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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07USNATO502
2007-09-14 17:31:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Mission USNATO
Cable title:  

SACEUR, COMISAF BRIEF ISAF PROGRESS AND CLEARLY

Tags:   NATO  PREL  MOPS  MARR  AF 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 USNATO 000502 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/14/2017
TAGS: NATO PREL MOPS MARR AF
SUBJECT: SACEUR, COMISAF BRIEF ISAF PROGRESS AND CLEARLY
POINT TO WAY AHEAD TO ALLIES, ISAF PARTNERS

Classified By: CDA Richard G. Olson, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 USNATO 000502

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/14/2017
TAGS: NATO PREL MOPS MARR AF
SUBJECT: SACEUR, COMISAF BRIEF ISAF PROGRESS AND CLEARLY
POINT TO WAY AHEAD TO ALLIES, ISAF PARTNERS

Classified By: CDA Richard G. Olson, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)


1. (C) SUMMARY. In separate sessions first with the NAC in
ISAF format (which includes the 11 non-NATO troop
contributors) and then at 26 with the NAC, COMISAF General
Dan McNeill described ISAF successes on the battlefield, and
challenges in building an effective police force and
strengthening Afghan governance, particularly on the national
level. He urged Allies and partners to fill shortfalls in
meeting NATO's commitment to field embedded Afghan National
Army trainers (OMLTs). He urged nations to approve an
initiative that would enable ISAF to use NATO common funding
to contract cargo transport rotary wing (along with limited
fixed wing) lift, thus alleviating a critical helicopter
shortfall in theater; the initiative would also pave the way
for contract lift to eventually move Afghan forces during
independent operations and ease the strain on NATO rotary
wing assets. General McNeill reiterated to the NAC his
personal commitment and that of ISAF to avoid civilian
casualties, sharing video clips and personal anecdotes to
underscore the point. He also endorsed the idea of an
"international gorilla," a pre-eminent statesman working
outside of Afghanistan to marshal international resources and
coordinate the efforts of capitals. He described his
intentions for Afghan security forces to play a more
prominent role in operations in the south and east in 2008.
On counternarcotics, he noted the negative effect of poppy on
all levels of society, and his intent for ISAF to
aggressively implement its OPLAN-mandated tasks, but was
clear that ISAF does not engage in eradication. SACEUR, in
introducing General McNeill to the NAC, praised him for
leading ISAF with "determination and vigor," and for taking
the fight to the enemy at every opportunity. END SUMMARY.

-------------- --------------
ISAF Winning the Fight, but Police, Governance, Training Lag

-------------- --------------


2. (C) Praising the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen
of ISAF, General McNeill told a meeting of the NAC in ISAF
format that ISAF had achieved continued success on the
battlefield, demonstrating superiority in every engagement
with the enemy, who was "vexed," but not yet defeated. ISAF
efforts against Taliban command and control structures had
produced good results with the elimination of several Taliban
commanders over the past months. He stated that ISAF's main
effort would shift back to RC-South from RC-East later this
month, and that in 2008, he hoped and intended to get more
Afghan National Army (ANA) forces in the south and the east,
and to get them out in front leading operations. General
McNeill commended the reconstruction efforts of the 25 ISAF
PRTs, noting almost $4 billion of projects throughout
Afghanistan. He pointed, however, to the role of the poppy
trade in undermining development work and acknowledged that
not all Afghans had seen benefits due to the localized nature
of many projects. He described the pervasive negative
effects of corruption throughout all levels of government in
Afghanistan, observing that progress had been achieved to
varying degrees of success on all levels of the government,
but that he was "somewhat pessimistic" on progress thus far
on the national level.


3. (C) General McNeill said dysfunctionality and corruption
in the Afghan Ministry of Interior is particularly troubling.
A capable indigenous security force is key to any successful
counterinsurgency effort, he argued, and the lack of progress
in developing Afghan police gives reason for great concern.
He challenged Allies to do more on police training, noting
the tremendous gap in progress compared to training of the
ANA, and the continuing complaints of Afghans that their
police prey on, rather than protect them. General McNeill
stated that embedded trainers in the ANA had been able to
imbue Afghan soldiers with a sense of service and duty,
creating an institution respected by the Afghan populace; he
asserted the same would be necessary with the police. In
response to a question from the Netherlands, he also noted
that the international community should not close off the
possibility of exploring appropriate, well-developed security
arrangements on a local level, leveraging the key,
traditional role oftribal elders and tribal justice

USNATO 00000502 002 OF 004


throughout Afghan culture and history. He named Paktya and
Khost as provinces where this particularly might work.



