Cablegate: The Downsizing of International Security Forces In

DE RUEHDT #0338/01 3560955
P R 220955Z DEC 09




E.O. 12958: N/A


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1. (SBU) The Timorese government seeks a significant reduction
in the presence of international security forces over the course
of 2010. Citing the improved security situation here,
Australian and New Zealand troops deployed in Timor-Leste plan
to drop from a combined 800 soldiers today to 450 by May 2010.
Reducing the United Nations peacekeeping operation may prove
more challenging, however, as the UN has tied the handover of
policing responsibilities to Timorese police meeting minimal
capability standards. President Ramos-Horta publicly has called
for the full handover of police responsibilities to occur in
Dili by June 2010 and nationwide by end-2010. Mixed UN police
performance, a Timorese desire to recover sovereignty, a craving
to reduce the chafing UN presence especially in Dili, and
renewed confidence in the Timorese police are factors driving
the new timeline. The Timorese police remain institutionally
weak, however, poorly resourced, still deeply scarred by its
2006 collapse, and inadequately trained. Nevertheless, we
recommend that the renewal of the UN mandate for Timor-Leste in
February 2010 confirm the handover of police responsibilities to
the Timorese by end-2010, and the beginning soon of a visible,
deliberate downsizing of peacekeeping operations. Ideally, the
UN should sponsor an independent assessment of remaining gaps in
Timorese policing capabilities that can provide a baseline for
future bilateral assistance. As the UN PKO withdraws, the U.S.
should step up its assistance to the professionalization of the
Timorese police in conjunction with our allies Australia,
Portugal and Japan. End summary.

2. (SBU) In two speeches delivered in Dili in November and
December 2009, President Ramos-Horta outlined Timorese
intentions for a deliberate but prompt reduction in the
international security forces deployed in Timor-Leste.
Ramos-Horta's timetable - worked out in consultation with the
Prime Minister and the civilian and uniformed commanders of the
country's security forces, and ratified in early-December 2009
by the constitutionally mandated Superior Council on Defense and
Security (an advisory body comprised of civilian authorities,
the national parliament, military and police representatives,
and other stakeholders) - envisions a full transfer of police
operational responsibilities back to the Timorese by end-2010
and a concomitant lower presence of Australian and New Zealand
troops. The timetable is in rough accordance with the key
international actors, the UN and the Australian led
International Stabilization Force (ISF). Both cite recent
Timorese stability and the increasing ability of Timorese
institutions to maintain security as key factors enabling a
drawdown. Nonetheless, the potential for friction or
disagreement regarding the size and mission of future
international forces in Timor-Leste exists, especially regarding
the UN peacekeeping operations (PKO) within the UN Mission to
Timor-Leste (UNMIT). The UN consistently has tied a handover to
the Timorese meeting certain qualitative performance criteria,
and has not begun to discuss downsizing, at least not openly and
not in 2010.


International Stabilization Force


3. (SBU) The ISF currently numbers roughly 800 soldiers,
comprised of 650 Australian troops and 150 from New Zealand.
Always commanded by an Australian, the ISF arrived in
Timor-Leste in late-May 2006 at the peak of the violence
associated with the 2006 crisis with an initial contingent of
some 3000. By February 2010, the Australian component will
shrink to 400 and by May 2010, the New Zealand force will slip

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to 50, leaving total ISF troop strength at 450 by mid-2010. In
coordination with the government of Timor-Leste (GoTL), the ISF
will close a forward operating base in Baucau, focus operations
in Dili and Gleno, and reduce armed security patrols to a
minimum, especially in the capital. The ISF's core mission will
continue to be to work with the Timorese military (F-FDTL),
engage with local communities throughout Timor-Leste, and
monitor the security environment. Australian diplomatic
contacts acknowledge that as long as Timor-Leste remains stable,
the ISF will assess its force strength continuously with an eye
towards further reductions in manpower.




