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2005-01-05 13:18:00
Embassy Rome
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						S E C R E T  ROME 000036 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/04/2015

REF: ROME 3138

Classified By: DCM Emil Skodon for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

S E C R E T ROME 000036


E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/04/2015

REF: ROME 3138

Classified By: DCM Emil Skodon for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (S) SUMMARY. PM DAS Bue and OSD Strategy Director Pavel
led a joint State-DOD delegation to Rome on December 7 to
discuss anticipated US Global Defense Posture Review (GDPR)
changes and work through details on reshaping our presence in
Italy. In working group discussions with an Italian
delegation led by Claudio Bisogniero, the MFA's Vice DG of
the Multilateral Political Affairs Bureau, and Giovanni
Brauzzi, head of the MFA NATO office, Bue and Pavel
introduced additional details for NAS Sigonella under the
GDPR, including force levels, training activities, and types
of missions. The US side deferred discussion on freedom of
action issues until an anticipated late-January meeting, when
the USG will have completed its policy review on this topic.
The Italians appreciated the additional details, noting some
proposals for sensitive Special Forces training in Sicily
might not be workable. Both sides agreed to reconvene the
working group at the end of January or early February (with a
technical working group of EUCOM and GOI MOD experts to meet
in the interim) to address legal arrangements, certain
technical questions (e.g., status of a planned NATO runway at
Sigonella, chain of command for SOF operations out of
Sigonella, and alternate proposals), specifics on possible
training in Sicily, and what additional infrastructure would
be needed to accommodate USG proposals. END SUMMARY.

2. (S) On December 7, DAS Bue and Director Pavel led a US
delegation in the first GDPR working group consultations and
provided presentations on the strategic plan for the GDPR,
how SOF consolidation supports USG strategic rationale for
posture changes, the long-term vision for Sigonella including
general timing and proposed range of forces, and a general
overview of special forces activities. Bisogniero emphasized
the strong US-Italy Alliance, but reminded the US that
linking activities at Sigonella to NATO remains important to
meeting Italian constitutional requirements for US military
operations based in Italy. Bue acknowledged the US places

great importance on coordinating our moves with the GOI a.

4. (S) Pavel commented that consolidating SOF in Italy would
provide both bilateral and NATO training opportunities and
highlighted our interest in deepening our security
relationship with Italy on all levels. Pavel pointed out
that the strategic aim of defense realignment is to move away
from a post-Cold War posture (e.g., heavy concentrations in
Northern Europe), and adapt to future security challenges
that the USG believes will come from Europe's southern and
southeastern borders. Bisogniero also was interested in US
realignment plans for Southeast Asia, which entail increasing
contingency access for counter-terrorism (CT) operations. He
noted that Italy and its European partners are increasingly
focused on terrorist threats emanating from the region,
particularly Malaysia and Indonesia, and there has been an
effort to strengthen regional CT capabilities. Bisogniero
emphasized NATO's role in our plans, noting the need to
strengthen transatlantic links. He also emphasized, as other
Italian interlocutors have, that our plans for Vicenza and
Naples were not problematic, and the primary issue to be

worked out is the proposal to consolidate European-based US
SOF in Sicily.


5. (S) Bill Roege, OSD/PA&E briefed on our long-term vision
for Sigonella. He pointed out our current SOF posture in
Europe is divided between several locations. To train and
operate efficiently, however, those forces should be
permanently stationed together. Presently, EUCOM-based SOF
include Air Force units in the UK (RAF Mildenhall), ground
components in Stuttgart, Germany, and two Navy SEAL units in
Germany and Rota, Spain. Combining those forces in Italy
would provide greater training opportunities (joint,
bilateral, and NATO) and significant cost savings. It would
also support training in other nearby regions, particularly
in Africa.

