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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03TEGUCIGALPA1724
2003-07-22 19:26:00
SECRET
Embassy Tegucigalpa
Cable title:  

STATUS OF HONDURAN TROOP DEPLOYMENT TO IRAQ

Tags:  MOPS MARR PREL PGOV SP PL HO 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 TEGUCIGALPA 001724 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR PM, NEA, WHA, WHA/PPC, WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/22/2013
TAGS: MOPS MARR PREL PGOV SP PL HO
SUBJECT: STATUS OF HONDURAN TROOP DEPLOYMENT TO IRAQ

REF: A. TEGUCIGALPA 1243

B. TEGUCIGALPA 1309

C. JUNE 15 INFO MEMO FROM DR. S. ZAKHEIM TO
SECRECTARY OF DEFENSE

D. STATE 207638(ALL NOTAL)

Classified By: Ambassador Larry L. Palmer for Reasons 1.5 (B) and (D).



1. (S) SUMMARY: Training continues for the all volunteer
Task Force Xatruch (TFX), the 370 soldier contingent Honduras
plans to deploy to Iraq by mid-August. The task force is
composed of 35 officers and 335 enlisted soldiers. TFX will
deploy as part of the Spanish Brigade in the Polish Division
and will operate in the vicinity of An Najaf. TFX will work
side-by-side with local police to patrol this major smuggling
zone. This area has been pacified and the biggest expected
threat TFX might face will be organized crime elements. Task
Force officers informed PolMilOff that the unit's training
was nearing completion and moral was high. Equipment and
sustainment needs continue to be a major concern, that could
delay the deployment of the Task Force. Also, due to the
fact that TFX will deploy through Kuwait, a Status of Forces
Agreement (SOFA) with the Government of Kuwait must be
completed before GOH forces enter the theater of operations.
END SUMMARY



--------------------------


Task Force Xatruch


--------------------------





2. (S) Training continues for TFX, the 370 soldier contingent
Honduras plans to deploy to Iraq mid-August. The task force,
composed of 35 officers and 335 enlisted soldiers, is
comprised of volunteers from throughout the Honduran Armed
Forces (HOAF). TFX will deploy (with the other Central
American forces) as part of the Spanish Brigade under the
Polish Division and will operate in the vicinity of An Najaf.
TFX will work side-by-side with local police to patrol this
major smuggling zone. This area has been pacified and the
biggest expected threat TFX might face will be organized
crime elements. The breakdown of TFX is:

1 Command and Control Unit with 13 Officers and 7 Enlisted;
1 Infantry Company with 5 Officers and 101 Enlisted;
1 Infantry Company with 5 Officers and 100 Enlisted;
1 Military Police Company with 5 Officers and 77 Enlisted;
1 Support Company with 7 Officers and 40 Enlisted.



3. (C) TFX is commanded by COL Carlos Andino Cobos who
recently returned from a survey trip to the deployment zone
in Iraq. COL Andino reports that his biggest concern is the
morale of his troops after arriving in Iraq. Apparently, the
deployment zone near An Najaf does not offer any type of
diversion when units are off duty. (Comment: The Honduran
contingency will be deploying without any means to provide
rest and recreational activities for its troops; alcohol is
also not permitted. Also, a senior military officer
expressed his concerns that the HOAF has not developed a
mechanism for TFX soldiers to have even periodic telephone
contact with their families back home during the deployment.
The Hondurans will be quartered in housing vacated by
departing U.S. Marine units with practically no conveniences
left behind. Boredom will surely be a problem and COL Andino
fears that none of his soldiers will volunteer to stay past
the planned six month deployment due to the significant
hardships they will face. End Comment)



4. (SBU) The HOAF reports that of the 35 officers slated to
deploy to Iraq, over half have served as part of the UN
peacekeeping mission to the Sinai. Also, for the first time,
Honduras will deploy six women as part of its contribution to
the international peacekeeping effort. The primary mission
of these women will be to function as interlocutors with the
women of Iraq, thus respecting local customs. The planned
deployment of TFX will be for six months. HOAF officials
have indicated a second volunteer task force will be readied
to replace TFX at the end of the six month deployment.



5. (SBU) On July 7 PolMilOff visited Honduran military base
at Tamara to review the progress of TFX. Base commanders and
TFX officers all reported good progress and high moral,
although one officer noted that the young age of many of the
enlisted soldiers could potentially be problematic due to
their inexperience. Nine members of Joint Task Force Bravo
(JTF-B) were also present as observers to verify that TFX
members are able to complete the 33 assigned principal tasks
(and the many subsets below them) necessary before the
deployment can go forward. JTF-B personnel reported good
progress by the Honduran troops toward these goals.



6. (SBU) While the training of TFX is proceeding on schedule,
sustainment and equipment needs continue to be a challenge.
TFX members still do not know exactly how they will deploy to
Iraq or how their other logistical needs will be met. Prior
to any deployment, the GOH must also complete a SOFA
agreement with the Government of Kuwait (ref D). The GOH is
working hard toward the completion of a SOFA in order to have
the agreement in place before the end of July. The current
target date for the arrival of TFX to Iraq is sometime in
mid-August with the stand-up of the force projected for
September 1.



--------------------------


Vetting of TFX


--------------------------





7. (SBU) Post understands the necessity to vet TFX members
for human rights abuses due to the fact that the unit will be
receiving USG funding. This process is moving forward and
should be completed soon. In the interim, the HOAF assured
Post verbally that none of the members of TFX participated in
the incident at the El Porvenir prison where 68 people were
killed, many purportedly at the hands of GOH security forces
(ref B).



--------------------------


Political Environment


--------------------------





8. (C) Honduras, under the leadership of President Maduro,
was an early member of the Coalition of the Willing, and
remains a supporter of the U.S. position on Iraq. The HOAF
is also interested in increasing its participation in
international peacekeeping missions, although at this point
without significant USG assistance this is not a foreseeable
option. While the deployment of TFX to Iraq has not
generated much public debate, apart from the usual
denunciations of the Bloque Popular (a coalition of leftist
activists), if TFX were to sustain even minimal casualties,
public opinion could turn rapidly against Honduran
participation in the reconstruction of Iraq.



9. (U) On July 16 the National Innovation and Unity Party
(PINU), a minor opposition party in the national congress,
announced it is planning to introduce a resolution to block
the planned troop deployment due to concerns about the
security situation in Iraq. PINU members also pointed to the
fact that U.S. forces have yet to discover any weapons of
mass destruction, which they charge undermines the legitimacy
of U.S. forces in Iraq. However, their main fear remains the
risk of Honduran casualties. This effort, which has little
chance of success, is politically inspired to further place
responsibility for the troop deployment squarely on Maduro's
Nationalist Party.



10. (C) Comment: The GOH is hoping for generous USG military
assistance for its participation as a member of the Coalition
of the Willing, one of the first countries to sign and ratify
an Article 98 agreement, and as a nation willing to send its
troops to Iraq. HOAF officials are well aware that some of
their neighbors receive FMF assistance and are looking for
similar funding based on Honduras' overall support of the USG
foreign policy objectives. A high ranking GOH official
privately questioned Honduras' knee-jerk support of U.S.
international objectives, and if U.S. military assistance
does not materialize, the critics may grow louder and wider
among GOH officials. End Comment

Palmer