Viewing cable 08ROME312
Title: AFGHANISTAN: ITALY STRESSES LONG-TERM COMMITMENT

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
08ROME3122008-03-12 11:33:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Rome
VZCZCXRO2684
PP RUEHFL RUEHNP
DE RUEHRO #0312/01 0721133
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 121133Z MAR 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY ROME
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9973
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0401
RUEHTI/AMEMBASSY TIRANA PRIORITY 4319
RUEHMIL/AMCONSUL MILAN PRIORITY 9292
RUEHFL/AMCONSUL FLORENCE PRIORITY 2948
RUEHNP/AMCONSUL NAPLES PRIORITY 3100
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 2924
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ROME 000312 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
OSD-P FOR MADELINE LEPAGE; USNATO FOR COL SANDY GUPTILL 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 3/12/2018 
TAGS: MARR MOPS NATO PREL PINS SNAR AF IT SP LH
SUBJECT: AFGHANISTAN: ITALY STRESSES LONG-TERM COMMITMENT 
AT WEST 4 MEETINGS 
 
REF: STATE 19466 
 
Classified By: Acting Political Minister-Counselor Jonathan Cohen for R 
easons 1.4 (B) and (D) 
 
¶1. (SBU) Summary: Italy hosted a "West 4" meeting of ISAF 
RC-West contributor nations (Italy, Lithuania, Spain and the 
U.S.) in Rome on March 4.  Italian MFA U/S for Asia Gianni 
Vernetti, in his opening address, said that Italy is in 
Afghanistan for the "long haul" in both its civilian and 
military capacity.  Other participant nations made similar 
statements of commitment and demonstrated broad agreement as 
to the priorities and challenges facing their contingents in 
RC-West.  Participants agreed on the importance of the 
"comprehensive approach" to security and reconstruction, the 
continued "Afghanization" of the security mission through the 
training of Afghan security forces, capacity building and 
governance support on the provincial and district level, and 
isolating violent extremists from local populations. The U.S. 
delegation stressed the need to fill the shortfall in OMLTs 
and police mentors, to ensure that embedded trainers play an 
active part in Afghan Army and Police operations, and to 
increase donor contributions in support of upcoming 
elections.  End summary. 
 
Meeting of RC-West Nations Reveals Unity of Views on 
Afghanistan 
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- - 
 
¶2. (SBU) The so-called "West 4" Political-Military 
Consultations, an Italian initiative, is a series of meetings 
between the PRT contributor nations to ISAF Regional 
Command-West, which Italy commands.  The first meeting was 
held in Kabul in February.  Subsequent meetings are planned 
for Kabul and Herat with future meetings with representation 
from capitals only on an as-needed basis. (Note: MFA 
Officials, when briefed on U.S. concerns that the West 4 
proposals not duplicate or undermine existing NATO-ISAF 
mechanisms (Ref A), stressed that this was not their intent 
and that future consultations after the Rome meeting would 
remain informal and Kabul/Herat-based).  Also in attendance 
were delegations from Albania and Slovenia, both of which 
have troops in RC-West.  The Italian MFA is in the process of 
circulating a draft informal statement of conclusions which 
will be forwarded to the Department once completed. 
 
¶3. (SBU) Italian MFA U/S for Asia Gianni Vernetti, in his 
opening address, said that Italy is in Afghanistan for the 
"long haul," in both its civilian and military capacity.  He 
underscored the "broad political consensus" in Italy in favor 
of the mission (as demonstrated by the fact that 85 per cent 
of Parliament voted for the decree refinancing military 
missions abroad on February 26), and asserted that this 
consensus would remain intact regardless of the outcome of 
the April 13-14 Italian General Elections.  He also stressed 
that the RC-West consultations were not meant to set up a 
competing mechanism to existing fora in Brussels and Kabul, 
but rather to ensure better international and interagency 
coordination in the field by strengthening interagency 
coordination in and among capitals.  Among Italy's main 
priorities, Vernetti listed the strengthening of the Police 
and Armed Forces, support for local government and justice 
sector capacity-building programs at the provincial and 
district level, and isolating extremists from the local 
population.  He stressed that success in RC-West will depend 
upon the effective implementation of the "comprehensive 
approach," integrating civilian and military efforts in all 
aspects of the mission. 
 
