Cable by Dazzlepod US Embassy Diplomatic Cables from WikiLeaks Released 251287 Cables (Sep 2, 2012)
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CONFIDENTIAL (97070)
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UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY (58095)
Reference ID 10RIYADH80 (original text)
SubjectRSAF LTG FAISAL COMPLAINS TO AFCENT COMMANDER
OriginEmbassy Riyadh
ClassificationSECRET
ReleasedAug 30, 2011 01:44
CreatedJan 13, 2010 16:28
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/11/2019 
TAGS:        
SUBJECT:  RSAF LTG FAISAL COMPLAINS TO AFCENT COMMANDER 
ABOUT LACK OF U.S. WEAPONS RELEASABILITY TO SAUDI FORCES 
 
REF: A. 09 RIYADH 1687 
      B. RIYADH 33 
 
Classified By: A/DCM Lisa M. Carle for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D) 
 
 1. (S) SUMMARY. In a January 6 meeting with U.S. Air Forces 
Central (AFCENT) Commander Lt Gen Mike Hostage, Royal Saudi 
Air Force (RSAF) Commander Prince (Lt Gen)  Abd-al-Rahman 
bin Fahd Al-Faisal Al-Saud laid out an extensive laundry list 
of releasability problems the RSAF was enduring in trying to 
obtain U.S. weapons technologies.  In both his private 
meeting with Lt Gen Hostage and a series of briefings, Lt Gen 
Faisal described in great detail the shortages of urgently 
needed munitions and other equipment to prosecute the battle 
against the Houthi rebels.  He first likened the situation to 
one where a neighbor's house is on fire and the closest 
neighbor refuses to help, citing policy reasons.  He later 
said when the U.S. sold its weaponry, it was like a car 
dealer selling five cars, but with only eight tires.  Lt Gen 
Faisal also asserted that he had conclusive proof of Iranian 
involvement in the Houthi insurgency: the RSAF had bombed a 
mountaintop site, killing some Iranians whose bodies were 
later shipped to Bandar Abbas.  END SUMMARY. 
 
RELEASABILITY PROBLEMS AND THE HOUTHI FIGHT 
------------------------------------------- 
 
 2.  (S) Before presenting a series of briefings, RSAF 
Commander Lt Gen Faisal held a one-on-two meeting with U.S. 
Air Forces Central (AFCENT) Commander Lt Gen Mike Hostage and 
U.S. Military Training Mission (USMTM) Chief Maj Gen Paul Van 
Sickle.  Lt Gen Faisal and Lt Gen Hostage both stressed the 
importance of maintaining a strong, close friendship and an 
even keel despite whatever political circumstances they might 
face.  (NOTE: At the last minute, both Prince Khalid bin 
Sultan, the MODA Assistant Minister for Military Affairs, and 
General Salih bin  Ali Al-Muhayya, MODA Chief of the General 
Staff, refused to see Lt Gen Hostage.  It may have been a 
message of unhappiness about the lack of U.S. technology 
releases to KSA, and/or unhappiness about proposed new TSA 
airport screening procedures for Saudi citizens (Refs A and 
B).  Lt Gen Hostage asked Lt Gen Faisal to give both of them 
his best regards.  End Note.) 
 
IRANIAN INVOLVEMENT IN THE HOUTHI REBELLION? 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
 3.  (S) Lt Gen Faisal made two interesting comments about the 
Houthi effort: he indicated the Saudi military had moved many 
villagers from their villages and had sterilized a 5 km swath 
along the border, turning it into a free-fire zone.  Clearly, 
they are using this crisis to strengthen border security. 
Additionally, he said they had proof that Iran was involved. 
They had attacked a mountain-top site, reputed to be a 
transmitter site and Kaytusha rocket assembly site.  He said 
the Saudi Air Force bombed it and killed many.  He said his 
intelligence reported that 30  bodies were removed and sent 
to Eritrea, where Jordanian bodies were then shipped to 
Jordan and Iranian bodies were shipped to Bandar Abbas.  He 
assured Lt Gen Hostage his intelligence information was 
definitive. 
 
