Nepal Army stock of ammunition had reached crisis point in 2006, US cables

     B. KATHMANDU 606 (NOTAL) 
Classified By: CDA John K. Schlosser, Reasons 1.4 (b/d). 
1.  (S) Visiting SCA PDAS Camp and the Ambassador alerted the 
Indian and British ambassadors in a March 9 meeting that the 
Chief of Army Staff had acknowledged that the Royal Nepalese 
Army's stocks of ammunition were so low as to have reached a 
"crisis" point.  Indian Ambassador Mukherjee maintained that 
the RNA had sufficient supplies to move ammunition around 
from one sector to another and that its senior commanders 
were using non-government procurement channels to acquire 
arms and enrich themselves in the process.  The Indian 
Ambassador disclosed that he had been in close touch with the 
political parties prior to their ongoing meeting with the 
Maoists in India, urging the parties to dictate the agenda of 
any cooperation with the Maoists.  The British and Indian 
ambassadors contended the parties' 12-point understanding 
with the Maoists had been beneficial to the parties, as the 
Maoists currently were not targeting their workers in rural 
areas. The British ambassador said the EU would discuss Nepal 
the week of March 13 and was considering a "democracy 
challenge," urging both the King and the Maoists to abandon 
pursuit of a military resolution and perhaps offering the 
prospect of additional aid to induce a return to democracy. 
The three ambassadors and Camp explored the possibility of an 
international conference on Nepal, perhaps in London. End 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
RNA Assessment of Ammo "Crisis" Disputed by Indian 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
2.  (S)  Visiting SCA PDAS Donald Camp met March 9 with 
British Ambassador Keith Bloomfield and Indian Ambassador 
Shiv Mukherjee over lunch hosted by the Ambassador.  Acting 
DCM John Schlosser (notetaker) also participated.  PDAS Camp 
and the Ambassador briefed on Camp's meetings thus far, 
including his March 8 audience with the King and subsequent 
meeting with COAS General Thapa.  The Ambassador noted that 
this was the first time Thapa had acknowledged that the RNA's 
ammunition shortage had reached a "crisis" point. Bloomfield, 
who had not been fully aware of the very low level of 
ammunition for the RNA's modern rifles and the almost 
complete lack of helicopter-fired rockets, expressed concern. 
 Mukherjee disputed that there was a "crisis."  He recognized 
that the RNA was indeed "short" on ammunition, but countered 
"they have enough to move stuff around" from one part of the 
country to another, if needed, at least for the time being. 
(N.B.  This is consistent with our information that the RNA 
could move forward-deployed ammunition around for a month or 
two to hide the fact that central stores were depleted.) 
3.  (S) Mukherjee acknowledged, however, that the RNA had 
very little ammunition for training purposes and that some 
units were deployed with only 8 rounds out of 35 slots in the 
magazines of their (Indian-provided) SLR rifles.  That was 
easy to see, Mukherjee added, because the SLR magazines are 
transparent.  Still, the Indian ambassador said his defense 
attache had reported that no RNA field commanders had yet 
complained about a lack of ammunition. 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
... who Alleges High-Level Corruption, Low Morale in 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
4.  (C) The RNA's principal problem, Mukherjee continued, did 
not concern ammunition but rather morale, which was "very 
low."  Many units had had no leave in 18 months and, even if 
the soldiers were given leave, they could not return to their 
villages because the security situation would not permit it. 
The Ramban battalion had not been paid in 3 months, he 
alleged.  Moreover, Mukherjee asserted, corruption at senior 
levels of the RNA was high.  The line ministries of 
government were taking across-the-board cuts, recorded in the 
budget as "miscellaneous" but ostensibly for security needs 
related to the insurgency.  Senior officers were enriching 
themselves with funds set aside for procurement.  They had 
told the Chinese, Mukherjee added, to up their invoices for 
small arms by 30 percent.  (Note:  In a separate, March 11 
meeting with Charge, Mukherjee claimed that the corruption 
factor explained why the RNA leadership had, at least until 
recently, not been overly concerned about India, the UK and 
the U.S. cutting off arms shipments.  Such transfers were 
government-to-government and did not allow for price padding 
and skimming.  The RNA senior commanders, Mukherjee asserted, 
were content to acquire arms on the black or gray market, 
which was a profitable arrangement for them. End Note.) 
5.  (C) The Indian ambassador contended that the situation in 
the RNA was so bad, in terms of poor leadership, poor 
training and low morale, that foreign countries could provide 
five, even ten times the quantity of munitions and materiel 
than previously had been provided and the army still would 
not be able to defeat the insurgency.  (Note: Amplifying this 
point in the March 11 meeting with Charge, Ambassador 
Mukherjee said his mission was in touch with 33,000 
ex-Gurkhas retired from the Indian Army who were scattered 
around the country, and their general assessment was that 
arming the RNA in its current state of training and 
