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Cablegate: U.S.-Timor-Leste Bilateral Military Consultations

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RR RUEHCHI RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHDT #0221/01 2360049
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 240049Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY DILI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4507
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1316
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON 1151
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHHJJPI/PACOM IDHS HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1124
RHMFIUU/USFJ COMMAND CENTER
RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI 4045

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 DILI 000221

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

PACOM FOR CAPT PKELLY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MARR MASS PGOV PREL TT
SUBJECT: U.S.-TIMOR-LESTE BILATERAL MILITARY CONSULTATIONS

DILI 00000221 001.2 OF 003


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The first U.S.-Timor-Leste Bilateral Defense
Discussion (BDD) took place in Dili on August 18. The two
delegations discussed the full range of military-to-military
activities, from strategic dialogue and operational cooperation
to planning and executing training, exercises, exchanges and
related activities. The Timorese delegation briefed its Force
2020 strategy, highlighting the creation of a national maritime
authority and a long-term interest in participating in
peacekeeping operations. The Timorese reiterated a
long-standing request for a U.S. legal advisor and sought
technical and legal assistance in the creation of a national
maritime authority. The U.S. discussed its current operational
plan, including an exercise in Timor-Leste involving nearly
2,800 U.S. marines scheduled for October 2009. The BDD is an
important step in our efforts to professionalize the Timorese
military and keep it focused on a well-defined national security
mission. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Timor-Leste hosted a visiting U.S. delegation on August
18 for the first-ever U.S.-Timor-Leste Bilateral Defense
Discussion (BDD). The U.S. delegation was headed by the
Ambassador and Captain Patrick Kelly, Chief of the Southeast
Asia Policy Division at U.S. Pacific Command. The Timorese side
was led by Dr. Julio Pinto, Secretary of State for Defense, and
Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak, Chief of the Defense Force of
Timor-Leste (F-FDTL). Both delegations included representatives
from multiple service branches and the wider defense and
security community.

---------------------------------------

Developing the Timorese Force

---------------------------------------

3. (U) The Timorese delegation described the F-FDTL's continuing
transition from a guerrilla force to one focused on conventional
warfare, nation building and responding to unconventional
transnational threats. The 2006 petitioners crisis, during
which roughly one-third of the military's force strength walked
off the job and was eventually fired, was a large setback for
the military, costing it hundreds of trained personnel, as well
as lost equipment, and creating poor morale throughout the
force. F-FDTL is still recovering from the petitioners crisis
and is still looking for ways to speed the retirement of
guerrilla-era veterans and to address the force's inadequate
equipment.

4. (U) Both the Ministry of Defense and the F-FDTL will be
restructured in accordance with a series of laws relating to
national defense and security working their way through the
National Parliament. In addition to legal reforms, the F-FDTL
is reorienting its recruiting process and increasing the
educational requirements for incoming personnel. F-FDTL intends
to grow to a force strength of 1,980 by 2012, and 3000 regulars
by 2020, up from roughly 600 trained soldiers today. The F-FDTL
is currently training approximately another 600 who will not
finish basic and special skills training until next year. Basic
and advanced training assistance is expected to come from
Portugal, with Australia providing more specialized training.
The U.S. is reviewing possible avenues to use Navy engineers to
augment Australia's efforts to provide specialized engineer
training.

5. (U) The Timorese delegation highlighted two particular
challenges and goals. The first is the creation of a new
national maritime authority, which will require the F-FDTL to
develop its naval capacity. The second goal is the ability to
participate in UN peacekeeping operations. The Timorese hope to
first deploy observers, then embed personnel with bilateral

DILI 00000221 002.2 OF 003


partners, before eventually forming a dedicated peacekeeping
contingent of their own. The English language skills of F-FDTL
personnel will need to improve dramatically for UN PKO to be a
realistic possibility.

----------------------

U.S. Engagement

----------------------

6. (U) The U.S. side underscored the importance of recent
engagement activities such as the Pacific Angel and Pacific
Partnership humanitarian missions that treated over 4,000 and
10,000 patients in 2009 and 2008, respectively. A detachment
from Navy Construction Battalion One just recently relieved the
first Seabee detachment to complete a 6-month rotation in
Timor-Leste. Looking ahead, the 2800-strong U.S. Marine
exercise scheduled to take place in Timor-Leste in October will
provide opportunity for the largest-scale opportunity to date
for interaction between the two militaries.

7. (U) The U.S. provided Timor-Leste with a draft memorandum of
understanding to guide future military-to-military activities.
The MOU outlines strategic goals and supplements the 2002 Status
of Forces Agreement. The Timorese delegation appreciated
receiving a draft but cautioned that formal approval could be a
time-consuming process as they must forward it to the President
and Prime Minister's Office for review and consideration.

8. (SBU) The Timorese delegation reminded that they have
requested a U.S. legal advisor to assist both the Chief of
Defense and Secretary of State for Defense since early 2008.
Both emphasized that a U.S. legal advisor with military and
civil law experience remains a critical need, while Portuguese
language skills are not necessary. Secretary Pinto also
strongly requested legal and technical assistance from the U.S.
in establishing a national maritime authority to develop law and
policy and coordinate the creation of maritime security
capabilities. General Ruak repeated his earlier request for
access to additional U.S. training billets. He also offered use
of the Baucau air field to U.S. forces and asked that the U.S.
cooperate in the identification and development of military
training areas in Timor-Leste for use by Timorese forces and
those from international partners.

------------------------------------------

Transparency Begets Transparency

------------------------------------------

9. (SBU) In an effort to promote transparency and coordination,
the visiting U.S. delegation briefed Timor Leste's diplomatic
corps and defense attaches. This conference included discussion
on U.S. military engagement with Timor-Leste as well as the
outcome of the bilateral talks. The forum encouraged other
donor nations to share their current and planned engagements
with the host nation reducing the chance of duplicating efforts.
The Chinese DATT acknowledged that there is a delay in
delivering the recently acquisitioned patrol boats as the
manufacturer is still waiting for payment.

----------------

COMMENT

DILI 00000221 003.2 OF 003

----------------

10. (SBU) The BDD was another indication of the enthusiasm
Timor-Leste has for dealing with the United States on defense
and security matters. The day before the dialogue Secretary
Pinto released a long article in the local press praising U.S.
defense cooperation, in particular the respect the U.S. showed
Timor-Leste by pursuing activities in a truly collaborative
fashion. Military engagement has become a very positive
component of our bilateral relationship with Timor-Leste, one
which will continue to provide real benefits in the months and
years ahead. To secure the success of future bilateral
engagement, we must now respond positively and promptly to
Timor-Leste's long-standing request for a U.S. military advisor.
Further, U.S. assistance to the creation of Timor-Leste's
national maritime authority could be critical to the success of
a key entity in developing realistic and well-coordinated
maritime security capabilities.
KLEMM

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