4. (SBU) The UN PKO is made up of some 1500 personnel,
predominantly police representing more than forty nations, and
known locally as UNPOL. Its largest contingents hail from
Portugal, Malaysia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh and
Australia. UNPOL is headquartered in Dili, concentrated in
formed police units in several parts of the country and is
permanently stationed in each of the country's thirteen district
capitals (an early goal to have UNPOL stationed in all 65
sub-districts was never realized). Since its inception, the
peacekeeping mandate has had two primary goals: A) establish
peace and stability through operational command of all police
forces in Timor-Leste and B), reconstitute the Timorese national
police (PNTL) through training, mentoring and a process of
certification. The size of UNPOL has remained constant since
the beginning of the UN mandate in 2006, although its role has
shifted over time in response to changing conditions in
Timor-Leste, fluctuations in the relationship with the Timorese
authorities, and realization of its own limitations.

5. (SBU) UNPOL's task of ending the widespread violence and
property destruction that wracked Timor-Leste through much of
the latter half of 2006 was accomplished by end-2007. Today,
the country is peaceful and crime rates are low. The consensus
view on UNPOL's second objective - training, mentoring and
recertifying the PNTL - is largely one of failure. Mentoring
and training programs had little positive effect due to the
absence of a unified UN training/mentoring doctrine, a lack of
qualified trainers/mentors within UNPOL and, after the initial
bad experience of working with weak UNPOL instructors, Timorese
disengagement. On the certification process, whereby individual
PNTL officers would be reviewed for past criminal behavior and
performance during the 2006 crisis, the GOTL and UNMIT never
came to agreement on a unified process and have effectively
operated parallel systems. A program of co-location to
encourage joint UNPOL/PNTL operations was not uniformly
implemented. Visiting police stations around the country, one
can easily find PNTL officers working out of dilapidated
structures without power, desks or latrines, in eyesight of
their UNPOL colleagues working in clean, well-lit and fully
resourced offices. Several internal UN reviews of the
UNPOL-PNTL relationship, including a major assessment conducted
in March 2008 by the head of the UN's police operations, have
suggested reforms. Implementation has been spotty, however.
UNPOL leadership at times has been weak, effective joint
operations remain irregular, and the Timorese in frustration
have turned to bilateral partners for their training needs.


How long the UN PKO Mission?


6. (SBU) In September 2007, the GoTL asked the UN for an
extension of its PKO mandate through 2012 when the next round of

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presidential and national parliament elections are expected.
Even then, the Timorese embrace of UNPOL was less then
wholehearted. In October 2007, the president of the national
parliament told the Ambassador that it was time for UNPOL to
scale down and give policing back to the PNTL. UNPOL's heavy
presence in Dili has chafed, as has the loss of sovereignty, the
occasional poor caliber of UNPOL officers, its indifferent
integration with PNTL forces, its lavish stock of equipment and
vehicles, and the occasional well-publicized maltreatment of
Timorese. In recognition of Timor-Leste's increasing stability,
in May 2009 UNPOL finally initiated a process whereby
operational policing responsibilities were returned to PNTL
commanders on a district or unit basis. Command in four
districts and several units (such as the maritime police) have
been turned over to the PNTL so far.

7. (SBU) The focus now is on when the handover will be
completed, and the future role and scale of UNPOL. President
Ramos-Horta asked that the ongoing handover process be completed
by the end of 2010, with the PNTL reassuming policing
responsibilities in the critical Dili capital district by June
2010. He urged that the four formed police units (FPUs) be
reduced to two and deployed outside of Dili, but later acceded
to the UN's request that the FPUs be reduced only to three, with
one having responsibility for the security of UN staff
concentrated in Dili. While Ramos-Horta deferred to the UN
decisions regarding the future, post-handover size of UNPOL, he
made clear the Timorese expectation that UNPOL will downsize.
Regarding the post-handover role of UNPOL, Ramos-Horta insisted
that it be subordinate and supportive; i.e., to provide guidance
and support in administration and management and to continue
monitoring and training. Throughout the country, UNPOL would
cease carrying out mobile patrols "or intervene except when


The Handover Process So Far


8. (SBU) In the four districts in which the PNTL have resumed
command, the process of transferring authority and having UNPOL
assume a "monitoring" role has not been friction-free. In
Lautem, which in May 2009 became the first handover district,
there was considerable confusion among both the remaining UNPOL
officers and the PNTL regarding their respective roles. UNPOL
commanders provided little doctrinal or procedural clarity and
UNPOL behavior suggested to the Timorese that the former
believed themselves to be still in charge. The Lautem PNTL
Chief told the Ambassador that the situation was resolved
satisfactorily only in October 2009, following a visit by the
PNTL commander.

