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Cablegate: U.S./Greece Mil-to-Mil Cooperation: The Good, The

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DE RUEHTH #0896/01 1761209
ZNY SSSSS ZZH (CCY ADX00A9DC35 MSI8294)
O 241209Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2048
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/NAVSUPPACT SOUDA BAY GR PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMUSNAVEUR NAPLES IT PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0342

S E C R E T ATHENS 000896

SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y - CLASSIFICATION UPGRADED


E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/23/2018
TAGS: MASS MOPS MARR PREL PGOV GR
SUBJECT: U.S./GREECE MIL-TO-MIL COOPERATION: THE GOOD, THE
BAD, AND THE NECESSARY

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Tom Countryman.
REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).

------------------------
SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION
------------------------

1. (C) The U.S.-Greece bilateral relationship is facing a
particularly difficult time, as Washington and Athens have
differing views on issues such as the Macedonian name, the
independence of Kosovo, and relations with Russia. However,
the U.S./Greek military-to-military relationship and the work
between our law enforcement and security officials has, thus
far, remained strong. Given more difficult bilateral
relations, there is a danger that the mil-to-mil relationship
could become a casualty. We believe our strong mil-to-mil
relationship pays important dividends, and our goal is to
support and strengthen it. Thi message is designed to lay
out the current sate of the mil-to-mil relationship
--listing oth positives and the "irritants" we face. It
also lays out our recommendations for further mil-to-mil
engagement, to try to ensure that this fundamental aspect of
our relationship is undamaged. END SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION

--------------------------------------------- ------
THE GOOD - POSITIVES IN THE MIL-TO-MIL RELATIONSHIP
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (C) The United States and Greece have a long, shared
history in defense cooperation, rooted in the Marshall Plan,
the Truman Doctrine, and the Cold War when our assistance
helped keep Greece in the West and away from the yoke of
communism. The Greeks currently tend to overstate both their
contributions and their importance to the United States, and
there is no need to accept the Greek hyperbole. But some of
the facts of this cooperation speak for themselves.

3. (S) Some of Greece's key contributions are:

--Souda Bay: Souda Bay is the U.S. Navy's most important
strategic location in the Eastern Mediterranean. A wide
variety of U.S. and NATO operations in the Middle East and
the Mediterranean depend on this facility in Crete. The GOG
has proven to be a very cooperative partner at Souda Bay,
though it does not advertise this for domestic political
reasons. We are not aware of any Greek restrictions at any
time on access, overflight, or deployment of even the most
sensitive military assets at Souda Bay.

--Blanket overflight clearances: In the aftermath of 9/11,
the Greek Ministry of Defense has granted blanket overflight
clearances for all U.S. military aircraft that pass through
Greek airspace in support of operations in Afghanistan and
Iraq. Over the last two years the total number of overflight
clearances has averaged 28,000 per year.

--U.S.-Greece Joint Commission: The bilateral committee that
deals with political-military issues, including relations
between Souda Bay and the GOG, holds professional and
business-like meetings every six months and is co-chaired by
a MFA representative and the Deputy Chief of Mission.

--KFOR: Greek military forces are important contributors to
KFOR; we understand they have volunteered to help patrol in
the North to assuage ethnic Serb community concerns.
According to the latest SHAPE statistics, Greece currently
has 655 personnel deployed in Kosovo.

--OAE: Greece is the one of the top three NATO countries
with troops supporting Operation Active Endeavor (OAE) --
NATO's only Article 5 operation that is patrolling the
Mediterranean to combat terrorism. Greece provides 110 out
of a total 652 deployed on OAE. The Greeks have provided two
frigates, one fast-attack craft, extensive P-3 air support
and significant logistic and staff support at every command
level.

--Lebanon: In 2006, the Greek military was among the first
on the scene with aircraft and ships to help evacuate
expatriates, including Americans, several days before the
U.S. was able to react. In 2007, Greece donated a
significant amount of artillery ammunition to Lebanon valued
at USD 1.2M, in response to an urgent U.S. and Lebanese
request. They have also provided two ships as part of the


UNIFIL Maritime Component.

--ISAF: Besides the 144 servicemen deployed in Afghanistan,
Greece has contributed USD 64M to Afghanistan with another
USD 7.5M allocated.

--Iraq: Though Greece does not have any troops in Iraq, in
2005 and 2006 they donated 100 former East German Qit
program allowing 284

U.S. naval vessels to
visit 12 Greek ports over the last two years.

--------------------------------------------- -----
The BAD - IRRITANTS IN THE MIL-TO-MIL RELATIONSHIP
--------------------------------------------- -----

4. (S) Despite the long history between the U.S. and Greece,
there have been several issues which have been a source of
friction:

-- Aegean Issues: The Turks and the Greeks have long
disagreed about the demilitarized status of certain islands
in the Aegean, and both sides use the disputes to seek to
"score points" against the other. In many cases, there are
legitimate legal disputes between Greece and Turkey about a
given island's status, and NATO has rightly taken the
position that it cannot adjudicate a dispute between Allies,
and therefore will not provide NATO support to any planned
exercises in those areas.

