US embassy cable - 01ABUJA1889

NIGERIA: ARMY CHIEF BRIEFED ON OFR

Identifier: 01ABUJA1889
Wikileaks: View 01ABUJA1889 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2001-07-30 13:23:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
Tags: PREL MARR NI MAS
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 02 ABUJA 001889 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
NOFORN 
 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR AF/RA BITTRICK 
NSC FOR MCLEAN 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/23/2011 
TAGS: PREL, MARR, NI, MAS 
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: ARMY CHIEF BRIEFED ON OFR 
 
 
REF: USDAO ABUJA IIR 6 871 0381 01 
 
 
(U) Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter; Reasons 1.5 (b) 
and (d). 
 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY: On July 23, 3rd Group Battalion Commander LTC 
Tim Sherwood briefed Chief of Army Staff, MG Alexander 
Ogomudia, on Operation Focus Relief Phase III (OFR P3). 
Initially taciturn, Ogomudia quickly turned receptive and 
largely positive.  During the briefing on basing, Ogomudia 
reminded his staff that he had instructed that the 20 
Battalion Serti could not participate in OFR P3.  However, 
after being told that it would be extremely difficult to 
change course now that base construction had begun, Ogomudia 
relented.  Clearly with a mind to the border with Cameroon, 
he told his staff that another battalion might have to be 
sent to Serti after the 20 Battalion deployed.  Ogomudia's 
staff raised questions on human rights vetting, the scale of 
equipment in OFR and the radios being provided. 
 
 
2. (C) After the briefing, a relaxed and friendly Ogomudia 
received the team in his private office. He suggested that a 
Nigerian Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) team attend 
training at the three sites.  He also thought a visit to 
Sierra Leone by a U.S. Special Forces representative and a 
Nigerian Officer might be useful to evaluate the training 
from Phase I.  (See Reftel for USDAO reporting on the same 
subject.) END SUMMARY. 
 
 
3. (U) On July 23, an OFR team composed of the 3rd Group 
Battalion Commander LTC Tim Sherwood, 30th Medical Brigade 
Commander Colonel Lamez Schoomaker, Major Marc Wisecarver, 
Acting Defense Attache Cass and PolMilOff, met with Chief of 
Army Staff (COAS), MG Alexander Ogomudia.  Ogomudia was 
accompanied by several staff officers. 
 
 
4. (C) After the 10-minute briefing by LTC Sherwood which 
included a summary of the POI, and which MG Ogumudia voiced 
no objection to the POI, MG Ogomudia turned to his staff and 
reminded them that he had instructed that the 20 Battalion 
Serti could not participate in OFR P3 because of concerns 
about the state of relations with "a neighbor." He asked why 
we were proceeding with construction in Serti.  Major Cass 
exclaimed that we had not been made aware of his decision. 
His staff, clearly at a loss to explain the situation, was 
silent.  LTC Sherwood noted that base construction had been 
underway for some weeks, and it would be extremely difficult 
to change course now.  Ogomudia relented, but told his Chief 
of Operations that, while the 20 Battalion could participate, 
another battalion might have to be sent to Serti after 20 
Battalion deployed. 
 
 
5. (C) The General Staff asked about the radios the 
battalions would receive, noting that they preferred PRC-117 
radios over the Motorola radios issued during OFR, Phase 1. 
The major complaint was communications security.  However, 
one of the General Staff noted that this had been resolved by 
the UN through issuance of particular frequencies to each 
UNAMSIL contingent.  The General Staff also asked about the 
scale of equipment, noting a disparity between OFR assistance 
and UN scale.  In particular, they requested APCs vice Toyota 
Hi-Lux 4x4s.  The ADATT responded that concerns such as these 
could be raised with Washington, but that OFR was based on a 
limited budget, and it was very unlikely at this point that 
the equipment list could be adjusted. 
 
 
6. (C) The ADATT then took the opportunity to raise the 22 
vehicles from Phase I that had yet to be shipped to Sierra 
Leone.  MG Ogomudia gave a thumbs-up, and said that he had 
spoken that morning with the PermSec at the Ministry of 
Defense as well as the MOD Chief of Logistics.  He noted that 
shipping might have to be arranged at the Defense 
Headquarters level (read Chief of Defense Staff), but said, 
"It,s my soldiers in the rain without tents."  He then noted 
that either by commercial means, Air Force lift, or "another 
route," the vehicles would be shipped. 
 
 
7. (C) Human rights vetting was then discussed.  The Generals 
suggested that the U.S. simply provide a list of those who 
could not be trained because of their past behavior, and they 
would not include them.  They added that they did not want a 
soldier to be accused wrongly. Major Cass explained that 
vetting was a legal requirement of the United States, and was 
done with any country that received security assistance 
training.  PolMilOff explained the process further, noted 
that there had not been any soldiers excluded during Phase I, 
and assured the General Staff that if a name raised any 
flags, the issue would be dealt with privately between the 
Embassy and the Chief of Army Staff to avoid any false 
accusations.  However, the process was the law, was 
important, and would have to be observed. 
 
 
8. (C) LTC Sherwood asked the COAS if he would approve an 
Airborne friendship jump.  Ogomudia at first misunderstood, 
and explained that Nigeria had suspended Airborne training 
due to decrepit facilities.  He noted that if the U.S. wanted 
to assist Nigeria with funding to repair the facilities, that 
would be appreciated (but noted that Airborne was not his 
priority).  After clarification, Ogomudia heartily approved 
the idea of a friendship jump. 
 
 
9. (C) After the briefing, MG Ogomudia received the team in 
private.  The Army Chief was relaxed and friendly.  He 
suggested that a Nigerian TRADOC team attend training at the 
three sites to provide feedback to him and the U.S. team.  He 
also suggested that a visit to Sierra Leone by a U.S. Special 
Forces representative and a TRADOC Officer might be useful to 
evaluate the results of training from Phase I on the ground. 
 
 
10. (C) COMMENT: Several members of the U.S. team were 
stunned when the COAS said he had disapproved training for 
the 20 Battalion Serti.  From his comments and his tight 
facial expression, it was clear that the he was very 
concerned about the situation on the border with Cameroon. 
Fortunately, Ogomudia showed the flexibility needed for 
training to continue. 
 
 
11. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED: General Ogomudia, while initially 
taciturn, became warm and friendly over the course of the 
meeting.  At one point, he asked his staff if they had any 
other questions.  When they were silent, he prompted them 
with a smile by reminding them that, "You are on the 
receiving end.  Mine is just to give the orders."  While 
Embassy had grown accustomed to new road-blocks being 
introduced in the security assistance relationship (POI, 
equipment, deployment), a new era of joint-problem solving 
seems to have arrived. 
 
 
12. (C) DAO COMMENT: We view the COAS,s silence following 
the POI brief as giving the POI a nod. END DAO COMMENT. 
Jeter 

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