4. (C) Building on the training theme with the NAC in ISAF
format, COMISAF made a strong push for NATO to meet its
pledge to relieve U.S. embedded ANA trainers with NATO
Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams (OMLTs). Nations
were not doing well thus far, he stated. He reminded
Ambassadors that each Allied OMLT enabled a U.S. team to
shift its focus over to the Afghan police. He spoke well of
ANA performance in the field, but explained how embedded NATO
forces enhance that performance, assuring Afghan troops that
they will have access to NATO's medevac and close air support
if they find themselves in a large engagement. General
McNeill underlined that ISAF had taken steps to work with
each nation to devise customized solutions that would help
them provide OMLTs. Even if a nation sought to place caveats
on its OMLTs, ISAF would work to find middle ground with that
nation to enable an appropriate deployment. Ambassador
Nuland supported COMISAF during the follow-on discussion
period, challenging nations to double their training efforts
by year's end, and to double efforts again by the April NATO
Summit in Bucharest.

-------------- --------------
Helicopters: Key to Our Ops Now, and ANA Ops in the Future
-------------- --------------


5. (C) COMISAF appealed ("I beg of you") to NAC and ISAF
contributor Ambassadors, to favorably consider a SHAPE/ISAF
initiative that would enable ISAF to contract helicopter lift
support, using NATO common funding. Describing the crucial
importance to the ISAF mission of rotary wing lift, he
assured PermReps that the contracted helicopters - which
would not carry equipment need to meet ISAF requirements to
safely carry troops - would be used for cargo transport, thus
taking stress and pressure off the extremely limited number
of tactical helos in ISAF's inventory, freeing them for troop
movements. Looking ahead, he also suggested that contracted
tactical lift would also be essential to move Afghan forces
around the battlefield in the future, thus reducing pressure
on both ISAF soldiers and rotary wing assets. Ambassador
Nuland reiterated to PermReps during the follow-on discussion
that the U.S. helicopter bridging force in RC-South must
leave on January 31, 2008, and urged Allies to support this
contract initiative.

-------------- --------------
Civilian Casualties: Taking the Utmost Care to Avoid
-------------- --------------


6. (C) Addressing the intra-Alliance tension and strains
within governments over the past several weeks that had
resulted from civilian casualties, COMISAF stressed in the
meeting with the NAC the utmost care that he personally, and
each ISAF soldier, takes to avoid civilian casualties. He
acknowledged that ISAF has regrettably caused some civilian
casualties, but stated the numbers were nowhere near those
alleged in press reporting; Taliban information operations -
unlike ISAF's - are not constrained by the need to be
factual, he reminded Ambassadors. He noted that his recent
Tactical Directive on reducing civilian casualties had
resonated well with President Karzai, and that ISAF continues
to seek the perfect solution. He also noted that OEF rapidly
had adopted these guidelines to synchronize operational
efforts as much as possible and to build transparency with
Afghans and their government about international forces'
operational intent. Amplifying his message, he showed
Ambassadors various overhead imagery video taken during
engagements, including shots of fighters disguising
themselves with burkas and taking cover behind mud walls of
civilian home compounds, plus ISAF helicopter gunships
tracking enemy movements away from populated areas until they
reached areas where ISAF forces could fire on them without
risk to the civilian population.

--------------
Discussion with Ambassadors
--------------

USNATO 00000502 003 OF 004




7. (C) During the follow-on discussion periods after each
NAC session, Ambassadors focused most on international
coordination, the readiness of Afghan forces to assume
greater responsibility for security, and counternarcotics.
Ambassador Nuland emphasized ANA training, helicopters, and
the need for ISAF to improve its strategic communications.
In the NAC (at 26) session, she also asked what more ISAF
could do on narcotics, COMISAF's views on U.S. "white" SOF
interaction with RC-South and RC-West, and his thoughts on
Iran and Russia.


