El nuevo director del servicios aeronaval hace las quejas correctas

13/4/11 - 12:30 AM

El 5 de Diciembre, Rigoberto Gordon recién estrenado como Director del Servicio Nacional Aero-Naval (SENAN) aceptó a la embajada de Estados Unidos que algo estaba pasando entre los miembros del antiguo Servicio Marítimo Nacional los mismos que ahora formaran parte del SENAN refiriéndose a una aparente corrupción en la institución.

Fecha 7 de Enero del 2009

Hora: 22:33p.m



ID DOC: 186124

FECHA: 2009-07-01 00:00:00

FUENTE: Embassy Panama



S E C R E T PANAMA 000016





E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/05/2018





REF: 08 PANAMA 00725


Classified By: Ambassador Barbara J. Stephenson for reasons 1.4 (b) and







1.  (S//NF) "Something is going on," Rigoberto Gordon,

Director of the National Aero-Naval Service (SENAN), told

EMBOFFs December 5, referring to apparent corruption among

former National Maritime Service (SMN) members now in SENAN's

ranks. (Note: SENAN, formed on December 22, combines the

perviously independent SMN and the National Air Service (SAN)

into one civilian service to fill a coast guard-like role.

End Note) He said the situation was worse than he expected,

and that he would remove officers he suspected of wrong-doing

from sensitive jobs. He said the SENAN had serious

operational limitations, including a shortage of technicians

and an operational staff of no more than 400. Gordon

described several key initiatives he was undertaking,

including combining the operations centers from the legacy

air and naval services and collocating them with the

intelligence center. He was also bringing back together the

U.S. trained maintenance crews for the Operation Enduring

Friendship Nortech boats. He expressed interest in having

civilian/civilian U.S. Maritime Patrol Aircraft (read: U.S.

Coast Guard and/or Customs and Border Protection aircraft)

fly out of Panama for longer periods of time, to prevent drug

traffickers from being able to work around the deployments.

End Summary.



Something is Rotten in the SMN



2.  (S//NF)  Rigoberto Gordon, named Director of the National

Aero-Naval Service (SENAN) on December 22, told EMBOFFs

December 5 that he was aware  that some of the officers in

the old National Maritime Service (SMN) were "dirty" and said

he was "wary" of them. (Note: The SENAN was created by fusing

together the SMN and the National Air Service (SAN) as part

of a recent security reform (see reftel) Gordon was the

Director of the SAN prior to being named Director of the

SENAN. End Note) Gordon said he had caught one of his senior

SMN officers lying to him about where one of his boats had

been on his first day on the job. The boat had disappeared

for 18 hours, and the crew did not have a coherent

explanation as to what they had been doing. Gordon said he

had a drug prosecutor on hand when the boat returned, and had

an ion-scanned conducted to check for traces of drugs - with

negative results. Asked what he would do about the officers

he did not trust, Gordon said he could not remove these

people from the payroll because they did not have a record of

disciplinary infractions, but that he would try to remove

them from sensitive jobs, and perhaps even transfer them out

of the SENAN.  Gordon asserted that the problems he was

finding indicated the SMN had been in much worse shape than

he had expected. He said that, "Something is going on" in the

ranks of former SMN officers, and that he would talk directly

to President Torrijos about what he had found, and what the

next steps should be.


3.  (S//NF)  Gordon said many boats were out of service for

small defects that could be easily and cheaply repaired. He

said he could not discount the possibility that the boats

were being left un-repaired on purpose to subvert the

SMN/SENAN's response capability. He noted, however, that the

SENAN had very few technicians for its boats: five for the

small go-fast boats, 40 for the larger boats, and all

together only 12-13 who were truly qualified. He said the

SENAN desperately needed to improve its ability to maintain

its fleet. Gordon also asserted that the SMN had brought too

many administrative staff into the merger, and was not a very

"operational" organization. Gordon said that SENAN had a

staff of 1,500, but that many were administrative staff and

political place-holders, leaving him with an operational

staff of approximately 400.