6. (S) Roege laid out a two-phased timeline for possible
changes at Sigonella. Between 2008-2011, the US proposed:
-- Moving SOCEUR HQ from Germany to Sigonella;
-- Moving Army SOF from Germany to Sigonella;
-- Relocating SOF helicopters to Sigonella, and possibly
rotating through SOF fixed-wing aircraft (i.e. MC-130s); --
Rotating AC-130 gunships through Sigonella; and
-- Moving maritime assets to, and improving the naval
infrastructure at, Augusta Bay.

7. (S) Between 2012-2015, the US proposed:
-- Moving the 352nd SOF Group from RAF Mildenhall to
-- Permanently stationing fixed-wing SOF aircraft (i.e.
MC-130s and CV-22s) at Sigonella; and
-- Stationing SOF high-speed naval vessels that are currently
being tested in the Pacific.

8. (S) US estimates of personnel increases at Sigonella were
the following:
-- Between 2008 and 2011, an additional 1,000)1,300 troops
accompanied by approximately 700)1,400 dependents would
relocate to Sigonella.
-- Between 2012 and 2015, another 1,100 troops with 2,100
dependents would relocate to Sigonella as part of the 352nd
Special Operations Group moving from RAF Mildenhall.
-- Total increases at Sigonella through 2015 could double the
base population from 5,500 to 11,500 personnel.

9. (S) In response to Italian questions, Pavel emphasized a
rolling set of decisions and implementation timelines
dependent on particular locations. As consultations
progressed, we would adjust our proposals to address host
nation concerns.

10. (S) On physical infrastructure, Roege stated the US would
seek to establish a Joint Maritime Operations Facility at
Augusta Bay, with Sigonella being the preferred location for
SOCEUR HQ, Army & Navy SOF, Joint Special Operations Air
Command, a Joint Air Operations Facility, and a Joint
Deployment Facility. Brauzzi expressed concern that our plans
might interfere with a proposed NATO project to expand the
runway at Sigonella. Pavel and Bue committed to deconflict
our proposals with any NATO plans at the base. (COMMENT:
Neither Embassy Rome nor USNATO can locate evidence of a
current NATO runway expansion project for Sigonella. END


11. (S) SOCEUR rep Lt. Col. Alan Bridges briefed on the types
of missions and training programs US SOF forces typically
undertake, emphasizing his brief was a "wish list" we
understood the GOI could not provide entirely. Brauzzi
expressed concern over the impact of SOF training on local
populations and infrastructure in Sicily. DoD advised that
Sicily's existing ranges do not fulfill SOF requirements, and
there may be a requirement for modifying existing rules, or
creating new facilities. Brauzzi reminded the US that Italian
forces are subject to flight ceilings for training purposes,
and that our proposals for low-level flight training (50, -

100,) might be difficult to approve. He was particularly
concerned with proposals for over-the-beach assault training
with live-fire, and suggested Sardinia might be an
alternative location for some proposed SOF training. Brauzzi
questioned whether areas around Sigonella and Augusta Bay
could accommodate an increase in personnel, and noted that
the MFA and MOD would need to consult with local authorities
on an increased US presence. He raised a number of questions
on the geographic scope of SOF projection, how SOF fits in
with NRF objectives, availability of SOF in Sigonella for
non-combatant evacuation, political controls SOF operations
will need, and whether the primary counterpart for the GOI
would be EUCOM or SOCOM.


12. (S) The US side welcomed Italian views on how to
strengthen NATO transformation through GDPR, reminded the GOI
that U/S Grossman kicked off US GDPR consultations in
December 2003 at the NAC, and emphasized that NATO's
transformation and our defense realignment were mutually
reinforcing. Brauzzi acknowledged the possible NATO aspects
of the US proposal as a "plus," but raised concerns over
potentially confusing chains of command vis a vis US SOF
forces in Italy, which might be deployed alternatively for
EUCOM, CENTCOM, or global SOCOM missions. Brauzzi referenced
his experience during OEF of not knowing whether EUCOM or
CENTCOM was his appropriate interlocutor for a given mission.
Italy now knows how to better manage that process, but the
GOI needs a familiar and consistent interlocutor. The
Italians assume EUCOM will always have say in whatever SOF
operations might be launched from Italian territory.