9. (SBU) Decisions on which districts or units to hand over
have been jointly reached by UNMIT and Timorese commanders based
on assessments of local PNTL operational capabilities, including
the completion rates of the certification process for district
or unit officers. The process at times has required very
senior-level negotiations. In one instance, UNMIT threatened to
block a handover unless the prime minister acted to remove
uncertified district commanders. Although the Timorese at times
asked that the process be time-bound, UNMIT maintained that the
process be solely criteria-based. The significance of
Ramos-Horta's December 9 declaration was UNMIT's apparent
acceptance that the handover process would now also be driven by
a timetable and completed no later than end-2010.


Timorese Police Far From Ideal


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10. (SBU) The PNTL remains a weak institution, poorly
resourced, inadequately trained, badly administered, with many
of its officers without access to basic transportation,
investigations, enforcement and communications equipment. Since
2006, however, when its command collapsed in the face of that
year's crisis, there have been some improvements. In a
late-2008 national poll, 80% of respondents stated the PNTL was
doing a good or very good job. By means of a series of legal
and regulatory changes the government is reforming the PNTL's
command and personnel structure, tightening its disciplinary
codes, and clarifying its training and operational doctrines.
The prime minster recently dismissed seven officers, a
commission reviewing 259 still uncertified officers (8% of the
total force) will complete its work in mid-2010 (and is expected
to require more dismissals), and a long awaited
performance-based promotion system will be enacted in January
2010. That said, while the new PNTL chief introduced a needed
strengthening of the chain of command, he also faces criticism
for rewarding loyalists and prioritizing the development of
glitzy tactical units at the expense of community policing. A
visit to any sub-district PNTL station remains an astonishingly
discouraging event. It routinely ends with a beleaguered
commander noting the absence, and requesting help with the
provision, of basic skills training, communications equipment,
generators, transportation, weapons lockers and even handcuffs.

11. (SBU) Nevertheless, Ramos-Horta's logic in calling for a
completion of the handover process in 2010 is compelling. To
begin, the PNTL relationship with UNPOL is significantly one of
dependence, for logistics, infrastructure, equipment,
maintenance and transportation. An effective downsizing of
UNPOL will help break this dependency, and Ramos-Horta urged the
GOTL to meet by end-2011 all basic PNTL infrastructure and
logistic requirements. He further told the ambassador that the
PNTL must develop the confidence that it can police Timor-Leste
on its own well before the next round of national elections in
2012, and can only do so by building up a record of success
through experience. Mindful of the history of PNTL failure when
the international presence has been relaxed, most notably in
2006 but also in 2002, Ramos-Horta said the presence of UNPOL as
monitors through 2012 will provide adequate insurance in the
case of another PNTL relapse.


Next Steps


12. (SBU) Two milestones loom. The first will be a UN
technical assessment mission, to be led by Ian Martin (a UN
veteran in Timor-Leste), that will survey all UN operations but
especially those of UNPOL in mid-January 2010. The second will
be the upcoming UN Security Council review of the UN's mandate
in Timor-Leste, currently due for renewal in February 2010. We
see some danger that either UNMIT or UN headquarters will take
an overly restrictive approach to the handover process and UNPOL
downsizing, and unnecessarily maintain the UNPOL presence at
current levels. We recommend UN support of completing the
process of returning full policing responsibility to the PNTL by
end-2010, the development of a well-defined, narrow, supportive
monitoring program for UNPOL, and the beginning in 2010 of a
visible, deliberate downsizing of UNPOL.

13. (SBU) The role of Timor-Leste's bilateral partners,
including the U.S., in the professionalization of its police
force and military is viewed by Timorese actors as becoming ever
more important. For the PNTL, both Portugal and Australia have
significant training programs in basic skills, and the U.S. has
contributed in alignment with Australia investigative skills
training (implemented by NCIS) and the installation of a
computer-based training facility at PNTL's training center. The

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FBI/JTIAF-W is developing an extended criminal intelligence
training program. Timorese leaders do not expect or want
bilateral partners to replace the full array of assistance
provided by UNPOL since 2006, but correctly see key PNTL
capability gaps and believe they can only be remedied with
support from skilled, reliable bilateral partners. An area
where the UN may still play a useful role would be to sponsor an
independent assessment of PNTL needs. The Timorese requested
such an analysis in 2008, but UNMIT dodged it. A comprehensive
assessment and prioritization of PNTL needs would provide a
critical reference for both the GOTL and bilateral partners.

