wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
2001-04-25 14:54:00
Embassy Abuja
Cable title:  

Operation FOCUS RELIEF Roundtable

pdf how-to read a cable
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 



E.O. 12598: DECLAS 4/19/11
SUBJECT: Operation FOCUS RELIEF Roundtable

(U) Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter for reasons
1.5 (b) and (d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 ABUJA 000873



E.O. 12598: DECLAS 4/19/11
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

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

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
- 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.