US embassy cable - 97PHNOMPENH1339

COMMANDER, SPECIAL OPERATION COMMAND PACIFIC'S MEETINGS WITH CO-DEFENSE MINISTERS AND GENERAL STAFF.

Identifier: 97PHNOMPENH1339
Wikileaks: View 97PHNOMPENH1339 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Phnom Penh
Created: 1997-05-20 04:07:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: MASS MARR MOPS CB
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 200407Z MAY 97
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5734
INFO JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J5//
COMSOCPAC HONOLULU HI//SOJOO//
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//JOO/JOL/J3/J4/J5/FPA//
SECDEF WASHDC//USDP:ISA-AP/SOLIC//
CDRUSARPAC FT SHAFTER HI
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PHNOM PENH 001339 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR PM, BCLTV, EAP, CB 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: MASS, MARR, MOPS, CB 
 
SUBJECT:  COMMANDER, SPECIAL OPERATION COMMAND 
PACIFIC'S MEETINGS WITH CO-DEFENSE MINISTERS AND 
GENERAL STAFF. 
 

1.  SUMMARY.  ON MAY 3, 1997, VISITING MAJOR GENERAL 
CHARLES HOLLAND, COMMANDER, SPECIAL OPERATIONS 
COMMAND PACIFIC, HAD SUBSTANTIVE DISCUSSIONS WITH 
THE CO-MINISTERS OF NATIONAL DEFENSE AND THE DEPUTY 
CHIEF OF THE GENERAL STAFF, LTG MEAS SOPHEA, 
REAFFIRMING THE MILITARY-TO-MILITARY RELATIONSHIP 
AND EMPHASIZING U.S. CONCERNS ABOUT THE NEUTRALITY 
AND PROFESSIONAL ROLE OF THE CAMBODIAN MILITARY IN 
THE WAKE OF RECENT POLITICAL TENSIONS.  THE CO- 
MINISTERS OF NATIONAL DEFENSE EXPRESSED THE STRONG 
DESIRE OF THE MILITARY LEADERSHIP TO KEEP THE 
MILITARY NEUTRAL, RECOUNTED THE IMPORTANCE OF U.S. 
MILITARY SUPPORT AND TRAINING AND PLEDGED TO 
CONTINUE COOPERATION ON FORCE PROTECTION ISSUES. 
LTG MEAS SOPHEA, THE DEPUTY CHIEF OF THE GENERAL 
STAFF, EXPRESSED APPRECIATION FOR U.S. MILITARY 
SUPPORT, AND NOTED THE IMPORTANCE OF FORCE 
PROTECTION TO THE RCAF.  LTG MEAS SOPHEA RECOUNTED 
EFFORTS TO KEEP THE MILITARY NEUTRAL AND NOTED THAT 
THE POLITICIANS SHOULD SETTLE THEIR DIFFERENCES 
PEACEFULLY.  LTG MEAS SOPHEA SAID THAT EVEN THOUGH 
THE HARD-LINE KHMER ROUGE PROBLEM HAD BEEN AFFECTED 
NEGATIVELY BY POLITICAL TENSIONS, THE KHMER ROUGE 
PROBLEM WOULD END BY NEXT YEAR. 
 
--MEETING WITH CO-MINISTERS OF NATIONAL DEFENSE-- 
 
2.  ON MAY 3, 1997, MAJ GEN CHARLES HOLLAND, 
COMMANDER, SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND PACIFIC, 
ACCOMPANIED BY THE DEFENSE ATTACHE, MET WITH CO- 
MINISTERS OF NATIONAL DEFENSE ((TEA)) BANH (CPP) AND 
((TEA)) CHAMRATH (FUNCINPEC).  AFTER AN EXCHANGE OF 
GREETINGS, MAJ GEN HOLLAND RECOUNTED HIS EARLIER 
DISCUSSIONS THE PREVIOUS EVENING AT THE DATT'S 
RESIDENCE WITH EK SEREYWATH, THE STATE SECRETARY OF 
NATIONAL DEFENSE.  MAJ GEN HOLLAND NOTED IT WAS MOST 
ENCOURAGING THAT EK SEREYWATH STATED THAT 'THE 
CONFRONTATION' WOULD BE RESOLVED PEACEFULLY.  MAJ 
GEN HOLLAND SAID HE WOULD CARRY THESE COMMENTS BACK 
TO USCINCPAC AND EMPHASIZED THAT IT WAS VERY 
IMPORTANT FOR THE CONTINUED BI-LATERAL RELATIONSHIP 
THAT POLITICAL DIFFERENCES BE RESOLVED PEACEFULLY 
AND WITHOUT THE INVOLVEMENT OF THE MILITARY. 
 