A Problem Solver



4.  (S//NF) Gordon said that he had already given orders for

the SAN and SMN operations centers to be combined in the new

SENAN headquarters in the former SMN headquarters located at

Cocoli Base, the former U.S. MARFORSOUTH HQ, and adjacent to

former USN Station Rodman. He said he has also ordered that

the intelligence section to be co-located with the new

unified operations center. He said he was now working to have

the teams that were trained in the U.S. to maintain the

Nortech boats of Operation Enduring Friendship brought back

together and put in charge of maintaining the Nortechs again.

(Note: These teams had been dispersed throughout the SMN,

leading to a deterioration of the Nortech boats. End Note)

Discussing the perennial SMN complaint that they do not have

communications capabilities, Gordon said he was in favor of

solving this by acquiring and distributing satellite phones.

Gordon expressed interest in any training opportunities that

might arise for his men, noting that improving the

professional capabilities of the SENAN is key to rebuilding

the service.



Expanded MPA?



5.  (S//NF)  Gordon asked that the deployment of U.S. Coast

Guard (USCG) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Maritime

Patrol Aircraft (MPA) be expanded to cover longer periods of

time. Gordon asserted that drug traffickers were able to plan

their actions around the typical ten-day deployment cycles,

and thus avoid detection. He said he would prefer to see the

planes deployed to Panama for periods of 30 days at a time.

On SENAN capabilities, Gordon said that all three of their

Aviocars were working, and that one was being upgraded for

night operations capability.



The A Team



6.  (S//NF)  Asked who he would depend on to run the SENAN,

Gordon named Major Jeremias Urieta, CDR Osvaldo Uena, CDR

Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, and Commissioner Juan Vergara.






7.  (S//NF)  Gordon's selection as the SENAN director is

excellent news. As the former pilot for Panamanian President

Torrijos, he has direct access to the President, and a

reputation as a straight shooter. The day after he was named

director of the SAN, he went public with how bad things were

in the organization. His warnings were born out with the

tragic crash of the SAN-100, though Gordon was almost forced

to take political responsibility for that. He has now been

given responsibility for an organization that three of the

presidential candidates have sworn to disband if they win.

The SENAN owes its existence to the highly controversial

security reforms (see reftel) and that means the opposition's

default position is that the merger of the SAN and the SMN

should be reversed. As the Torrijos Administration draws to a

close, and the May 3 general elections and July 1

inauguration near, Gordon has six months to prove that the

creation of the SENAN was a good idea, regardless of how it

came about, and that the new organization is worth saving.

Post believes Gordon deserves full support as he tries to do

this. While the SMN was a corrupt and operationally limited

organization, the upside if Gordon can turn the SENAN around

is tremendous. Panama's territorial waters on the Pacific and

Caribbean sides are two of the most active drug trafficking

routes in the region. USCG and CBP assets cannot cover them

adequately, and U.S. Navy assets are not a viable option,

given strong GOP objections on sovereignty grounds to

deployment of any "military" assets on its territory or in

its territorial waters to conduct operations. Gordon's moves

to co-locate operations and intelligence has long been

advocated by Post, and his personnel moves seem excellent.

Post has an outstanding counter-narcotics relationship with

Panama, and the SMN has always been the exception to the

rule. If Gordon could put willing and competent officers and

men in the right places, then USG cooperation could create a

real deterrent force in Panama's territorial waters for the

first time in years. Post will broach this subject with RADMs

Brice-O'Hara, Nimmich and Lloyd during their visit to Panama

on January 15. Among the ideas being considered to assist the

SENAN are bringing a USCG cutter into Panamanian territorial

waters to conduct counter-narcotics operations with the

SENAN. Post would also like to know whether Gordon's

suggestion that U.S. civilian MPA assets be deployed for

longer periods of time in Panama is logistically and

operationally feasible and/or desirable.