|06THEHAGUE311||2006-02-10 14:53:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy The Hague|
1. (U) This contains an information request for State
Department (paragraph 6).
2. (C) Summary: DATT and poloffs met on January 9 with Major
General Bertholee, Director of Operational Readiness, The
Netherlands Defense Staff, Dutch Ministry of Defense (MOD) to
discuss Caribbean Lion (CL), Partnership of the Americas
(POA), and the proposed visit of USS George Washington (GW)
to Curacao. Bertholee, who was standing in for Chief of
Defense Staff General Berlijn, was noncommittal on the
carrier visit, noting that the request came at an
"inconvenient" time. On POA, the Bertholee asked whether
other countries will be invited to participate without
indicating how the Dutch would respond to such an invitation.
Bertholee made clear the MOD is moving head with planning
for a full amphibious operations component of CL, but
stressed that the Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs
have not yet discussed their apparently different perceptions
of this operation. Bertholee promised the DATT he would
consult with Berlijn on both the port visit and the
anticipated scope of CL and would get back to us quickly.
Proposed Carrier Visit to Curacao
3. (C) Bertholee said that the proposed carrier visit to
Curacao comes at an "inconvenient" time, but said he would
bring the issue to the attention of CHOD General Berlijn
ASAP. His concerns were twofold: 1) the proposed visit comes
on the heels of the contentious parliamentary debate on
Afghanistan, and 2) the visit would likely occur in
mid-April, only a month or so before CL. A perceived linkage
between the carrier visit and CL, he said, could be
problematic for the GONL. Without making any commitments,
Bertholee asked whether it might be possible for the carrier
to anchor offshore, rather than pierside. DATT responded
that the current proposal was to dock the GW pierside.
Bertholee noted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)
ultimately had the lead on approving port visits, and was
pleased to learn that the issue had been raised with MFA
POLDIR Hugo Siblesz on February 7 (ref A).
Partnership of the Americas
4.(C) Bertholee was clearly interested in learning whether
other nations would be expected to participate in POA.
EMBOFFS noted that Siblesz had asked the same question, and
promised to share this information as soon as it is received.
When asked whether third country participation might make
the Dutch more comfortable about the operation and associated
port visits, Bertholee was evasive. He similarly would not
address directly the question of Dutch willingness to
participate in general. In response to our offer to send out
a military planner to brief the MOD, Bertholee indicated that
this was something we should revisit once the GONL has had
time to discuss the exercise (and the question of Dutch
5. (C) According to Bertholee, the MOD is aware of the MFA's
interest in "slightly" scaling back the amphibious exercise
portion of CL. That said, the Ministers of Defense and
Foreign Affairs have not yet met to hash this out, and the
MOD is moving ahead with plans for a full amphibious
exercise. The MOD prefers to maintain the exercises as
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envisioned and will resist MFA pressure to change plans
mid-stream, he said. DATT reported that Berlijn had told him
that he wished to use CL to send a message to Chavez.
Bertholee said that Berlijn's opinion would obviously carry
considerable weight within MOD and would influence their
discussions with MFA.
6. (C) In response to DATT's query, Bertholee said that his
gut feeling was that the Venezuelans would not accept the
invitation to participate in CL. That said, the Venezuelans
have yet to give their response. Bertholee asked about the
number and composition of U.S. Marine forces participating in
CL. DATT did not have the details, but we said that the
amphibious ships involved were capable of sending upwards of
1,800 Marines ashore in a standard, combined air and sea
7. (C) The Dutch have now twice raised the question of
possible third party participation in POA. Given SOUTHCOM's
desire for a quick response for planning purposes, Post
requests ASAP cleared talking points on this topic to share
with appropriate Dutch authorities.