Cablegate: Challenges to Another Civilian Uplift: Moving Forward, But

DE RUEHBUL #3775/01 3290708
P 250708Z NOV 09




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Challenges to Another Civilian Uplift: Moving Forward, but
Carefully Q Sustainability, Supportability, and Accountability

Ref. Kabul 1762

1. (SBU) Introduction: At the DepartmentQs request, Embassy Kabul
in recent days has developed rough estimates of additional civilians
that may be needed in the field under different scenarios for the
deployment of additional military troops to Afghanistan. (These
estimates apply to increases above and beyond the QBeyond 421Q field
positions requested by the Embassy in reftel, which we continue to
support strongly.) It may well be that an additional round of
civilian intake proves justified, and we would certainly want to
have an appropriate civilian team with any new command center
established under new troop deployments. For several reasons,
however, we believe we also need to consolidate the dramatic
civilian increases already underway before moving too quickly with a
significant additional civilian uplift. Provided below are some of
the main challenges we already face in deploying civilians to the
field. The faster we go, the more severe these constraints will
become. End introduction.

Lack of Track Record on the Civilian Uplift to Date
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

2. (SBU) Over the past year, the U.S. Mission to Afghanistan has
more than doubled in size. We will soon have roughly quadrupled the
number of employees in the field. With the anticipated additional
approval of another large number of QBeyond 421Q field positions,
another wave of Qcivilian upliftQ is already in train. The
expansion of the U.S. civilian presence in the field is not only
making existing platforms (at the four Regional Commands, PRTs, and
Brigade Task Forces) more robust, but we are standing up entirely
new structures in the form of District Support Teams. The logic
behind these new structures is solid, but they have not been in
existence long enough to build an actual track record of
performance. It makes great sense to allow time to assess the
performance of what we are now building, especially the DSTs, and on
the basis of actual experience determine where adjustments are
needed. (It is also important for the Department to assess the
sustainability of such large numbers over a multi-year period.) The
exception to this would be that, if a new task force headquarters or
PRTs were to be established with additional troop deployments in
their care, we would want to include plans for staffing appropriate
civilian teams more quickly. Also, if additional AID funding is
approved, we will require additional staff to assure efficient and
careful management of AID programs.

Locally Engaged Staff
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3. (SBU) The importance of hiring locally engaged staff in tandem
with USG civilians cannot be overstated. The reality is that very
few American civilians can operate successfully in Afghan towns and
villages without the assistance of local nationals. The most
fundamental reason for this is foreign language competence; very few
USG civilians have sufficient competence in the local Afghan
language to operate independently and must therefore rely on
interpreters. In a country where the majority of U.S. personnel
serve for only one year, local staff also provide needed continuity.

4. (SBU) Beyond this, as at missions all over the world, LES serve
as irreplaceable Qcultural interpretersQ of local norms, customs,
and ways of doing business. In a QnormalQ embassy the ratio of LES
to American staff is usually at least 5-1. In contrast, by the end
of this year we will have nearly twice as many American personnel
country-wide as LES. At the village level in Afghanistan, such
social rules can be nearly impenetrable without native familiarity
of the environment. Local staff can be crucial in identifying key
leaders and initiating and maintaining relationships.

5. (SBU) While the demand for qualified LES support is great, the
supply is very limited. Competition among foreign and international
organizations for the best help is fierce. Many Afghans resist
being transferred to jobs far from their homes, especially in
insecure areas of the country, making the pool of potential
applicants available for sub-national work even smaller. Moreover,
to the extent we are QsuccessfulQ in recruiting local talent, we may
undermine another important U.S. policy objective Q building Afghan
capacity Q by draining the best and the brightest from Afghan
organizations, which cannot compete in terms of salary and benefits.
We also are cognizant of the reality that the more US personnel we
send here, the more dependent Afghanistan may become on our
presence. Our large influx of personnel should be seen as temporary
and primarily needed to ultimately wean Afghanistan from foreign-led
development and help them become accountable for their own future.
The USG is working with other international partners to increase
vocational and higher education opportunities in order to expand the
labor pool, but that is a long-term undertaking.

