This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 KABUL 005110
DEPARTMENT FOR INL/FO AND SA AMBASSADOR QUINN, NSC FOR AHARRIMAN/KAMEND
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/14/2015 TAGS: SNAR PREL PGOV PTER KCRM AF SUBJECT: POPPY ELIMINATION PROGRAM (PEP) STATUS REPORT
REF: A) KABUL 04880 B) KABUL 04957
1. (C) Summary: The Government of Afghanistan (GOA) sponsored Poppy Elimination Program continues to move forward. The Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN) is on-target to hire all PEP personnel by early 2006. All seven PEP teams have Afghan members and four international advisors (IA) have been hired. Housing for the IAs is being worked out. The provincial PEP teams are coming together and have begun working with local officials and farmers to spread the message regarding governor-led eradication. As the PEP program moves forward, it is crucial that the Embassy be able to support the GOA's efforts. In REF B, the Embassy asked for funding to carry out PEP activities in 2006. This funding will provide necessary support to governor-led eradication efforts. End Summary.
2. (C) Four PEP International Advisors (IA) have been hired. One has been deployed to the Kandahar PEP office, the other is in-country awaiting his assignment. Two additional PEP advisors are scheduled to arrive December 26. Interviewing for both Afghan and international PEP continues. The MCN is on-target to have all Afghan PEP personnel hired, for all seven PEP Provinces, in early 2006. Afghan teams have been deployed to Nangarhar (Team Leader plus four members), Kandahar (Team Leader plus three members and an International Advisor), Farah (Team Leader plus three members), Balkh (Team Leader plus two members), Helmand (Team Leader plus one member), Badakshan (one member) and Uruzgan (one member).
Housing of International Advisors
3. (C) As originally proposed, IAs were supposed to be housed at either the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) bases or Regional Training Centers (RTC-police training centers run via an INL CIVPOL contract). The ideal situation, from the Embassy's perspective, was to have them reside at the PRTs so that they could establish close working relationships with the civilian and military PRT leadership, who have first-hand knowledge on activities in their respective provinces. However, some PRTs were concerned that housing the IAs on their compounds could raise security issues. Embassy and CFC-A agreed that the option of lodging at a Forward Operating Base (FOB) when available is also acceptable but PRTs will be used when essential.
4. (C) The military has approved the housing of IAs at the following sites:
Nangarhar: Jalalabad Air Field (JAF) Kandahar: Kandahar Air Field (KAF) Helmand: FOB Price Uruzgan: FOB Ripley
5. (C) In the interim, the IAs will be housed at the RTCs in Nangarhar and Kandahar both of which are more convenient (with a move to JAF planned for spring 2006 when the RTC moves to a more distant location). One of the main advantages of RTC housing is that third country national (TCN) security staff can be housed in the same location as the IAs. FOB Ripley is adequate for space and security, but the risks and challenges associated with a difficult one hour's drive to Lashkar Gah (the capital), are leading to review this placement and consider other options. We expect to resolve this issue by the end of December.
6. (C) The remaining three provinces, Balkh, Badakshan, and Farah contain PRTs that are under International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) control. The Afghanistan theater supports housing of IAs at their PRTs and have requested permission from its headquarters in Brunssum, Belgium to do so. Unfortunately, they have indicated to us that this request has been denied. ISAF Command Afghanistan told the Head of the British Embassy Drugs Team that it expects written confirmation of the denial in mid-December and they will appeal to SAC EUR. According to ISAF Kabul, SAC EUR has advised that they will overturn the Brunssum decision and allow PRTs to be utilized to house IAs. Meanwhile, the German government, through its Embassy, informed the US Embassy that the IAs can be housed at the German PRT in Feyzabad, Badakshan province (REF A). The ISAF PRT housing issue will be reported SEPTEL, when resolved.
7. (C) Since there is an RTC in Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh Province, the IAs can be housed there. In the case of Farah, the only options are the PRT or the provincial government compound. The Embassy is pursuing the housing of IAs at the PRT in Farah and has support from the PRT Commander.
