UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 000005
STATE FOR EUR/NB, EUR/RPM, AND PM
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MASS MARR PREL LH
SUBJECT: Lithuania's Acquisition of Night Vision Devices:
A Two-Tiered NATO?
Â¶1. (U) This is an action request. Please see para 8.
Â¶2. A U.S. vendor of advanced Night Vision Devices (NVDs)
recently advised the Lithuanian government that its
acquisition contravenes de facto USG policy. The
apparent policy to deny new NATO members these devices
limits the effectiveness of Lithuanian soldiers serving
in Iraq and elsewhere; creates divisions that corrode the
cohesiveness of the NATO alliance; and ignores
Lithuania's stellar track record of controlling its stock
of less advanced U.S.-supplied NVDs. End Summary.
Background: Two-tiered NATO?
Â¶3. On November 25, 2004, a representative from the
Lithuanian Defense Staff contacted us regarding
Lithuania's efforts to acquire a level of Night Vision
Devices (NVDs) through a Direct Commercial Sales
contract. Other NATO nations have acquired these
devices. Lithuania's J4 informed us that, as a result of
an inquiry for the acquisition of NVDs, ITT corporation
(the leading U.S. NVD manufacturer) told the Lithuanian
Defense Staff that there was a de facto two-tiered NVD
release to NATO nations for U.S. manufactured NVDs (see
para 5 for text).
Â¶4. Lithuania plans to use the NVDs requested to support
troops deployed in Iraq, those currently preparing to
join the U.S.-led NATO Reaction Force-5, and future
deployments in Afghanistan. Post has previously
supported the acquisition of Generation III NVDs as well
as advanced communications devices such as the PRC-117 as
well as the release of COMSEC 1 for tactical radios,
which SOCOM deems essential for full interoperability
with US forces.
Â¶5. Text of ITT letter follows:
We understand you have received inquiries concerning the
possibility of Lithuania receiving night vision equipment
with a FOM of 1600. Decisions on the performance levels
of exports are made by the Government of the United
States and these decisions are made on a case-by-case
basis for night vision equipment. We can report to you
only what our experience has been so far, since we have
no basis for knowing for certain what decisions will be
made on future export applications.
With this preface, above, here is what we know right now:
For the new NATO countries the exportable FOM has been
limited to 1250, maximum. We see this limit written in
the provisos of recently-approved export licenses. We
have no knowledge of any change planned for that maximum.
The old NATO countries, including Poland, Hungary and the
Czech Republic, have been limited to 1600 FOM, maximum.
Since the resolution of most modern image intensifier
tubes is either 64 or 57 line pairs per millimeter, to
stay within the top limit of 1250 FOM the maximum
exportable Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) will be either
19.5 or 21.9, respectively, for the new NATO countries:
19.5 x 64 = 1248.0, 21.9 x 57 = 1248.3.
A Staunch, Active Ally
Â¶6. Lithuania fully supports U.S. policies in the Global
War on Terrorism and staunchly supports Operation
Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The
Lithuanian Parliament, in September 2004, approved a bill
extending its military's participation in Central and
South Asia, the Persian Gulf, and the Balkans.
Lithuanian Special Operations Forces have maintained a
nearly continuous presence in Afghanistan since November
Â¶2002. They rotated out last month, but are committed to
return in 2006. They have also recently committed to
participate in NATO Reaction Forces -5 and -6.
Lithuanians have also served in Kuwait and Iraq since
April 2003, and over 100 Lithuanians are currently in
Iraq. Since 1994, over 1,300 Lithuanians have
participated in Peacekeeping operations in the Balkans.
Over 100 Lithuanian troops serve there now.
A proven track record
Â¶7. Lithuania procured a lower grade of NVDs through an
FMF case in 2003/2004 and employed them in support of OIF
and OEF without any physical security incidents. The
Lithuanian Military received, processed, and inventoried
this equipment in accordance with the terms of the Letter
of Acceptance under the supervision of the Office of
Defense Cooperation. The Chief of the Office of Defense
Cooperation recently inventoried the U.S.-supplied NVDs
located in Afghanistan and Lithuania and found no
security infractions or loss of accountability.
Â¶8. Lithuania's mission need and track record warrant
acceptance of its NVD purchase request. Post requests
that the Department encourage OSD to review USG equipment
release criteria for Lithuania. Ensuring that this
reliable ally can procure the same equipment as other
NATO allies will eliminate the unfortunate perception of
a two-tiered NATO." It will also help our allies,
currently serving in harm's way together with U.S.
troops, to protect themselves and other coalition