More recently, however, Greece has sought to challenge recent
and specious Turkish claims that the island of Agios
Efstratios (AE) is also demilitarized by seeking NATO support
for an exercise including overflight of AE. Septel will
provide additional detail on this issue, but the Greeks
believe the United States' recommendation, when asked for
advice by the NATO SG, not/not to support a planned May 2008
exercise due to Turkish threats to intercept Greek aircraft
fying under NATO command and control -- was the decisive
factor in withdrawal of NATO air support.

-- Macedonia Name: Greeks consider the unmodified use of
"Macedonia" by their neighbor to the north as a usurpation of
their heritage and warn that it could encourage irredentism
towards Greece's northern province of the same name. The
popular perception, including in the government and
throughout the Greek military, is that Skopje has been
"intransigent" in negotiations, as a direct result of
"unquestioned support from Washington." At the NATO Summit
in Bucharest in April, Greece blocked the invitation of
Macedonia into the Alliance. Both the United States and
Greece were left with a disappointment, which has clouded the
general relationship. The common Greek perception is to see
any unwelcome decision from Washington as "punishment" for
the veto, which tends to make MFA and MOD less responsive to
our requests, large and small. To cite one important
example, we suspect PM Karamanlis may defer any decision on
procurement of American military equipment because he would
likely find it difficult to defend such a decision with the
Greek public at this time.

-- Afghanistan: Greece is underperforming in Afghanistan.
Greece's regional caveat, limiting Greek military forces to a
60-kilometer radius from Kabul, is high on SHAPE's list of
impediments to effective NATO operations in Afghanistan. At
every opportunity and level, we have encouraged the Greeks to
contribute more (particularly OMLTs, and helicopters) to the
war effort and to remove the regional caveat. In response,
the Greeks offered an OMLT (limited to Kabul); are
considering how they might support a Provincial
Reconstruction Teams (PRT); have offered to redeploy a
military medical unit; and have expressed willingness to take
over operations of Kabul Airport. These are all positive
steps -- but it is not nearly enough.

-- Russia: Over the last several months, PM Karamanlis has
accelerated his long-term project of developing closer ties
with Moscow. This is evident in recent deals on energy

pipelines, but also in stepped-up high-level visits,
increasing cultural ties, and Greek purchases of Russian
military equipment. The latter includes, most notably,
signature on a deal for Greek purchase of several hundred
Russian armored personnel carriers (BMPs). The BMP purchase
neither advances Greece's NATO interoperability, nor improves
Greek defense capabilities, and was not recommended by the
Hellenic military. The Greek political leadership has often
made procurement decisions on political criteria, so the
purchase of Russian BMPs for criteria other than military
necessity is not unprecedented, but it is disturbing. In
addition to our concerns about NATO interoperability,
however, we are also concerned that GOG moves toward Russia
may draw Greece into a relationship that it is ill-equipped
to manage.

--IMET: The Greeks are disappointed that U.S. International
Military Education and Training (IMET) funds for Greece have
been drastically reduced from USD 540,000 in 2008 to USD
100,000 in 2009. U.S. military training is a highly valued
commodity with Hellenic armed forces personnel and is
probably the most effective of our defense cooperation
activities. We expect Greece to send more military personnel
to other countries for training, with a probable concomitant
increase in those nations' influence with the Greek armed
forces.

----------------------------------
THE NECESSARY - FURTHER ENGAGEMENT
----------------------------------

5. (C) From our perspective, our mil-to-mil relationship --
although imperfect -- does yield results. Our goal is to
support it and strengthen it. In a Greek context, this means
increased engagement, preferably on a personal level. In
many fields, our cooperation with the Greeks depends more on
personal relationships than any institutional ties we might
develop. Getting the Greek3 to "yes" on difficult issues
generally requires a good argument coupled with cajoling and
schmoozing. The Greeks are susceptible to flattery and quick
to be offended by a perceived slight. As a result, we
recommend further engagement in a few key areas:

--High-Level Consultative Committee (HLCC): Under the terms
of the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement -- the
U.S.-Greece Agreement defining the terms of our military
presence in Greece -- we should hold an HLCC annually to
conduct a comprehensive, political-level review of our
defense relationship and address any issues that have been
unresolved by the working-levels. The last HLCC was held in
Greece in 2006. It is our turn to host, and the Greeks have
made clear their interest in this political-level meeting.
Although we are skeptical that the next HLCC will result in
any major breakthroughs in any of our outstanding issues, it
can set the stage for progress and will provide great benefit
by demonstrating to the Greeks that we do value our
partnership with them -- something that they seek and that we
can provide at little cost. Furthermore, there is a real
opportunity to resolve outstanding operational issues (such
as obtaining the permits to allow construction of an updated
jet fuel pipeline at Souda Bay).

--Joint Staff and Other Mil-to-Mil Talks: The Greek military
is probably the most pro-American institution in Greece, due
to our shared history and extensive ties. Greek military
officers relish encounters with U.S. counterparts and often
want to have "deliverables" for such encounters. We
understand that the Joint Staff has proposed talks with Greek
counterparts. We want to commend his initiative and
encourage additional simila contacts. We understand that
Greek CHOD Genral Grapsas also seeks to visit Washington in
the Fall. How he is received could go a very long way in
advancing our mil-to-mil relatioship and agenda with the
Greeks.

SPECKHARDBT

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