8. (C) From the beginning, PEP teams, including the IAs, were to have a broad mix of backgrounds and expertise: rural development, public information, narcotics control, and monitoring and verification. As implementer of the PEP contract, DynCorp is charged with recruiting and hiring fourteen International Advisors (IA), including non-Americans (two per province). Initially DynCorp recruited a preponderance of candidates with military backgrounds and no public information or other relevant experience. In order to align recruitment with program goals, INL Washington prepared a more detailed job description and permitted DynCorp to increase the salary range in order to recruit more senior staff. DynCorp has also been asked to focus on recruiting and hiring British and Canadian nationals for PEP posts in Helmand and Kandahar (the UK will assume command of Helmand PRT and the Canadians will assume command of Kandahar PRT in Spring 2006).
9. (C) To date, INL has approved eleven resumes. Of those eleven, two have been hired and are currently in-country and two are expected to arrive in mid-December. The fifth candidate has yet to decide while the six remaining either declined or did not respond to DynCorp recruiting. On December 12, the Embassy received three additional resumes of applicants for IA positions. The Embassy is optimistic that INL Washington and DynCorp have resolved the initial problems and the process and timeliness of hiring IAs will improve.
10. (C) The establishment of the PEP teams and offices is far behind the schedule agreed to in the initial Technical Cost Proposal. Most of the deliverables in the PEP contract have fallen behind schedule, the most basic of which required that all PEP offices and teams be established by November 20. On November 30, DynCorp officials (PEP Deputy Program Manager Mike O'Donovan, Mark Hannak VP for Security Operations Middle East/Africa and Roy Anderson PEP Engineer) met with PEP Program Office to discuss the status of operational support for PEP. Many of the items ordered for the PEP teams had not arrived, including communications systems, office furnishings, body armor and weapons. O'Donovan said even if the staffing issue was resolved earlier, there is no way DynCorp could have met the November 20 deadline. The Embassy continues to work with DynCorp to coordinate operational support for PEP.
Establishment PEP Offices
11. (C) DynCorp along with the PEP Program Manager and CNTF Director have surveyed sites for office space in all seven PEP provinces and have identified the following as possible locations:
Badakshan- site survey conducted on December 11, DynCorp reviewing options in Feyzabad for office space.
Balkh- The governor has offered the PEP team two rooms in his compound building. DynCorp plans a site survey in mid-December. Farah- refurbishment of building adjacent to governor's office
Helmand- refurbishment of building adjacent to governor's office
Kandahar- placement of connex trailers on governor's compound
Uruzgan- placement of connex trailers on governor's compound
Nangarhar- The Team Leader has negotiated with government officials and is currently working out of the provincial government building. The governor offered a building to the PEP team on an adjacent compound but a site survey concluded that the building needed too much work to be usable. The alternate plan is to assemble connex trailers on the provincial government compound.
PEP Team Activities
12. (C) PEP teams have been working and have been pro-active and creative in their approach to engage with their communities. Recent events include:
Badakshan- PEP team is planning a three day trip to Khashk District in mid-December. The team has established a working relationship with the Director of CN and has spoken with elders and local officials about the program.
Nangarhar- Team Leader personally secured a room in the Provincial Government Building. PEP team regularly meets with the Governor and has held two working group meetings. The team also met with elders of Acheen and Khogiani districts, both high-cultivation areas. The Team Leader participated in a CN round table discussion on Nangarhar television. The monitoring/verification officer also traveled to Acheen, Behsood, Bati Kot, Spin Ghar and Khogiani districts.
Kandahar- Team Leader held a working group meeting with the relevant provincial government officials and NGOs and IOs in November and made the following recommendations : 1) increase level of media broadcasting regarding anti-cultivation, highlighting Alternative Livelihoods (AL) programs; 2) improve coordination of anti-narcotics activities; and 3) improve security, so that people wont feel as though they are forced to grow poppy. The Team Leader met with the Governor who said he would be eradicating poppy fields in Maiwand Province before the end of the year.
