US embassy cable - 01ABUJA873

Operation FOCUS RELIEF Roundtable

Identifier: 01ABUJA873
Wikileaks: View 01ABUJA873 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2001-04-25 14:54:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL MASS MARR NI SL
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 ABUJA 000873 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
FREETOWN FOR MCCONNELL AND BELLAMY 
 
 
E.O. 12598: DECLAS 4/19/11 
TAGS: PREL, MASS, MARR, NI, SL 
SUBJECT: Operation FOCUS RELIEF Roundtable 
 
(U) Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter for reasons 
1.5 (b) and (d). 
 
 
1. (U) This is an action request.  Please see para 23. 
 
 
2. (C) SUMMARY: Nigerian Minister of Defense Danjuma 
chaired an Operation FOCUS RELIEF(OFR) round-table meeting 
on April 19.  The Minister took the role of facilitator in 
the almost-two hour meeting, restating and clarifying 
various concerns raised by both sides.  General Malu was 
unrepentant regarding his untenable focus on equipment 
rather than the bilateral defense relationship.  However, 
in the end, the participants agreed that: there was a need 
for a MOU to clarify all issues related to OFR; on 
Wednesday, April 25, a U.S. Nigerian team would travel to 
the identified training sites to look at the Chief of Army 
Staff's proposed billeting areas for the U.S. soldiers; the 
length of deployment of the Nigerian battalions to Sierra 
Leone will be one year.  END SUMMARY. 
 
 
3. (C) Nigerian Minister of Defense, LTG Theophilus Y. 
Danjuma (Rtd), chaired an Operation FOCUS RELIEF round- 
table meeting on April 19.  In attendance on the Nigerian 
side were: Minister Danjuma, Chief of Army Staff LTG Victor 
Malu, Chief of Defense Staff Vice Admiral Ibrahim Ogohi, a 
representative of the Air Force, a representative from the 
Office of the MOD Permanent Secretary, and Danjuma's 
Personal Staff Officer Col Ichyaku Pennap.  On the U.S. 
side were: Ambassador Jeter, PDAS-D McConnell, PDAS-S/AF 
Bellamy, BG Fuller, A/DCM, DATT, OSD AF Deputy Director, 
OSD Nigeria Desk Officer Ikins, JCS representative Captain 
Richard Heimmerle, and PolMilOff (notetaker). 
 
 
4. (C) After a 30 minute small-group meeting (including 
only the Ambassador, the Minister, Mr. McConnell and Mr. 
Bellamy), Danjuma invited the American side to explain its 
concerns.  Ambassador Jeter said that the meeting should 
serve to look at the necessary preparations for OFR Phase 
3, including the issues of basing, length of deployment, 
and end-use for equipment transfers. 
 
 
5. (C) McConnell began by noting that a meeting between the 
Nigerian and American Presidents would occur in early May. 
He said that the meeting would, no doubt, include a 
discussion of the bilateral defense relationship, and that 
he was confident that the Presidents would be looking to 
the future growth of that relationship.  That is why it was 
imperative to ensure commonality of purpose in this core 
aspect of the relationship.  McConnell explained that Phase 
3 (P3) was slated to begin on August 27, but that 
preparations would have to begin very soon.  He noted that 
Phase 2 (P2), which includes Ghana and Senegal, would 
commence on May 29, and added that in those two countries, 
U.S. soldiers would be housed with their host battalions. 
He explained that the U.S. required this arrangement to 
meet force protection requirements, and because this would 
allow the American and West African soldiers to interact 
and learn from each other, both during and outside of 
training.  He strongly emphasized that this was a mutual 
training and learning experience.  In terms of basing, he 
said, the U.S. would like P3 in Nigeria look like P2 in 
Senegal and Ghana.  He explained that the U.S. was not 
necessarily requesting that the American soldiers live 
inside Nigerian barracks, but inside of the perimeter of 
battalion bases.  General Fuller agreed, and noted that 
living alongside of their fellow soldiers was a Special 
Forces tradition and suited their philosophy for joint 
exercises and operations. 
 
 
6. (C) The Ambassador noted that it would be a good idea to 
have an "off-site" for officers from the Special Forces 
team and the Nigeria battalion participating in OFR P3 
before P3 began.  This would allow the officers to get to 
know each other on a personal basis, generate mutual 
understanding, and would also give the Special Forces 
soldiers a chance to learn Nigerian culture from their 
hosts.  Ambassador Jeter offered Embassy assistance for 
such a meeting.  (COMMENT: There seemed to be general MOD 
civilian support for this idea, though Malu and Ogohi 
remained silent.  END COMMENT.) 
 