13. (S) Pavel stressed DoD is working to eliminate rigid
lines between commands and to reinforce relationships among
commanders. EUCOM is working to tailor capabilities to deal
with challenges emanating from other theaters, and we are
helping European allies to deal with security challenges in
those regions. However, we acknowledge that we will not be
able to eliminate all seams between SOCOM, EUCOM, and CENTCOM
for Sigonella-based operations. To address Brauzzi's point
about Italy's interest in Africa, Pavel noted we are seeking
to develop a series of access points in sub-Saharan Africa to
build mobility in an East-West fashion. The proposed network
of CSLs in sub-Saharan Africa would provide greater access
for C-130s to respond to humanitarian crises and other
contingencies. With respect to non-combatant evacuations, the
US side acknowledged that we are sensitive to host country
needs wherever we have forces.


14. (S) The Italians were pleased at the level of detail
provided by the US side, which promised to return with
details on chain of command, freedom of action, and the full
range of requirements for Sigonella once those details have
been worked out. Pavel and Bue promised to provide US
positions on those key issues in writing in advance of the
next meeting, to allow the Italians to prepare a detailed
response. Brauzzi suggested the working group reconvene in
Rome at the end of January, with a sub-working group of EUCOM
and IT MOD technical experts meeting in the interim to work
out some technical issues, the results of which would be
briefed to the full working group in January. He also
suggested the working group visit Sigonella during the next
visit. Brauzzi described the discussions as fruitful and
noted he is now in a better position to report to his
authorities. When asked if our proposals were realistic,
Brauzzi said the GOI needs to fully consider important local
dimensions and the US proposal will require strong bipartisan
support in Italy, given the historical high rate of turnover
in Italian governments. He believed that there was
sufficient bipartisan consensus to move forward with
discussing US proposals, but that both sides would need to
remain focused on the issue as talks continue.

15. (S) Comment: This first working group meeting on the SOF
consolidation aspects of the GDPR was viewed as successful by
both sides. The Italians appreciated the consultative spirit

of the US presentation and welcomed the level of detail on
what the US is looking to do at Sigonella. As we move
forward with this process, it will be imperative to maintain
the spirit of partnership and to keep the Italians fully
informed of our thinking. As long as our Italian
interlocutors feel they are a partner in this process, that
we are responsive to their concerns, and that basic
agreements like the 1954 BIA remain the unchallenged basis
for discussion, they will continue to try to meet our
requests. They have already contacted Post to inquire about
the US paper (including discussion of political and legal
aspects of SOF consolidation) to set the stage for the next
Working Group meeting, at which they expect freedom of action
to be addressed. End comment.

16. (SBU) Participants:

Claudio Bisogniero, Vice DG of Multilateral Political Affairs
Bureau, MFA
Giovanni Brauzzi, Head of MFA NATO office
Pier Mario Dacco, MFA NATO office
Francesco Tafuri, MFA Americas Bureau
Felice Soldano, CESIS
Captain Giovanni Gumiero, Chief of IDGS International
Relations Office
Major Vincenzo Iosca, IDGS
Brigadier General Marco Bertolini, Commander of Italian SOF,

PM DAS Kara Bue
OSD Principal Director for Strategy Barry Pavel
Bill Roege, OSD/PA&E
Anne Bonfante State/PM
Nathaniel Heller State/EUR
Anthony Aldwell, OSD/ISP/EPS
Lt Col Alan Bridges, SOCEUR
Maj Brian Bruckbauer, EUCOM
Chris Kinsley, Commander, NAVEUR/NAS Sigonella
Jonathan Cohan, Pol-Mil Counselor, U.S. Embassy Rome
Susanne Rose, Pol-Mil Officer, U.S. Embassy Rome
Col. Roy Panzarella, ODC Chief, U.S. Embassy Rome
Capt. Patricia Battin, USSSO, U.S. Embassy Rome

(U) This cable has been cleared with DAS Bue and Principle
Director Pavel.


2005ROME00036 - Classification: SECRET