Cablegate: Germany/Afghanistan: November 26-27 Meeting Of


DE RUEHRL #1604/01 3361658
O 011658Z DEC 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L BERLIN 001604


E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2018

B) AND (D).

1. (C) SUMMARY. At a November 26-27 conference in Berlin,
ISAF RC-North Chiefs of Defense and representatives from
SHAPE and JFC Brunssum discussed a wide range of issues,
including the insurgent threat along the border with RC-West,
the requirements for a larger RC-North QRF and support for
next year's presidential election in Afghanistan. They also
discussed the possible establishment of an ANA Engineer
School in Mazar-e-Sharif, the filling of the remaining OMLT
requirements in RC-North, and Germany's ideas for
"Afghanizing" OMLTs. Germany continued to promote its
Provincial Advisory Team concept, while everyone agreed on
the need for PRTs to have robust civilian components to carry
out the comprehensive approach. Finally, the CHODs discussed
the conditions for transferring lead security responsibility
to the Afghan national security forces and the decision on
counternarcotics taken by NATO defense ministers at their
October meeting in Budapest. END SUMMARY.


2. (SBU) The German Ministry of Defense hosted its second
annual ISAF Regional Command North (RC-North) Chiefs of
Defense (CHODs) conference November 26-27 in Berlin, led by
German CHOD Gen. Wolfgang Schneiderhan. Most of the Allies
and Partners who contribute forces to the north were
represented by their CHODs or other senior military leaders.
Attending from SHAPE was Assistant Chief of Staff for
Operations (and former RC-North commander) Brigadier Gen.
Dieter Dammjacob (Germany). Joint Force Command (JFC)
Brunssum was represented on the first day by Assistant Chief
of Staff (ACOS) for Operations Air Commodore Graham Stacey
(UK) and on the second day by Deputy Commander Air Marshall
Chris Moran (UK). OSD Foreign Affairs Specialist James Lowen
as well as Embassy Defense Attache and Pol-Mil/External
Affairs Chief attended as observers.


3. (C) In its opening threat briefing, the German MOD
conceded that despite the marked increase in security
incidents in RC-North so far this year (170 compared to 130
during the same period last year), the region was relatively
peaceful compared to RC-South and RC-East, which have
suffered 3,800 and 3,500 incidents respectively. All total,
less than 2% of all security incidents nationwide this year
occurred in RC-North. The increase in violence in RC-North
has been concentrated in just three provinces (Kunduz,
Baghlan and Faryab), while the six other northern provinces
(Balkh, Badakhshan, Jowzjan, Takhar, Sar-e-Pol and Samangan)
have seen violence this year remain at the same level or


4. (C) To help address the deteriorating security situation
in Faryab province, where Norway leads PRT Maimana, Norwegian
CHOD Gen. Sverre Diesen pressed for a permanent ISAF presence
in neighboring Gormach District in the RC-West province of
Badghis. Diesen noted that insurgents are obviously aware of
the boundary line between RC-West and RC-North and are using
Gormach as a safe haven from which to launch attacks into
Faryab. He called for greater flexibility in allowing
Norwegian and other RC-North forces to conduct operations as
needed in Gormach. He noted that Kandaks of the ANA 209th
Corps, based in Mazar-e-Sharif, were already active in
Gormach, so it only made sense for RC-North to be as well.

5. (C) JFC Brunssum Deputy Commander Air Marshall Moran
strongly supported the Norwegian position, noting that
terrain and distance made it difficult for RC-West to provide
the required forces. He pointed out that the Spanish-led PRT
in the Badghis capital of Qala-i-Naw was some 180 kilometers
away from Gormach and that it took upwards of 18 hours to
reach the district by vehicle during the winter. Moran also
noted that the Afghans were already moving on a separate
political track to incorporate Gormach into Faryab, therefore
reinforcing the need for RC-North to consider this district
as part of its area of operations.