 
7. (C) Malu then addressed his concerns, first by noting 
that he believed the misunderstandings in Phase 1 (P1) 
occurred because the training did not take place as 
originally envisioned.  The Nigerian Army, he said, was 
appreciative of and excited by the U.S. offer of 
assistance.  However, the Service Chiefs had wanted to know 
what equipment would be supplied (he said that the 
equipment list for P1 was not passed to them until the 
training began), and had expected the training to focus on 
equipment not regularly found in the Nigeria inventory. 
8. (C) Malu emphasized that, while grateful for the offer 
to equip the battalions, he had expected the U.S. to 
provide the type of logistical support his ECOMOG forces 
had received in Liberia through PA&E.  He objected to 
training in tactics because he did not want five Nigerian 
battalions that had a different doctrine than the rest of 
the Army.  He added that, when a Nigerian battalion is 
selected for peacekeeping duty, they are already given 
three months to train and prepare for the mission.  For P3, 
Malu noted, the training should be based on the equipment 
that would be provided, and that equipment should be items 
that the Nigerian Army does not already have (he explained 
that the Army has plenty of rifles, but needed more items 
like machine guns and RPG:). 
 
 
9. (C) The Minister then asked Malu to address the issue of 
co-locating the soldiers.  Malu said he would not mind 
locating space "outside the barracks", and allowing the 
U.S. to assess the locations for security. 
 
 
10. (C) McConnell responded that the equipment for P3 would 
be the same as P1.  He explained that this had been 
discussed before P1 had begun, and was based on limited 
U.S. resources (USD 90 million) to fund OFR for seven West 
African battalions (including the cost of equipment and the 
soldiers).  The U.S. had agreed to weapons and equipment 
for individual soldiers, crew served weapons (machine guns 
and mortars), communications gear, medical equipment and 
vehicles.  Moreover, the equipment was selected with 
attention given to compatibility with Nigerian Army 
equipment.  There had never been any U.S. suggestion of 
equipping to UN scale, McConnell added. The training and 
equipment "had to be a package deal," because the USG was 
unable to provide lethal assistance without training and 
still meet Congressional concerns.  Finally, McConnell 
said, there was certainly a benefit to soldiers being 
together, interacting, and exercising together, regardless 
of the equipment or POI.  OFR was in the national interest 
of both countries, and deserved support. 
 
 
11. (C) The Ambassador explained to General Malu that the 
kind of support he had received in Liberia from the U.S. 
was still available, but in Sierra Leone it would be 
provided by the UN.  OFR, the Ambassador noted, should be 
looked at as the beginning of a process to build capacity 
in the sub-region to deal with conflict as well as natural 
disasters.  This went beyond ACRI, he said.  McConnell 
noted that ACRI was moving from State to DOD, and the U.S. 
would seek Nigeria's feedback on ACRI thus far.  ACRI would 
have to make sense to Nigeria, McConnell said, because 
Nigeria was a critical component. 
 
 
12. (C) Malu returned to Liberia, and noted that PA&E 
support there had been extremely important.  He added that 
if he had had the choice of the PA&E support or an equal 
amount of money, he would have chosen PA&E.  He asked why 
the U.S. was not giving PA&E support to Nigeria now? 
McConnell responded that constantly using PA&E would not 
allow for the growth of the bilateral defense relationship. 
In that case, Malu said, it would be better to give Nigeria 
additional course vacancies through IMET, and then try to 
do joint exercises in the future when the Nigerian Army 
would be better prepared to participate.  He added that 
every battalion slated for OFR had been to either Liberia 
or Sierra Leone at least three times (implying a high level 
of tactical combat experience and no need for additional 
training). 
 
 
13. (C) Minister Danjuma noted that General Malu was 
arguing that if the current equipment scale was maintained, 
then the POI should be shorter.  General Fuller stated that 
the POI could be reviewed, but he did not believe it could, 
or necessarily should, be shorter.  Moreover, EUCOM had 
reviewed the P1 POI, and had already incorporated 
suggestions from the Nigerian battalions who had 
participated.  Finally, the POI was not just about the 
equipment, but also about interaction of the soldiers. 
McConnell reiterated that he believed both Nigerian and 
American soldiers had gained a great deal in P1, and 
rhetorically asked, "What is the downside to joint 
training?" 
 
 
14. (C)  Chief of Defense Staff Ogohi then identified four 
areas of concern: (a) If OFR training was just for Sierra 
Leone-bound units, or if other Nigerian soldiers could gain 
from it; (b) the need for a MOU; (c) his concern that the 
UN mandate in Sierra Leone could end and that therefore, 
August was a late starting date; and, (d) that basing had 
to be decided by the Chief of Army Staff, and that the 
Nigerian Army would provide for security. McConnell agreed 
on the need for a MOU, and offered to provide a draft 
document to the MOD.  On the UN mandate, McConnell 
explained that no one could tell the future.  August had 
been selected because of the time needed for preparations. 
The Ambassador added that Nigeria was in P3 because the 
U.S. could not get the necessary answers to put Nigeria in 
P2 starting in May.  Moreover, McConnell pointed out, while 
OFR was just a piece of the bilateral defense arrangement, 
OFR could be used as an opportunity to demonstrate to the 
U.S. Congress the validity of expanding the overall defense 
relationship.  On basing, McConnell said he understood from 
earlier comments that Nigeria had agreed that the U.S. 
soldiers could live on the bases outside of the actual 
barracks, that is, working the base perimeter. 
 
