209768 6/2/2009 16:18 09THEHAGUE328 Embassy The Hague SECRET//NOFORN VZCZCXYZ0001 OO RUEHWEB DE RUEHTC #0328/01 1531618 ZNY SSSSS ZZH O 021618Z JUN 09 FM AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE INFO RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST IMMEDIATE 1201 RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA IMMEDIATE 2807 RUEHCP/AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN IMMEDIATE 6735 RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL IMMEDIATE 0404 RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE 1845 RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA IMMEDIATE 5251 RUEHTL/AMEMBASSY TALLINN IMMEDIATE 0179 RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO IMMEDIATE 2226 RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHDC IMMEDIATE RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE IMMEDIATE RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2887 RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE 0674 S E C R E T THE HAGUE 000328
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/02/2019 TAGS: PREL, NATO, MOPS, MARR, AF, PAK, NL SUBJECT: NETHERLANDS/SCENESETTER; SECRETARY,S JUNE 1OTH BILATERAL WITH DEFENSE MINISTER VAN MIDDELKOOP
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Michael F. Gallagher reasons 1.4 (b) a nd (d).
1. (S) Your participation in the Regional Command-South RC-South) meeting and the bilateral with Dutch Minister of Defense Emert van Middelkoop comes at a critical time for the advancement of key U.S. priorities. Van Middelkoop and the Dutch government as a whole remain among our strongest allies, but Dutch domestic politics threaten to limit progress on our common agenda. On Afghanistan, the government faces an uphill battle to convince Parliament and the Dutch people to continue combat missions after 2010.
2. (C) Van Middelkoop -- one of only two ministers from the smallest member of the coalition government, the Christian Union (CU) -- has a decidedly mixed record. He has vast foreign and security policy experience as a member of Parliament. He is also widely recognized as the author of the Dutch policy requiring parliamentary approval of military deployments overseas -- a result of the Dutch failure to prevent the massacre at the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica in 1995. At the same time, this is the first time the CU and van Middelkoop have served in the government, and their lack of experience has been evident in several instances. In January, for example, Van Middelkoop first denied and then was forced to apologize for his remarks about the Dutch mission in Afghanistan. He now almost exclusively reads aloud from written notes to avoid additional missteps. More influential voices on Afghanistan policy are Foreign Minister Verhagen of the Christian Democrat party and Development Minister Koenders of the Labor Party (reflecting the Dutch 3D Approach (Development, Diplomacy and Defense).
3. (C) During his June 10 bilateral meeting with you, Van Middelkoop will be interested in hearing more about new U.S. command structures in Afghanistan; the influx of U.S. troops into RC-S, including strategic objectives; and initiatives on civil-military cooperation. Van Middelkoop will anticipate questions regarding the future of the Dutch mission beyond August 2010, although his comments will likely be guarded ahead of a late autumn cabinet decision on the issue. Among his public statements and misstatements, however, Van Middelkoop has suggested he believes the Dutch will scale down their presence.
4. (C) For the June 11 RC-S Ministerial, the Dutch foresee an "intimate" atmosphere in a 1 3 format with delegates from the eight countries with troops in RC-S. Besides Van Middelkoop and yourself, the principals will be Mr. John Hutton (United Kingdom), Mr. Joel Fitzgibbon (Australia), Mr. Peter Kordon MacKay (Canada), Mr. Soren Gade (Denmark), Mr. Jaak Aaviksoo (Estonia), and Mr. Mihai Stanisoara (Romania). The Dutch envision an informal round-table discussion centered around three main agenda items: the evolution of RC-S, training and Qthree main agenda items: the evolution of RC-S, training and handover of responsibilities, and RC-S engagement with Pakistan. Prior to the round-table discussion, the Dutch request that you begin the meeting with an overview of political developments to include the U.S. review, the influx of U.S. troops, and new leadership in the mission.
5. (C) The Dutch cabinet is presently considering the Netherlands, role in Afghanistan after 2010, including our "Afghanistan Asks" request (Ref A). Senior officials have specifically requested that we give them the room to deliberate and come to their own decision, rather than
applying any sort of public pressure. The Embassy strongly supports that approach, particularly because we are on the right track for a good decision from the Dutch if we move carefully.
6. (S/NF) On receipt of the "Afghanistan Asks" demarche, the Deputy Director General for Political Affairs, Robert de Groot, told us that most of the requests were very real possibilities (Ref B). However, we omitted from the formal request the proposed Provisional Reconstruction Team in the province of Dai Kundi because De Groot had earlier advised us that such a request would hurt our cause as negotiations in the Dutch cabinet proceed. Since that time, there have been two or three cabinet meetings on the issue. Subsequent staff-level comments have not been as optimistic as De Groot,s original remarks, so we are using every high-level meeting as opportunity to press the U.S. request discreetly.
