ARGENTINA: AMBASSADOR, DEFENSE MINISTER WORK THE DETAILS OF MIL-MIL COOPERATION DESPITE RISING BILATERAL TENSIONS

Código Fecha Clasificación Origen
08BUENOSAIRES1305 17 September 2008 Confidencial / No para extranjeros Embassy Buenos Aires

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DE RUEHBU #1305/01 2612122
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FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2062
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
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C O N F I D E N T I A L BUENOS AIRES 001305

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/17/2028
TAGS: PREL, MARR, PGOV, PHUM, AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: AMBASSADOR, DEFENSE MINISTER WORK THE
DETAILS OF MIL-MIL COOPERATION DESPITE RISING BILATERAL
TENSIONS

REF: A. BUENOS AIRES 1300
B. SECDEF 110144Z SEP 08

1. (C) Summary: Ambassador paid a call on Argentine Defense
Minister Nilda Garre September 15 to take stock of
cooperative efforts over the coming year and to address a
handful of obstacles to deeper collaboration. Garre took
note of the new areas of cooperation that would become
available if the GOA followed through on its announced plans
to pay off Paris Club debt, thereby overcoming Brooke
Sanctions. She was noncommittal on the Fourth Fleet, but
interested in the fact that Brazil, Chile and Ecuador, among
others, had assigne liaison officers to its headquarters.
She was also non-committal toward reconsidering participation
in UNITAS Gold, though her deputy Secretary Forti asked about
details of available USG support if Argentina chose to
participate. Garre voiced appreciation for U.S. assistance
in training and reform efforts at the Ministry and left open
the possibility of working out differences over a previously
agreed Information Assurance/Cyber Security program.
Secretary Forti raised concerns about our recent experience
of rejecting a Peruvian and a Colombian military officer for
a U.S.-sponsored training within the Argentina National
Defense School and requested greater advance notice of
vetting requirements (MilGP Commander encouraged the MOD to
get participant names to us early in the process). Garre’s
decision to follow through on the meeting with Ambassador was
significant given current difficulties in the U.S.-Argentina
relationship flowing from the Miami trial of Franklin Duran
(reftel), and she evinced no disposition to scale back
collaboration. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Ambassador called on Defense Minister Nilda Garre
September 15 to review current and planned U.S.-Argentina
military cooperation and to touch base following Garre’s
September 4 meeting with Secretary Gates at the Western
Hemisphere Defense Ministerial in Banff, Canada. Garre was
accompanied by her two senior deputies, Secretary for
International Affairs Alfredo Forti and Secretary for
Military Affairs German Montenegro. Ambassador was
accompanied by Mil Group Commander, Naval Attache, and by
Pol-Mil Officer (notetaker). Garre was pleasant and
professional throughout, if occasionally non-responsive on
some issues raised by the Ambassador. She raised no agenda
items on her own in the meeting.

Brooke Sanctions, UNITAS, Fourth Fleet


3. (C) Ambassador began by congratulating Garre on her
government’s decision to pay its Paris Club arrears, noting
that payment of the U.S. portion of that debt would
facilitate the removal of Brooke Sanctions and potentially
make avaQable to Argentina Foreign Military Financing (FMF),
Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative (GPOI) material
support, and access to Excess Defense Articles (EDA). Garre
agreed these could be useful tools, while Forti clarified the
nature of FMF and EDA programs. Ambassador then noted that
we remained hopeful that Argentina would reconsider
participation in UNITAS Gold exercises, explaining that the
U.S. Government had USD 900,000 available to support
Argentine participation. Forti asked for confirmation that
this could be used for such things as fuel, which we
provided. Garre was noncommittal on the point.

4. (SBU) Garre was also neutral when the Ambassador raised
the establishment of the Fourth Fleet, which she has publicly
questioned. Garre took on board the Ambassador’s suggestion
that Argentina consider a visit to the fleet headquarters in
Mayport, Florida, or the establishment of a permanent liaison
officer. Garre asked for confirmation that Brazil, Chile,
and Ecuador had established liaison officers and seemed
surprised that they had.

Cruz del Sur


5. (SBU) Ambassador reiterated to Garre that the U.S.
Government stood ready to support the introduction of the
Argentine-Chilean peacekeeping brigade within the UN system
when the two countries were ready to move forward. The
Minister said that they hoped to establish the brigade,
designated Cruz del Sur (Southern Cross), by the end of the

year, but that this depended in part on the Argentine
Congress giving its authorization. She said she would be
discussing the brigade during a visit to Chile September 18
for its national day (at which, she said, she had planned to
see the Bolivian Defense Minister as well, though she doubted
that would be possible). Garre said she was pleased to host
the PKO Americas exercise in 2009. Asked whether Cruz del
Sur could formally participate, Garre said that would not be
possible until it was officially established, but that
Chilean and Argentine militaries would participate
separately.

