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Viewing cable 08SANJOSE596, ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL: ENDURING FRIENDSHIP

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08SANJOSE596 2008-07-11 22:10 2011-03-07 18:06 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy San Jose
Appears in these articles:
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasDestacadas/Investigacion2702320.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702325.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotaPrincipal/Investigacion2702324.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702326.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702327.aspx
VZCZCXRO5349
OO RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHGR RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHMT
RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHSJ #0596/01 1932230
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 112230Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9938
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEABND/DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMIN HQ WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUWDQAC/COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SAN JOSE 000596 
 
SIPDIS 
SENSITIVE 
 
DEPT FOR WHA/CEN, WHA/PPC, INL/LP, AND PM; OSD FOR POLICY; 
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR FPA 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL MASS MCAP PINS SNAR CS
SUBJECT: ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL: ENDURING FRIENDSHIP 
BOATS ARE NOT THE BEST SOLUTION FOR COSTA RICA 
 
REF: A. 07 SAN JOSE 2074 
     B. SAN JOSE 586 
     C. SAN JOSE 530 
     D. SAN JOSE 400 
     E. SAN JOSE 63 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Post appreciates Department's and other 
agency's hard work to secure Merida Initiative funding for 
Costa Rica. However, we do not/not recommend the purchase of 
Enduring Friendship (EF) vessels for Costa Rica.  We 
understand there is a short deadline to develop the spending 
plan required by Congress, but a hasty decision that appears 
expedient in the short run may not prove effective over the 
longer run. We therefore ask that our views be given serious 
consideration during inter-agency review of the Merida 
package for Central America.  Our reasons are as follows: 
 
 -- A U.S. Coast Guard survey in March 2008 reported that EF 
vessels were not an appropriate platform to conduct primary 
Costa Rican Coast Guard (SNGC) missions, such as 
counternarcotics operations; 
 
 -- Our Office of Defense Representative (ODR), has 
consistently reported the difficulties experienced by other 
countries' EF boats in the region, especially their fairly 
sophisticated, maintenance-intensive nature.  Moreover, some 
of the regional maritime services experiencing problems with 
EF boats are more capable than Costa Rica's.  If these other 
users are having problems, we expect that the SNGC would as 
well; and 
 
 -- Our ODR's own survey of current SNGC capabilities, which 
highlight the challenges of keeping high-maintenance boats 
such as EF in service. 
 
2. (SBU) ACTION REQUESTS:  Post understands that Merida 
Initiative maritime interdiction assistance is likely to come 
from FMF funding, since INCLE Merida funds were cut. 
 
--  Please advise if INCLE funding for refurbishing existing 
SNGC vessels, as we have requested since 2007 (Ref A), is now 
completely out of the question. 
 
--  Please also advise why FMF funding could not be used for 
the refurbishment and acquisition package Post originally 
suggested for Merida, and which has been included, up to this 
point, in Merida planning. 
 
Post very strongly believes that the challenges presented by 
operating and maintaining EF boats would hobble USG maritime 
counternarcotics efforts in Costa Rica.  In our view, one 
size does not fit all.  We strongly urge that other options 
be carefully considered (e.g., SPE-LE boats, Ref B), before 
the USG presents the GOCR (and this Post) with what appears 
to be an Enduring Friendship fait accompli.  We invite other 
embassies in the region to comment on their experiences with 
EF boats.  END SUMMARY AND ACTION REQUESTS. 
 
========================== 
USCG SURVEY AND POST INPUT 
========================== 
 
3. (SBU) From March 24-28, a U.S. Coast Guard Maritime 
Assessment team conducted a survey of the SNGC.  The 
assessment focused on Maritime Law Enforcement, SNGC 
operations, engineering and preventative maintenance, 
training, and legal authorities.  Although not yet issued, 
the draft report highlights problems with EF boats for Costa 
Rica as follows: 
 
BEGIN QUOTE: These high speed, high performance (Enduring 
Friendship) boats require extensive maintenance hours, both 
electronically and mechanically.  They also require a 
significant amount of technical coxswain training for high 
speed maneuvering.  Moreover, they do not provide an 
appropriate platform to conduct the primary SNGC missions. 
END QUOTE. 
 
