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Cablegate: Over-Flight Clearance for Africom Ep-3 Missions:

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAS #1162 3641633
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 301633Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY ALGIERS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8283
INFO RUEHBP/AMEMBASSY BAMAKO PRIORITY 1060
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT PRIORITY 6822
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 2813
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY

S E C R E T ALGIERS 001162

NOFORN
SIPDIS

EO 12958 DECL: 12/30/2024
TAGS PREL, PINR, MOPS, KCOM, AG, US
SUBJECT: OVER-FLIGHT CLEARANCE FOR AFRICOM EP-3 MISSIONS:
PRELIMINARY ALGERIAN RESPONSE
REF: SECSTATE 130969

Classified By: DCM William Jordan for reasons 1.4. (b), (d).

1. (S/NF) OSC Chief delivered reftel request for EP-3 overflight permission to the Algerian Defense Ministry’s Office of External Relations and Cooperation (DREC) on December 29. There was no immediate response, but the DREC summoned OSC Chief for a follow-up meeting December 30 to state that (1) no decision was possible before next week and (2) overflight requests generally require two-weeks advance notice before they can be approved.

2. (S/NF) DCM, on December 30, double-tracked the request with Algerian MFA DG for the Americas Sabri Boukadoum. In presenting the message, DCM stressed (1) that the request was intended to survey the SIGINT environment in areas of Mauritania and Mali where AQIM operates, (2) that, without knowing what that survey would yield, the USG could not make any commitments ahead of time as to what data it might share with the GOA, and (3) that the request should be regarded in large measure as a follow-up to the recent visit by AFRICOM Commander General Ward and a demonstration of the enhanced security cooperation we want to support in the face of the AQIM threat in the trans-Sahara region. He further explained that we had made the same request to other governments in the region and were awaiting their responses.

3. (S/NF) Boukadoum asked for information on the expected flight path of the EP-3 over Algerian airspace (DCM confirmed that, departing from Rota, the flights would likely overfly the southwestern corner near Tindouf), whether the aircraft would seek to overfly Mauritania and Mali on each mission (DCM responded that the missions would be divided between those principally flying over Mali or Mauritania but not both), and whether collection would occur inside Algerian airspace (DCM reiterated the notation in reftel that the aircraft would not collect on AQIM in Algeria unless the GOA specifically requested it).

4. (S/NF) As with the DREC, Boukadoum indicated that we should not expect a definitive answer before next week. He agreed, however, to forward our request up his hierarchy immediately. Boukadoum expected that the highest levels of the GOA would consider the request.

5. (S/NF) Comment: Although post will be closed for the New Year holiday from COB December 30, our interlocutors know how to reach key Embassy POCs if and as necessary before we reopen on Sunday, January 3. In the meantime, and given the DREC’s stress on the longstanding requirement for two-weeksQ, notice prior to any overflight, operational planners for this mission should be prepared to provide at least a notional schedule for flights should we get indications that the GOA and neighboring countries are prepared to provide clearance. We stressed the number of sorties and timeframe envisaged under this concept of operations, but we should not expect to receive blanket clearance for all overflights. Having as much advance information on the flights as possible to share with the GOA would minimize the potential need to have to clear each and every mission with 14-days advance notice.
PEARCE

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