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Cablegate: Australian Iraq Deployment Requirements Dependent

VZCZCXRO6069
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHBY #1603/01 3060634
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 020634Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY CANBERRA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8507
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBN/AMCONSUL MELBOURNE 4661
RUEHDN/AMCONSUL SYDNEY 2832
RUEHBAD/AMCONSUL PERTH 2954

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CANBERRA 001603

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/01/2017
TAGS: MARR MOPS PREL AS PM
SUBJECT: AUSTRALIAN IRAQ DEPLOYMENT REQUIREMENTS DEPENDENT
ON ELECTION OUTCOME

REF: STATE 150164

Classified By: Ambassador Robert D. McCallum for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d
).

1. (C) Australia's requirements to deploy forces to Iraq
following expiry of the MNF-I mandate will depend heavily on
which party forms the government following the November 24
election. The Liberal/National Coalition government under
Prime Minister John Howard has been solidly behind the
mission in Iraq and would likely find it easier to reach a
political decision to continue its participation under most
scenarios envisioned reftel, but likely would transition its
combat role in southern Iraq to a training role in the short
term. The opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP) led by
Kevin Rudd, on the other hand, has pledged to remove all
Australian combat troops from Iraq gradually and in close
consultation with the United States, if his party wins the
election. Rudd, currently well ahead in the polls, would
need political cover in order to move forward with any future
deployments, probably including a new Chapter VII UN Security
Council resolution. Both parties are likely to prefer to
keep Australia forces under U.S. command and under the
umbrella of a U.S.-negotiated agreement.

--------------------------
A LIBERAL PARTY GOVERNMENT
--------------------------

2. (C) In the event the Liberal/National Coalition is
returned for a fifth term in the November 24 election, we
would expect PM Howard to continue his strong,
conviction-driven support of the mission in Iraq. Of the
scenarios offered reftel, we believe that John Howard would
prefer for Australia to act as a full participant in any
negotiation and agreement the United States makes with Iraq
regarding the continuing presence of troops beyond the
lifespan of UNSCRs 1546 and 1723. In this eventuality, a
Howard government would likely want to keep its forces under
U.S. command. The PM has made clear, however, that he wishes
to have combat troops in the Overwatch Battle Group succeeded
by military trainers as soon as possible. The decision to
join in any U.S. negotiation could be made relatively quickly
by the National Security Committee of Cabinet, probably
within weeks. As Australia's deployment of troops to
Afghanistan and later Iraq was based on the U.S. and
Australian September 14, 2001, invocation of the mutual
defense provision (Article IV) of the ANZUS Treaty, there are
no major legal impediments to continued deployment of troops
to Iraq. (see also para 6 on war-making powers.)

3. (C) Howard would likely prefer but not require a generic
United Nations (non-chapter VII) call to support Iraq in
order to move forward with post UNSCR troop involvement in
Iraq. Despite his strong commitment, however, he likely will
follow the lead of the United States, if we commence a
drawdown of forces, and to transition the current combat
elements to a training role.

------------------------
A LABOR PARTY GOVERNMENT
------------------------

4. (C) ALP Leader Rudd has pledged to withdraw the 550
Australian combat troops comprising the Overwatch Battle
Group in Southern Iraq in the event of a Labor victory,
leaving approximately 1,000 defense force personnel in and
around Iraq, including a joint security task force in Baghdad
that provides security for the Australian diplomatic mission,
Qthat provides security for the Australian diplomatic mission,
and naval and air patrols in the Gulf. Rudd has insisted
that he would not withdraw Australian combat troops
precipitously but gradually and in coordination with the
United States and the Iraqi governments. He has indicated he
would allow a further six-month rotation, if he should be
elected, leaving current troops in place at least until
August 2008, and may replace combat forces with trainers and
other security personnel.

5. (C) It is unlikely that Rudd would be inclined to support
continued deployment of Australian troops to Iraq in the
absence of a clear UN Chapter VII mandate and as part of a
multi-national force. On the other hand, he is committed to
the alliance with the United States, and has committed to
maintenance of an expeditionary capability that can assist
Australia's allies and the United Nations globally. In the

CANBERRA 00001603 002 OF 002


event an ALP government can be persuaded to deploy additional
forces to Iraq after expiry of the current UNSCs, we believe
a Rudd government would accept allowing the U.S. to negotiate
an agreement with the Iraqi government on its behalf and
would prefer to keep Australian defense forces under U.S.
command.

------------------------
HOW THE DECISION IS MADE
------------------------

6. (U) War-making powers are not clearly spelled out in the
Australian Constitution. In practice, the Prime Minister and
Cabinet have assumed that power, including deploying military
forces overseas, with discretion to put the issue to
Parliament for debate. On matters of great national import a
parliamentary vote is usually called, but because the
executive is drawn from the majority party or coalition in
Parliament, the vote generally would correspond closely to
the decision of the National Security Committee of Cabinet.

MCCALLUM

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