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2004-12-10 18:33:00
Embassy Guatemala
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 GUATEMALA 003163 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/09/2014

REF: A. USDAO GUATEMALA IIR 6 838 996 05 (DTG 061836Z
OCT 04)

B. USDAO GUATEMALA IIR 6 838 9986 05 (DTG 031812Z
NOV 04)

Classified By: Ambassador John R. Hamilton, reason: 1.4(d)

1. (C) Summary: In addition to deployment of a military
police company to Haiti, the Guatemalan military has military
observers in the Ivory Coast and Burundi, has finished
training military observers for deployment to Sudan, and has
promised to send a Special Forces company and a military
police company to the Congo. The Guatemalan military
leadership views participation in peacekeeping operations as
a means to increase military professionalization, provide a
revenue source for military modernization, and reinforce
reorientation of the military away from internal security
missions. Resource and personnel constraints may keep the
Guatemalan military from fully realizing its ambitions for
participation in international peacekeeping efforts, but we
should applaud and support this trend whenever and however
possible. End Summary.

2. (U) The October 2004 deployment of a company-size (70
man) military police contingent to join the UN Mission For
Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH) represents Guatemala's
second experience with peacekeeping operations (PKOs) in
Haiti; Guatemala also participated in the 1994 Multinational
Force and its UN successor. This contingent is primarily
responsible for security of MINUSTAH headquarters. The
Guatemalan military had been approached by the UN about
sending an infantry battalion to Haiti in early 2005 as a
replacement for the military police contingent (Ref A);
current Guatemalan planning, however, only envisions rotation
of the military police contingent in April 2005.

3. (C) The Haiti follow-on contingent issue was intertwined
with proposals to create a multinational Central American
peacekeeping battalion that would include company-size
contingents from at least Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras,
and Nicaragua. This idea has been discussed in meetings of
the Conference of Central American Armies (CFAC), but has
apparently encountered political difficulties in some of the
member countries. With no more need for additional troops
for Haiti, the Guatemalans are now exploring formation of a
Central American battalion outside of CFAC auspices to avoid
political and legal constraints related to CFAC sponsorship.

4. (U) Guatemala's return to peacekeeping was spurred by two
events: the October 2003 simultaneous creation of an Army
peacekeeping operations school and a PKO section in the
Operations Department of the General Staff; and, the November
2003 signing of an MOU between the UN and GOG, which
committed Guatemala to the Standby List for PKOs. The first
course in the PKO school began in January 2004; the school
offers courses designed for various personnel participating
in UN-led PKOs, such as military police, military observers,

staff officers, and commanders.

5. (SBU) The PKO school has just completed training of 15
military observers for future deployment to the Sudan;
Guatemala currently has three military observers each in the
UN missions in the Cote D'Ivoire (UNOCI) and Burundi (ONUB),
respectively. Guatemala is also planning to send a 100-man
Special Forces and a 100-man military police contingent to
the UN mission in the Congo (MONUC) in early 2005. The
mission of the Special Forces company will apparently include
rescue of hostages.

6. (C) In conversations with Embassy officers, Guatemalan
Chief of the Defense Staff Major General Bustamante has made
it clear that he sees participation in PKOs as an important
vehicle for increasing the professionalization of the
Guatemalan military. MG Bustamante noted that opportunities
to work with more advanced military forces provide unequaled
training opportunities for the Guatemalan military, and that
the experience of equipping, training, and deploying
Guatemalan forces to foreign theaters in itself provides
valuable training.

7. (SBU) The Guatemalan military leadership also views
participation in UN PKOs as a funding source, albeit a modest
one, for military modernization. Part of the UN funding will
go to enhanced salaries for the Guatemalan soldier but a
portion will be paid directly to the GOG. The Guatemala
military anticipates that these funds will be for
modernization of the military, a line item in the GOG budget
that is to be financed by sale of military property and/or
foreign donations. (Note: Since the GOG has decreed that
surplus military property will be donated to other Guatemalan
national, departmental, or municipal entities, foreign
donations or soft loans appear to be the only viable funding
source for military modernization. End Note.)

8. (C) Comment: There are resource and personnel
constraints facing full realization of Guatemalan ambitions
for PKO participation. The Guatemalan military will be
reimbursed by the UN for expenses in equipping its Haiti
contingent but may face problems in advancing funds to
similarly equip its units destined for the Congo, especially
as it will be a larger contingent with a more complex and
dangerous mission. Future commitments, including rotations,
may face similar funding problems. On the personnel side,
the current size of the Guatemalan military means that
Guatemala may not be able to commit more than a
battalion-size force to PKO participation, given the 1 to 3
ratio needed to support foreign deployments, as well as the
fact that close to one third of the Guatemalan military is
currently involved in supporting joint police-military
security patrols. (The Guatemalan military has proposed to
at least partially address the personnel issue by not
counting deployed peacekeepers against the official personnel
strength ceiling - an idea that may face opposition from
civilian authorities, human rights groups, and/or
international donors.)

9. (C) Comment continued: Left unspoken, but presumably in
the minds of at least some officers, increased participation
in PKOs would constrain the GOG's ability to increase the
number of military personnel involved in joint
police-military patrols. The Guatemalan military clearly
chafes at this role, believing it is a drain on scarce
military resources and worrying about fallout from possible
military involvement should there occur an incident involving
use of excessive force. The military is also concerned that
joint patrols represent an open-ended commitment, and one
that will grow larger given - in the military view - the
incompetence of the police.

10. (C) Comment continued: Guatemala's interest in and
commitment to a growing role in international peacekeeping is
very positive. We should encourage it politically and
support it logistically (as contemplated in the release of
frozen MAP funds) whenever possible.