leadership was pointless.  End Note.) 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
Indians Advise Political Parties on Talks with 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
6.  (C) Turning to the political scene, PDAS Camp and the 
Ambassador discussed their meetings earlier that day with 
party leaders G.P. Koirala and (former prime minister) Sher 
Bahadur Deuba (Ref. A).  Mukherjee said he had been in close 
touch with the parties prior to their ongoing meeting with 
the Maoists in Delhi.  (Note:  Mukherjee did not admit that 
the meeting was taking place in India, but did not deny it 
either when Camp and the Ambassador spoke of it as a fact.) 
Mukherjee had urged the parties to give their representatives 
a mandate to make their own demands of the Maoists, to 
require them to meet their commitments under the 12-point 
understanding  by "testing them on the ground."  The parties 
should push, for example, for implementation of the section 
of the understanding that calls for Maoist restitution of 
citizens' property they had seized.  The parties should also 
form a shadow cabinet, Mukherjee continued, and should 
develop positions on a range of issues, thereby convincing 
the public that they have "a real program."  The important 
thing, Mukherjee said, was that the parties set the agenda 
and that the Maoists come to them, not vice versa. 
Maoists Going Easy on the Parties? 
7.  (C) Bloomfield contended that the political parties were 
getting some benefits from the 12-point understanding with 
the Maoists.  Violence against their workers in the villages 
was down and they could conduct their political activities 
more or less free of molestation. The Maoists' practice of 
extortion, however, still continued, as did their attacks on 
security forces.  Mukherjee and Bloomfield both contended 
that the Maoists were much concerned with public opinion and 
were currently being careful not to harm civilians.  The two 
ambassadors both expressed hope that the ongoing talks would 
result in, at the very least, a Maoist pledge not to disrupt 
the parties' round of non-violent protest demonstrations, 
planned to start April 8, and better, abandonment of the 
Maoists' indefinite nationwide strike (bandh) planned for 
April 3 and/or announcement of a renewed ceasefire. 
International Community Should Plan for 
Decommissioning, Reconstruction 
8.  (C) Bloomfield noted the enormous tasks for the 
international community that lay ahead, if there were to be a 
peaceful resolution of Nepal's crisis.  The costs of 
reconstruction would be enormous.  In addition, even during a 
ceasefire, to say nothing of a permanent settlement, the 
Maoist cadres had to eat.  Extortion and thievery were their 
only means of keeping themselves fed in the field.  The 
international community needed to plan ahead for a 
significant disarmament, demobilization and reintegration 
(DDR) effort in Nepal. Bloomfield pointed out there was 
plenty of experience in the UN and in other organizations in 
DDR elsewhere in the world.  Bloomfield and Mukherjee agreed 
that the term for disarmament used with the Maoists must be 
"decommissioning" of weapons rather than "laying down arms," 
which would be interpreted by Maoist cadres as defeat. 
Mukherjee pointed out that negotiating the terms of 
decommissioning would be difficult, and that the Nepalis 
would need plenty of outside help, as well as in monitoring 
and accounting for arms, but all present agreed this was an 
area in which the international community had ample 
EU Weighing a New Approach on Nepal; Donors 
Conference Floated 
9.  (C) Bloomfield disclosed that the EU would meet the week 
of March 13 on Nepal, and that one proposal being examined 
was to issue an EU "challenge" in support of democracy in 
Nepal.  Such a public statement would, inter alia, urge both 
the King and the Maoists to declare a ceasefire and recognize 
the impossibility of a military solution to the country's 
problems.  The "challenge" would also offer inducements in 
the form of increased development aid following a return to 
peace and democracy.  Bloomfield mentioned the possibility of 
a gathering of concerned international parties, perhaps along 
the lines of the "Friends of Nepal" meeting held in London in 
2002.  The Ambassador noted there had been no follow-up to 
that meeting.  PDAS Camp added that the massive inducements 
offered several years ago by the international co-chairs in 
Sri Lanka, with pledges amounting to some USD 2 billion, had 
not yet produced the desired result in that country. That 
said, all present agreed there might be merit in exploring 
some form of donor conference aimed at fostering conditions 
for a return to democracy.  Such a conference could take 
place in two stages, with the donors meeting among themselves 
first and then with key Nepali players. Mukherjee indicated 
that India might well be willing to participate in such a 
gathering, even if it were held outside South Asia. 
10.  (C)  Indian Ambassador Mukherjee and the international 
community's emphasis should be to strengthen the political 
parties' hand vis-a-vis the Maoists, and thereby build them 
up in relation to the King.  He had clearly looked into the 
RNA's ammunition shortage and heard roughly the same 
information we had. 
11.  (U) Both PDAS Camp and Ambassador Moriarty have cleared 
this cable. 

(From the Wikileaks)

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