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Cablegate: Minstate for Defense On Fmf and Gsd

VZCZCXYZ0547
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMK #0713/01 3491353
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 151353Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9107
RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHBVAKS/COMUSNAVCENT
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAMA 000713

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA AND PM

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/15/2019
TAGS: PREL MASS MARR BA YE
SUBJECT: MINSTATE FOR DEFENSE ON FMF AND GSD

Classified By: Classified by Ambassador Adam Ereli for reasons 1.4(b) and (d)

1.(C) Summary: Bahrain's Minister of State for Defense Affairs said Bahrain cannot afford the needed upgrades to its existing fleet of F-16s, and expressed a desire for a second Perry-class frigate under the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program. He said that he believed social problems were fueling the current conflict in Yemen, and praised the planned troop surge in Afghanistan. The MinState also welcomed renewed Gulf Security Dialogue (GSD) talks in early 2010. End Summary -------------------------- FOREIGN MILITARY FINANCING --------------------------

2.(C) PM A/S Shapiro and ASD Vershbow met with Bahrain's Minister of State for Defense Affairs, Dr. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, on the margins of the Manama Dialogue on December 12. The MinState started the conversation by highlighting concerns about Bahrain's ability to fund the USD $400 million Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP) avionics upgrade for its existing fleet of F-16s. He said that it was important for Bahrain to extend the viable service life of these aircraft as long as possible, as the Kingdom could not afford to purchase new aircraft. He cited a difficult budgetary environment for defense expenditures in Bahrain, with most government funding going to social programs. Brigadier General Yousef Ahmed Malalla, Director of Planning, Organization, and Information Technology for the Bahrain Defense Forces (BDF), indicated that Bahrain had already allocated USD $55 million to pay for the basic Service Life Extension (SLE) for the aircraft's engines, but the budget would not support additional expenditures to support CCIP. Brigadier General Shaikh Hamad Abdulla Al Khalifa, Commander of the Royal Bahraini Air Force, said Bahrain needed assistance in modernizing its F-16s in order to continue to support coalition operations. A/S Shapiro noted that the USG had increased Bahrain's FY10 FMF allotment to USD $19.5 million, and ASD Vershbow encouraged Sheikh Mohammed to take a long-term strategic view of its defense budget.

3.(C) BG Malalla asked if the USG would be able to transfer a second Perry-class frigate to Bahrain under the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program. He indicated that bilateral discussions on this issue had been on-going since 2002, with the USG initially projecting that such a ship would be available within 5 years. Citing concerns about the operational capacity of its existing Perry-class frigate the RBNS Sabha, BG Malalla reiterated Bahrain's need for assistance in order to continue its support of coalition operations. --------------------- YEMEN AND AFGHANISTAN ---------------------

4.(C) The MinState praised the USG's 'Friends of Yemen' diplomatic strategy. He asserted that social problems in Yemen contributed to the Houthi conflict, saying that there currently was, "No beginning of hope." Sheikh Mohammed praised President Obama's decision to send more troops, emphasizing the importance of strengthening the security situation in that country. However, he stressed that an effective political and economic plan was also critical to achieving stability stating, "The Afghanis need hope. If they have it, the security situation will calm down." ---------------------- GULF SECURITY DIALOGUE ----------------------

5.(C) The MinState welcomed A/S Shapiro's offer to resume the GSD in early 2010, with a focus on high-level, strategic discussions. Making reference to public speculation on a possible new round of Iran sanctions, he added, "After the beginning of the year there will be a lot to talk about." ------------ PARTICIPANTS ------------

6.(U) Participants: U.S: PM Assistant Secretary Andrew Shapiro ASD Alexander Vershbow Ambassador Adam Ereli Major David Burke (notetaker for A/S Shapiro) David Edginton (Embassy notetaker) Bahrain: Minister of State for Defense Affairs Dr. Shaikh Lieutenant General Mohammed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa Bahrain Ambassador to U.S. Huda Nunu Brigadier General Yousef Ahmed Malalla Brigadier General Shaikh Hamad Abdulla Al Khalifa Lieutenant Mohammed bin Hasan Al Khalifa (BDF notetaker) ERELI

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