3.  MAJ GEN HOLLAND SAID THAT USCINCPAC INITIATIVES 
IN CAMBODIA OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS HAD BEEN 
BENEFICIAL FOR BOTH THE RCAF AND U.S. MILITARY 
PERSONNEL DEPLOYED FOR DEMINING, MEDICAL AND 
ENGINEERING TRAINING AND EXERCISES.  MAJ GEN HOLLAND 
EXPRESSED APPRECIATION FOR THE CAMBODIAN MILITARY'S 
POSITIVE ASSISTANCE WITH FORCE PROTECTION WHICH WAS 
A CONTINUING CONCERN FOR USCINCPAC.  HE NOTED THAT 
ONE FORCE PROTECTION INCIDENT INVOLVING U.S. FORCES 
WOULD RESULT IN A SERIOUS REEVALUATION OF CONTINUED 
DEPLOYMENTS TO CAMBODIA AND URGED CONTINUED CLOSE 
COOPERATION AND ASSISTANCE ON THIS ISSUE.  HE SAID 
THAT SOCPAC AND DEPLOYED SPECIAL FORCES PERSONNEL 
FELT GOOD ABOUT THE SUPPORT AND COOPERATION WITH THE 
RCAF AND THAT SOCPAC WOULD PROVIDE AS MUCH SUPPORT 
AS POSSIBLE TO CONTINUE DEVELOPING RCAF SKILLS AND 
PROFESSIONALISM. 
 
4.  CO-MINISTER TEA CHAMRATH EXPRESSED HIS THANKS TO 
USCINCPAC FOR THE CONTINUING ASSISTANCE, AND 
ESPECIALLY FOR THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND PROFESSIONAL 
SKILLS TRAINING COURSES IN THE UNITED STATES (UNDER 
IMET).  HE NOTED THAT THE LAST TWO YEARS OF 
ASSISTANCE IN DEMINING, HEALTH, AND ENGINEERING 
TRAINING, AND HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TO THE KHMER 
ROUGE DEFECTOR PROGRAM HAD BEEN OF GREAT ASSISTANCE 
TO THE GOVERNMENT AND RCAF.  REGARDING THE REMAINING 
HARD-LINE KHMER ROUGE AT ANLONG VENG, TEA CHAMRATH 
STATED THAT TA MOK AND POL POT WERE A SMALL PROBLEM 
WHICH WOULD BE RESOLVED PEACEFULLY.  HE SAID THAT HE 
AND TEA BANH VERY MUCH APPRECIATED THAT USCINCPAC 
REMAINED INTERESTED AND COMMITTED TO ASSIST 
CAMBODIA, NOTING THAT THEY COULD ALWAYS USE MORE 
ASSISTANCE. 
 
5. REFERRING TO FORCE PROTECTION, BOTH CO-MINISTERS 
STATED THAT SECURITY OF U.S. PERSONNEL WAS ALSO 
THEIR CONCERN, AND THEY WERE GRATEFUL THAT THE U.S. 
PERSONNEL WERE SO WELL-DISCIPLINED AND GOOD 
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES.  TEA BANH 
CONCLUDED BY EXPRESSING THANKS FOR THE MEDICAL AND 
ENGINEERING SUPPORT AT THE CHAMKAR BEI EX-KHMER 
ROUGE RESETTLEMENT CENTER AT PHNOM VOAR IN KAMPOT 
PROVINCE AND SAID THE COOPERATION WITH THE U.S. 
MILITARY WAS AN EXCEPTIONAL OPPORTUNITY TO WORK 
TOGETHER TO ACHIEVE GOOD WORKS FOR THE CAMBODIAN 
PEOPLE. 
 
