Cablegate: Border Activity Update: Customs, Border Structures, And

DE RUEHBUL #0229/01 0240924
O 240924Z JAN 10




E.O. 12958 N/A

REF: Kabul 101

KABUL 00000229 001.2 OF 003

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Effective control of its borders is critical to
Afghanistan's security and economic prosperity. The Embassy's Border
Management Task Force (BMTF) plays a significant role in building
Afghan capacity to manage its borders, creating institutions for
coordinating border plans; harmonizing international projects; and
putting bricks and mortar on the ground at strategic border
crossings. Among its major achievements of the past six months are:

a) Establishment, together with other donors, of the Afghan National
Customs Academy.

b) Improvements and mentors at major border crossing points.

c) Maintenance of and training in the use of scanning and sensing
equipment at the Kabul and Kandahar Airports and numerous border

d) Provision of trainers and mentors near Shebregan, Spin Boldak,
Jalalabad, and Herat to support the Border Police and larger U.S.
mission in Afghanistan.


2. (SBU) Better control of Afghanistan's borders is critical to
stabilization of Afghanistan's security and to long-term economic
sustainability. The constant flow of narcotics, weapons, and
undocumented people undermine the efforts of the coalition to cut
off material support to insurgents. Ramshackle facilities and
untrained officials hinder licit commerce and result in lost customs
duties and fees - the primary source of GIRoA tax revenue. The lack
of effective modern border management procedures and transparency,
moreover, fosters an environment for corruption.

3. (SBU) BMTF, led by DHS Customs and Border Patrol officials, is
focused on assisting the GIRoA to improve its border management
capabilities to improve processing of licit movements of goods and
people, to interdict illicit movements, and to improve revenue
collection. It advises Afghan border officials (customs officials
and border police) both on policy and operations. BMTF supports a
robust mentor program at two border crossings, Islam Qalah on the
Iranian border and Torkham Gate on the Pakistan border; and it
intends to expand the program, increasing the number of mentors at
Torkham and Islam Qalah and putting new mentors at Weesh Chaman this
year. (NOTE: Mentor operations at Islam Qalah were temporarily
suspended, and all Islam Qalah mentors were deployed at Torkham Gate
because of ISAF traffic through there. They will return to Islam
Qalah soon END NOTE). BMTF played a lead role in September 2009 in
creating the Border Issues Working Group (BIWG) to bring together
U.S. Embassy, ISAF, GIRoA and other donors involved in customs,
immigration, and other border issues to ensure that all coordinate.
It is also active with GIRoA customs officials and other donors in
the Informal Customs Network in coordinating donor assistance
specifically focused on support of customs capacity building and

4. (SBU) The BMTF and Department of Homeland security (DHS) are on
track to add a DHS attach and additional mentors in Balkh, Herat,
and Nangahar Province. The tactical work of BMTF compliments
parallel policy discussions in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit
Trade Agreement (APTTA) talks and the Dubai Process, and
improvements in border management will contribute to trade
facilitation once the APTTA is agreed. Successful border operations
will be a key to fast tracking supplies for NATO forces; generating
customs revenue for GIRoA; and stemming the flow of narcotics and

Afghan National Customs Academy

5. (SBU) U.S Coordinating Director for Economic and Development
Affairs Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne and Canadian Ambassador William
Crosbie joined Minister of Finance H.E. Dr. Omar Zakhilwal January
19 to open the Afghan National Customs Academy (ANCA), Afghanistan's
first central customs training institution. The ANCA will train 150
to 200 recruits over the course of 12 months on customs practices.
At the same time, four Afghan trainers will participate in a
train-the-trainer program so that Afghans can train Afghans to
ensure that the ANCA will remain operational and sustainable over
the long term.

KABUL 00000229 002.2 OF 003

6. (SBU) The Academy grew out of the Canada-led Dubai Process, a
confidence building forum for Pakistan and Afghanistan designed to
bring together officials from both countries at an informal, working
level (reftel). The coordination and implementation of the academy
was worked through the Informal Customs Network. The U.S. and Canada
will fund and staff the first three years of instruction. The USG
is providing $2.5 million of funding annually, which will include
operational support for the Academy, the dean of the Academy, five
trainers, and curriculum development. This is in addition to the
approximately $2 million which the United States contributed to the
construction and renovation to the training facilities. Canada has
developed tailored training materials that will be used in the
academy's curriculum and has also provided a deputy dean and a
senior trainer who will work with recruits and officials.

7. (SBU) During this period, the Academy will share the facilities
of the Afghan Counternarcotics Training Academy. The European
Community has already committed to fund a new facility designed
specifically for the Customs Academy. The BMTF, in conjunction with
the Army Corps of Engineers' Afghan Engineering Division, have the
ground knowledge and capabilities to make it a natural agent to
design and build the Academy.

