INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: National Security Planning Workshop Launches U.S.-

Published: Tue 17 Aug 2004 06:53 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PANAMA 002087
SIPDIS
DEPT FOR WHA/CEN, WHA/PDA, and INL/LP
DOD FOR ISA/WHA ROGER PARDO-MAURER
NDU FOR PAS SECURITY (S)
SENSITIVE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINS SNAR PM LABOR HUMAN RIGHTSPOLMIL
SUBJECT: NATIONAL SECURITY PLANNING WORKSHOP LAUNCHES U.S.-
PANAMA STRATEGIC DIALOGUE
REF: A) PANAMA 898, B) PANAMA 1701
1. (SBU) Summary. Senior members of Panama's newly elected
leadership met with counterparts from the Embassy and other
USG interlocutors in an August 11 - 13 workshop to discuss
the incoming PRD administration's national security
strategy. With the assistance of facilitators from the
Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, USG and Panamanian
officials discussed responses to threats to maritime
security, border security, citizen security, and counter
narcotics and terrorism. Coming just weeks prior to their
taking office on September 1, this NAS-sponsored event
provided a unique and timely opportunity for the incoming
administration to discuss national security strategy, both
internally and with U.S. counterparts. Discussion focused on
the need to provide strategic leadership, ensure interagency
and international cooperation, and provide adequate
resources and performance measurement when planning security
policy. The event received widespread and positive press
coverage, with both sides looking forward to a close
bilateral security relationship. End Summary.
National Security Planning Workshop Comes Together
2. (SBU) As previewed reftels, a group of 35 senior national
security officials from the incoming PRD government met with
Embassy and USG counterparts August 11 - 13 outside Panama
City for a workshop on National Security planning sponsored
by the Narcotics Affairs Section (NAS) in collaboration with
the National Defense University's Center for Hemispheric
Defense Studies (CHDS). Panama's President-elect Martin
Torrijos and Ambassador Watt opened the workshop on August
11 heralding a common desire for a closer and more mature
security relationship between Panama and the United States
in the coming years.
3. (SBU) The Panamanian team was coordinated by Minister of
Government and Justice designate Hector Aleman, and included
other members of the incoming cabinet, including both Vice
Presidents elect, and the future Ministers of the Presidency
and Finance. Other participants included Panama's Ambassador-
designate to the U.S., the heads of Panama's Public Force
and other agencies with a national security and/or law
enforcement focus. While not all participants had yet been
formally appointed to positions in the new government, it
was clear that this group represented the PRD's national
security braintrust.
4. (SBU) The U.S. side included members of the Embassy's
law enforcement and security working group as well as
several senior Washington representatives. Prominent among
the latter were Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Roger
Pardo-Mauer and Coast Guard Director of Operations Policy
Rear Admiral J.W. Underwood. Southcom Director of Operations
BG Benjamin Mixon also addressed the group and held
discussions with President-elect Torrijos. Representatives
from the Department of State, Department of Defense, and
Department of Homeland Security rounded out the U.S. side.
Discussion Focuses on Priority Areas
5. (SBU) At the request of our Panamanian counterparts, the
U.S. and Panamanian participants were broken down into four
working groups that corresponded to the pillars of the
Torrijos administration's national security policy. These
included Citizen Security, Border Security, Maritime and
Canal Security, and Counter Narcotics and Counter Terrorism.
Minister-designate Aleman further developed these themes and
their centrality in the Torrijos Administration's governing
plans in a speech to the group August 12. Each working
group developed proposed courses of action for the new
administration that will be further refined by the Ministry
of Government and Justice in the coming weeks.
6. (SBU) The participants were aided in their discussions by
presentations organized by CHDS experts in the areas of
Strategic Leadership, Interagency Coordination,
International Cooperation, and Budgeting and Performance
Measurement. The CHDS presenters and facilitators guided the
Panamanian participants in translating their strategic
objectives into concrete policy options. Discussion in both
the open sessions and the working groups was lively, with
participants clearly grappling with the complexity of the
issues involved. While many of the Panamanian participants
came into the workshop with some National Security
experience, others did not. For both groups, however, this
was a unique opportunity to discuss the inter-relationship
of the issues confronting the new government.
Building Teamwork
7. (SBU) In addition to the substantive discussions, the
workshop had been intended as an opportunity to build
personal and professional relationships between Panamanian
and U.S. participants. The consensus from participants on
both sides following the event was that this goal had been
realized. Given the complex history of the PRD and its
relationship with the United States, it was particularly
gratifying to see barriers beginning to come down between
some of the party's "old guard" and USG counterparts. The
workshop also succeeded in helping to build the Panamanian
team and will hopefully set the tone for positive working
relationships after September 1.
Looking Towards the Future
8. (SBU) From the beginning, Ambassador Watt and other
participants emphasized that this workshop would only be the
beginning of a strategic dialogue between the United States
and the Torrijos government. The event received widespread
and positive press coverage from both the print and
broadcast media, who interpreted the event as a USG vote of
confidence in the Torrijos administration. As the
government takes office on September 1 and the individuals
who participated in the workshop take over their ministries
and agencies, we will look for future opportunities to
engage with them on issues of mutual concern. Embassy would
like to express its appreciation to all those involved in
making this workshop a success, in particular our colleagues
from CHDS.
Watt
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