97557 2/22/2007 3:35 07CANBERRA293 Embassy Canberra SECRET//NOFORN VZCZCXRO4081 PP RUEHDBU DE RUEHBY #0293/01 0530335 ZNY SSSSS ZZH P 220335Z FEB 07 FM AMEMBASSY CANBERRA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6961 INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 0352 RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT PRIORITY 0021 RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS PRIORITY 0250 RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 8612 RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY 0009 RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 0949 RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN PRIORITY 1502 RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK PRIORITY 0014 RUEHSL/AMEMBASSY BRATISLAVA PRIORITY 0053 RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS PRIORITY 3537 RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST PRIORITY 0267 RUEHUP/AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST PRIORITY 0254 RUEHCP/AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN PRIORITY 1096 RUEHDL/AMEMBASSY DUBLIN PRIORITY 0184 RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE PRIORITY RUEHHE/AMEMBASSY HELSINKI PRIORITY 0579 RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 1401 RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0165 RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON PRIORITY 0976 RUEHLJ/AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA PRIORITY 0058 RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1654 RUEHLE/AMEMBASSY LUXEMBOURG PRIORITY 0490 RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 1100 RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 1412 RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 0944 RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 1270 RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 2063 RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1344 RUEHPG/AMEMBASSY PRAGUE PRIORITY 0475 RUEHRA/AMEMBASSY RIGA PRIORITY 0057 RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 0971 RUEHVJ/AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO PRIORITY 0004 RUEHSQ/AMEMBASSY SKOPJE PRIORITY 0034 RUEHSF/AMEMBASSY SOFIA PRIORITY 0216 RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 1061 RUEHNT/AMEMBASSY TASHKENT PRIORITY 0066 RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI PRIORITY 0022 RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE PRIORITY 2312 RUEHTI/AMEMBASSY TIRANA PRIORITY 0052 RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 2603 RUEHVI/AMEMBASSY VIENNA PRIORITY 0279 RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW PRIORITY 0819 RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 4982 RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB PRIORITY 0035 RUEHBN/AMCONSUL MELBOURNE PRIORITY 3884 RUEHBAD/AMCONSUL PERTH PRIORITY 2325 RUEHDN/AMCONSUL SYDNEY PRIORITY 1912 RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 0693 RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY 0038 RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0483 S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 CANBERRA 000293
STATE FOR EAP AND SA PACOM ALSO FOR POLAD
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/22/2017 TAGS: PREL, MARR, MOPS, AS SUBJECT: AUSTRALIAN PLANS TO INCREASE FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN
Classified By: Ambassador Robert D. McCallum, Jr., for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (S/NF) The Government of Australia, concerned about the upcoming Taliban offensive and worried that Dutch preparations to counter the expected Taliban offensive in southern Afghanistan are not robust enough, are making preliminary plans to deploy an additional 250 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel, including Special Air Service (SAS) Regiment forces, to Oruzgan Povince for an extended period. Under the plan, which has not yet been approved by the Cabinet, the additional troops would remain under NATO/ISAF command but adapt a command and control structure used by U.S. forces. Although the opposition opposed the Government's decision to send additional trainers to Iraq, the opposition leader is likely to support plans to strengthen Australia's presence in Afghanistan. End summary.
2. (S/NF) The National Security Committee of Cabinet of Australia has approved in principle planning for deployment of approximately 250 ADF personnel to Oruzgan Province in southern Afghanistan to supplement the 550-strong force currently working under a Dutch-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT.) The Cabinet will make a final decision by the end of March.
3. (S/NF) The impetus for the plan is sensitive reporting predicting an increase in Taliban activity, including suicide bombings and large-scale attacks, over the coming months. It
CANBERRA 00000293 002 OF 003
also stems from GOA concern that the Dutch military leadership of the PRT is not responding aggressively enough to the expected offensive, according to senior ADOD officials.
4. (S/NF) Senior ADOD personnel have told Embassy officials that they want to have the additional ADF forces use a command and control structure already in use with Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force (CJSOTF), rather than the current arrangement with the NATO/ISAF command. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Pace recommended this arrangement during his February 12 meeting with Chief of the Australian Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston. ADOD officials told us the timeframe for deployment would likely be early May 2007. The forces would likely remain in Afghanistan for more than one rotation, that is, beyond August 2008, the theoretical end of their two-year commitment. ADOD plans to send a small reconnaisance mission into Orugan Province on/about February 26. Defence Minister Nelson briefed Secretary Gates on the GOA plan recently.
OPPOSITION PARTY SUPPORT
5. (S/NF) Opposition Australian Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd called the Ambassador on February 21 to inquire about the GOA action and whether it would be a point of discussion during Rudd's scheduled meeting with Vice President Cheney on February 23. He complained that the Howard government was not observing the usual practice of informing the opposition party in advance of its plans, and thus he was concerned that he might be caught off guard by the press and unable to respond as effectively as he would like in campaign mode. He
CANBERRA 00000293 003 OF 003
continued to express Labor's continued support in general for military involvement by Australia in Afghanistan, in stark contrast to Labor's position on Iraq.