Viewing cable 06VILNIUS1119
Title: DEFENSE MINISTER TALKS ABOUT AFGHANISTAN, IRAQ

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06VILNIUS11192006-12-18 10:56:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
VZCZCXYZ0005
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHVL #1119/01 3521056
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 181056Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0867
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 001119 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/14/2016 
TAGS: MARR PREL LH AF
SUBJECT: DEFENSE MINISTER TALKS ABOUT AFGHANISTAN, IRAQ 
DEPLOYMENTS 
 
REF: A. VILNIUS 1110 B. VILNIUS 1032 
 
Classified By: Pol/Econ Chief Rebecca Dunham for reasons 
1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
¶1. (C) Summary.  Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas 
told the Ambassador that the GOL is still considering sending 
Special Operations Forces (SOF) to Afghanistan during their 
December 13 meeting.  He also expressed interest in U.S. 
plans in Iraq, where Lithuania has troops, emphasized the 
importance of NATO's Baltic Air Policing Mission, and asked 
for support as Lithuania prepares to assume financial 
responsibility for its Provincial Reconstruction Team in 
Ghor, Afghanistan.  He also discussed Lithuania's 2007 
defense budget (ref A).  End summary. 
 
Lithuania still considering sending SOF to Afghanistan 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
¶2. (C) Olekas told the Ambassador that there is agreement "on 
the military side" to send Special Operations Forces (SOF) to 
Afghanistan but that "there are still political discussions" 
among the MFA and Presidency about when and where Lithuania 
could send its SOF.  Olekas said that Lithuania is 
negotiating with the UK and Italy about contributing SOF to 
their areas of responsibility.  Lithuania's contribution 
would have to end, he said, before its planned contribution 
of 50 SOF to NATO Response Force 10 (January to July, 2008). 
Responding to earlier reports that Lithuania was seeking a 
deal on Baltic Air Policing in exchange for deploying SOF to 
Afghanistan, Olekas denied that there was any such quid pro 
quo offered by his ministry.  He did say, "When we discuss 
SOF, we also discuss air policing, as these are both things 
that affect the resources of the MOD."  The Ambassador 
encouraged the Minister to deploy the SOF to Afghanistan in 
2007 in order to respond to our common responsibilities in 
NATO. 
 
Asking for Support for PRT Handover 
----------------------------------- 
 
¶3. (C) Olekas asked for U.S. support as Lithuania prepares to 
assume complete financial responsibility for the Ghor 
Province PRT, which the USG will support until the end of 
¶2006.  Although Olekas was not specific about what kind of 
support he wanted, we are aware that the Lithuanian military 
has asked CENTCOM if they can leave some U.S.-owned equipment 
behind.  The Ambassador told Olekas that the U.S. wants to 
see Lithuania succeed with its PRT, and that we are ready and 
able to assist the Lithuanians with advice. 
 
Air policing 
------------ 
 
¶4. (C) Olekas emphasized the importance of NATO's Baltic Air 
Policing mission as a visible symbol of Lithuania's NATO 
membership to the Lithuanian people.  While he noted the 
importance of the mission in relation to aerial incursions 
from Russia and Belarus, he focused primarily on the its 
symbolic value.  "We can go to a village and explain it to an 
old lady," he said, adding that it was the best example to 
show what Lithuania gets from its participation in NATO 
missions abroad.  He reiterated Lithuania's plan to fill 
future air policing rotations before going forward with the 
Baltic States' formal request to extend the mission until 
2018 (ref B). 
 
Iraq 
------ 
 
¶5. (C) Olekas asked about U.S. plans in Iraq, emphasizing 
that the USG's view was important to Lithuania, rather than 
that of the Iraq Study Group or other outside commentators. 
Olekas asked for "a little advance notice" if the USG is 
planning to go public with a new policy.  He implied that 
Lithuania is trying to decide what to do with its troops in 
Iraq, noting its consideration of sending troops to 
Afghanistan and that the Ministry would have to go to 
parliament for a new mandate to keep troops in Iraq through 
¶2008.  (Comment:  Parliament has overwhelmingly defeated 
several motions to withdraw the troops, so we don't see a 
political problem renewing their mandate under current 
circumstances.  At the same time, a close advisor to the 
President recently raised the prospect of a Lithuanian troop 
pullout from Iraq with the Ambassador -- ostensibly to free 
up more troops for missions in Afghanistan-- so the 
possibility is clearly on the minds of GOL policymakers.) 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
¶6. (C) We believe that there is a strong possibility that 
Lithuania will send SOF to Afghanistan in 2007.  We will 
continue to push the GOL not to use NATO as a horse-trading 
venue, but instead to pursue a common strategy to meet our 
common security needs. 
 
¶7.  (C) On Iraq, the GOL is watching the debate in Washington 
and London carefully.  The Lithuanians will discuss future 
troop levels with the Danes and the British, with whom they 
serve in the south. 
CLOUD