Fragile Security Situation in All Four Provinces 
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¶4. (C) Italian PolDir Giulio Terzi, Spanish PolDir Dezcallar, 
Lithuanian MoD U/S for Defense Policy Norkus and U.S. 
Department of State Afghanistan Office Director Tim Wilder 
described security challenges in their respective provinces 
(Herat, Baghdis, Ghor and Farah): which include friction 
between local leaders and tribal groups, infiltration of 
 
ROME 00000312  002 OF 003 
 
 
Taliban from RC-South, ties between insurgents and drug 
traffickers, ineffective local government and insufficient 
Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) 
presence.  The Spanish and Lithuanian delegations noted that 
the weak presence of UNAMA in their provinces hampers PRT 
reconstruction efforts, as does the lack of a permanent ANA 
presence.  Italian and U.S. representatives stressed that any 
proposals to increase ANA levels must be coordinated with the 
ANA National Strategy that was approved in the Afghanistan 
Compact.  Both Tim Wilder and Madeline LePage from OSD-Policy 
underscored the need to close the gap between security 
operations and reconstruction, citing the Commanders 
Emergency Response Program (CERP) as a potential model.  They 
described the Focused District Development Program for police 
training and mentoring and encouraged RC-West partners to 
deploy OMLTs alongside their units during operations. 
 
¶5. (C) Italian Defense General Staff Operations and Plans 
Chief Major General Preziosa highlighted the need for 
additional OMLTs in the Farah-based Second Brigade of the 
207th ANA Corps as well as for increased police training for 
the ANP and Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP) (Note: 
these are both areas where Italian officials have suggested 
they may be able to do more).  Italy is considering sending 
Mobile Artillery and Engineer Training Teams to Herat as 
well, under the CSTC-A framework.  The Spanish delegation 
said that Spain will provide a Forward Support Base at a 
former Soviet base in Qal-e-Naw to train an ANA kandak 
(battalion) and will sponsor the training and equipping of 
one ANA unit.  Spain also noted plans to set up "PRT 
satellite centers" in the north if the ANA provides force 
protection. 
 
¶6. (C) Dezcallar said that in Spain's view Iran has been a 
"stabilizing influence" in Baghdis, building schools and 
infrastructure.  Considering that Iran has a problem with 
opiate trafficking from Afghanistan, ISAF should consider 
engaging Iran to optimize its positive influence and minimize 
its negative tendencies.  Wilder stressed that Iranian 
involvement was a complex issue that might not be appropriate 
for this forum, and that Iran's contribution was mixed at 
best, due to its expulsion of Afghan refugees, the appearance 
of Iranian-supplied weapons in insurgent-held areas, and 
trade practices that were undercutting local producers. 
 
¶7. (C) All delegations stressed the importance of getting the 
EUPOL mission off the ground.  Lithuania had withdrawn its 
police trainers from Ghor in the expectation that they would 
be replaced by EUPOL, but that has not happened.  Italy, 
which has 16 Carabinieri and Financial Police officers 
assigned to EUPOL, noted that the EUPOL mission at the PRT in 
Herat is focused exclusively on mentoring, not training. 
Italy also has 14 Financial Police training Afghan Border 
Police in Herat outside of the EUPOL framework.  Italy, Spain 
and Lithuania all stressed the importance of disaster 
preparedness training for local governments in the wake of 
the winter 2007-2008 snowfall emergencies. 
 
Support to Provincial Governance/Justice Sector: Importance 
of the IDLG 
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- - - - - 
 
¶8. (SBU) Italian MFA Special Envoy for Afghanistan Sergio 
Mercuri said that Italy's aid focus is shifting towards 
building local government capacity and invited other RC-West 
members to consider pooling their funding in support of the 
Afghan Government's Independent Directorate for Local 
Government (IDLG).  Italian MFA Justice Reform Coordinator 
Rosario Aitala stressed that local governance and justice 
reform were "two sides of the same coin," and that if local 
governments fail to provide services the population will turn 
to the Taliban.  The GoA had committed to formulating a 
National Justice Plan at the Rome Rule of Law Conference in 
July 2007; the resulting plan, unveiled at the Tokyo JCMB 
meeting last February, was robust and realistic.  He 
encouraged all RC-West members to contribute to it via the 
Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).  Italy has funded a 
train-the-trainers program for Afghan judges in 12 provinces 
 
ROME 00000312  003 OF 003 
 
 
including Herat, and is looking into working with the Focused 
District Development program to provide judicial training in 
Farah. 
 
Comment 
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¶9. (C) From the Italian perspective, the RC-West meeting was 
a success.  The GOI not only demonstrated and declared its 
long-term commitment to Afghanistan, but was able to display 
an in-depth knowledge of local realities and challenges that 
is not always apparent in the public pronouncements of 
Italian officials.  Despite the high-level representation on 
the part of the Italian, Spanish and Lithuanian delegations, 
their presentations were substantive rather than generic. 
Contrary to public statements that have been made in the past 
by senior-level Italian politicians, the participants never 
suggested that there was any NATO responsibility for civilian 
casualties or insufficient OEF-ISAF coordination.  From the 
U.S. perspective, the results were encouraging because all 
participants agreed on the fundamental importance of the 
comprehensive approach, ANA and ANP training and mentoring, 
the need to partner with provincial and district officials to 
enhance local governance, and the core principles of 
counterinsurgency, including the need to separate insurgents 
from the population. 
 
¶10. (U) SCA/A Director Tim Wilder has cleared this message. 
 
SPOGLI