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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06KABUL4432 2006-09-28 11:48:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Kabul
Cable title:  

Update on Japanese Ring Road

Tags:   ECON EAID PGOV PREL ELTN SNAR ASEC AF 
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VZCZCXRO3061
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DE RUEHBUL #4432/01 2711148
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281148Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2852
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RHMFIUU/COMSOCCENT MACDILL AFB FL
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2879
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3012
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 6340
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 1689
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 004432 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS, SENSITIVE

STATE FOR SCA/A, S/CT
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID A-AA/ANE MARK WARD, CDHA/DG
NSC FOR AHARRIMAN
CENTCOM FOR CG CFC-A, CG CJTF-76, POLAD

SENSITIVE, SIPDIS

E.O. 12598: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAID PGOV PREL ELTN SNAR ASEC AF
SUBJECT: Update on Japanese Ring Road

REF: A) KABUL 3850 B) KABUL 4388

-------
Summary
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1. (U) At the Embassy of Japan's request, Embassy and USAID staff
have recently participated in discussions with the Japanese about
the security situation in southern Afghanistan and its impact on the
prospective start of Japan's segment of the ring road. We have
described approaches to operating in a high-risk environment and
shared the names of Afghan contractors employed by the USG in that
region. Embassy also facilitated a security briefing by ISAF
intelligence staff, which, while confirming a high threat level,
also suggested approaches to mitigating risk. Our Japanese
counterpart indicated the GOJ intends to move forward with the road
but is still figuring out how to get it done in a sustained
high-threat environment. End summary.



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


Minimizing Risk and Lining up Alternatives


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





2. (SBU) Econoff and USAID program manager for roads recently met
with the Japanese Embassy's officer in charge of development issues,
at his request, to discuss the status of the Japanese segment of the
ring road in view of the security situation in southern Afghanistan.
Japanese Emboff Kenji Saito told us that the Indian contractor was
becoming increasingly nervous over the security situation in the
area where construction is to take place. (NOTE: The Japanese
segment is a 114-km stretch from Kandahar west to Gereshk, in
eastern Helmand Province. End note.) The GOJ has no intelligence
sources in southern Afghanistan and is trying to determine what the
level of risk is; Saito was looking for any indication that
Operation Medusa had improved the threat profile for the road area.
To that end, Saito requested a briefing on the security situation in
the South; the briefing was delivered at HQ ISAF on 24 September.



3. (U) USAID's roads manager shared several approaches to mitigating
risk on construction projects in high-risk areas: using local
unskilled labor, pre-planning with tribal elders, and using of
Afghan construction companies where possible. Saito requested (and
later received from USAID) the names of Afghan construction
companies that the USG has used successfully. He took care to
emphasize that the current contractor has not backed out of the
contract, but rather that lining up alternatives was simply a
precautionary measure.



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


A Tough Intelligence Assessment


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





4. (SBU) At the security briefing, ISAF CJ2 staff described the
threat in western Kandahar and eastern Helmand provinces as high.
ISAF detailed a number of attacks on commercial and NGO vehicles and
operations and described the probability of future attacks as high.
On the positive side, the CJ2 thought the security situation would
steadily improve in the months to come, given ISAF's commitment to
follow up recent military operations against Taliban fighters with a
significant reconstruction and development effort. They also
recommended careful negotiation with local tribal leadership as an
integral part of the project.



5. (SBU) Saito reacted calmly to the intelligence assessment, saying
that the GOJ had already made a decision to go ahead with
construction. The questions now are how to do the work without
using a Japanese company, which the GOJ is unused to doing, and how
to ensure that the work is done to standards. He also indicated
that the GOJ has done work in hazardous circumstances before and
knows how to go about it. Nevertheless, Saito revealed deeper

KABUL 00004432 002 OF 002


doubts by asking point blank at the end of the conversation: Can
commercial work proceed, given the security situation? The answer
he got--that it has to proceed--hardly seemed to address his concern
and showed a sharply different perspective on the relative
importance of risk and urgency.



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


COMMENT: Still Fishing for Assurances


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





6. (SBU) Judging from this series of conversations, the Embassy of
Japan was still fishing for assurances that the Kandahar region will
soon be "safe for commercial operations" at the same time that it
was expressing its intention to build the road soon. We hope that
the security briefing has disabused the Japanese Embassy of the
notion that it can be assured of any normal level of safety. This
would seem to be the first step to thinking about how to get it done
in an unsafe environment. As reported previously (reftel A), this
matter may need continued encouragement at all levels.

NORLAND