KABUL 00003775 002 OF 003

6. (SBU) When the right local nationals can be found, two other
specific issues also need to be addressed. The first is our own
security clearance requirements for large numbers of LES hires, a
complicated undertaking in a country where few dependable records
exist. Related to security clearances is the question of access to
bases where American military and civilians are located. This will
have to be negotiated with ISAF. But the bottom line is that we must
put a very high priority on hiring locally employed staff.

Constraints in RC-North and RC-West
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7. (SBU) One of the largest challenges to placing Q421 civilians
has been the multilateral structures of RC-N and RC-W, and the
reality that we must obtain the concurrence of coalition partners
for any new civilian placements. Some countries are reluctant to
give their consent for a host of reasons related to both policy
concerns and resource constraints. Resources are a critical issue
for these partners. In some cases they do not have any room to
spare. Even if Embassy Kabul were able to source and provide the
necessary life support, coalition-led PRTs and RCs still struggle to
have the space to accommodate additional connexes and the like.
While we are confident we can place all of our currently planned
increases in staff, there is no reason to think our partners will be
more accommodating to the next wave of U.S. civilians Q if anything,
the opposite may be true. Individual arrangements will need to be
negotiated to place civilians in foreign-led PRTs; we have initiated
negotiations with partner countries on life/security/mobility
support memoranda of understanding, but this will take some time
(septel). While initial contacts have been positive, we cannot
assume what is agreeable to one PRT in any region will be agreeable
to others.

Additional Support Structure
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8. (SBU) Absorbing another civilian increase would put significant
additional pressure on the support structures currently in place,
requiring additional resources both at PRTs and DSTs themselves and
at Embassy Kabul to support the field. This applies to space,
personnel, equipment, supplies, and funds. If another civilian
increase is to be functional and transparent, all concerned players
will need to agree on a timeline that allows these support assets to
be in place by the time they are needed. One high priority will be
the acquisition of enough Containerized Housing Units to house
incoming civilians at coalition partner bases.

GIRoA Presence
- - - - - - - -

9. (SBU) To the extent that another round of civilian intake is tied
to our COIN strategy Q- placing civilians behind the military in
newly QclearedQ areas to advance and consolidate the QholdQ and
QbuildQ phases Q- an essential question must be squarely addressed:
QIs GIRoA present in the districts where we will be placing
civilians?Q The purpose of the USG civilians will be to promote
stabilization, economic and agricultural development, and governance
at the local level. This makes sense, however, only to the extent
that there is a GIRoA presence to partner with. A limited presence
(district governor and police chief) could be sufficient in the
early stages of stabilization (assuming they are competent and
honest). Beyond a period of about 6 months, however, line ministry
functions need to be staffed to justify continued USG civilian

Uncertainties over Military Scenarios
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10. (SBU) Finally, but crucially, estimates of additional civilians
needed over the coming year, in large measure, hinge upon the
military force augmentation decided upon by the President, and the
military strategy pursued with that force structure. Until those
decisions are made, they remain imponderables. When the decisions
are made, the new force structures will need to include the capacity
to provide assured levels of security and mobility for newly
deployed civilians to be able to do their job. Additional forces
will also need to coordinate and plan QclearingQ operations more
closely than in the past with civilians who will be expected to help
Qhold, build and transferQ newly cleared areas. As noted, we will
certainly want to provide appropriate civilian teams to any
commands/headquarters and PRTs to be established, and we will want
additional staff to carry out any additional assistance programs
that may be funded.

11. (SBU) The above considerations in no way diminish our support
for the large number of QBeyond 421Q field positions already agreed.

KABUL 00003775 003 OF 003

Nevertheless, it will be imperative that further increases of
civilians continue to be thoroughly planned and aligned with a clear
understanding of their roles, objectives and resources available for
them to have a positive impact. Much of Afghanistan remains a war
zone, and we must carefully balance our mission objectives against
potentially placing civilians at risk.


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