Improvements at Border Crossing Points

8. (SBU) The BMTF is targeting capacity and material development for
Afghanistan's major borders. The Kandahar-Weesh-Chaman-Quetta link
is an essential corridor for supplying ISAF activities in the south
and for facilitating a commercial and trade corridor. Current plans
call for ground breaking on $20 million worth of facility upgrades
and training to increase security and expedite the movement of goods
and people by August 2010. BMTF has already worked with GIRoA to
identify a 100 square kilometer site, and President Karzai is
expected to sign the decree soon transferring the land to the
Ministry of Finance so that building can begin this summer. The
Government of Canada will support the GIRoA to help prepare the site
by compensating and transplanting the current residents and
improving some of the extant public buildings there. Warehouse and
barracks facilities at the Islam Qalah facility, in the west, should
be completed by March 2010. BMTF is also managing improvements at
the Kabul Inland Customs Depot. Upgrades include two new warehouses
and the refurbishment of six others. Work should be completed by
January 2010.

9. (SBU) The busy Torkham border crossing which links Kabul and
Jalalabad to Peshawar is a testing ground for developing model
border operations. Border activities should increase revenue and
prevent contraband smuggling. BMTF is adding mentors for Afghan
border officials on the border, and ISAF is providing the life and
logistical support for the BMTF mentors. The cooperation between
the civilian BMTF and the military and relationships between the
border mentors and the Afghans are charting new territory and
showing the way for successful approaches at other strategic

Monitoring Authorized Entry Points

10. (SBU) BMTF is managing maintenance for and training in the use
of scanning and sensing equipment at the Kabul and Kandahar Airports
and at numerous border crossings. Afghans are successfully using
basic scanner equipment. Lack of Afghan capacity to use and
maintain equipment, however, limits the value of deploying more
advanced technology. Some technology, such as a sophisticated truck
scanner installed at Sher Khan Bandir (bordering Tajikistan),
requires up to $350,000 for operation and maintenance. These types
of scanners are difficult to adapt for use in the austere Afghan
environment and have low potential for sustainability.

11. (SBU) The Kabul International Airport has been the scene of a
patchwork of different international donor-funded activities. The
BMTF is helping to build coherence through coordinated operations
such as the recently executed bulk cash smuggling operation
highlighted by Minister of Finance Zakhilwal and written-up by
international media. The operation brought together five different
agencies and project implementers in an investigation that revealed
$10 million in cash leaves Afghanistan daily. A new Airport
Technical Working Group is making strides to bring all Afghan
officials and international donors/mentors at the airport into one
forum to coordinate operations better.


KABUL 00000229 003.2 OF 003

Training the Afghan Border Police

12. (SBU) The Afghan Border Police (ABP) has responsibility to
provide immigration and visa services, protect customs facilities,
and prevent the entrance of unauthorized goods and persons at
Afghanistan's 14 approved border crossing points. The ABP's
jurisdiction includes all territory 50 km inland from Afghanistan's
international borders. Previous Afghan National Security Forces
training plans placed ABP near the bottom of the ANP training
priority. As a result, the BMTF and CENTCOM developed a parallel
complimentary training program to develop the ABP focusing on its
distinctive functions.

13. (SBU) Four training and mentoring programs are in place near
Shebregan (north), Spin Boldak (south), Jalalabad (east), and Herat
(west). The current GIRoA ABP staffing pattern calls for a 17,870
person force. Recent estimates show a shortfall of nearly 5,000
officers, non-commissioned officers and patrolmen. The new training
centers are capable of training nearly 9,000 ABP a year for a basic
six-week course. Problems with logistics, transportation, and
attrition, however, will prevent the training pace from meeting the
training need in a linear progression. Mentoring teams are at
Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Helmand, and Nangahar Provinces. The short
course provides basics in firearms, small unit tactics, vehicle
management, law enforcement, and specialty weapons. The training
centers will formally fall under the Combined Security Transition
Command -Afghanistan (CSTC-A)/NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan
(NTM-A) in September 2010.

14. (SBU) COMMENT: While we have made considerable progress both in
improving Afghan capabilities in border management and ensuring
regular coordination between donors and with the GIRoA, Afghanistan
is starting from a very low threshold, and its needs remain great on
all borders. One challenge we must begin to face is that as we help
Afghanistan improve infrastructure and procedures on its side of the
border, we will have to encourage Afghan officials to coordinate and
communicate better with bordering countries, and in particular,
Pakistan, to ensure a smooth, uninterrupted flow of licit goods and


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