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Cablegate: International Support for Afghanistan's Maturing

VZCZCXRO8890
RR RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #0636/01 0520659
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210659Z FEB 10 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5731
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KABUL 000636

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL MASS AF
SUBJECT: INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT FOR AFGHANISTAN'S MATURING
NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL

REF: A. KABUL 501
B. KABUL 596

KABUL 00000636 001.3 OF 003


SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Afghanistan's long-moribund Office of the National
Security Council (ONSC) has shown new vitality over the last
three months by first reorganizing itself, and then by
choreographing GIRoA's interagency response to the threat
posed by Ammonium Nitrate-based explosives (reftel A). Under
the direction of a charismatic Deputy National Security
Advisor, ONSC is asserting a role on a range of issues,
including insurgent reintegration and drafting the National
Threat Assessment. These signs of life, coupled with U.K.
and U.S. advocacy, have sparked international interest in
support for the ONSC. Embassy Kabul and ISAF will need to
manage this support carefully to ensure that it meets NSC's
needs for basic technical and staff support at the
organization's lower levels, while avoiding the sort of
heavy-handed mentoring that can retard organizational
development. END SUMMARY

SECRET OF ONSC'S SUCCESS:
FINDING AND EXPLOITING BUREAUCRATIC NICHES
------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) ONSC had traditionally been hampered by
ministries' turf consciousness, poor leadership, and
Presidential disinterest. Second Deputy National Security
Advisor Shaida Mohammad Abdali, a 2008 graduate of the
National Defense University, has led the fight to make ONSC a
more effective institution along American lines. ONSC now
uses a working-level &Security Operations Group8 (SOG) to
tee up issues for a Deputies Committee (DC), which in turn
makes decision recommendations for a ministerial-level
Principals, Group. The SOG and DC include international
observers, while the Principals, Group is entirely Afghan )
thus, internationals are consulted while decision-making
remains in Afghan hands. ONSC has identified and taken on
issues that fall outside traditional ministerial lines, and
leveraged them to create a role for itself:

-- The issue of Ammonium Nitrate based explosives, for
example, crossed bureaucratic lines between several
ministries. Therefore, early ISAF and U.S. Embassy attempts
to encourage a single ministry to take the lead encountered
difficulties. ONSC leadership, backed by international
support, sensitized President Karzai to the threat posed by
AN explosives, and drafted a ban the President signed (reftel
A).

-- The ONSC convened a Ministerial meeting on February 14 to
begin drafting GIRoA,s implementation plan on insurgent
reintegration. ONSC is well positioned to lead the Afghan
interagency on an issue involving overlapping security,
governance, and development equities.
-- When ONSC drafted the National Threat Assessment, it
included ISAF, NTM-A, UNAMA, and the U.S. and U.K embassies
in the process. Internationals provided helpful comments to
the SOG and DC (inter alia, toning down
anti-Pakistan/anti-ISI language) but otherwise stayed on the
sidelines as Afghans managed the process.

-- ONSC is now tackling a trickier bureaucratic issue ) the
destruction of obsolete ammunition. Afghan views differ,
with some major players (including the Ministry of Defense)
adamantly opposed to ammo destruction. In this test case,
ONSC will have to forge a bureaucratic consensus where none
exists, and deal with a recalcitrant ministry that "owns" the
issue in question.

INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT AND INTEREST GROW
---------------------------------------

4. (SBU) These successes have prompted ISAF headquarters
elements and NATO Training Mission Afghanistan (NTM-A) to
contemplate support for ONSC, building on earlier efforts by
the U.K Embassy and the Combined Security Transition Command,
Afghanistan (CSTC-A). The UK Embassy was an early advocate
of greater donor support for the ONSC. In summer 2009, it
proposed a project to assist the office in drafting
Afghanistan's first National Security Strategy -- a capstone
strategic planning document that will organize the efforts of
Afghanistan,s security services. The UK project will spend
500,000 pounds over six months to provide senior ONSC
officials with advising by UK-based security experts.

