|03ROME3463||2003-07-30 15:13:00||SECRET//NOFORN||Embassy Rome|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T ROME 003463
1. (U) THIS IS AN URGENT ACTION REQUEST. See para 6.
2. (SBU) Italian officials are supportive of US assistance
for stabilization efforts in Liberia. As reported ref A,
A/Pol Minister-Counselor met on July 24 with DG for Africa
Cabras to secure Italy's lead in requesting EU funding for
assistance to Liberia. Officials in the MFA, MOD, and the
PM's office have tracked with great interest the USG's July
26 public announcement that the USG was activating a Joint
Task Force (JTF) headquarters -- at a Southern European Task
Force (SETAF) site near Vicenza, Italy -- to support an
ECOWAS mission in Liberia. These officials and senior
Italian uniformed officers have expressed keen interest in
further details about JTF activities.
3. (S/NOFORN) We understand from discussions with US military
personnel that the JTF HQ in Italy will have a maximum of
about 400 US military personnel. Additionally, a small,
forward-deployed JTF cell will be established on a US
military vessel off of Liberia's coast. That cell would be
comprised of 50-60 armed US military personnel who would flow
from Italy via western Africa to the vessel. We also
understand that both the JTF HQ and the forward-deployed JTF
cell are for support purposes only; neither would provide
command and control for the ECOWAS mission.
4. (S/NOFORN) Late-breaking information indicates that a
handful of US military personnel could begin to flow out of
Italy to staff the forward-deployed cell as early as this
evening (July 30). The group would reportedly transfer (with
personal arms) by bus from Vicenza to Aviano AFB, and then
fly MILAIR to western Africa (NFI).
5. (S/NOFORN) COMMENT. As noted, the GOI is supportive of US
efforts to stabilize Liberia. While movements of armed US
troops from Italy into areas of conflict are always
potentially sensitive, this should be a relatively easy case,
if/if managed properly. GOI receptivity, already high
because of the humanitarian nature of the mission, will be
augmented by the fact that the US deployment from Italy is
small, indirect (via a third country), and to a US vessel.
Reported efforts to garner UNSC backing for the ECOWAS
mission will also bolster GOI support. Indeed, the only
potential negative we foresee at this point is surprising our
friends in the GOI. Any perception that we failed to
coordinate US military movements from Italy toward a zone of
conflict could be used by the Berlusconi government's enemies
to attack and weaken those most supportive of us. Timely
consultations will remove that potential problem. END
6. (S/NOFORN) ACTION REQUEST. Post requests Department
authorization soonest to approach appropriate GOI officials
to provide details on the JTF and plans for the
forward-deployed cell. Instructions along the lines of the
following should suffice:
-- As you know, the USG is preparing support for an ECOWAS
mission to stabilize Liberia.
-- Central to this effort was the recent creation of a Joint
Task Force HQ at Lungari, near Vicenza.
-- We also plan to set up a small, forward-deployed JTF cell
in the region. Plans call for the cell to operate initially
from a US military vessel off the coast of Liberia.
-- In support of that cell, we foresee moving 50-60 US
military personnel from Italy by MILAIR, via a third
-- The situation in Liberia is dynamic and fluid. Should
events on the ground require a substantial change in our
plans as they relate to US forces in Italy, we will inform
you at the earliest opportunity.
END ACTION REQUEST.
2003ROME03463 - Classification: SECRET