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Cablegate: Response to Request for Guidance On Latvia,S

VZCZCXRO0926
OO RUEHIK RUEHPOD RUEHYG
DE RUEHC #2295 1891255
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 071300Z JUL 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHRA/AMEMBASSY RIGA IMMEDIATE 0295
INFO NATO EU COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS STATE 072295

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: LG MARR NATO PGOV PREL MASS
SUBJECT: RESPONSE TO REQUEST FOR GUIDANCE ON LATVIA,S
WAVERING ON STRATEGIC AIR CONSORTIUM (SAC)

REF: RIGA 391

1. (U) This is an action request - see Para 2.
Department requests that post provide Latvian
response via front channel message.

2. (SBU) In response to reftel request for guidance,
Department provides the following points for post to raise at
the earliest opportunity with the Latvian government
concerning Latvia,s continued participation in NATO,s
Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC). This language has been
cleared by the Department of Defense.

Talking Points
--------------
-- At the Bucharest Summit, all NATO Heads of State and
Government reaffirmed the transformational nature of the
Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) and its importance to NATO
and individual Allies. Since that time, ten nations,
including Latvia's immediate NATO neighbors, have signed the
SAC Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
-- We value the participation by nations such as Latvia in
the SAC Consortium. It provides a vehicle for smaller nations
to acquire a vitally needed capability that would be
difficult to acquire on their own. It embodies the principle
of burden sharing which is essential to NATO's continued
viability.
-- Latvia and other European members of SAC will benefit
significantly from this program. It promises to provide each
participant with the capability to project influence
globally; build skill sets alongside U.S. airmen; improve
national lift capabilities; and enable Allies to provide a
critical and badly needed capability to NATO.
-- On (long term) cost and capability basis, the C-17
provided through SAC far exceeds capabilities other strategic
lift options (e.g. renting Ukrainian lift) could provide to
Latvia.
-- We hope you consider all these benefits and agree that the
Latvian share of investment and running costs would be money
well spent. We understand the financial challenges involved
in participation, but would point out that there has been no
change in estimated costs since the SAC MOU was released in
February. The individual item costs are not static, but the
Cost Target and Cost Ceiling are set in the MOU. We look
forward to your decision enabling the SAC to succeed.
(If raised)
-- If Latvian officials make the argument that the USG is
motivated by the prospect of providing business to a U.S.
firm, please point out that: 1) the modest additional
business (2 out of more than 210 confirmed orders) for Boeing
resulting from SAC provides relatively little benefit to the
USG (in terms of reduced prices for our C-17s); and 2) the
USG remains open to future participation of additional
nations, with non-U.S. airframes, in the SAC.
(If pressed only)
-- We appreciate that Latvia,s defense budget, while nowhere
near the size of ours, is still a huge sum for Latvia, but
part of the responsibility of NATO membership is that each
nation helps provide the resources and capabilities needed to
execute Alliance missions.
-- It would be very disappointing if this entire
multinational effort to provide a strategic NATO capability
required for ISAF and other operations came undone because
Latvia could not support its relatively small flying hour
commitment (and associated cost share).
RICE

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