. (SBU) The lack of a replacement for PAE remains a significant
concern, according to Weiszegger. With no alternative turnkey
provider on the horizon, UNAMID has proposed to UN headquarters in
New York that that UN Office For Project Services (UNOPS) take
responsibility for project implementation. (Note: UNOPS provides
project management, procurement and other support services to United
Nations agencies, international financial institutions, governments
and non-governmental organizations. It became an independent,
self-financing organization in 1995. End Note.) The current thinking
calls for UNOPS engineering capacity to be combined with the hiring
of PAE local staff (non-compete clauses in contracts of their
expatriate staff may prevent them from being hired,) and to rely on
a mix of local and regional contractors to complete the work, though
he noted that this was much less efficient than a single provider
such as PAE. Until new contracts are in place ("I don't see that
happening until before the end of the 2009,") troops will have to
deploy on brownfield sites with only the most basic infrastructure.
Weiszegger lamented that these conditions would be "austere." UNOPS
has a very mixed reputation in Sudan in terms of efficiency.


7. (SBU) With regard to cooperation with the GOS, Weiszegger noted
that it had been quite forthcoming in the past several months.
"There's been great progress in securing additional parking spaces"
for UNAMID aircraft in both Nyala and El Fasher Airports, in
addition to keeping the airports open longer. GOS authorities have
been accommodating on visa and customs clearances, he said, with the
exception of visas for nationals of the United States, Canada and
Denmark. No progress has been made obtaining visas for U.S. military
personnel, as UNAMID follow-up inquiries have not been met with a

8. (SBU) Weiszegger noted that the GOS has also been very
accommodating in regard to PAE, even after its contract expired.
Over 80 flights delivering vital cargo equipment were granted flight
clearances over the past several months (after the contract expired
in July), which as critical in making progress on the supercamps.
Weiszegger stated that while there were typically some problems with
lower-level authorities, such difficulties were quickly resolved
when pushed to more senior levels. He credited a joint technical
committee monthly meeting and working groups on specific issues such
as visas for eliminating bureaucratic impediments.


9. (SBU) Stafford noted that UNAMID is now focused on contingency
planning for a "Phase 5" evacuation in the lead-up to the potential
issuance of an ICC arrest warrant against President Bashir, and this
has lamentably taken away attention from deployment. He briefly
outlined draft evacuation plans to sequentially move all troops to
battalion positions, move battalions to sector headquarters and then
co-locate, with potential safe havens in Cairo, Addis Ababa and
Entebbe. Information is currently being gathered on the number of
people and, more importantly, UNAMID's capacity to move them in the
event of an evacuation. The latter would be completed within a
week, according to Stafford.

10. (SBU) Comment: UNAMID's proposal to use UNOPS for the management
and implementation of camp construction is a welcome development, if
only because there is no other plan in place. Whether UNOPS has the
capacity or ability to manage such an ambitious operation remains to
be seen, but camp construction is sure to experience severe delays
regardless. UNAMID's work on contingency planning for a Phase 5
evacuation, while pushing forward on accelerated deployment, is a
familiar paradox last seen in July after the initial ICC arrest
warrant request was made. A Phase 5 evacuation would, of course, be
a devastating blow to reaching deployment goals.


© Scoop Media

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