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Viewing cable 09KABUL140, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT BIDEN AND SENATOR GRAHAM

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09KABUL140 2009-01-20 10:10 2010-12-02 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kabul
VZCZCXRO0510
OO RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #0140/01 0201040
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 201040Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6866
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KABUL 000140 

SIPDIS 

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM 
STATE PASS USAID FOR ASIA/SCAA 
NSC FOR WOOD 
OSD FOR WILKES 
CG CJTF-101 POLAD 

EO 12958 DECL: 01/15/2019 
TAGS PGOV, PREL, PTER, MARR, MASS, AF 
SUBJECT: VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT BIDEN AND SENATOR GRAHAM 
DISCUSS SECURITY IN HELMAND
REF: A. KABUL 65  B. KABUL 71

Classified By: By Ambassador William Wood for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY. Vice President-elect Joseph Biden and Senator Lindsay Graham visited Camp Bastion in Helmand Province January 11 and were briefed by Brigadier General Gordon Messenger, the British Commander of Task Force Helmand, and UK Senior Civilian Advisor Hugh Powell. COMISAF General McKiernan, RC-South Commander Major General Mart De Kruif and British Ambassador Sherard Cowper-Coles also attended. Helmand Governor Mangal also discussed security and U.S. assistance with Biden and Graham. During the UK briefings, Ambassador Wood and U.S. Brigadier General Nicholson met separately with Mangal to hear his concerns and recommendations for next steps. End Summary.

Task Force Helmand Briefing for Biden and Graham
--------------------------------------------- --- 

2. (C) The UK leadership briefing was somber. Senior Civilian Advisor Hugh Powell noted the UK had only 4000 troops in Afghanistan’s largest province, equaling one-third the troop density of RC East. British troops were covering the bulk of the population centers, but Powell noted that, given stretched resources, the British were aiming for “good enough.” (This is a phrase that is being used more often by the UK civilian and military leadership.) BG Messenger explained that his forces and the Afghan National Army were largely fixed to their Forward Operating Bases and PBs.

3. (C) Powell raised the issue of building governance and Biden broke in to press Powell on what “building governance” meant in practical terms. Powell described governance as having a few key people in the right places. Biden asked for more specifics about what was needed. Powell made a strong pitch for a unified command of the police mentors under CSTC-A. Biden asked where these mentors would come from and Powell suggested that non-troop contributing countries could provide them.

4. (C) Senator Graham asked attendees for a definition of success (in establishing greater security). BG Messenger defined coverage of more area as a key element of success. COMISAF and RC-S MG de Kruif added that Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) control of Afghanistan’s large cities - even in unstable provinces - is now the norm.

Mangal Presentation to Biden and Graham
--------------------------------------- 

5. (C) Governor Mangal, accompanied by Afghan National Army (ANA) General Mohaidan and Helmand Police Chief Colonel Shirzad, briefed the visiting officials on his efforts to combat terrorism, corruption and narcotics in Helmand. He welcomed increased support from the U.S., and described significant progress in Helmand, noting eight out 13 districts were now under government control. However, Mangal quickly added there was still much to do to improve security in the province. Even in the eight districts under GIRoA control, the security footprint was far too small; more forces could expand the security zones around the cities to allow communities room to promote commerce and civil engagement. Mangal observed there was still no presence in Baghran and Vashir in northern Helmand or in Kanashin or Dishu in the south.

6. (C) The Governor made clear his view that U.S. forces are urgently needed. New forces should help secure the open border with Pakistan, while the capabilities of the ANSF could be strengthened to support any mission. He praised the work of the ANA and Afghan National Police (ANP) and said that with additional help they would take on more missions. He noted that the October attack against Lashkar Gah was repulsed by the ANSF, well supported by ISAF forces. Coordination between these security forces was excellent and he expressed full confidence the U.S. forces would work well with Helmand’s ANSF leadership.

7. (C) Thanking Mangal for his efforts and praising his hard work, Biden then discussed President-Elect Obama’s desire to establish “a new contract” with Afghanistan, a message Biden had already shared with President Karzai (Ref A). Biden
KABUL 00000140 002 OF 003
stressed the importance of improved governance by the central government and the need for increased capacity in the ANSF; international forces alone could not bring security and prosperity to Afghanistan. The U.S. was prepared to increase assistance and would sustain existing commitments, but the GIRoA needed to actively tackle corruption and support more effective governors and military leaders - like Mangal and Mohaidan.

8. (C) Biden continued, saying the U.S. government was committed to long-term support for Afghanistan. He cautioned, however, that if the Afghan government failed to effectively address key problems, such as poor governance, poppy cultivation, and corruption, it would be difficult to retain the strong U.S. public support necessary to continue large-scale assistance to Afghanistan.

Mangal Calls for Extension of “Garmsir Model”
--------------------------------------------- 

9. (C) While the Helmand Task Force briefed Biden and Graham, Governor Mangal met with the Ambassador and BG Nicholson. The Ambassador thanked the Governor for his hard work and congratulated him on the large Counter Narcotics Shura he conducted January 4 in Lashkar Gah. Mangal stressed he was fully engaged in improving security, fighting corruption and building the capacity of the Afghan security forces. He was confident incoming U.S. forces would be able to achieve progress in extending security in north and south Helmand.

10. (C) Raising concerns regarding the UK security strategy, Mangal described his disappointment during a recent visit to Sangin. He noted that the bazaar in central Sangin was still outside the security zone; the situation in Kajaki was much the same. “I do not have anything against them (the British) but they must leave their bases and engage with the people.” He said even in Nad Ali the area of control was still too small.

11. (C) The Ambassador asked if the problem in Sangin was rooted in the civilian or military approach. Mangal said he thought both elements were at fault because there was “neither development and nor security” for the town. Mangal explained that the approach of the U.S. Marines in Garmsir was the right model for promoting community security in Helmand. The forces had remained in place for enough time to allow the bazaar, schools and clinics to reopen and then they planned a successful handover to ensure the new security zone could be maintained by the UK and the ANSF. Unfortunately, the UK has not built on the U.S. achievement by expanding the security zone around Garmsir still further.

12. (C) Mangal said he had told the UK team that even if they brought in thousands of additional troops, they would need a new plan and a shift of focus to connect to the people. As in Garmsir, success lay in clearing a large enough area around the town to encompass the bazaar, establishing visible reconstruction and development projects and engaging directly and often with local residents.

13. (C) The Ambassador thanked the Governor for his detailed and frank assessment, agreeing the situation posed a serious challenge. He said the UK was working well with the U.S. and that he was confident the British shared our vision for the region. Now, we must emphasize to them that the bazaar equals the city and the city equals hope - together this represents Afghanistan delivering security and economic development to its people.

Mangal: Promoting Successful Communities and Undermining SMA
--------------------------------------------- --------------- 

14. (C) The Governor appreciated the chance to share key concerns with Ambassador and BG Nicholson. The Governor is a skilled politician and clearly had no intention of embarrassing the UK leadership, but wanted to highlight the Garmsir model as the right formula for Helmand. His focus on Sangin also has a strong political element. If he can successfully move Sangin into a “Garmsir Model,” he knows opposition strongman Sher Muhammad Akhundzada (SMA) will be weakened and some Alizai may move away from his camp. Progress in Sangin would be a preemptive political strike against SMA. This will become more important as poppy eradication kicks off and efforts are launched against narco facilities in the upper Sangin Valley.
KABUL 00000140 003 OF 003
WOOD