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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04DJIBOUTI814 2004-06-14 11:40:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
Cable title:  

THORNY ISSUES RAISED AT 27TH ANNIVERSARY

Tags:   PREL PGOV MOPS MARR MASS MCAP DJ 
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 000814 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF, AF/E, AF/RSA, AND PM

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/13/2014
TAGS: PREL PGOV MOPS MARR MASS MCAP DJ
SUBJECT: THORNY ISSUES RAISED AT 27TH ANNIVERSARY
CELEBRATION OF DJIBOUTI'S ARMED FORCES


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



1. (U) Summary: June 6 marked the 27th anniversary of the
creation of Djibouti's armed forces. On the occasion, Chief
of Defense, General Fathi Ahmed Houssein, addressed the
troops with remarks that raised lingering thorny issues of
adequate housing, health services, compensation and promotion
that continue to affect troop morale and job satisfaction in
a negative way. The most controversial proposal, and the one
least likely to be fully implemented, is to deduct from
salaries of military personnel a set sum of nearly
one-quarter of salary monthly to fund future housing. End
summary.



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


Post-Flooding: More Promises


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





2. (U) In his speech at the 27th anniversary celebration
June 6 of the founding of Djibouti's armed forces, Chief of
Defense, General Fathi Ahmed Houssein, reiterated his
condolences to the members of the services who lost family
members, personal effects and homes during the floods which
had taken place in Djibouti two months prior, almost to the
day. He said his command takes the cases of these
individuals seriously and that assistance would be
distributed to them "without delay." He also told the troops
that "a study had been undertaken which would lay out
possibilities for their re-housing," which has not yet been
resolved.



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


Imposed Contribution Plan


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





3. (C) Perhaps most controversial among the General's remarks
during the anniversary celebration was his outline to the
troops, for the first time, of a proposed plan to retain from
their salaries on a monthly basis, the sum of 10,000
Djiboutian Francs (USD 56, out of an average salary of 40,000
Djiboutian Francs (USD 226) to fund, over several years, a
financing plan for military housing. No other details were
provided, although General Fathi remarked that implementation
of the reserve funding was "on hold" until a personalized
contract establishing duration and terms could be
established. (Comment: Commander of French Armed Forces in
Djibouti, General Gerard Pons, told Ambassador and USLO
during a meeting on June 9, that this proposed plan was a
shock and had stirred much grumbling from the military rank
and file as soon as announced. End comment)



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


Praising "Transformation"


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





4. (U) Among the list of accomplishments of the military over
the past year, cited by General Fathi, were the following:

-- creation of new regiments, including the Rapid Action
Regiment, with added missions, including a new focus on the
anti-terrorist struggle;

-- increase in the capacity of the Artillery Regiment to
optimize its fire power and mobility;

-- enlargement of the capacity of the naval unit operating
along Djibouti's maritime coasts, including equipping it with
a high-speed medical motorboat to decrease evacuation time to
sources of treatment;

-- progress of the Demining Company and the declaration in
January 2004 of Djibouti as mine-free;

-- improvement of health structures of the Djibouti Armed
Forces generally, for the benefit of Djibouti's citizens;

-- the planned construction of a military hospital which
would concentrate all military health structures into a
single enclosure. According to General Fathi, this project is
"under discussion" and "in design phase;"

-- achievement in the future of a mixed modern garrison for
officers that will also provide leisure space for the mental
and physical well-being of soldiers;

-- in Human Resources, continuation of training programs that
currently have placed 110 trainees in 20 countries. There are
also plans for additional training of pilots of aircraft and
helicopters.



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



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


Acknowledging Problems in Benefits and Promotions


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



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





5. (U) General Fathi spoke of a commission that "is being set
up" to look at issues such as loans and death benefits for
soldiers. He also told the assembled soldiers that "I am not
unaware of the unease of non-commissioned officers who await
formal regularization of the grading of officers. A
commission will be designed, which will define methods of
promotion. The thorny problem of promotion freezes will
know, I hope, a happy outcome at the end of the year."
General Fathi went on to say that normal promotions had been
delayed but that a list of promotions would be released
"before the end of the year or by the beginning of next year."



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


Comment


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





6. (C) During a meeting with Ambassador in mid-April, General
Fathi expressed his unhappiness with the pace of U.S.
provision of defense equipment promised and in the pipeline
for Djibouti under Foreign Military Financing (FMF). He
sought the Ambassador's help in quickening the pace of
provisioning, so that the process of acquiring equipment is
shortened. In the General's words, "security cannot wait" on
the slow process. He also asked for additional equipment,
including a radar for joint use by the U.S. and Djiboutian
militaries, and for an additional USD 100,000 annually to
fund maintenance of Djibouti's Demining Company. Ambassador
took advantage of the opportunity of the April 25 Chiefs of
Mission Conference hosted by the Combined Joint Task
Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), to put Colonel Osman Nur
Soubagleh, Commander of the Djiboutian Army Corps of
Engineers, in contact with visiting DAS Theresa Whelan for
further discussion.



7. (C) Djibouti's military has other internal problems that
require priority focus. The lingering issues of promotions,
benefits, and post-flood assistance for soldiers and their
families are unresolved. Indeed, General Fathi has
approached USLO for assistance in re-supplying the military
and its troops with some of their flood losses. It will be a
challenge to meet these requirements in a timely manner, even
if subsequently approved. Moreover, the Armed Forces of
Djibouti (FAD) are also experiencing difficulty in meeting
payroll requirements. Recent cuts in a food supplement for
FAD service members proved so unpopular as to cause strikes
at several military bases. This new proposal to fund what
many in the FAD deem to be a government obligation, is not
likely to fare better. End comment.
RAGSDALE