 
OUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE AND THE U.S. WON'T HELP 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
 4. (S) Lt Gen Faisal spent the rest of the private office 
call laying out a series of technology releasability problems 
facing the RSAF that were preventing it from prosecuting the 
battle against the Houthi border infiltrators effectively, 
focusing in particular on slow munitions releases.  Lt Gen 
Faisal likened the situation to one where a neighbor's house 
bursts into flame, and the closest neighbor says he will 
cross the fence soon to help, but then doesn't, citing policy 
as preventing him, but hoping he will still be considered a 
very good friend.  Meanwhile, others who are not close 
friends are helping.  Lt Gen Hostage said he was not directly 
involved in weapons export control policy, but he would send 
a message back to his leadership.  It was apparent that Lt 
Gen Faisal was told by his own leadership to convey this 
releasability message. 
 
RELEASABILITY: IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF BOTH NATIONS 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
 
 5.  (C) Lt Gen Faisal opened the briefings by inviting Lt Gen 
Hostage on his next visit to travel to RSAF bases across 
Saudi Arabia.  He highlighted the RSAF's long and positive 
relationship with AFCENT.  Jumping quickly to the main issue, 
Lt Gen Faisal said "compatibility and interoperability come 
through releasability."  He appealed to Lt Gen Hostage to 
"fight together" to get the necessary weapons systems 
released to Saudi Arabia because it was in the best interests 
of both nations.  He expressed appreciation for joint 
exercises with AFCENT, and for major exercises such as Red 
Flag, adding that the RSAF also participated yearly at the 
Air Warfare Center exercises in UAE because it wanted to gain 
from U.S. experience.  Lt Gen Hostage echoed Lt Gen Faisal's 
comments about the long, steady friendship between RSAF and 
AFCENT. 
 
THE LAUNDRY LISTS OF RSAF NEEDS 
------------------------------- 
 
 6.  (C) Col Khalid Shablaan, RSAF Directorate of Operations 
and Plans, presented the RSAF,s initial briefing, describing 
its history, and leading up to the present day need to for 
the KSA to build its own military industrial base in order to 
increase employment for young Saudi men.  He added that the 
RSAF would also rely more greatly on local depot maintenance 
for the same reason.  (NOTE: Maintenance and Logistics are 
not RSAF strong suits.) 
 
 7.  (C) The Director of Operations and Plans, Maj Gen Al 
Garni,  provided the following list of urgently needed 
weapons to which the U.S. had yet to respond: 
JSOW (currently not released to KSA by OSD); 
SLAM-ER (currently not released to KSA by OSD); 
AGM-88E HARM/HDAM (currently under USG review for FMS, CTA 
for KSA has been approved); 
JASSM (currently not released to KSA by OSD); 
AIM-120D (not released for FMS by OSD, no Export version 
available); 
Small Diameter Bomb (GBU-39) (currently not released to KSA 
by OSD); 
NCTR (Non-Cooperative Target Recognition) (currently under 
USG review for FMS); 
ECCE Pod integration with 274 mb/sec data transfer rate. 
(Released to KSA but at a slower transfer rate of 
approximately 137mbs) 
 
The Ops Director asked for a more precise response to the 
RSAF,s request to participate again in Green Flag and Blue 
Flag exercises, hopefully by 2012. (USMTM AFD advisors have 
been told the RSAF would not be invited to a GF unless they 
were a member of the coalition.  The RSAF was briefed about 
GF while attending a RED FLAG exercise at Nellis.  Currently 
there are no BF exercises scheduled due to continued &real 
world8 efforts by CAOC personnel, AFD advisors have worked 
with AFCENT to invite the RSAF when the next BF is scheduled.) 
 
Maj Gen Al Garni highlighted a new request for intelligence 
sharing on COIN operations TTPs (tactics, techniques and 
procedures) for conducting asymmetric warfare, along with 
COIN lessons learned.  Lt Gen Hostage offered to bring a team 
to discuss COIN operations. 
 