6. (C) Italian Lt. Gen. Giuseppe Valotto, speaking for

RC-West, reacted somewhat defensively, noting that until
recently, the center of gravity for RC-West operations was in
the southern part of the region, but that now, RC-West had
more capability to reinforce the Spanish in Badghis province.
Gen. Schneiderhan was very cautious. While expressing
understanding for the Norwegian position, he expressed
concern about trying to expand the RC-North area of
responsibility to include Gormach, which he claimed would
have to be approved by the German Bundestag. He said he was
"not confident" that this could be achieved, noting that the
Bundestag had just renewed the ISAF parliamentary mandate in
October and would be reluctant to take up this controversial
issue again during the run-up to parliamentary elections in
September 2009. He also made the point that it would not be
enough to send just ISAF forces into Gormach ) the ANA,
UNAMA and the NGOs had to go in as well or none of the
security improvements would be sustainable.

7. (SBU) Since the CHODs conference, this issue has hit the
German press, with some unnamed parliamentarians reportedly
expressing outrage over the "creeping" expansion of the
German area of responsibility in Afghanistan. In response to
media inquiries, German Defense Minister Jung has not ruled
out the possibility of expanding RC-North to encompass
Gormach District, but rather has simply committed to consult
the Bundestag before agreeing to any changes.


8. (C) Germany used the conference to seek help in filling
the requirement for a larger quick reaction force (QRF), as
called for in the revised ISAF Combined Joint Statement of
Requirements (CJSOR). The previous requirement was for a
company-sized unit of approximately 200, which Germany has
been filling alone since July, when it took over
responsibility from Norway. The new requirement is for a
battalion-size unit of approximately 600. The German MOD
argued that given the large area to cover, it would be better
to have a decentralized deployment of the QRF at two or three
locations rather than basing the entire battalion at
Mazar-e-Sharif. Toward that end, Schneiderhan said Germany
could provide two QRF companies at Mazar and one at Kunduz,
and asked that Norway provide a fourth company out of its PRT
in Maimana.

9. (C) Norwegian CHOD Gen. Diesen tentatively agreed, saying
that it would work with its Latvian partners on meeting the
requirement. He argued, however, that if the QRF were
deployed in a decentralized manner, it should be controlled
by local commanders rather than by RC-North. While not
challenging the plans for decentralized deployment, JFC
Brunssum Deputy Commander Moran reminded the group that
according to the CJSOR, the QRF battalion was supposed to be
capable of being deployed "AOR wide" (i.e., throughout
Afghanistan) as an integrated unit. There was no comment or
discussion of Moran,s intervention.


10. (C) Germany highlighted the CJSOR requirement for
RC-North,s support of the upcoming presidential election,
which calls for three infantry companies, rotary-wing
transport (four helicopters), psychological and information
operations teams, civil military teams (CIMIC) and medical
support. Schneiderhan pressed the SHAPE and JFC Brunssum
representatives to explain exactly what the ISAF mission
would be in supporting the election so that RC-North could
properly configure these additional forces.

11. (C) JFC Brunssum Deputy Commander Moran explained that
ISAF forces would mostly likely be asked to provide outer
perimeter security and in extremis support, but conceded that
the date of the election was still up in the air and that
there had still been no formal request for support from the
Afghan government. He noted that while COMISAF favored the
election in September/October after Ramadan, as previously
arranged, Afghan political considerations could dictate that
it take place as early as May. He also expressed a
preference for having the election conducted over a period of
several days in different regions, arguing that ISAF probably
did not have enough forces to provide security throughout the
country for a one-day election.

12. (C) There was general agreement to meet the requirement
for additional combat forces in a decentralized fashion, with
each lead nation taking responsibility for reinforcing its
own PRT with a few additional platoons of infantry.
Schneiderhan confirmed that Germany was prepared to provide
the required psyops, information and CIMIC teams, as well as
a deployable Role 2 medical facility. He also confirmed that
Germany was hoping to deploy two additional CH-53 helicopters
in time to support the elections, but that this depended on
how quickly they could be up-armored. Separately, Director
of the German Joint Commitment Staff Maj. Gen. Erhard Buehler
indicated that the two additional helicopters would probably
not be withdrawn after the elections, but remain deployed in
Afghanistan indefinitely. (Comment: Deployment of these two
additional helicopters would increase the number of uparmored
German CH-53s in Afghanistan to 9. Germany has some 80
CH-53s in its inventory, but only 20 are currently up-armored
and combat-deployable. Germany is currently having 8
additional CH-53s up-armored, from which the MOD will draw in
supporting the election support deployment. End Comment.)


