222775 8/28/2009 13:45 09BUCHAREST597 Embassy Bucharest CONFIDENTIAL VZCZCXRO3536 RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR DE RUEHBM #0597 2401345 ZNY CCCCC ZZH R 281345Z AUG 09 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9861 INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0057 RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE RHMFISS/CDRUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE C O N F I D E N T I A L BUCHAREST 000597
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/28/2019 TAGS: MARR, MOPS, PGOV, PREL, ECON, RO, AF SUBJECT: ROMANIA: PRESIDENT BASESCU REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO AFGHANISTAN MISSION, U.S. MIL-MIL COOPERATION
Classified By: DCM Jeri Guthrie-Corn for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) Summary: President Basescu reaffirmed his commitment to Romanian involvement in NATO operations in Afghanistan during a visit to a Romanian airbase where American and Romanian troops conduct joint-training programs. He emphasized the national pride which has come from working with the United States in Afghanistan, as well as Iraq and the Western Balkans, and stated that the Romanian military must continue to improve its interoperability with American forces. Given the tough economic climate in Romania and the fast approaching presidential elections at the end of 2009, it is telling that the President has privately and publicly expressed his support for the added costs of joint military training with the United States and military operations in Afghanistan. End Summary.
2. (SBU) On 25 August 2009, Romanian President Traian Basescu visited the Mihail Kogalniceanu Airbase in eastern Romania to take part in a Distinguished Visitors (DV) program highlighting U.S.-Romanian military cooperation. Other VIPs participating were Commander USAREUR General Carter Ham, Charge Jeri Guthrie-Corn, Minister of Defense Mihai Stanisoara, Chairman of the Romanian Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Gheorghe Marin, Chief of Land Forces MGen Dan Ghica-Radu, Chief of Naval Forces Rear Adm. Dorin Danila, Chief of Air Forces MGen Ion-Aurel Stanciu and National Security Advisor Iulian Fota. French and Serbian military observers and representatives from the diplomatic and defense attache communities also attended. This represents the highest level of Romanian senior participation seen at a DV event.
3. (SBU) President Basescu was briefed on the training, shown the Stryker Armored Vehicle, and given a demonstration of Combat Lifesaver training. Basescu chose to extend his stay in order to view additional demonstrations of the EST 2000 battlefield simulator trainer, the Humvee egress trainer, Navy construction vehicles and a water purification system. Following the demonstrations he gave a brief statement to the media.
4. (SBU) In private with the Charge as well as during his public remarks Basescu emphasized his commitment to continued Romanian participation in military operations in Afghanistan. He noted that "Romanians and Americans have fought side by side in Iraq, they are together in the Western Balkans, and together in Afghanistan." He stressed the level of trust between American and Romanian soldiers and the honor it represented for Romania to have an American company serve under the command of a Romanian battalion in Zabul, Afghanistan.
5. (SBU) Basescu observed that on his three successive trips to Afghanistan he saw Romanian troops become increasingly comfortable with American military tactics, exactly the sort of interoperability necessary for joint missions in Zabul. President Basescu concluded by assuring "the American military and American politicians that Romania, as we did in Iraq, will continue this mission until it is complete.Q
6. (C) Comment: President Basescu has long been a supporter of the Romanian Armed Forces and U.S.-Romanian military cooperation. Still, it is telling that the President chose to reaffirm this commitment so close to official campaign season leading up to the presidential election scheduled for late November 2009. While the Romanian public, and the other leading presidential candidates, also favor a strong alliance with the U.S. and a continued commitment to NATO, this approach may involve some risk to Basescu's campaign. Given Romania's continued suffering from the global economic crisis and the current debate over government austerity measures, the high costs of Romania's active military engagement in Afghanistan and elsewhere could be used against Basescu by his rivals for the presidency. End Comment. GITENSTEIN