 
15. (C) General Malu then returned to his concern that five 
Nigerian battalions would learn different tactics and 
doctrine than the rest of the Army.  General Fuller 
explained that while this was ultimately a Nigerian 
decision, the training was not on peacekeeping skills but 
on combat operations, and that most of the skills could be 
easily transferred.  We will move quickly and finish early 
if standards are met, General Fuller added. 
 
 
16. (C)  The Minister then said that the length of 
deployment would be for one year, which was then confirmed 
by Malu and Ogohi.  Returning to basing, the Minister 
suggested that a team of Nigerians and Americans go to the 
sites and see if the U.S. could accept the sites chosen by 
the Army.  The Ambassador pointed out that four bases were 
under discussion (three with the battalions and the forward 
operating base (FOB) in Abuja), and asked if site surveys 
had already been done.  Colonel Nelson affirmed that 
surveys had been done, that he had sent a letter requesting 
use of the FOB, and plans had been drawn up.  He had 
believed that the notion of a "base-within-a-base" had been 
accepted, but then learned that it had not seen. 
 
 
17. (C)  General Malu returned the discussion to the POI, 
and said that the Army should give input into the POI. 
General Fuller explained that the POI had in fact been 
negotiated last summer, but that it could be reviewed 
again.  However, he did not see much flexibility in 
adjusting the length of the POI.  McConnell agreed that the 
length of the POI could not be changed, but that changes in 
the actual instruction could be discussed.  Malu again 
noted his concerns regarding doctrine, stating that the 
Commanding Officers from P1 had expressed concern about the 
POI changing Army doctrine.  McConnell responded that the 
POI focused on small unit tactics, not on doctrine.  Fuller 
added that the ideas of the Commanding Officers of the 
battalions from P1 had been integrated into the newest 
version of the POI.  He noted that he would be happy to 
meet with the Commanding Officers of the remaining three 
battalions and incorporate their ideas. 
 
 
18. (C) Bellamy then addressed General Malu's comments 
about the equipment, clarifying that it had already been 
determined that the equipment in P3 would be the same as 
P1.  General Malu again stated that he would have liked to 
replace the rifles (of which the Army has enough) with more 
machine guns or RPGs.  (DAO COMMENT:  Despite Malu's 
comments, Nigerian Army rifles are generally in very poor 
condition and not fit for combat.  END DAO COMMENT.) 
 
 
19. (C)  The Minister then summarized the meeting, which he 
described as very useful.  He noted that that: 
 
 
- There is a need for a MOU to clarify equipment and other 
issues 
- On Wednesday, April 25, a Nigerian and a USG 
representative would travel to the bases to look at the 
Chief of Army Staff's proposed basing options for the U.S. 
soldiers.  He added that adjustments could be made to 
General Malu's proposals. 
- Deployment of the Nigerian battalions to Sierra Leone 
will be for one year. 
 
 
20. (C) Finally, the Ambassador raised the issue of the 
trucks provided in Nigeria to the battalions during P1, 
which had not been shipped to Sierra Leone as agreed.  The 
Minister instructed General Malu to look into the trucks. 
 
 
21. (C) COMMENT: A number of positive conclusions were 
reached in the meeting, including length of deployment and 
a clear acknowledgement of U.S. concerns for force 
protection.  Moreover, a clearing of the air on various 
issues was certainly healthy. 
 
 
22. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED:  Minister Danjuma was 
impressive.  The normally reserved Minister took control of 
the discussion at a number of points, redirecting the 
discussion to the key issues at hand.  However, it was also 
clear that he was hesitant to force a confrontation with 
Malu or Ogohi.  The ultimate test of wills will come during 
the inspection of the proposed sites for bases for U.S. 
trainers.  OFR P3 for Nigeria could still collapse if 
General Malu's notions do not meet with U.S. requirements, 
and the U.S. inspectors are required to reject the options 
he offers.  Malu certainly understands this.  In this case, 
we will see how far the Nigerian political decision-makers 
are willing to enforce their authority to continue a 
program they clearly support. 
 
 
23. (C) ACTION REQUEST:  Post faxed a draft MOU to AF/W and 
AF/RA for an initial review.  The document was reviewed and 
edited in Abuja by PDAS-D McConnell, PDAS-S/AF Bellamy and 
General Fuller.  Post requests quick coordination by the 
Department to provide a draft MOU that we can forward to 
the Minister for his comment.  END ACTION REQUEST. 
 
 
24. (U) This cable was not cleared by PDAS-D McConnell, 
PDAS-S/AF Bellamy, or General Fuller. 
 
 
25. (U) Freetown minimize considered. 
 
 
JETER 

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