Viewing cable 05VILNIUS252

05VILNIUS2522005-03-10 15:23:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 VILNIUS 000252 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/09/2015 
Classified By: Ambassador Stephen D. Mull; Reason: 1.4 (b and d) 
¶1.  (C) Mr. Secretary, Lithuanian Defense Minister Kirkilas 
comes to Washington March 14 eager to demonstrate that, 
despite inexperience in defense policy, he is a capable and 
committed friend to the U.S.  His performance in less than 
three months on the job has been impressively favorable to 
our interests: he steadfastly vows that Lithuanian troops 
will remain in Iraq as long as the U.S. wants; he did 
yeoman's work in pushing Lithuania to volunteer for NATO's 
arguably most difficult Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) 
in Afghanistan; and has been a strong supporter of 
maintaining NATO as the principal forum for transatlantic 
security issues.  In his meetings with you and other 
administration officials, he will likely: 
-- brief you on Lithuania's efforts to amass support from us 
and other NATO allies for the PRT, and indicate his 
military's most important needs for it; 
-- commit to long-term engagement in Iraq, seek your thoughts 
on how the Mission is likely to change and how Lithuania can 
best support it; 
-- urge increased U.S. financial support for Lithuania's 
military operations, such as in the proposed Coalition 
Solidarity Funds; 
-- seek your support for Lithuania's efforts to democratize 
Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus and other states in the region 
through military contacts; 
-- ask your views on NATO's future as the principal forum for 
transatlantic security dialogue in the wake of German 
Chancellor Schroeder's recent comments; and 
-- express gratitude for U.S. support for Baltic air 
policing, and renew an offer for U.S. use of Lithuanian 
In addition to praising Lithuania's steadfast support to U.S. 
interests, I recommend you continue to assure Kirkilas of 
U.S. support for the Afghan PRT, congratulate Lithuania on 
its constructive approach to security with Russia and new 
democracies in the region, and urge Lithuania to play a more 
visible role in Europe's security discussions.  Lithuania's 
military and diplomatic activism give it a much higher 
profile than its small size would suggest, and its 
coincidence of views with ours on political-military issues 
make it a valuable amplifier for U.S. interests.  End Summary. 
An Enemy of the U.S. is an Enemy of Lithuania 
¶2. (U) Common values, a history of mutual support, and common 
goals for regional security bind Lithuania and the United 
States.  Lithuania continues to recognize a debt of gratitude 
to the United States for having maintained a policy of 
non-recognition of Baltic annexation throughout the years of 
Soviet occupation.  Following the restoration of Lithuania's 
independence, the United States cemented the friendship, 
providing political and financial support to Lithuania, 
welcoming the country into the transatlantic alliance, and 
supporting Lithuanian membership in NATO and the European 
¶3. (U) Lithuania already is a well-established transatlantic 
partner whom, although a new member of NATO, has proven to be 
one of our strongest allies in the transatlantic alliance. 
Lithuania's accession to the European Union last year gives 
the U.S. a friend in that forum on the question of the 
mission and operation of ESDP.  The Lithuanian government 
views NATO as the guarantor of its security, not ESDP, and 
shares our view that ESDP should work within the Berlin Plus 
framework, increasing European military capabilities, while 
avoiding duplication.  ESDP should, they believe, eschew an 
autonomous headquarters and a Europe-only mutual defense 
¶4. (C) Lithuania has approximately 240 soldiers deployed in 
support of U.S. or NATO-led operations around the world. 
Lithuania currently has 24 service personnel deployed to 
Afghanistan in support of ISAF.  In Iraq, there are 116 
Lithuanian soldiers serving under Danish and Polish command 
conducting patrols in each sector, assisting in maintaining 
public order, and involved with rebuilding and reconstruction 
efforts.  The British, Danish and Polish commanders have all 
commended Lithuanian soldiers' skills and professionalism. 
The Lithuanian Parliament has committed to support this 
deployment through the end of 2005.  Lithuanian soldiers have 
also performed admirably as peacekeepers in the Balkans, 
where 100 soldiers are contributing to the increasing 
stability of this region.  In addition, one Lithuanian 
soldiers serves with the EUFOR Staff in EU Operation Althea 
(Bosnia) and one officer serves on the OSCE Border Monitoring 
Mission in Georgia.    The Lithuanian Parliament, in late 
2003, voted to extend the 
Iraqi mission through calendar year 2004. 
¶5.  (C) Until recently, Lithuania maintained a 40-man Special 
Operations Squadron in Afghanistan.  The country,s SOF 
soldiers have received high marks and praise from the U.S. 
SOF troops on the ground as well as from the CENTCOM staff. 
Unfortunately, they are a small force and the GOL was forced 
to bring them home to prepare for their upcoming inclusion in 
NATO,s NRF-5 and NRF-6 rotations.  The Ministry of Defense 
has committed to return the SOF contribution to CENTCOM,s 
AOR in 2006, upon completion of those commitments.  More 
recently, the GOL agreed to lead a Provincial Reconstruction 
Team in the western province of Ghowr (see para 7). 