 --MEETING AT THE GENERAL STAFF-- 
 
6. EARLIER ON 3 MAY LTG MEAS SOPHEA (CPP), THE 
DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF, MET MAJ GEN HOLLAND ON BEHALF 
OF LTG KE KIM YAN, THE CHIEF OF STAFF WHO WAS OUT OF 
TOWN.  MAJ GEN HOLLAND EXPRESSED GREETING FROM 
ADMIRAL PRUEHER, CINCPAC, AND EXPRESSED APPRECIATION 
FOR THE COOPERATION AND SUPPORT FROM THE RCAF DURING 
U.S. TRAINING DEPLOYMENTS AND EMPHASIZED THE 
CONCERNS ABOUT FORCE PROTECTION FOR U.S. FORCES 
TRAINING IN CAMBODIA.  MAJ GEN HOLLAND ALSO 
EXPRESSED CONGRATULATIONS ON THE PROFESSIONAL 
PRESENTATION BY THE CAMBODIAN PARTICIPANTS IN THE 
1997 PACIFIC AREA ARMIES MANAGEMENT SEMINAR IN 
HAWAII THE PREVIOUS MONTHS, NOTHING THAT MAJ GEN 
KHEM SOPHOAN'S PRESENTATION ON THE RCAF WAS VERY 
WELL RECEIVED BY THE CONFERENCE.  RECOUNTING 
USCINCPAC/SOCPAC HUMANITARIAN DEMINING SUPPORT, MAJ 
GEN HOLLAND SAID THE SUCCESS OF THIS PROGRAM WAS AN 
IMPORTANT BENCHMARK OF THE USG'S AND USCINCPAC'S 
SUCCESS IN SUPPORTING THE GOVERNMENT AND THE RCAF 
AND HOPED THIS SUCCESS WOULD CONTINUE.  LTG MEAS 
SAID FORCE PROTECTION OF U.S. PERSONNEL WOULD 
CONTINUE TO BE AN IMPORTANT ISSUE FOR THE RCAF WHO 
ENJOYED THE BENEFITS OF U.S. MILITARY DEPLOYMENTS. 
 
6.  MAJ GEN HOLLAND NOTED THAT WHILE USCINCPAC HAD 
PROVIDED A LOT OF SUPPORT AND TRAINING TO THE RCAF, 
WASHINGTON WOULD REACT VERY NEGATIVELY TO THE RCAF'S 
PARTICIPATION IN VIOLENCE.  LTG MEAS SOPHEA 
ACKNOWLEDGED THE RECENT POLITICAL TENSIONS AND SAID 
FORTUNATELY THAT THERE HAD ONLY BEEN FIGHTING WITH 
WORDS AND NOT WEAPONS.  HE STATED THAT POLITICAL 
TENSIONS HAD NEGATIVELY AFFECTED DRY SEASON 
OPERATIONS AND NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE HARD-LINE KHMER 
ROUGE AT ANLONG VENG, AS WELL AS THE INVESTMENT 
CLIMATE IN CAMBODIA.  LTG MEAS STATED THAT WHILE THE 
RCAF HAD DECLARED NEUTRALITY AND HAD TAKEN STEPS 
INSURE THE TROOPS REMAIN UNDER CONTROL, IT WAS UP TO 
THE POLITICIANS TO LIMIT THEIR FIGHTS TO RADIO AND 
TELEVISION WITH NO WEAPONS.  HE ADMITTED THAT, 
UNFORTUNATELY, SOME SENIOR MILITARY OFFICERS WERE 
STILL INFLUENCED STRONGLY BY THE POLITICAL 
LEADERSHIP.  HE SAID THE TWO POLITICAL PARTIES MUST 
SOLVE THE ISSUES BETWEEN PEACEFULLY NOTING THAT 
CAMBODIA WAS STILL A VERY YOUNG DEMOCRACY WITH MANY 
PROBLEMS WHICH COULD ONLY BE RESOLVED STEP BY STEP. 
 
