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Cablegate: General Saavedra Sends Positive Signals On Security

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #2759/01 2401959
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281959Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0389
INFO RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 8051
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 9094
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 0538
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 2749
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 8706
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 0537
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 4177
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 2509
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAWJC/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS BOGOTA 002759

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PTER PHUM EAID SNAR CO
SUBJECT: GENERAL SAAVEDRA SENDS POSITIVE SIGNALS ON SECURITY
STRATEGY FOR PNC

REF: A) BOGOTA 2276

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) The Embassy's Colombia Strategic Development Initiative
(CSDI) working group met August 24 with Colombian Army General
Carlos Saavedra, who coordinates implementation of the GOC's
security strategy in relation to the National Consolidation Plan
(PNC). Many areas targeted for CSDI assistance are still largely in
phase one of the strategy: securing territory. Saavedra emphasized
that the GOC has an integrated, inter-institutional national
security plan but at the same time expressed frustration at lack of
coordination among military, police, and civilian GOC agencies.
Saavedra suggested a program of high-level trips to CSDI priority
areas to establish the specific security conditions. The General
also offered his views on security and the lack of cooperation of
the local government in Tumaco, Narino. Overall, the meeting
resulted in positive signals for progress. End Summary.

STILL IN PHASE ONE
------------------
2. (SBU) On August 24, members of the Embassy's CSDI working group
met with General Carlos Ovidio SAAVEDRA Saenz, Chief of Army
Operations and COLMIL PNC lead, to discuss the details of the GOC's
security strategy for the PNC. Saavedra told us that they were
working on a complete security map outlining the influence of both
illegal armed groups and the armed forces in all consolidation
areas. He added that in many locations where CSDI activities are
planned, the GOC was still on the offensive, advancing and
recovering territory, and as such only in "phase one" of the "clear,
hold, and build strategy." He noted recent successes, however, that
caused the GOC to shift several areas from red (non-permissive for
consolidation) to yellow (transitional, where social and economic
projects could be implemented with sufficient security for local
inhabitants).

AREA COMMANDERS KEY
-------------------
3. (SBU) Saavedra admitted that despite the PNC serving as a
national security plan with an integrated and inter-institutional
approach, poor implementation on the ground and a lack of unclear
operational roles and procedures remained serious impediments.
Saavedra noted that there was no high-level forum within the GOC to
discuss consolidation security strategy in Bogota and recognized
that the Embassy was meeting separately with the Center for
Coordinated Integrated Action (CCAI), the Colombian National Police
(CNP), and the Colombian military. He suggested that meetings need
be raised to "the level of decisions" rather than simple information
exchanges. For General Saavedra, area commanders are essential in
order to evaluate current conditions, and offered to lead visits to
CSDI priority zones to meet with those area commanders to get their
security assessments (Note: Post will collaborate with Saavedra on
participating in these visits to heighten awareness of how CSDI can
assist.)

URBAN TUMACO NOT THE REAL PROBLEM IN NARINO
-------------------------------------
4. (SBU) On security plans for Tumaco, General Saavedra told us that
the rural areas in the municipality of Tumaco and the rest of
western Narino, particularly along the Ecuadorean border, are the
real problems and not the city of Tumaco. In many rural areas, he
asserted, the absence of state-provided services and state presence
has led to an environment ripe for illegal armed groups. He added
that the uncertainty of the upcoming election year is creating a
delicate situation in the region and that the appropriate balance of
public forces to address the security problems along the Pacific
region is 60 percent army and 40 percent police. General Saavedra
also emphasized the need to encourage healthy participation by
locally elected officials, whose agendas often differ from that of
the national government.

BACRIM A POLICE PROBLEM
-----------------------
5. (SBU) When asked how the PNC envisions transferring security
responsibilities from the military to the police in stabilized
areas, Saavedra was vague but told us that relations between the CNP
and the Colombian military have never been better and that they are

beginning to talk more. He added that the fight against BACRIM
(organized criminal bands) is a police problem because the issue is
not territorial control but rather rule of law. However, getting
sufficient numbers of capable prosecutors into these zones is "not
easy," he lamented. Saavedra said they are hoping for increased
financing for the Prosecutor General's office (Fiscalia) to create
the needed legal structures, including sixteen new prosecutors to be
assigned to consolidation areas.
BROWNFIELD

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