8. (C) The Norwegian and Dutch ambassadors asked General
McNeill and NATO Senior Civilian Representative in
Afghanistan Daan Everts, also present, for their views on
international cooperation in Afghanistan. Bulgaria, Canada,
France, Spain, and Sweden inquired about the status of Afghan
National Security Forces (ANSF); the Canadian Ambassador
noted the problem with ANSF inability to hold ground after
ISAF has cleared it; the French Ambassador underlined his
nation's long-standing commitment to training and followed up
on his Defense Minister's idea of turning security
responsibilities for at least one province over to the ANSF;
while the Spanish ambassador asked for an overall assessment
of ANSF prowess. The UK, supported by Ambassador Nuland,
Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden sought COMISAF's views on
how to enhance ISAF's support to Afghan counternarcotics
efforts within the framework of ISAF's existing OPLAN. The
UK ambassador detailed some counternarcotics activities of
the UK's Task Force Helmand, such as providing security for
CN shuras and logistics for the Afghan CN Police,
transmitting radio broadcasts, and helping Afghans to plan
interdiction operations.


9. (C) In other interventions, the German ambassador pointed
to his government's Afghan Concept Paper, and underscored
German intentions to increase development aid in 2008,
enhance civilian reconstruction activities, remain militarily
engaged in RC-North, strengthen cross-border cooperation with
Pakistan, and bolster support for building and training ANSF,
both army and police. Romania and Turkey stressed the
importance of regional cooperation, particularly with
Pakistan. The Czech Republic asked how to better integrate
PRTs into ISAF's overall effort, stating PRTs differ too much
in their respective approaches.


10. (C) Both General McNeill and SCR Everts endorsed the
concept of an "international gorilla," i.e. a pre-eminent
statesman working outside of Afghanistan to marshal
international resources and coordinate the efforts of
capitals. Looking at ANSF readiness, COMISAF noted the
increasing ANA capacity to conduct operations and his intent
to involve them to a greater extent in operations in the
south and east in 2008, but stressed the important role that
NATO OMLTs must play in the process. On counternarcotics, he
noted the negative effect of poppy on all levels of society,
and his intent for ISAF to aggressively implement its
OPLAN-mandated tasks, but made clear that ISAF does not
engage in eradication. The poppy trade undermines each goal
ISAF is trying to achieve in Afghanistan, he explained, and
he stated further thinking on tackling the problem should
occur in a cooperative way between the Secretary General,
SACEUR, JFC-B Commander General Ramms, and himself. He
estimated that between 20 and 40 percent of the Taliban's
finances were received from the poppy trade, but noted the UN
believes it is higher. He stated that Governor Wafa in
Helmand province is ineffective, and characterized the
results of Governor Led Eradication, a program of which
President Karzai is fond, as spotty: Governor Atta in Balkh
province had achieved results, whereas Wafa had not. He
asserted that the international community must gather strong
resources behind an Afghan lead, and compel Afghans to solve
the problem.


11. (C) On Pakistan, he noted ISAF's engagement via military
channels with Pakistan through the Tripartite Commission, and
the challenge to long-term success in Afghanistan caused by
the continuing existence in Pakistan of a safe haven for
insurgents. Concerning Iran, COMISAF acknowledged the
existence of Iranian weaponry in Afghanistan, and noted that

USNATO 00000502 004 OF 004


while he has no proof of governmental involvement, concern is
growing. He expressed skepticism toward Russia, citing
Russian FM Lavrov's recent trip to Afghanistan during which
he stated it was time for NATO to leave Afghanistan. In
response to the Czech question on PRTs, he commended U.S.
policy, which places officers at PRTs for 12 months (some
nations have 4-month rotations), and gives PRT commanders
considerable leeway in spending money locally as they deem
appropriate.


12. (C) Comment: SACEUR and COMISAF's joint appearance at
the NAC had long been requested by many ISAF-contributing
Allies and non-Allied Partners. Their joint appearance
scratched a major coalition political itch. Including
non-Allied ISAF contributors was a home run. It demonstrated
concretely to more doctrinally-cautious Allies the demand for
greater involvement which these partners have and could make
a meaningful contribution to building more ISAF solidarity
and unity of effort. Building on the September 5 briefing by
UNODC Head Costa, the Generals' presentations also lent
further momentum to consideration of how to address fuller CN
tasks within the existing ISAF operational plan and reduced
the stigma of the term counternarcotics in Allied ISAF.
COMISAF's also squarely identified the priority of building
Afghan police training. We should build on that message to
urge corresponding Allied response in our ministerial
deliberations on the road to Bucharest.
OLSON