KABUL 00000636 002 OF 003

5. (SBU) CSTC-A had supported the ONSC with four contract
advisors since 2004. However, in 2009 CSTC-A began to
withdraw its support for the ONSC, reducing and eventually
eliminating its mentoring program. U.S. Forces
Afghanistan,s Liaison Office to the U.S. Embassy (L/EMB),
which managed this program on behalf of CSTC-A, advocated for
continued support to ONSC, and led an ad hoc working group on
ONSC support with representatives from ISAF, CSTC-A, the U.S.
and U.K embassies. Along with ONSC,s success in banning
Ammonium Nitrate, the ad-hoc group catalyzed ISAF and U.S.
Embassy interest in support for ONSC.

6. (SBU) NATO Training Mission Afghanistan (NTM-A),
CSTC-A,s successor organization, has taken a proactive
approach to supporting the ONSC. NTM-A is in the final
stages of approving a $12 million National Security Command
and Control Center for President Karzai, to be administered
by ONSC and staffed by personnel from the Ministries of
Defense and Interior and the National Directorate of
Security. The facility will provide President Karzai with
real-time information on all Afghan security operations and
crises (including natural disasters), better enabling him to
fulfill his role as Commander-in-Chief. Partners are also
considering additional support:

-- NTM-A has assigned a military officer (LTC O-5) to support
the ONSC and contemplates placing as many as 10 civilian
contract advisors within the ONSC to provide a variety of
technical assistance to staff.

-- ISAF has created an O-6 (Colonel) billet for an ONSC
advisor; this position will be staffed by a subsequent NATO
"Flags to Post" exercise.

-- NATO's office of the Senior Civilian Representative (SCR)
is considering a more active role in support to ONSC. Though
their efforts are undefined at present, the SCR office could
well become the locus for ISAF support to ONSC and could draw
on Afghanistan Cooperation Program (ACP) funds to support
their effort.

-- The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, Policy
(OSD(P)) may provide one or two civilian advisors to ONSC
through its Pakistan-Afghanistan Rotation Cell (PARC), which
plans to deploy a dozen OSD(P) civilians to Pakistan and
Afghanistan later this year.

-- Embassy Kabul has requested the creation of an FS-O1 or
Senior Foreign Service position to advise the ONSC. The
position will be filled by a candidate with extensive prior
NSC experience.

-- USAID is seeking continued authority to support the Office
of the President with salary subsidies, workforce and systems
development, and technical assistance for officials working
within the ONSC (ref B). This support has enabled ONSC to
build and maintain a competent and experienced staff.

REMAINING WEAKNESSES
--------------------

7. (SBU) The success of ONSC is still personality dependent.
Aside from Abdali -- and two or three key senior officials
who were likewise trained in the U.S. and share his vision of
a robust, American-style interagency -- this vision has no
advocates within the Afghan bureaucracy. One objective of
the UK's advising project is to brainstorm options on ONSC
with a variety of Afghans, building interest and support
within the government for the idea of a more effective
interagency coordination mechanism.

WAY FORWARD
-----------

8. (SBU) On February 3, the Embassy and ISAF agreed to
formalize the ad hoc group,s function of organizing support
for the ONSC. We agreed to:

-- Designate the Pol-Mil Counselor as the lead USG-point of
contact for relations with the ONSC on policy oversight and
administrative support to the ONSC.
-- Augment Pol-Mil by requesting additional expertise as
necessary for supporting the ONSC.
-- USAID,s Office of Democracy and Governance continuing to
support the ONSC,s capacity building.


KABUL 00000636 003 OF 003


We will also use the Embassy/ISAF national-level working
group on Population Security (PSWG) to coordinate donor
support to the ONSC, as the group already includes all of the
key actors on ONSC support -- ISAF, the U.K. and U.S.
Embassies, and NTM-A.
Eikenberry

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