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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03THEHAGUE2693 2003-10-24 09:06:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy The Hague
Cable title:  

DUTCH POSTPONE ELIMINATION OF P-3 FORCE FOR ONE

Tags:   PREL MARR SNAR KCRM EAIR PHSA MOPS NL XL 
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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 THE HAGUE 002693 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/21/2013
TAGS: PREL MARR SNAR KCRM EAIR PHSA MOPS NL XL
SUBJECT: DUTCH POSTPONE ELIMINATION OF P-3 FORCE FOR ONE
YEAR

REF: STATE 271631 (NOTAL)

Classified By: CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR CLIFFORD M. SOBEL FOR REASONS 1
.5 (B AND D).



1. (U) Dutch Defense Minister Henk Kamp has postponed the
planned closure of Valkenburg Air Base and the elimination of
the Royal Dutch Navy P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft fleet
based there until January 2005. He had previously planned to
eliminate these assets in January 2004. In postponing these
steps, Kamp yielded in the face of strong opposition to the
cuts from a majority of parliament's Second Chamber during
the defense budget debate on October 23. He made no secret
of his displeasure at the move -- "I hate this like poison."
Kamp said the delay will cost the 13 million Euro which will
force delays in other defense investments. The fate of the
P-3s and their home base Valkenburg had become a public
issue. MPs had also argued for leaving Valkenburg (which
serves as The Hague's VIP airfield) open for one more year in
view of the pending Dutch EU Presidency in the latter half of


2004.



2. (U) At parliament's behest, Kamp also agreed to consult
with Germany and Belgium on the possibilities of creating an
international P-3 squadron (the Dutch MOD has been exploring
potential sales of its P-3s to Germany and Portugal). In
addition, Kamp also agreed to explore whether other
ministries such as Justice might pay for use of the P-3s for
counter-drug operations. He also committed to investigating
alternatives for coast guard tasks currently performed by the
P-3s. (Note: Kamp has argued that the P-3s are not being
used for the task for which they were purchased -- tracking
Soviet submarines -- and that phasing out the P-3s and
closing Valkenburg AB would yield a savings of 57 million
Euro in 2004 and 700 million Euro over ten years. Kamp wants
to use economies such as these to invest in new systems such
as Tomahawk missiles for the navy's four new Seven
Provinces-class frigates. End note.)



3. (C) Comment: Kamp is faced with the task of restructuring
the Dutch defense forces in the face of significant mandated
budget cuts. At the same time, he is committed to improving
the deployability of Dutch forces and is seeking to increase
Dutch investment in military equipment from the current level
of 16 to 20 percent of the total defense budget. Prior to
Kamp's budget presentation, Mission repeatedly and at high
levels approached the Dutch government on the issue of
retaining some P-3s in the Caribbean. Further to reftel,
Post sought clarification as to how the Dutch plan to meet
both their bilateral and international commitments with
respect to counter-drug (CD) surveillance and search and
rescue (SAR) in the Caribbean, should they eliminate P-3s
based there. Ambassador Sobel raised this issue both with
Kamp and Chief of Defense Staff VADM Kroon. Kamp assured the
Ambassador that the Dutch would continue to fulfill their
obligation in the Caribbean. The manner in which they will
do starting in 2005 is not clear. MOD working levels advise
that the most likely option is the GONL will purchase some
civilian type aircraft to perform these missions. A less
likely course would be to retain 2-3 P-3s in the Caribbean
and contract maintenance and support out of the United States
while still closing Valkenburg. MOD Director of Materiel
RADM van Dord has contacted Mission's Office of Defense
Cooperation about this possibility, but the Dutch have
submitted no Letter of Request. (Van Dord recently told
Mission staff that MOD's gambit had in fact been to announce
an early closure date of January 2004 and then postpone to
2005 to better facilitate a sale of the aircraft to Germany
and to be seen as being responsive to parliamentary concerns
over an abrupt closure.) The least likely option is several
P-3s would be transferred to the control of another Ministry,
such as Justice. End Comment.

SOBEL