Helmand- Interim PEP Team Leader organized a November 26 meeting, which was attended by 100 provincial and district officials, a senior mullah, a National Assembly member and various tribal elders. The meeting served as an introduction to PEP, as well as an opportunity for officials to reiterate familiar and important themes concerning the need and desire of the government to eliminate poppy. The meeting concluded with all parties signing an anti-opium pledge. The Governor followed up this meeting with a November 28 meeting with district chiefs and police chiefs to discuss the poppy problem, warning them that they had one week to combat poppy planting or they would face dismissal or arrest.
Farah- PEP team conducted two working groups in November and have prepared a short-term work plan for their activities.
Balkh- Team Leader held meetings with Deputy Governor and Chief of Police. Balkh Police forces have arrested 21 farmers for planting poppy; news of these arrests were broadcast on radio and televison. The arrested were later released after Elders from their villages promised provincial authorities that they would eradicate the fields that have been planted.
Uruzgan- At a November 28 meeting with the PRT Commander, PRT State Representative, CNTF Director, PEP Country Director and senior provincial directors, the Governor agreed to allow space on his compound for connex trailers to house the PEP team. The Governor assured the assembly that he is concerned about the rise of poppy cultivation and is committed to eradication. He asked for international assistance to procure tractors to conduct eradication, as he could not afford to pay to rent tractors.
CNTF and PEP Directors Visit PEP Provinces
13. (C) Over the past three weeks, the PEP Program Manager, PEP Country Director and Embassy Kabul CNTF Director have met with Governors and/or Deputy Governors in Helmand, Uruzgan and Farah to discuss PEP and the importance of the governor's involvement in dissuading farmers not to plant. They also talked about the development of eradication plans for their provinces and were asked by the PEP Country Director to submit plans to the MCN by December 15 so that the PEP Directorate can evaluate and organize funding for the plans.
14. (C) Per REF B, the Embassy asked for provisions to carry out PEP for 2006. This Advice for Allotment for the PEP Program is needed as soon as possible.
Public Information campaign
15. (C) The public information campaign has moved into its second phase and is broadcasting messages on governor-led eradication. Eradication messages are being delivered in conjunction with ongoing rule of law, health and alternative livelihood messages. The same messages will be disseminated in educational pamphlets, posters, stickers and matchbooks.
16. (C) The Public Information Campaign Program Manager has devised a three-part strategy to communicate the PEP message. The campaign will use prominent Afghans to deliver the message that poppy growing is wrong. The second part of the campaign will focus on eradication, warning Afghans that forced eradication is coming and if they have planted poppy they should eradicate their crops in time to plant licit crops.
PEP Producing Results
17.(C) While the PEP program is not fully-staffed or equipped in the provinces (and will not likely be until Spring 2006) the Embassy notes a marked rise in the level of engagement by the central and provincial governments of Afghanistan on CN. A good example of this commitment is the Ministry of Interior supported by the Ministry of Counter Narcotics, will host an eradication operational planning meeting with representatives from 12 key opium producing provinces (Nangarhar, Kunar, Helmand, Uruzgan, Farah, Badakshan, Baglan, Balkh, Sar-e-pol, Bagdhis and Samangan). Governors, police chiefs, mullahs, elders and local leaders are scheduled to participate in these meetings beginning on December 14. Also significant is that the Ministry of Counter Narcotics with the Ministry of the Hajj and Religious Affairs, the Supreme Court, the Governor of Nangarhar and the Provincial Council will host a meeting of 200 mullahs in Jalalabad on December 22. The meeting is designed to inform the mullahs of the law, the Constitutional provision on drugs, the GOA policy on eliminating opium cultivation, to share the GOA message on prevention and to inform them that eradication will occur where poppies have been planted.
18. (C) These events are significant because they are locally-led initiatives aimed at garnering support for eradication from community leaders. The GOA is working with the mullahs in an effort to get them to ask the governors in their provinces to conduct eradication, as opposed to this directive coming from Kabul or the Provincial Governor. The MCN said that it will hold similar meetings with mullahs in other PEP provinces.
19. (C) Comment: PEP, like any program of this magnitude and complexity, will continue to have growing pains. All three partners in the program-the Government of Afghanistan, the United Kingdom and the USG understand the challenges of PEP and are working together to meet them. All agree that PEP is the only way forward if poppy elimination is to be achieved in Afghanistan. End Comment.