US embassy cable - 06TIRANA684

GENERALS' RETIREMENT A POSITIVE STEP FOR ALBANIAN ARMED FORCES

Identifier: 06TIRANA684
Wikileaks: View 06TIRANA684 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Tirana
Created: 2006-06-29 06:47:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV MARR NATO AL
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTI #0684 1800647
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 290647Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY TIRANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4487
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
INFO RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1202
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1093
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 1143
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 5305
RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS PRIORITY 2940
RUEHSQ/AMEMBASSY SKOPJE PRIORITY 4131
RUEHVJ/AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO PRIORITY 0453
RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY 2735
RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB PRIORITY 2956
RUEHPS/USOFFICE PRISTINA PRIORITY 3439
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 3281
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUFNPKB/COMUSNAVEUR NAPLES IT PRIORITY
RUFNPKB/COMUSNAVEUR POLAD NAPLES IT PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L TIRANA 000684 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/SCE (BENEDICT, SAINZ), EUR/RPM 
USNATO FOR BAEZ, LARKIN 
NSC FOR BRAUN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/29/2016 
TAGS: PGOV, MARR, NATO, AL 
SUBJECT: GENERALS' RETIREMENT A POSITIVE STEP FOR ALBANIAN 
ARMED FORCES 
 
REF: TIRANA 98 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Marcie B. Ries, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY: On June 19, the Ministry of Defense retired 
four top generals.  The decision was taken despite 
considerable resistance in the beginning by the military's 
top brass and by President Moisiu.  The retirement of these 
communist-era generals and their replacement by capable, 
progressive younger officers is a positive step for military 
reform and an indication of Albania's commitment to making 
the reforms necessary to join NATO.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (U) The MOD held a retirement ceremony June 19 for MG 
Kostaq Karoli, Commander of Land Forces; MG Perlat Sula, 
Commander of Doctrine and Training; MG Ruzhdi Gjatoja, 
Military Advisor to the President; and BG Kudusi Lama, 
Commander of Logistic Support.  DefMin Fatmir Mediu thanked 
the generals for their contributions to the modernization of 
the Albanian Armed Forces (AAF) and said the AAF was moving 
in the right direction.  Mediu said the generals were 
retiring as part of the AAF's restructuring and reform. 
 
3. (U) President Alfred Moisiu decorated Karoli with the 
Medal of the Order of Skenderbeg; Sula and Gjatoja with the 
Golden Medal of the Eagle; and Lama with the Medal for 
Military Services.  In his remarks, Moisiu said that Albania 
had entered into a new phase of relations with the EU and 
NATO.  With the reforms undertaken and deployments in 
Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Iraq, he said, the AAF had proven 
itself ready for NATO.  Moisiu noted that a recent USAID 
survey showed that the public trust for the military was 
among the highest enjoyed by any state institution.  He also 
noted that this ceremony was the first of its kind since the 
end of Communism. 
 
4. (C) Although Gjatoja is retiring from the military, he 
will continue to work as the President's Military Advisor. 
Karoli, Sula, and Lama will be replaced by BG Shpetim Spahiu, 
Col. Aleksander Lleshi, and Col. Elez Satki, respectively. 
Spahiu was Commander of the Rapid Reaction Brigade and is a 
leading candidate to become the next CHOD in the fall; Lleshi 
was Defense Attache in Germany.  All the new commanders are 
regarded as capable and committed to reform. 
 
5. (C) COMMENT: The generals' retirement, which was urged 
upon them, reflects increased commitment by Albania to make 
the changes necessary to join NATO.  Retirement of older 
personnel, some of whom have been resistant to reform, is a 
crucial component of the AAF's transformation from an 
obsolete, bloated Communist-era force to a smaller, leaner 
one capable of contributing to NATO.  Mediu made the 
generals' retirement a key priority, but the effort met 
initial resistance from the AAF and Moisiu, himself a former 
military man and Deputy DefMin.  We have made clear to the 
GoA on numerous occasions that taking this step was crucial 
to Albania's NATO aspirations.  Much remains to be done for 
the AAF to have a modern, capable leadership that "thinks 
NATO," but this is an encouraging step and an indication of 
Mediu's strength as DefMin.  END COMMENT. 
RIES 

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