4. (SBU) One of the practical considerations for interceptor 
boats is the ability to safely board vessels without causing 
damage to either the boarding vessel or the vessel being 
boarded.  EF boats have rigid hulls that increase the 
 
SAN JOSE 00000596  002 OF 003 
 
 
likelihood of damage in high seas during boarding operations. 
 Options, such as U.S. Coast Guard Safe boats, negate that 
possibility with foam-filled hulls that are similar to 
inflatables but without the risk of being punctured and 
losing air.  This soft "fender" capability greatly reduces 
the risk of damage. 
 
5. (SBU Post acknowledges that Safe boats may also be 
maintenance intensive, and we would certainly welcome 
suggestions for other craft that are more basic and simpler 
to operate and maintain, but we firmly believe that this type 
of soft-sided vessel would be an overall better fit for the 
SNGC than EF units.  They would provide the interceptor 
capability while maximizing safety factors for all involved 
in boarding operations.  We understand that one option under 
consideration is to modify EF boats, by retrofitting rubber 
side rails, to minimize boarding damage.  We believe that 
such modifications, even if seemingly cost-effective and 
potentially available quickly, would not make the EF boats 
significantly less maintenance-intensive or easier to operate 
for the SNGC. 
 
6. (SBU) Post's ODR office reports that some other regional 
navies or coast guards have had maintenance problems with EF 
boats, including the Dominican Republic and Panama.  We 
understand that all the Panamanian EF boats are inoperable at 
the moment, for example, due to maintenance problems.  If so, 
we urge that these problems be taken into account before 
supplying EF boats for all users in the region.  If other, in 
some cases more capable, users have difficulties operating EF 
boats, we expect the same would happen in Costa Rica.  We 
welcome input from posts with EF assets: have these boats 
been a prudent and effective acquisition for your host 
nations? 
 
7. (SBU) Given these reasons, we strongly believe that 
Enduring Friendship boats are not/not the best choice for 
Costa Rica.  We therefore do not/not recommend their 
purchase, but strongly urge that other options be considered 
(such as USCG Safe boats or similar). 
 
=============================== 
REVIEW OF SECURITY REQUIREMENTS 
=============================== 
 
8. (SBU) We stand by our earlier recommendations (Ref A) of 
what the SNGC needs most, based on GOCR input and our own 
2007 assessment: 
 
A) FY2008 MERIDA INITIATIVE SUPPLEMENTAL ($1.975 million 
total):  Refit and refurbish the inoperable SNGC 65-foot 
patrol boat in Limon ($900K); modernize all electronics on 
two 82-foot patrol boats ($175K); buy two new interceptors 
($600K); refit four existing 25-foot Eduardono-type "go-fast" 
patrol boats ($300K).  This would leave the SNGC with two new 
and seven improved maritime assets for CN operations. 
 
Although we understand that Congressional and funding 
realities require adjustment to these plans, the most 
generous alternative under discussion in the inter-agency 
process now would provide just two EF boats (and supporting 
equipment) to the SNGC, with none of the refurbishment 
support for the older boats, and at a higher cost.  We do not 
understand how such a "trade down" from nine new/improved 
assets to just two (at a higher cost) serves GOCR, USG (or US 
taxpayer) interests. 
 
B) FY 2009 MERIDA INITIATIVE REQUEST ($2.035 million total): 
Refit and refurbish the two 82-foot patrol boats that would 
have received the electronics package in FY08 ($1.6M); buy 
one new interceptor ($300K); install FLIR on three air 
surveillance aircraft ($135K). 
 
C) FY2010 MERIDA INITIATIVE REQUEST ($2.8 million total): 
Refit inoperable SNGC 105-foot patrol boat ($2.5M); buy one 
new interceptor ($300K).  We would modify the FY09 and FY10 
requests based on the final decision for FY08.  If INCLE 
funding for boat refurbishment is out of the question for 
Merida FY08, then we strongly urge that these requirements be 
factored into Merida FY09. 
 
======= 
 
SAN JOSE 00000596  003 OF 003 
 
 
COMMENT 
======= 
 
9. (SBU) As per Refs. B-C, Costa Rica's Ministry of Public 
Security has consistently told us of their most important 
priorities, which are mainly fixing the SNGC and receiving 
police professionalization training and new police equipment. 
 The GOCR has supported the goals of the Merida Initiative as 
well, especially with their valued input at the January 
SICA-based Merida input meeting in El Salvador (Ref E).  We 
should respond by providing what the SNGC needs and what it 
can use, not an off-the-shelf package that is inappropriate 
for the SNGC's capabilities.  This would be like giving a 
15-year a Ferrari. 
CIANCHETTE