Something To Prove 
¶6.  (C) Kirkilas, a post-communist Social Democrat with close 
links to Prime Minister Brazauskas, replaced defense 
technocrat Linas Linkevicius as Defense Minister when the new 
government took power in December.  Eager to overcome popular 
perceptions of inexperience in defense matters, he plunged 
into high-level activism that has only improved our already 
strong defense relationship.  As other European allies waver 
on how long they will stay in Iraq, Kirkilas has repeatedly 
told the parliament and public that Lithuania has an 
important obligation to remain in Iraq as long as the U.S. 
requests its support, and he has been a vocal advocate of 
NATO's Iraq training mission.  He overcame heavy skepticism 
in prodding the government and parliament to volunteer the 
Afghan PRT.  He has strongly encouraged internal reform to 
make Lithuania's military a better fit to NATO requirements, 
and energized Lithuania's deployment to the NATO Reaction 
Force.  Kirkilas has also been a missionary of democracy, 
urging stronger and 
more active military links to democratizing forces from 
Belarus to central Asia.  On Russia, he has scrupulously 
avoided the common Baltic temptation to grandstand against 
Russian aims in the region, instead focusing on building a 
transparent and constructive security relationship with 
Lithuania's giant neighbor. 
Agenda for Washington 
¶7.  (C) Kirkilas will likely seek the following in his 
meeting with you and other Administration officials during 
his Washington visit: 
-- Afghanistan PRT:  The Ministry,s primary focus at this 
time is standing up the Lithuanian-led Provincial 
Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan.  Lithuania agreed to 
establish and lead a PRT in the Western province of Ghowr, 
based in the town of Chaghcharan.  At the same time, the GOL 
made it clear that it would require significant assistance 
from NATO allies to accomplish the mission (refs A and B). 
While Kirkilas and his team are pursuing support requests 
through SHAPE (with the generous help and attention of 
General Jones), they are eager for clear expressions of 
senior U.S. support for their efforts. 
-- Iraq:  Kirkilas will repeat Lithuania's commitment to 
remain shoulder to shoulder with us in Iraq, but will also be 
eager for your vision of the Mission's direction in the year 
ahead.  He is in the process of preparing new appeals to the 
Parliament to authorize troop deployments and will want your 
advice on what Lithuania could best contribute within its 
limited resources. 
-- Military Assistance:  Lithuanians are keen to obtain as 
large a share as possible of the proposed Coalition 
Solidarity Funds now under consideration in the Congress to 
help finance their activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
-- Democracy Support:  Kirkilas, like Lithuania in general, 
is eager to work in support of democracy in the former Soviet 
states.  He will be eager to hear your thoughts on how best 
Lithuania can support military transformation and 
strengthening of transatlantic ties in Ukraine and Georgia. 
He will brief you on Lithuania's intention to host a 
NATO-Ukraine Defense Ministerial consultation in Vilnius on 
October 28.  He may also brief you on Lithuania's interest in 
pursuing mid-level contacts with Belarusian military officers 
to empower them as agents of democratic change. 
-- NATO Air Policing:  For political more than practical 
reasons, the NATO Air Policing mission in the Baltics is 
extremely important to the Ministry of Defense and Lithuanian 
society as a whole.  While supporting U.S.- and NATO-led 
military operations with troop deployments to regions of 
little importance to the average Lithuanian, the GOL can 
point to the Air Policing operations as the only tangible 
proof that membership in NATO has benefits as well as costs 
and that the alliance is prepared to fulfill its obligations 
to secure its member states.  Ministry officials can be 
expected to voice their support of and gratitude for 
continued air policing in the Baltics.  They are aware, 
however, of the U.S. position that this is an interim measure 
and that NATO must decide what the long-term solution to 
airspace security in the Baltics will be. 
-- Future of NATO:  Recent suggestions by Schroeder and 
others that NATO may be losing its relevance as the principal 
transatlantic security forum have rattled Lithuanian 
policymakers.  Kirkilas will be eager to hear U.S. views on 
the question. 
-- Lithuanian facilities:  During his visit to Washington 
last year, then-Minister Linkevicius offered Zokniai Airbase 
in Siauliai (site of the current NATO air policing mission) 
for any appropriate U.S. needs, such as a role in the 
ballistic missile defense system.  The Lithuanian government 
understands that BMDO will visit Poland to discuss basing 
possibilities, and remain interested in U.S. reaction to its 
earlier proposal, which remains unanswered from the U.S. 
Strengthening Our Alliance 
¶8.  (C) Lithuania is a small country, but its extraordinary 
diplomatic and military activism in recent years and strong 
affinity for the U.S. make it a valuable advocate of our 
interests in European security questions.  I encourage you to 
pay warm tribute to Kirkilas's leadership on Iraq, 
Afghanistan and other issues of importance to us, while 
encouraging him and his colleagues in government to adopt a 
higher profile in European discussions of these issues.  I 
also encourage you to offer all appropriate support and 
encouragement for Lithuania's brave volunteer effort in 
Afghanistan, and for its continuing outreach to Russia and 
other former Soviet states.  Investing support and 
encouragement in this friendliest of allies will continue to 
pay rich dividends for our interests from Brussels to Kabul.