140777 2/11/2008 11:27 08ISLAMABAD609 Embassy Islamabad SECRET "VZCZCXRO4695
OO RUEHLH RUEHPW DE RUEHIL #0609/01 0421127 ZNY SSSSS ZZH O 111127Z FEB 08 FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5035 INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 8127 RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 2775 RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 8913 RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 4783 RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 3472 RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 3612 RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY" "S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ISLAMABAD 000609
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/10/2028
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PTER, MARR, MOPS, PK
SUBJECT: ADMIRAL FALLON DISCUSSES SECURITY COOPERATION WITH GENERAL KAYANI
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson, Reasons 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (C) SUMMARY. Admiral William J. Fallon, USCENTCOM Commander, met with Pakistan's General Ashfaq Kayani, Chief of Army Staff, on 22 January. Kayani provided a snapshot of Pakistan's current overall security situation and described the status of counter-insurgency efforts in Swat. Fallon and Kayani also discussed areas for expanded military assistance and training, as well as Pakistan's way forward in improving close air support. Finally, Kayani commented on improved cooperation with Afghanistan. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) Admiral Fallon began by offering condolences on the December 28 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and asking General Kayani for his assessment of the current security situation. Kayani agreed Bhutto's death was a tragedy and a destabilizing event for Pakistan, particularly in Sindh province. Commenting on the overall security situation, Kayani noted that, despite the rising incidents of suicide attacks, things remained relatively normal throughout the country. The Army had deployed more broadly during the recent holy month of Muharram, (a period often marked by sectarian violence), but had since returned to their cantonments.
3. (C) Regarding Baitullah Mehsud, (generally considered responsible for Bhutto's assassination), Kayani said that he posed a serious problem for Pakistan. Mehsud had shifted his focus from cross border attacks to internal assaults against Pakistan security forces and was conducting training for militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
4. (C) Regarding security for elections, Kayani stressed that the Army should have no role in the February 18 election - an exceptionally important election for Pakistan. It was, he said, the Election Commission's duty to ensure free and fair elections. The Army would only be involved if there were a need to preserve law and order to facilitate elections.
SECURITY IN SWAT
5. (C) Kayani said the militants had been cleared from Swat's population centers. They were, however, still present in Peochar and adjacent tribal areas where pockets of resistance remained. Kayani dismissed media reports of the resurgence of extremist group Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM). The Frontier Corps had initially been tasked to confront the militants in late October 2007, but within a few weeks it became clear the Army would be needed. The Army regained control of the area after 2 to 3 weeks.
6. (C) While Kayani felt the Army could not remain a significant force there forever, he said there would be a continuing need for troops to control entry routes into the district. Also, the perception among some that continued security was dependent on the presence of the Army had led to plans for a small garrison in the area.
7. (C) The important thing, said Kayani, was that local people were against the insurgents and it was key to the Army's success to cultivate popular support. The Army has distributed 1 million rupees (approximately 16,700 USD) in development aid to Swat. (Kayani noted the Army had previously offered similar assistance in FATA.) Kayani asserted that it was now critical for civilian government to take control in Swat.
8. (S) In response to Fallon's questions regarding military assistance, Kayani first focused on the need for surveillance assets. Emphasizing the urgent need for tactical SIGINT capability for Pakistan's military aircraft, Kayani said he understood the U.S. was working on this issue and would have an assessment team in Pakistan shortly. Kayani said he was not interested in acquiring Predators, but was interested in tactical level Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs). He noted these were expensive and asked if the U.S. could grant or loan them to Pakistan. ISLAMABAD 00000609 002 OF 003 CHALLENGES IN CLOSE AIR SUPPORT
9. (C) Kayani stated that President Musharraf had instructed him to examine the various U.S. options available to enhance Pakistan's close air support capability, but not to commit to any of them. After considering the issue, Kayani had concluded Pakistan could not accept U.S. aircraft in support of Pakistan Army operations because it ran counter to the Army's need to effectively handle combat operations on its own.
10. (C) Kayani also noted his own policy of selective use of aircraft in supporting operations as he felt employing combat aircraft within Pakistan would send the message that the level of conflict had escalated dramatically. He admitted to reluctantly employing F-16s in South Waziristan within the past few days, following direct assaults on Laddha Fort, including hundreds of rocket attacks. (Note: The use of the F-16s was presumably largely a show of force as the aircraft can only be employed during the day, while the attacks were at night. End Note.)