 8.  (C) The Operations Director outlined the need for 
releasability of U.S. secure communications for air platforms 
from Britain and France: Typhoons, MRTT Airbus refuelers, 
Cougars and Tornados.  He specifically noted that the Saudi 
Air Force was aware that the Australians had been approved 
for U.S. secure comms on their Airbuses, and the French had 
told them they would either have to delay delivery or &do 
something else.8 
 
 9.  (C)  Lt Gen Faisal said the problem with the Saturn 
Radios on the British Typhoons was that the U.S. Have 
Quick-II technology was embedded in them and the U.S. said 
its technology was not releasable.  Did the U.S. have an 
alternative recommendation?  He made a special plea for 
resolution of this issue.  For the MRTT Airbus refuelers, 
Cougar helicopters and Tornado jets, the need was for 
expedited release of MIDS/SY-100/SAASM communications 
technology. 
 
 10.  (C) The Director of Arms and Ammunition, Brig Gen Al 
Ghamdi, explained the RSAF,s need for LANTIRN targeting pod 
 
spare repair parts.  (NOTE: The USAF has accelerated the 
shipment of the first 14 Sniper pods and a contract for an 
additional 21 is expected to be signed by April 2010.)  Brig 
Gen Al Ghamdi stressed that the contract for the additional 
21 should be accelerated.  He also stressed the immediate 
need for GBU-10, -12, -24 and -31/38 (JDAMS) munitions. 
(Note: the GBU-10's are due in country in mid-January; the 
GBU-12's in March, the JDAMS in September 2010; but the RSAF 
wants them all as soon as possible.)  The RSAF also did not 
want to wait two years for the GBU-24/WGU-43, but asked for 
immediate release and delivery of WGU-39's instead. 
 
GBU-10 MK-84 FAILURE RATE AGAINST HOUTHI POSITIONS 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
 11.  (C) Lt Gen Faisal said he did not know the total number 
of GBU-10 laser guided bombs that have been dropped so far 
against Houthi targets on the Yemeni border, but there were 
30 ) 40 that were duds.  Citing aerial photos as evidence, 
Lt Gen Faisal stated the bombs had hit their targets but 
failed to explode.  He thought the problem might be nose-well 
cracks with the Mk-84 (bomb body component of the GBU-10) 
that were produced by General Dynamics, but not those 
produced by Raytheon.  He asked about the USAF failure rate 
in Afghanistan.  Lt Gen Hostage explained that his failure 
rate was .01% per thousand bombs dropped.  He described the 
USAF's &cradle to grave8 testing and maintenance on its 
bombs.  He offered USMTM and other experts, help to 
investigate, which Lt Gen Faisal indicated he would accept. 
 
 
FIVE CARS WITH ONLY EIGHT TIRES 
------------------------------- 
 
 12.  (C) Summing up the delays and the lack of releasable 
systems, Lt Gen Faisal said the situation was like a car 
dealer who sold five cars, but with a total of only eight 
tires.  Lt Gen Hostage said he would add his voice to those 
of other military officers to see if there was any way to 
expedite specific urgent cases, but he outlined the arms 
export legalities that must be observed.  Maj Gen Van Sickle 
assured Lt Gen Faisal that USMTM was tracking all of the 
weapons cases closely and moving each case forward as quickly 
as possible.  Lt Gen Hostage invited Lt Gen Faisal to visit 
his Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) in Qatar to see for 
himself whether there would be cause to partner with the U.S. 
in Regional Integrated Air and Missile Defense.  They hoped 
to see each other at the upcoming Bahrain Air Show.  Lt Gen 
Faisal related that the RSAF was thinking seriously about 
buying two C-17 aircraft.  Discussions were underway with 
USMTM and the manufacturer (Boeing).  (NOTE: A capabilities 
briefing is scheduled in Kingdom later this month.) 
 
COMMENT: MODA ISN'T HAPPY 
------------------------- 
 
 13. (C) It was clear that Lt Gen Faisal was instructed to 
press Lt Gen Hostage on RSAF releasability problems.  He 
raised the same issues in both the private office call and 
briefings.  He made no mention of Saudi interest ) or not ) 
in purchasing the F-15 SA aircraft on offer, and he offered 
little chance to address other business. 
SMITH