Training and Reform


6. (SBU) Garre noted the challenges she was facing in
reforming Argentina’s defense procurement procedures and was
pleased that the U.S. would be sending experts to an end of
October conference on defense logistics. She said that
Argentina sought to learn from the U.S. experiences and that
progress had been made. The Ambassador agreed it was a
difficult challenge in any country, noting U.S. controversies
around the contract for an aerial refueling tanker.
Separately, Garre said that her Ministry was nearly done with
the establishment of a comprehensive travel plan and training
request system to facilitate faster turnaround on training
opportunities. MilGrp Commander noted the importance of
avoiding cancellations within 30 days of planned trainings,
which made it impossible to nominate alternatives or preserve
the funding. Garre and her Secretaries acknowledged the
importance of making their new procedures work. Montenegro
asked that the USG consider bringing back an expert in
capabilities based strategic planning to assist a small
high-level group in the Ministry.

Information Assurance/Cyber Security


7. (C) Ambassador raised our disappointment that the planned
project on information assurance/cyber security, the subject
of an agreed-upon bilateral MOU and an approved initial USD
100,000 in funding, had been brought to a point where the
funding would be lost due to continuing disagreements over
procedures and participation. Garre had asked her
Secretaries to be prepared on this point, and they argued
that the MOD had only modified its approach upon recognizing
that other parts of the government had equities in the
effort, in particular the Public Operations Secretariat
(SGP). The GOA recognized that the funding was about to be
lost. MILGP Commander pointed out that we had no problem
including other parts of the GOA, but that our understanding
from the GOA’s response was that the SGP along with the MOD
would each receive a place on the steering committee,
compared to one seat for the USG. Forti and Montenegro said
that this was not their understanding of what was being
asked. Garre noted that the Sub-Secretary for Legal Affairs
was in Germany, further complicating prospects to conclude
the deal, but agreed it would be worthwhile to follow up to
see if the differences could be overcome.

Helos


8. (SBU) Garre voiced appreciation for the delivery of two H3
Sea King helicopters at Bahia Blanca, saying that she had
just seen them but had been prevented from flying because at
the time a minor part or issue had yet to be resolved.
Ambassador invited Garre to consider joining him for a
ribbon-cutting once they were operational. Ambassador later
congratulated Garre on the Army’s Aviation branch’s success
in qualifying with Bell Helicopter/Textron to perform Huey II
Kit upgrades for Argentine as well as Uruguayan and
Paraguayan operators.

Vetting Challenge


9. (SBU) Secretary Forti raised the one issue initiated by
the Argentine side during the meeting, requesting our help to
avoid a repeat of the vetting issue that has arisen for two
non-Argentines (one from Peru, one from Colombia)
participating in a U.S.-funded Defense Logistics program as
part of their year-long course of study at the Argentine

National Defense School. Both had been identified for
associations with human rights violations by Department
vetting, long after they had joined the Argentine program in
which the U.S. training was one element. Forti, seconded by
Garre, asked what could be done to avoid such an embarrassing
situation for Argentina, which had had to prevent the
visitors’ participation. MilGrp Commander noted that he had
discussed with a MOD official in mid-August the emergence of
the first rejection and had coordinated on solutions (Garre
complained to her deputies that she had not been informed
until the eve of her September 4 meeting with Secretary
Gates). We agreed that the early sharing of information on
proposed participants was key. Garre said that in fact
Argentina too wished to avoid hosting human rights violators,
but that early notification of our findings was key (Note:
Her comment was significant, because it represented the first
time an Argentine interlocutor has implicitly supported the
basis of our refusal).

Comment: Positive, Restrained


10. (C) Coming as it did amidst virulent anti-U.S. bashing by
some members of Government and non-government supporters of
the Kirchners outside government (reftel), the meeting was
notably free from ideological posturing by Garre or her
lieutenants as has been the case in Ambassador’s previous
meetings with her. That she agreed to follow through with
the meeting was itself a positive - though Secretary Forti
intervened before the meeting to cancel the Embassy
photographer. (During our previous period of Miami
case-related bilateral tension, the Ambassador was embargoed
from official meetings with Cabinet ministers except for the
Foreign Minister.) She gave a slightly positive signal, even
if lQly too late, on the information assurance project, and
was restrained in her remarks this time on the Fourth Fleet.
In all, it was a constructive meeting in which she gave her
clear approval for continued collaboration on several fronts.
End Comment.

WAYNE