Cablegate: Streamlining the Jordan Armed Forces

Published: Wed 24 Aug 2005 12:29 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 AMMAN 006848
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/23/2015
REF: A. AMMAN 5849
B. IIR 6 853 0072 05
C. IIR 6 853 0148 05
D. IIR 6 853 0156 05
E. IIR 6 853 0165 05
Classified By: CDA Christopher Henzel for reasons 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (C) Summary: The Jordan Armed Forces are seeking to
re-make themselves as a smaller, more highly-skilled force.
It remains to be seen whether this will be a less-expensive
force. Some of the military,s traditional social welfare
and political functions will be hard to shed at a time of
belt-tightening across the government. End Summary.
2. (C) With a serious fiscal crisis forcing the civilian side
of the GOJ to tighten its belt (ref A), more cost-cutting and
modernizing changes could be coming soon for the Jordan Armed
Forces (JAF) (refs B-E.) The JAF has already taken some bold
steps to turn itself into a lighter force. For example, it
has placed into long-term storage much armor, artillery, and
other heavy equipment that is no longer necessary, given the
JAF,s present needs and future threat assessment. At the
same time, the JAF is reducing recruitment of low-skilled
infantrymen in order to focus on building a smaller number of
better-trained units. King Abdullah has spoken to Charge
Hale of reducing total JAF manpower from about 110,000 to
Review and Reform
3. (C) The JAF is undergoing a review process, similar to the
U.S. Department of Defense's Quadrennial Defense Review
(QDR), in an effort to overhaul the Jordanian military and
align the JAF with King Abdullah,s efforts to cut public
expenditures. Post's Defense Attach Office (DAO) is
moderately confident that some level of real reform will take
place; however, it remains to be seen whether these changes
will translate into reduced expenses and a lower overall
defense budget, or increases in efficiency without real cost
4. (C) JAF leadership is preparing to present to the King
plans for a military that can respond rapidly and be deployed
quickly. This review was scheduled for presentation during
early July, but has been postponed several times. Some of
the issues under consideration: 1) consolidation of
resources; 2) the extent to which communications systems need
to be upgraded and made more interoperable; 3) the impact of
potential reforms on recruiting, training, and promotions;
and 4) increased inter-service cooperation among military
branches. Senior JAF officials have told us they are
committed to reforming promotions procedures from automatic
length of service or time-in-grade promotions to advancement
based on merit, regardless of time spent in the military.
Senior JAF leadership also says it wants to increase the role
of women in the military beyond the traditional
administrative and nursing functions in which they are still
concentrated. (Note: Post has been informed that
recommendations for 40 new positions for women ranging from
enlisted personnel up to the general officer level will be
included in the JAF's review. End Note.)
5. (C) DAO contacts explain that the JAF's review for the
King has been postponed primarily to incorporate comments
from the British military. We understand that British
officers, who were asked by King Abdullah to oversee the
review process, were very critical of their Jordanian
counterparts after being briefed on JAF reform plans. They
argued that the JAF focused too heavily on hardware to the
detriment of strategic planning and internal reform.
Political and Social Service Functions
6. (C) The GOJ will no doubt move cautiously, however,
because of the likely political and economic consequences of
some of the reform proposals. The JAF has traditionally
served an important role in the monarchy,s alliance with
Jordan,s East Bank minority. Its officer corps has provided
careers for many loyal East Bank families, and its enlisted
ranks have been part of the social safety net, an employer of
last resort for both tribesmen and East Bank townsfolk. This
is, of course, an expensive way to provide services to
economically challenged loyalists. Finding alternative means
to carry out some of the JAF,s social and political
functions will prove a challenge for the GOJ. DAO Amman is
encouraging the JAF to focus this review more on further
consolidation of its resources, and ways to better utilize
USG funding and programs in an effort to reach its goals.
The ultimate success of the review process will depend on the
magnitude of cut-backs and reforms it recommends, and the
King's reaction to it.
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