14. (SBU) Pending the completion of such an assessment by the
UN or by the USG, Mission Dili has identified the following key
areas for potential U.S. programs.

Development of Timor-Leste's Legal Framework for the Security
Sector: The clash between members of the Timorese armed forces
(F-FDTL) and between the F-FDTL and the PNTL during the 2006
crisis demonstrated the urgent need to clearly articulate a
national security policy and to delineate the roles and
responsibilities of the Timorese security forces. The U.S. has
been playing a major supportive role in the ongoing effort to
finalize a national security policy through facilitation and
coordination conducted by the Asia Pacific Center for Security
Studies. Although the draft national security policy is
expected to be approved sometime early next year, continued
support may be required to help bring this process to a
successful conclusion. In addition, the U.S. Pacific Command
has explored the provision of legal advisors, which would be
warmly welcomed by Timorese Commanders.

Professionalization of the F-FDTL: The F-FDTL is in the process
of tripling its size over the course of just a few years and has
declared its intention to focus future activities on disaster
management, engineering projects, and international peacekeeping
- all areas in which it has little expertise. Mission Dili's
Office of Defense Cooperation has been using IMET funds and U.S.
Pacific Command programs to support the professionalization of
the F-FDTL through training programs and bilateral engagement.
A recent major U.S. Marines exercise in Timor-Leste that
included extended joint training with the F-FDTL was highly
praised by Timorese commanders for providing their soldiers an
opportunity to engage with and learn from U.S. troops. Making
such exercises a regular feature of U.S. engagement would have a
strongly positive effect on F-FDTL development. In addition,
the U.S. Pacific Command supported the permanent deployment of a
detachment of U.S. Navy Seabees to conduct humanitarian
engineering projects and to work with the F-FDTL engineers to
build their capacity. Continued support in these areas will be
critical for the next several years.

Maritime security: The GOTL has yet to develop an integrated
policy and institutional arrangements to manage its maritime
security and the failure to do so is a major obstacle to
addressing the country's vulnerabilities to terrorism, narcotics
and human smuggling, and illegal fishing. Additional
vulnerabilities in this area include port security and the low
capacity of the maritime police and military units. The
Secretary of State for Security has asked for U.S. navigational
skills training, from the most basic thorough intermediate
search and rescue and maritime police tactics, for the Timorese
maritime police. The U.S. Pacific Command, the U.S. Coast
Guard, and the National Criminal Investigative Service have all
begun to offer assistance programs to address these problems,
including training on port security and basic navigational
skills, and the possible assignment of a legal advisor to assist
with the development of a national maritime security policy.
Additional support will be required in these and related areas
in the coming few years.

Logistical support for the PNTL: As noted above, the PNTL lacks
basic logistical capabilities, particularly in the districts

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outside of Dili. At the same time, the GOTL is committed to
investing some of its own funds towards redressing these
deficiencies. What is lacking, however, is technical expertise
on procurement, storage, and, particularly, maintenance of
equipment and supplies. All too often, we have observed that
Timorese purchase unneeded equipment or fail to maintain such
equipment in working order. Per ref A, we have already
requested INL support in providing limited technical assistance
in this area. Depending on future assessments and needs,
however, additional support may be necessary.

Professionalization of the PNTL: As described above, the PNTL
remains an unprofessional force lacking in capacity in a range
of critical areas. A comprehensive assessment of the
deficiencies and the ongoing bilateral training programs is
needed to determine where and how the U.S. can contribute to its
professionalization. Pending such an assessment, however,
immediate needs include basic training in the areas of border
management and close protection. Deficiencies in both of these
areas have left Timor-Leste vulnerable to external terrorism
threats, as well as international crime and drug and human
trafficking. Per ref B, we have requested assistance from S/CT
and Diplomatic Security's Anti-Terrorism Assistance program to
conduct an assessment and offer in-country border management and
close protection training.

As we continue to develop a better understanding of the needs
and deficiencies of the PNTL, we anticipate the need for
additional U.S. training and support. We hope to apply for 1207
funds during the coming year to address the immediate needs
presented by the anticipated drawdown of the ISF and UNPOL over
the next few years.

© Scoop Media

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