7. (C) The international media has lauded the accomplishments of the "Dutch Model" for Development, Diplomacy, and Defense (3D) integrated efforts. This praise has been better received internationally than domestically where the public, although very supportive of the soldiers, does not strongly support their deployment. The Dutch have lost 19 soldiers to date, and Dutch public believes they have done more than their fair share. Moreover, many Dutch legislators are concerned about the effect of the deployment on military readiness and recruitment. The Dutch still have a shortfall of approximately 7,000 personnel. The Dutch media report that the ISAF mission is not successful in bringing security to the region and many development programs are ineffective. The cabinet and the Parliament will have to make very strong and convincing arguments to continue a strong commitment beyond 2010.
8. (C) A majority of the cabinet (the Christian Democrats and the Christian Union) is committed to the NATO/ISAF mission and the Afghan people. Throughout the cabinet's decision process, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and van Middelkoop will be strong and effective allies in winning support from the Parliament. The political challenge lies with the Labor Party, where Development Cooperation Minister Koenders will be the key player. Although part of the coalition, Labor is the most skeptical of continuing ground engagement in Afghanistan after 2010. For Labor,s rank and file, the most compelling arguments are those that demonstrate how Dutch efforts benefit the Afghan people, rather than how essential the Dutch military is for ISAF success. The March 31 Afghanistan Conference in The Hague provided the cabinet a platform to portray its eventual decision as one that was consultative in nature, "one among equals", and not one of "request" from the U.S. or NATO. This small point is very crucial in dealing with the Dutch psyche and understanding their decision process. The cabinet Qpsyche and understanding their decision process. The cabinet will be very deft in announcing their decision which is expected in the fall. Cabinet approval for some sort of follow-on mission is only the first step. That plan then goes to Parliament for approval. Although the coalition has sufficient votes to pass a plan, Dutch consensus will require support from parties other than just those in the coalition. The Embassy believes the cabinet and Parliament will eventually agree to some follow-on mission in Uruzgan, along the lines of our "asks" items, but the number of Dutch military troops committed to a battle group will be reduced significantly and it will step down as lead nation for Task Force Uruzgan. There is little information being provided by the decision makers but what is received indicates that the Dutch will commit to all of the "asks" with the exception that the funding levels may be lower.
9. (C) From ref A, the specific "asks" delivered to the Netherlands were:
- Contribute to fulfillment of Election Support Force requirements for Regional Command-South
- Retain PRT, OMLTs, Special Operations Forces, and critical enablers in Uruzgan Province beyond 2010 - Special Operations Task Group with Rotary Wing Lift to conduct military training and mentoring - Contribute $20 million per year for five years to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund - Support counter-narcotics initiatives including the GPI, training the Counter-Narcotics Police of Afghanistan, and funding Counter-Narcotics Advisory Teams - Deploy gendarmerie for training and mentoring Afghan police - Contribute $10 million/year for the ARTF and work with RC-S partners to contribute resources to promote regional agriculture and power development - Continued training and contribution of fully-formed police mentor teams for districts in Uruzgan Province to all future cycles of Focused District Development - Increased support for governance and development programs at PRTs, including additional civilian experts with access to programming resources
10. (C) The Dutch have gone to the brink as JSF partners. In a bitter late-April political debate, the Labor Party forced a compromise to purchase only one of the planned two OT&E aircraft, and delay the decision on the purchase of the second test aircraft until 2010, and delayed the decision to buy 85 JSF aircraft from 2010 to 2012. Although strongly supported by State Secretary of Defense DeVries, JSF will likely continue to face headwinds in the Parliament for some time to come.
11. (C) More broadly, the JSF compromise could indirectly threaten the Dutch decision to stay in Afghanistan after 2010. The Labor Party, already skeptical on Afghanistan, is viewed as having lost the JSF debate and several other policy issues. Looking for a victory, the Labor Party may thus make negotiations over Afghanistan more difficult.
12. (C) The recent approval by OSD to grant an exception to LAIRCM release policy for Dutch KDC-10 aircraft presents an opportunity to reiterate appreciation for Dutch efforts and shared risks in Afghanistan, along with the hope that a significant contribution of Dutch military capabilities will continue beyond 2010.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)
13. (C) SAF/IA recently approved exchange of two Dutch Air Force operators into an operational UAV squadron at Nellis AFB, if the Netherlands agree to purchase MQ-1 or MQ-9 UAVs within the next twelve to eighteen months. The Netherlands move towards this type of system is borne out of their experience in Afghanistan. Should this offer be accepted by the Netherlands, it will the first of its kind for UAVs. GALLAGHER