7.  IN RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SECURITY 
SITUATION AND STATE OF THE RCAF, LTG MEAS SOPHEA 
SAID THAT SINCE AUGUST 1996, 90 PERCENT OF THE KHMER 
ROUGE HAD JOINED THE GOVERNMENT AND THERE WAS PEACE. 
AT REMAINING KHMER ROUGE ENCLAVE AT ANLONG VENG 
THERE WERE ONLY BETWEEN 1000-2000 FIGHTERS AND THAT 
THE KHMER ROUGE RANK AND FILE WANTED TO STOP 
FIGHTING.  HE SAID THE GOVERNMENT HAD HAD LITTLE 
SUCCESS IN NEGOTIATING WITH POL POT AND TA MOK, BUT 
HAD CONVINCED MANY FRONT LINE KHMER ROUGE SOLDIERS 
TO DEFECT.  HE SAID THE RCAF'S STRATEGY WAS TO 
PROCEED STEP BY STEP, AVOID FIGHTING AND SLOWLY 
WEAKEN THE KHMER ROUGE THROUGH AN ATTRITION OF 
DEFECTORS.  HE SAID THE KHMER ROUGE WERE 
LOGISTICALLY WEAKENED AND THAT SPIRIT DE CORPS AND 
MORALE AMONG THE RANK AND FILE WAS VERY LOW. 
VILLAGES NO LONGER SUPPORTED THE KHMER ROUGE AND 
THAT THE KR HAD RESORTED TO TERROR TACTICS AGAINST 
THE POPULACE TO PREVENT DEFECTIONS.  HE SAID THAT 
THE KHMER ROUGE PROBLEM WOULD END BY NEXT YEAR. 
 
8. COMMENTS. MAJ GEN HOLLAND'S VISIT FURTHER 
ENHANCED THE GROWING BI-LATERAL MILITARY 
RELATIONSHIP AND PROVIDED ANOTHER RECENT OPPORTUNITY 
FOR A SENIOR U.S. MILITARY OFFICER TO EXPRESS 
SERIOUS CONCERN ABOUT THE PROPER ROLE OF THE 
MILITARY IN A DEMOCRACY.  MAJ GEN HOLLAND'S COMMENTS 
WERE WELL-RECEIVED FROM THE CO-MINISTERS AND LTG 
MEAS SOHPEA, ALL OF WHOM UNDERSTAND THE CRITICAL 
IMPORTANCE OF PREVENTING POLITICAL TENSIONS FROM 
ERUPTING INTO VIOLENCE.  MAJ GEN HOLLAND'S VISIT 
FOLLOWS THE MID-APRIL VISIT OF MAJOR GENERAL STEPHEN 
SILVASY, THE DEPUTY COMMANDER, U.S. ARMY PACIFIC, 
WHO ALSO DELIVERED A STRONG AND CLEAR MESSAGE OF HOW 
RCAF INVOLVEMENT IN POLITICAL VIOLENCE WOULD BE 
VIEWED BY THE USG.  THE LEADERSHIP OF THE MINISTRY 
OF DEFENSE AND THE GENERAL STAFF CLEARLY UNDERSTAND 
THE GREAT COSTS, BOTH PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY 
TO THEMSELVES, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY TO THE CONTINUED 
DEVELOPMENT OF THE RCAF AND CAMBODIA, SHOULD THE 
TENSIONS ERUPT INTO EXTRA-LEGAL VIOLENCE.  EMBASSY 
IS VERY APPRECIATIVE OF BOTH VISITS BY PACOM SENIOR 
OFFICERS, WHOSE WORDS WERE RIGHT ON TARGET WITH OUR 
TARGET AUDIENCE. 
 
 
QUINN 


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