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Cablegate: Codel Smith Discusses Iraq and Counterterrorism

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLO #1224/01 1221156
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 011156Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8446
INFO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0631
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 0809
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0670
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JCS WASHDC

S E C R E T LONDON 001224

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

H PLEASE PASS TO CODEL SMITH

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/30/2018
TAGS: PGOV PTER PREL AF PK IZ UK
SUBJECT: CODEL SMITH DISCUSSES IRAQ AND COUNTERTERRORISM
IISSUES WITH MOD, MI-6, AND DFID OFFICIALS Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Maura Connelly for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (S/NF) Summary. On the heels of their trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Codel Smith traveled to London April 29 for meetings with senior officials at the Ministry of Defense (MOD), MI-6, and Department for International Development (DfID). The MOD and MI-6 talks focused on counterterrorism and counter-insurgency issues; the DfID meeting examined UK views on consolidating foreign aid (septel). Deputy Chief of Defense Staff (DCDS) Lt. General Peter Wall told the Codel that, regarding Iraq policy, the UK and USG would be "in together, out together" in both political and military terms. Wall said the recent Iraq military operation in Basrah "surprised everyone," but told the Codel he was impressed by the Iraqi military's overall effectiveness on the ground despite the absence of "any sort of workable military planning beforehand." The MI-6 XXXXXXXXXXXX told the Codel that the internal threat in the UK is growing more dangerous because extremists are conducting non-lethal training without ever leaving the country and, should they turn operational, HMG intelligence resources, eavesdropping and surveillance assets would be hard pressed to find them on any "radar screen." End summary.

MOD Meeting: Iraq
-----------------

2. (S) Representatives Adam Smith, Mac Thornberry, Gabrielle Giffords, Bill Shuster, and Mike Conaway, joined by staff and Poloff, received a comprehensive MOD briefing on counterterrorism and counter-insurgency issues from Lt. General Peter Wall, DCDS, joined by XXXXXXXXXXXX, and XXXXXXXXXXXX. General Wall described how UK special operations fit into the larger combat picture in Iraq and Afghanistan, while pointing out some of the peculiarities affecting HMG special operations policies and tactics. Unlike the U.S. situation, for example, EU legislation sometimes impedes the UK military from taking action in joint operations areas. LTG Wall told the Codel that a comprehensive UK review of the U.S. "detention and exploitation" system fully meets HMG legal requirements and has been given a "100-percent clean bill of health." As a result, he expects a Memorandum of Understanding to be finalized on this issue very soon with the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

3. (S) Wall admitted that the recent Iraq military operation in Basrah instigated by Prime Minister Maliki "surprised everyone." Nevertheless, he was impressed by the Iraqi military's rapid movement and overall effectiveness despite the absence of "any sort of workable military planning beforehand." In Wall's view, Iraqi Government forces now feel emboldened and the Sadrists were weakened by the Basrah operations. He surmised that Maliki may now attempt to "pull another rabbit out of his hat" and conduct a similar foray in Baghdad itself; success, however, remains uncertain. Wall acknowledged that although the U.S. presidential election in November complicates HMG's short-term Iraq planning and policy options, as far as the long-term picture in Iraq is concerned, the UK and the U.S. would be "in together, out together" both politically and militarily.

MOD Meeting: Afghanistan
------------------------

4. (S) Overall, Wall assessed that counter-narcotics is the biggest problem the UK faces in Afghanistan, not counter-insurgency. The need to institutionalize the Rule of Law and change individual behavior must be coupled with "winning the hearts and minds" of Afghan moderates before anyone can expect progress in overturning the cultivation of, and trade in, illicit narcotics, Wall told the Codel.

MI-6 Meeting
------------

5. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX, MI-6 Special Intelligence Service (SIS) XXXXXXXXXXXX, expressed to the Codel HMG's gratitude for the USG's collective counterterrorism efforts with the UK, and underscored to the Codel how closely the SIS follows U.S. legislative debates over issues such as FISA because of the direct impact they have on U.S. intelligence sharing and the UK's own approach to the domestic CT threat. XXXXXXXXXXXX highlighted five areas that HMG uses to monitor and "explain its CT threat," and three of these five are wholly or largely dependent on the USG for assistance (from intelligence sharing via CIA liaison, detention and interviews, and Signals Intelligence sharing through the National Security Agency).

6. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX told the Codel the UK faces "external" threats like many other European countries and, simultaneously, an "internal home-grown" threat from British nationals such as those involved in the July, 2005 London bombings. The fact that HMG faces both threats at the same time makes the UK's situation "uniquely challenging." Moreover, the internal threat is growing more dangerous because some extremists are conducting non-lethal training without ever leaving the country. Should these extremists then decide to become suicide operatives, HMG intelligence resources, eavesdropping and surveillance would be hard pressed to find them on any "radar screen." XXXXXXXXXXXX described this as a "generational" problem that will not go away anytime soon.

7. (U) Codel Smith did not have the opportunity to clear this cable before leaving post. XXXXXXXXXXXX TUTTLE 0 05/01/2008 5729 PGOV,PTER,PREL,AF,PK,IZ,UK On the heels of their trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Codel Smith traveled to London April 29 for meetings with senior officials at the Ministry of Defense (MOD), MI-6, and Department for International Development (DfID). The MOD and MI-6 talks focused on counterterrorism and counter-insurgency issues; the DfID meeting examined UK views on consolidating foreign aid (septel). Deputy Chief of Defense Staff (DCDS) Lt. General Peter Wall told the Codel that, regarding Iraq policy, the UK and USG would be "in together, out together" in both political and military terms. Wall said the recent Iraq military operation in Basrah "surprised everyone," but told the Codel he was impressed by the Iraqi military's overall effectiveness on the ground despite the absence of "any sort of workable military planning beforehand." The MI-6 XXXXXXXXXXXX told the Codel that the internal threat in the UK is growing more dangerous because extremists are conducting non-lethal training without ever leaving the country and, should they turn operational, HMG intelligence resources, eavesdropping and surveillance assets would be hard pressed to find them on any "radar screen." End summary.

MOD Meeting: Iraq
-----------------

2. (S) Representatives Adam Smith, Mac Thornberry, Gabrielle Giffords, Bill Shuster, and Mike Conaway, joined by staff and Poloff, received a comprehensive MOD briefing on counterterrorism and counter-insurgency issues from Lt. General Peter Wall, DCDS, joined by XXXXXXXXXXXX

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