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Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

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In UN's Chad Preparations, Mystery of Tiger Team Dodged by France, Reverberates in Near-Empty Council

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, August 27 -- Preparation for a UN mission to Chad and the Central African Republic was given a unanimous, and somewhat anonymous, nod by the Security Council on Monday. Following a meeting attended by few lead Ambassadors -- for the UK, press secretary Justin McKenzie-Smith sat at the horseshoe table -- French deputy Jean-Pierre Lacroix emerged to tell the four reporters assembled that French has personnel on the ground in Chad and stands ready to help.

            Following-up on Sunday's exclusive report of internal UN memos showing doubts and concerns about the mission, including less than one-sixth staff and funding source problems for a so-called "Tiger Team," Inner City Press asked Amb. Lacroix about problems of finance and of the UN keeping up with the EU's deployment, as early as November. "Those are specific issues," Amb. Lacroix said, reiterating rather generic commitment. Video here, from Minute 4:23

            Inner City Press asked Amb. Lacroix directly about the Tiger Team.

            "I'd rather not get into the specifics," he said. "It's a complex operation." Video here, from Minute 5:54.

            Given non-response by the UN Department of Field Support to previous questions, click here for that, Inner City Press asked the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General for, at least, a definition of "Tiger Team." By deadline, the following arrived:

"The so-called Tiger Team is a rapid response team for things like staffing and finance in the new Department of Field Support. For Darfur, a 'tiger procurement team' is currently deployed in Sudan to speed up procurement of construction materials for living and office accommodations in Darfur. For example, a while ago, a 'tiger recruitment team' was deployed to Khartoum for six weeks to undertake the recruitment of civilians in the heavy support package for AMIS. They conducted interviews and issued contracts to hundreds of staff."

            It is interesting that the Tiger Team term is tied to the new Department of Field Support, headed by (American) Jane Holl Lute. Research finds tiger team used as a phrase by, for example, Lt. Gen. Lance L. Smith, Deputy Commander, United States Central Command, in 2004 Congressional testimony along with Donald Rumsfeld. Lt. Gen. Smith stated

"Sir, I might add to that -- in this particular case there's a tiger team that interrogates and goes through that process. One is an interpreter, normally. One is an analyst. And one is an interrogator. And where we have shortages in the military of interrogators and translators, we go to contractors to do that."

            Ms. Holl Lute is, as noted, American; her husband is President Bush's "czar" for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Tiger team, indeed...

Jane Holl Lute and UN peacekeepers in New York, Tiger Team not shown

            In this case, there seem to be problems or issues with the tiger team. A memo to Ms. Holl Lute, click here to view first page, states:

"Tiger Team: Tiger Team consists of 12 members. Two are already on board. The request for release of the remaining members of the Team will be arranged next week. We expect them to report to New York first week of September 2007.

"Funding of Tiger Team: OPPBA [the Office of Program Planning, Budget and Accounts] declined to approve request for GTA [General Temporary Assistance] to fund 12-member Tiger Team. They advised that vacant posts in commitment authority should be used. FPD, in consultation with FBFD, is preparing a request for reconsideration."

            We'll see. Watch this site.

* * *

  Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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