13. (C) Schneiderhan announced that Germany planned to do a
food-for-thought paper on evolution of the OMLT concept,
proposing, among other things, to give it more of an "Afghan
face." Germany thought it was time to think about how to
integrate Afghan trainers into the OMLTs, with the goal of
having them gradually take over the training and mentoring of
Kandaks, thereby reducing the need for international forces
to do this work. Schneiderhan argued that this would become
especially important as the ANA was expanded to meet the new
end-state goal of 122,000 and the demand for OMLTs increased.

14. (C) While expressing themselves open to any new ideas
Germany might want to bring forward, both SHAPE and JFC
Brunssum were clearly skeptical about the Afghanization of
OMLTs. JFC Brunssum ACOS for Operations Air Commodore Stacey
pointed out that OMLTs not only provide training, but also
provide liaison with ISAF and are responsible for calling in
close air support and medical evacuation. For legal and
other reasons, this was not a function that could be turned
over solely to the Afghans. He and SHAPE ACOS Brigadier Gen.
Dammjacob also pointed out that experienced and highly
qualified ANA officers were in short supply and using them as
trainers/mentors would mean that they would not be available
to lead ANA Kandaks, thus diminishing the combat capability
that the training programs were designed to engender. Both
expressed doubt that this would be a good trade-off.


15. (C) Germany announced at the start of the conference that
only two U.S. ETTs in the ANA 209th Corps in RC-North still
had no identified NATO OMLT replacements: 1) the Combat
Service Support (CSS) Kandak for the 1st Brigade and 2) the
Garrison Kandak for the forthcoming 2nd Brigade. When Sweden
announced at the conference that it was willing to provide an
OMLT for an infantry Kandak, Germany agreed to let Sweden
take over the infantry battalion it is currently mentoring
(2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade) and to assume responsibility for
the 1st Brigade CSS Kandak instead. Finland announced it was
willing to team up with Germans in mentoring this unit.
Germany also agreed to assume responsibility for the 2nd
Brigade Garrison Kandak. Croatia confirmed that it was
taking over the Combat Support (CS) Battalion of the 1st
Brigade from a U.S. ETT in March 2009, but said it would be
doing so in partnership with the U.S. Minnesota National

16. (C) The Germans understand that the U.S. wants to retain
its ETT in the 209th Corps Commando Kandak based in
Mazar-e-Sharif. By Germany,s reckoning, then, there are no
more U.S. ETTs to be replaced in RC-North at the current
time, although the MOD is aware that the stand-up of the 3rd
Brigade in 2010 and beyond, as part of the ANA expansion,
will create additional OMLT requirements. As result of the
agreements reached at the conference, the OMLT picture in
RC-North is as follows:

209th Corps: Germany/Norway/Sweden/Croatia Finland

1st Brigade: Norway/Germany/Sweden/Croatia/Finland/Macedon ia

-- 1st Kandak (Battalion): U.S., transfer to Norway in
January 2009
-- 2nd: Germany, transfer to Sweden in 2009
-- 3rd: Croatia
-- CS: U.S., transfer to Croatia/U.S. in March 2009
-- CSS: U.S., transfer to Germany/Finland in 2009
-- Garrison: Croatia in February 2009

2nd Brigade: Germany/Hungary/Macedonia
-- 1st: Germany (entered initial training October 2008)
-- 2nd: Belgium (start January 2009)
-- 3rd: Hungary (start February 2009)
-- CS: Germany (start March 2009)
-- CSS: Germany (start January 2009)
-- Garrison: U.S., transfer to Germany in 2009


17. (C) Germany briefed its proposal to establish an ANA
Engineer School in Mazar-e-Sharif consisting of some 30
mentors and costing some 18 million Euros over five years.
Germany originally had intended to set up an ANA Infantry
School in Mazar, but had given up that idea after learning
that such a school was already planned to be established in
Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province. While nations generally
supported the idea of an Engineer School and volunteered to
provide trainers and equipment, no one stepped forward to
help with funding. Schneiderhan said flatly that Germany
could not afford to cover all the costs of the school itself
and that without other financial contributions, the proposal
was "a non-flier." He suggested that RC-North nations take
up this issue again in the new year. (Comment: The MOD,s
balking at spending 18 million Euros over five years for the
Engineer School does not bode well for our pending request
that Germany spend an additional 100 million Euros per year
beginning in 2010 to support ANA expansion. End Comment.)


