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07SOFIA366 2007-03-19 13:05:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Sofia
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1. (SBU) In a decision discussed on March 14 and signed on
March 16, the Council of Ministers formally approved two
separate deployments in support of NATO operations in
Afghanistan. This decision is binding and does not require
parliamentary approval. The first deployment will consist of
120 soldiers and 15 staff officers, who will deploy to Kabul
in May 2007 as part of an Italian combat group of the Capital
Regional Command. The second will include up to 200 troops
who will assume responsibility for internal perimeter
security at Kandahar Airfield as of the beginning of June

2007. These 335 troops come in addition to the 85 Bulgarian
soldiers who are currently serving under ISAF in a mechanized
infantry platoon, medical teams, a military police and
counterintelligence platoon, and as staff officers at Kabul
Airport and in the Hungarian-led PRT in Pol-e-Khomri.

2. (C) Comment: While Bulgaria's deployment to Kabul was
announced months ago, the GoB's decision to deploy forces to
Kandahar comes only six weeks after SACEUR's request to CHOD
Stoykov. The government's flexibility and responsiveness
demonstrate an impressive political commitment to NATO's
mission in Afghanistan, despite a public mood that is
strongly skeptical of any overseas deployments. Caveats on
these two additional deployments have not been finalized. We
expect that forces deployed to Kandahar are unlikely to be
equipped for missions beyond the airfield and are likely to
be subject to restrictive caveats, which nevertheless will
not prejudice their main mission of airfield force
protection. We will continue to engage the GoB to target the
equipment and training shortfalls that they cite as
preventing them from lifting caveats on their forces deployed
elsewhere. End comment.