C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000129
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/21/2017
TAGS: MARR MOPS PREL IC AF LH DA HR UK CA NATO
SUBJECT: LITHUANIA SANGUINE ABOUT ICELANDIC PEACEKEEPER
REF: STATE 18578
Classified By: ADCM RDUNHAM FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)
Â¶1. (C) We met with Ambassador-at-Large Gediminas Serksnys
February 20 to encourage the GOL to demarche Iceland against
the withdrawal of its mobile patrol team from Afghanistan at
the end of April 2007. Serksnys expressed only mild
disappointment at the loss of the Mobile Liaison Observation
Team (MLOT). He pointed out that the Icelandic personnel
would not be leaving Ghor, and neither would their equipment.
The team members will merely be "changing their uniforms"
and will instead work on civil reconstruction projects.
Their vehicles will reamain available for use by the PRT.
Â¶2. (C) We asked whether the loss of the specialized driving
skills of the Icelandic team would pose a problem for PRT
Chaghcharan. Ambassador Serksnys was hopeful that new
Croatian drivers might fill this role. Ambassador Serksnys
said that the Croatian contribution to the Ghor PRT is
planned to reach 200 people in 2007 and 300 by 2008.
Serksnys said that he had spoken with military officers on
the ground who said that Icelandic drivers are very good in
the difficult terrain of the region, but that they also had
restrictions that sometimes meant that those capabilities
could not be put to their fullest use. He also said that the
Croats have experience in these types of driving conditions.
Â¶3. (C) According to Serksnys, the GOL focus is clearly on
reconstruction projects that require civilian resources. He
pointed out that much of the threat of instability right now
in the region is posed by poverty, disgruntled poppy farmers,
and a lack of training in the police force. He was convinced
that the new work the Icelandic team would be doing was at
least as important as the patrolling it has done to date.
Furthermore, Serksnys estimated overall contributions from
Iceland would reach $700,000 per year, about half the sum
Lithuania itself provides.
Â¶4. (SBU) On a separate note, Serksnys told us he was happy
with the announcement that the EU would be sending police
officers to help train in the provinces. Serksnys said
police training is a critical area on which to focus. In his
general observation police officers in Afghanistan have low
education levels and the only training they recevie is in
marching. Lithuania has already provided some training in
forensic science and vehicle security checks. The GOL is
currently seeking the resources to be able to provide
training and equipment for a ballistic forensic science
center in the future.