18. (C) Germany continued to promote its idea of setting up a
Provincial Advisory Team (PAT) in every province that does
not yet have a PRT. It also continued to advocate in favor

of eventually establishing a PRT in all 34 provinces of the
country. Germany noted that it was considerably expanding
its PAT in Takhar Province to some 45 soldiers and civilians,
up from the original team of 25, which was military only.
While Swedish CHOD Gen. Syren Hakan remained reluctant to
accept the PAT moniker for Sweden's three provincial offices
in Jawzjan, Sar-e-Pol and Samangan, he noted that Sweden and
its partners were following Germany,s line and adding a
full-time civilian capacity to each.

19. (C) Norwegian CHOD Gen. Diesen noted that because of the
lack of coherence at the strategic level in Afghanistan, PRTs
must be the primary instruments of the comprehensive
approach, which requires more civilian capability. He
conceded that this view ran at variance to Norway's
long-standing ideological preference to funnel all
development and civilian assistance through the national
government and through NGOs at the national level. He also
regretted the fact that most civilian agencies in the
governments of ISAF contributing nations did not have much
expeditionary capability.

20. (C) Finnish Chief of Defense Command Lt. Gen. Ari
Puheloinen took a similar line, raising the idea of
eventually transforming its military observation teams (MOTs)
at PRT Maimana into CIMIC teams that can more readily carry
out a comprehensive approach. JFC Brunssum Deputy Commander
Moran revealed that Brunssum was just about to release a
paper on the "PRT life cycle," which would propose a possible
evolution of PRTs in accordance with the five-year Afghan
National Development Strategy (ANDS) and PRT end-state.


21. (C) The German MOD raised concerns that ISAF had been too
passive up to now on the issue of transferring lead security
responsibility (TLSR) to the Afghan National Security Forces.
It proposed ISAF taking a more "directive approach" in
setting criteria and pre-conditions to ensure that the TLSR
process unfolded in a transparent and predictable fashion

that respected the equities of ISAF contributing nations.
Swedish CHOD Gen. Hakan agreed, noting that there were many
rumors that Balkh province, the location of PRT
Mazar-e-Sharif and RC-North HQ, was a leading TLSR candidate
after Kabul. It was important to understand what the
criteria and timelines would be for this process and what the
role of ISAF would be after it was over. Referring to
President Karzai,s announcement on TLSR for Kabul, SHAPE
DCOS for Operations Brigadier Gen. Dammjacob agreed that if
ISAF did not "lean forward" on TLSR, the Afghans would make
decisions on their own, which might not necessarily accord
with ISAF,s point of view.

22. (C) JFC Brunssum Deputy Commander Moran conceded that
there was a need to have greater transparency and
understanding of what TLSR was all about. He clarified that
Phase 4 (transition) of the ISAF operation would only be
declared after a number of provinces had been successfully
transferred to the ANSF and a "tipping point" had been
reached. In conclusion, Schneiderhan wondered if the paper
currently before the NATO Military Committee on the TLSR
issue was really ripe for consideration. He noted that once
it was delivered to the political level, the military would
lose control of it. He suggested postponing any action on it
until after new CENTCOM Commander General Patreus completed
his Joint Strategic Review of CENTCOM's area of operation in
February 2009.


23. (C) German Joint Commitment Staff Director Maj. Gen.
Buehler noted that although NATO Defense Ministers had been
pressed to take an urgent decision at their informal Budapest
meeting in October to authorize COMISAF to conduct CN
interdiction operations against drug laboratories and
traffickers linked to the insurgency, no such operations had
yet been conducted. He wondered why this was the case and
what ISAF would be able to report to Defense Ministers at
their next week in Krakow in February.

24. (C) JFC Brunssum Deputy Commander Moran confirmed that,
in fact, no operations under COMISAF,s enhanced CN authority
had been conducted, largely because of the need for countries
who plan to participate in such operations, such as the U.S.,
to settle remaining outstanding legal and procedural issues
and to refine the rules of engagement. He acknowledged that
because of the delay, ISAF had probably missed the
opportunity to interdict the initial production and
processing of this past season,s poppy crop. As a result,
he said it would be important to "manage expectations" about
what can be achieved by the time of the Krakow meeting.

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