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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04TEGUCIGALPA1617 2004-07-22 21:58:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tegucigalpa
Cable title:  

FURTHERING REGIONAL INTEGRATION; GENERAL HILL

Tags:   MARR MASS MCAP SNAR PREL KCRM HO 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TEGUCIGALPA 001617 

SIPDIS

USSOUTHCOM FOR GEN HILL
STATE FOR PM, INR, AND INL/LP
STATE FOR WHA AND WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/22/2014
TAGS: MARR MASS MCAP SNAR PREL KCRM HO
SUBJECT: FURTHERING REGIONAL INTEGRATION; GENERAL HILL
DISCUSSES SOUTHCOM INITIATIVES AND OTHER ISSUES WITH GOH

REF: TEGUCIGALPA 1518

Classified By: Ambassador Larry L. Palmer;
Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).



1. (U) Summary: On July 15, General Hill, USSOUTHCOM
Commander, met with Honduran Minister of Defense, Federico
Breve, and separately, with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff (CJCS), General Jose Isaias Barahona to discuss Central
American integration, narcotrafficking, U.S. military
assistance, and other issues of importance. General Hill
also paid a courtesy call on President Ricardo Maduro on July


14. The Government of Honduras (GOH) remains receptive to
SOUTHCOM initiatives, although limited resources and
political concerns remain stumbling-blocks as Honduras
continues to focus its armed forces on addressing pressing
regional concerns. End Summary.



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



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


Regional Integration and Possible "Plan Centro America"


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



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





2. (C) MOD Breve told General Hill he was generally pleased
with the direction and pace of regional integration and the
path the Conferencia De Fuerzas Armadas (CFAC) was taking.
He noted that Central American presidents were engaged on
regional military issues, and that CFAC was focusing its
efforts on trans-national threats such as combating
terrorism, narcotrafficking, and organized crime in general.
Breve also indicated CFAC was in the initial process of
considering a comprehensive regional plan to further address
these problems, but noted that budgetary constraints were a
real problem, suggesting Honduras alone needed some USD 40-50
million to "guarantee" better results. Breve did express
some consternation that El Salvador and Guatemala, despite an
agreement in 2002 to do so, had yet to submit comprehensive
arms inventories to the Secretaria de Integracion
Centroamericana (SICA).



3. (C) General Hill recommended CFAC follow the example of
Colombia by developing a comprehensive, regionally integrated
plan and then in a unified manner approach the U.S. for
funding. General Hill pointed out that individually it could
be difficult to garner political support in Washington for
military assistance funding increases; jointly, however, the
Central American countries had a much better chance of
success. He also noted, considering upcoming U.S. elections
in November, that realistically, no action would be taken in
Washington until next year, allowing CFAC sufficient time to
develop a sound action plan. General Hill indicated to Breve
that if CFAC were to do this, DOD and DOS would likely both
be supportive of the effort.



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


Next Steps on RTI


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





4. (C) General Hill queried MOD Breve and CJCS Barahona on
their latest thinking regarding SOUTHCOM's proposed Regional
Training Initiative (RTI), while at the same time elaborating
in more detail where he saw RTI heading. General Hill
assured Breve and Barahona that the U.S. understands the RTI
process will take time to evolve but that it presents
Honduras with an opportunity to show regional leadership
while also providing a venue the Central American states can
use to better regionally integrate. General Hill also told
Breve and Barahona that the U.S. does not envision a single
facility with an RTI sign posted above it, but rather that
the philosophical concept be embraced by the GOH who could
then, with U.S. assistance, seek other Central American
participation, including exercises in those countries.



5. (C) MOD Breve stated agreement with RTI in principle and
again confirmed Honduras' willingness to participate.
However, he did say that other countries would also have to
agree to host exercises on their bases. He did not claim, as
had been indicated previously, that Honduras' participation
in RTI would require National Congress approval but, he did
allude to the political "scene" as currently not being
"ideal" to advance such an initiative.



6. (C) General Hill suggested as a next step that within six
months, SOUTHCOM would generate an exercise concept involving
Honduras and a number of other Central American countries to
be held at Soto Cano and a separate location within another
participant's country. General Hill envisioned this initial
training exercise would be held at the platoon or company
level. Breve agreed in concept and said he looked forward to
what SOUTHCOM would propose.



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


Hondurans in Haiti?


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





7. (C) General Hill raised the issue of Honduran
participation in peacekeeping operations (PKO) in Haiti with
both MOD Breve and CJCS Barahona. He indicated he would
shortly be sending Honduras, and the other CFAC members, a
letter suggesting they form a PKO battalion (one company from
each of the four countries) that could possibly deploy to
Haiti. He underscored the U.S. Government's understanding
that, if accepted, it would take time to organize. Breve was
open to the idea in theory, but told General Hill that many
details would require attention before CFAC could deploy to
Haiti, including a decision on who would command the
expedition.



8. (C) CJCS Barahona stated the Honduran military is
ready/able to deploy to Haiti, but the decision to
participate is a political decision and the issue is a
sensitive one. (Comment: Honduran national primary
elections are scheduled for February next year and public
opinion, although hardly fully informed, has been squarely
against any type of deployment to Haiti. The GOH might still
be willing to support the UN mission there, but they are not
pushing it. One thing the GOH mentioned in the past (and
something that would help give them political cover) is their
desire to receive a formal invitation from the UN to provide
PKO forces to Haiti. End Comment).



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


Honduras' No Shoot-Down Policy


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





9. (C) General Hill stressed to both MOD Breve and CJCS
Barahona the utmost importance that Honduras strictly follow
its declared no shoot-down policy. Breve and Barahona
assured General Hill they fully understood U.S. legal
requirements regarding CNIES information sharing and they
again reiterated Honduras' "no shoot-down" policy. MOD
Breve, however, echoed President Ricardo Maduro's earlier
frustration with U.S. policy, particularly the U.S.'s
expectations that Honduras scramble air intercepts simply to
escort intruding aircraft through Honduran air space.
General Hill told Breve that the U.S. was working on a
regional air-bridge denial strategy that addresses these
issues but the policy making process was still not complete.



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


Honduran Ordnance Destruction


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





10. (C) On July 6, a SOUTHCOM Navy Explosive Ordnance
Disposal (EOD) team arrived in Honduras for a three day
mission in response to a Honduran Armed Forces (HOAF) request
that the U.S. assist them with limited ordnance destruction.
The team's primary mission was to assess the types and
quantities of ordnance, particularly the air-launched
munitions that Honduras currently holds, and to explore
disposal options. (Note: It was initially thought that
Honduras might be willing to significantly reduce its
stockpiles of air-launched munitions, particularly those
capable of being delivered by Honduras' aging fleet of F-5s.
It appears, however, that the GOH is seeking U.S. assistance
for only destroying obsolete and/or dangerous ordnance that
poses a health and safety risk to HOAF personnel. As the EOD
team's initial report concludes: "The problem is that the
vast majority of ordnance in their destruction plan is not
air-launched ordnance." End Note).



11. (C) General Hill urged CJCS Barahona to consider
selecting more air-launched ordnance for destruction. He
did, however, assure Barahona that the U.S. would be willing
to assist the HOAF with general ordnance destruction.
(Comment: The current state of some of the HOAF's munitions
stockpiles poses a serious health and environmental risk.
The HOAF is aware of this and is seeking U.S. assistance in
its destruction. It does not appear, however, that the HOAF
is considering even marginally reducing its serviceable
air-launched munitions. In this light, Honduran ordnance
destruction should not be considered in any way a
quid-pro-quo for Nicaraguan MANPADS destruction. End
Comment).


Palmer