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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04DJIBOUTI1212 2004-09-16 14:48:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR'S INTRODUCTORY CALL ON NEW COMMANDER OF

Tags:   MARR MOPS MCAP PREL PINR FR DJ 
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 001212 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF DAS DON YAMAMOTO AND AF/E
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE FOR ISA AFRICA DAS THERESA WHELAN
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE ALSO FOR DSCA JEANNE FARMER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/16/2014
TAGS: MARR MOPS MCAP PREL PINR FR DJ
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S INTRODUCTORY CALL ON NEW COMMANDER OF
FRENCH FORCES IN DJIBOUTI


Classified By: AMBASSADOR MARGUERITA D.RAGSDALE.
REASONS 1.4 (A) AND (D).



1. (U) Ambassador, accompanied by USLO Chief, had her first
meeting September 16 with General Michel Arrault, the new
Commander of French Forces in Djibouti. Arrault replaced
General Gerard Pons, whose tour of duty ended August 1.



2. (C) Ambassador noted the close cooperation and
collaboration between the U.S. and France in Djibouti and the
weekly meetings she had had with General Pons. She told
Arrault, that with his permission, she wished to continue
this weekly contact. Arrault concurred and noted that he had
had the privilege to meet as well General Samuel Helland,
Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa
(CJTF-HOA). Arrault said he looked forward to working
closely with us. Ambassador noted the role of the CJTF-HOA in
the global war on terrorism, but acknowledged the difference
in function of France's military presence in Djibouti.
Arrault responded that France's forces are in Djibouti as
part of a mutual defense agreement with Djibouti that has
existed since Djibouti's independence. Its mission is
therefore different. Arrault noted that France had, on
occasion, had the chance to participate with the CTF-150, but
that its primary role in Djibouti is defense of Djibouti
rather than the global war on terrorism.



3. (C) Ambassador asked about France's military assistance to
Djibouti, noting our own Foreign Military Financing (FMF)
program here. Arrault said France does have training and
exercise programs with Djibouti but that their direct
assistance amounts to 30 million euros (approximately USD 45
million) annually, a figure which is provided through a
complicated computation that includes rent for France's 8
plus bases in Djibouti, taxes and other duties accruing to
servicemen, plus cash that would bring any shortfalls on an
annual basis up to this sum.



4. (C) Ambassador remarked that the U.S. military was in the
process of negotiating renewal of its Camp Lemonier lease,
currently assessed at USD 15 million annually. She noted her
understanding that France wanted to reserve a portion of land
near the Camp for use for aircraft parking and staff
billeting. She asked if France had reached an agreement with
Djibouti on this issue. Arrault responded that France has
had an agreement in principle with Djibouti since December
2003 for the land in question, and that "Ambassador Selz
(France's Ambassador in Djibouti) is pushing to conclude the
matter." Arrault went on to note "confusion" about the
property as the precise area that the property encompasses
"keeps changing." (Note: Both Ambassador and USLO Chief have
seen a diplomatic note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of Djibouti which discusses an understanding between France
and Djibouti on the matter of the land, but the evidence
seems clear that there is no signed agreement between the
sides. No such formal agreement was signed during the visit
in July of France's Defense Minister. In addition, Arrault's
reference to changing land parameters would not indicate the
existence of a binding formal agreement. End note.)



5. (C) Ambassador spoke of the advantage that Arrault had as
a newcomer in sharing a common language -- French -- with his
military and political interlocutors. She alluded to the
clarity of intent that this would afford Arrault in his daily
interactions with Djiboutians. Arrault responded that the
sharing of French was not such an advantage in reality. He
said he found it difficult to understand some of the Afars
and Issas with whom he spoke because of the different ways in
which they used French. In some instances, it was difficult
to comprehend what exactly they were trying to communicate.
In his view, the differences among Djiboutians ethnically
were not bridged, unfortunately, by this common language of
French.



6. (U) BIO-DATA ON MICHEL ARRAULT (as provided): General
Michel Arrault was born November 10, 1952. He entered the
Air Force Academy and obtained his rating as a fighter pilot
in March, 1976. From 1976 to 1986, he flew the Mirage II and
the Mirage F-1 and took command of an air defense fighter
squadron in 1985. During the Summer of 1986, he was
positioned in the Office of the Inspector General of the Air
Force in Paris, where he held the position of Deputy for
Inspection, Fighter Operations. In 1987, he was assigned to
the 11th Tactical Fighter Wing, flying the Jaguar, and was
Wing Commander in August, 1989. After an Air War College
course, he was assigned to Incirlik Air Force base Turkey, to
assume the command of French forces attached to Turkey for
"Provide Comfort" international operation. He then took on
the position of Deputy Commander of the Air Force Academy on
June 1, 1992 and was responsible for all training programs
for cadets. In 1995, General Arrault was assigned as Base
Commander at Luxeuil Air Force Base, operating the Mirage
2000N in a nuclear deterrence role. In 1997, he was
positioned to the French Joint Headquarters, Paris, as
capability manager in the nuclear forces department. After a
course with the "Centre des Hautes Etudes Militaires" in
Paris, he was appointed as French Forces Commander in Chad.
During the Summer of 2002, he was transferred to the
Secretariat General for National Defense, Paris, as Deputy

SIPDIS
for International and Strategic Affairs. He was appointed
French Forces Commander in Djibouti. General Arrault has more
than 3900 flying hours on several combat aircraft: Alphajet,
Mirage II, Mirage F1, Jaguar and Mirage 2000. His awards and
decorations include Officer in the Legion of Honor, Commander
in the "National Order of Merit," the "Medaille de
l'Aeronautique and the Legion of Merit of the United States
of America. General Arrault is married with two children.



7. (C) Comment: General Arrault has limited English and is,
therefore, more comfortable in French. He has a less intense
style than that of his predecessor General Pons, which may
make for less intensity on the very issues of access to which
Pons was so committed during his tenure here. End comment.
RAGSDALE