Viewing cable 08VILNIUS54
Title: SCENESETTER FOR SECRETARY GATES' VISIT TO LITHUANIA

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
08VILNIUS542008-01-31 08:03:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
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DE RUEHVL #0054/01 0310803
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P 310803Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1947
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000054 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/31/2018 
TAGS: OVIP PGOV PINS MARR LH
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR SECRETARY GATES' VISIT TO LITHUANIA 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Cloud for reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 
 
¶1. (C) Summary and Introduction: Welcome to Lithuania.   Your 
interaction with your hosts during the Informal Meeting of 
NATO Defense Ministers comes at the right time, in the 
perfect setting, to positively impact Lithuanian 
contributions to the GWOT.  As we broadly urge allies to 
increase efforts in ISAF, you have an excellent opportunity 
to highlight the Lithuanian example of active support 
embodied in their PRT and SOF deployments in Afghanistan. 
Your bilateral discussions should focus a politically 
cautious Defense Minister on the need to continue and even 
expand contributions in Afghanistan and to keep the door open 
for future OIF commitments.  You should expect that the 
Lithuanians will inevitably raise a host of secondary topics 
which are adequately addressed in other read-ahead materials. 
 While these issues deserve a brief hearing, they should not 
be allowed to eclipse the hard discussion of troop 
deployments.  Upcoming parliamentary elections will tend to 
distract the attention of the Lithuanian leadership from 
their commitments abroad as they focus on domestic political 
concerns.  Your visit will help to keep our overwhelmingly 
positive bilateral defense relationship productive and 
on-track.  End summary and introduction. 
 
Afghanistan 
----------- 
 
¶2. (C) As you know, Lithuania has been a staunch ally in both 
Afghanistan and Iraq, and Lithuanian officials do not tire of 
hearing our appreciation for this.  Currently, Lithuania has 
approximately 200 troops in Afghanistan; special forces are 
operating in Zabul Province, and Lithuania runs a PRT in 
Ghor.  The GOL's commitment to the PRT is firm through 2010 
and we believe the SOF deployment can be further developed to 
provide ISAF uncaveated combat troops and training 
capabilities in a tough neighborhood. 
 
¶3. (C) We suggest that you urge Minister of Defense Juozas 
Olekas to: expand the current SOF deployment from 55 to 75 
troops; extend the current mission until summer 2009; and 
enhance the mission profile of SOF to include training and 
advising the ANA.  The Lithuanian CHOD, Lieutenant General 
Tutkus, prefers to develop existing deployments rather than 
generate new ones.  He is strongly opposed to creating an 
OMLT but is amenable to the further development of the SOF 
mission to include a training dimension.  Olekas' present 
inclination (in part based on political concerns) is to 
curtail the SOF mission rather than expand it, but his 
position has softened in the past week and we believe your 
intervention may be decisive. 
 
¶4. (C) The PRT has been Lithuania's flagship contribution to 
the GWOT.  They are rightfully proud of their leadership and 
growing self-sufficiency as they have taken on the costs and 
burdens of logistical support from the United States.  Not 
being content simply to raise the Lithuanian colors in Ghor, 
the GOL is actively seeking international donors to augment 
its own limited resources to sponsor development projects. 
This remote region has been relatively secure, although 
Olekas worries that without more visible development and 
reconstruction progress the southern districts could become a 
Taliban sanctuary.  The GOL has asked for our assistance in 
helping them present coherent strategic impact proposals to 
potential donors, such as UAE.  In particular they have 
requested a United States Army Corps of Engineers survey to 
scope the requirements for an East-West transportation 
corridor linking Kabul and Herat through Ghor Province.  You 
should applaud the PRT and offer what assurances you can that 
we will help the Lithuanians help themselves with information 
and advice to initiate development projects. 
 
Iraq 
---- 
 
¶5. (C) Iraq is another story.  Lithuania currently has an 
infantry platoon serving in Al Kut, five staff officers 
working for MNF-I, and four trainers as part of NTM-I. 
While the Lithuanians have served with us in Iraq since 2003, 
it took considerable effort, including the intervention of 
Deputy Secretary England and Deputy Secretary of State 
Negroponte, to convince Olekas to re-commit combat troops 
after th British and Danish reductions last summer.  Olekas 
has publicly stated that the platoon will return to Lithuania 
after the current six-month rotation ends in May.  We 
consider future rotations after the Lithuanian parliamentary 
elections in October unlikely.  Trainers and staff officers 
will remain and could be expanded. 
 
¶6. (C) Olekas claims that public opinion in Lithuania is 
turning against continued involvement in Iraq.  We have not 
seen this trend in any significant measure, but have no doubt 
that casualties would quickly change the political landscape. 
 While our hopes are slim for future Iraq combat commitments, 
we believe it important that you thank Olekas for Lithuania's 
current deployment and remind him that there is still a need 
and an open request for forces in OIF.  Without offending 
Lithuanian sensibilities about making "sovereign" decisions, 
he needs to hear that a decision not to redeploy will not be 
greeted warmly by Washington. 
 
¶7. (C) You will also meet with President Valdas Adamkus. 
Adamkus returned to Lithuania after spending most of his 
adult life in the United States and rising to senior levels 
in EPA.  The President, while constitutionally charged with 
supreme authority over the armed forces, has tried to stay 
above the political fray on deployment issues in the past. 
Nonetheless, he was instrumental in walking back some of 
Olekas' earlier statements which could have precluded the 
current Iraq deployment, and strongly supports close links 
between Lithuania and the U.S.  You should employ the same 
themes in your meetings with both officials.  It will be 
especially effective for Olekas to hear these points twice; 
the second time in the company of the head of state. 
CLOUD