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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03ZAGREB1266
2003-06-05 09:00:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Zagreb
Cable title:  

CROATIA CONSIDERING OFFERING TROOPS TO IRAQ

Tags:   MARR  PARM  PREL  MOPS  HR  IQ 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L  ZAGREB 001266 

SIPDIS


STATE FOR EUR (BOGUE)
DEFENSE FOR OSD/DASD-EURASIA (RICARDEL)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2013
TAGS: MARR PARM PREL MOPS HR IQ
SUBJECT: CROATIA CONSIDERING OFFERING TROOPS TO IRAQ

Classified By: Poloff A.F.Godfrey for reasons 1.5 (b,d)

Summary
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L ZAGREB 001266

SIPDIS


STATE FOR EUR (BOGUE)
DEFENSE FOR OSD/DASD-EURASIA (RICARDEL)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2013
TAGS: MARR PARM PREL MOPS HR IQ
SUBJECT: CROATIA CONSIDERING OFFERING TROOPS TO IRAQ

Classified By: Poloff A.F.Godfrey for reasons 1.5 (b,d)

Summary
--------------


1. (C) Croatia is actively considering contributing forces
to support Phase IV operations in Iraq. The idea of
contributing a small number of military police to deploy as
part of a multi-national unit has been broached with the
Embassy informally several times, including with the
Ambassador by Foreign Minister Picula, but a formal offer has
not yet been made. GoC officials seek a wide range of
details in order to budget and plan for a possible deployment
so they can brief the Cabinet and Parliament on the political
and financial costs of a commitment of forces. On June 4, we
informed the GoC that, before the USG will engage in initial
military-to-military discussions, PM Racan's cabinet must
make a formal political commitment of its intent to join the
coalition. Before we can enter a more detailed discussion of
operational plans, Croatia's parliament must approve the
deployment of forces to Iraq, whereby Croatia would join the
Coalition. GoC officials expressed some frustration at
having to make a commitment to deploy forces without details
about cost and without assurances that Croatia's offer would
be accepted, but were confident they could secure a Cabinet
commitment solid enough to begin initial discussions. End
Summary.


2. (C) In the run-up to military operations to liberate
Iraq, Croatia's political leaders were sharply and publicly
negative in their response to U.S. requests to join the
coalition. While this approach may have won mild praise from
some EU members at the time, senior GoC officials hope that
offering to deploy troops to Iraq will help repair the damage
they caused to the U.S.-Croatia bilateral relationship. The
GoC is exploring the possibility of deploying a small number
of military police to Iraq as part of a multinational unit.
While there has been no formal GoC decision to deploy, the

idea of a Croatian contribution has been floated publicly and
privately at all levels, including in the press on May 30 by
PM Racan and by FM Picula on May 29 with the Ambassador.


3. (C) Croatian Defense Ministry policymakers and planners
have engaged with us to try to determine what the modalities
and costs of Croatia's so-far hypothetical deployment would
be. But until the GoC has made a more formal commitment to
deploy forces to Iraq and thereby join the coalition, Croatia
will not have access to detailed operational plans. After
consultations between DATT and experts at CENTCOM and
USEUCOM, we prepared for the GoC a sequence of events which
Croatia must follow as it prepares to deploy troops to Iraq.


4. (C) On June 4, Defense Attache and Poloff met first with
Assistant Minister of Defense (Policy) Jelena Grcic Polic and
then with MFA North America Department Head Miroslav Kovacic
to explain how Croatia should proceed as it prepares to offer
a contingent of troops to deploy in Iraq. We made clear that
until there has been a formal political commitment by the
GoC, the USG will not fully engage with military planners.
Assistant DefMin Grcic Polic said that this put her planners
in a tough spot; until they had precise information, they
would not have the projected cost details needed to draft the
decision for the Cabinet to approve. We explained that the
initial policy decision by the Cabinet need not be a detailed
document intended for approval by the parliament, but rather
a formal declaration by Croatia's political leaders that
Croatia seeks to deploy troops to Iraq to support Coalition
efforts. Grcic Polic was relieved, and speculated that a
Cabinet "Determination" (rather than a formal "Decision")
should be relatively easy to push through the Croatian
bureaucracy.


5. (C) We explained that once the GoC makes the initial
political decision to deploy, the U.S. could authorize
military-to-military technical discussions, including a
meeting at CENTCOM Headquarters with Croatian planners.
These initial discussions should produce enough information
about whether Croatia's offering meets the needs of the
coalition and about the details and projected costs of a
deployment for the GoC to take a more formal "Decision" to
deploy and then forward that decision to Parliament for

approval (required by Croatian law before troops can deploy
abroad). Once the Croatian Parliament approve the decision,
Croatia would be considered a member of the Coalition and
would therefore receive access to operational plans. Then,
detailed discussions about modalities and timing of
deployment would begin, followed by, eventually, deployment
of Croatia's troops to Iraq.


6. (C) At the MFA, Kovacic asked whether, before the GoC
exposes itself to the political risk of making an offer of
troops for Iraq, we could give assurances that Croatia's
offer of military police would be accepted. We replied that
we could make no such assurances, but expressed our hope that
we could soon count Croatia as a member of the coalition.

Comment
--------------


7. (C) The GoC leadership seems genuinely eager to make this
deployment a reality, but we will insist on a firm political
commitment before engaging in serious discussions. Such a
political commitment to deploy should not be difficult to get
through the Cabinet, and a formal decision should, if
properly managed, pass the parliament. Once this political
commitment is made, however, we are not certain that the unit
Croatia will propose will offers will measure up in military
terms. We do not underestimate how difficult a task it is
for the GoC to deploy troops overseas; this is only the
second time they have done it (the first time was to ISAF in
January 2003), and the first time was a bureaucratic
disaster. The financial burden of even the small deployment
of MP's to ISAF was difficult for the MoD budget to swallow.
Given the decline in the bilateral relationship due to a
number of GoC actions, the decision to deploy a small unit to
Iraq should not be taken as more than it is: an effort at
self-serving damage control.
ROSSIN
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