Cablegate: Dutch Military Deployments: Iraq and Afghanistan

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/27/2014

B. 03 THE HAGUE 3002 (NOTAL)
C. 03 THE HAGUE 2726 (NOTAL)
D. 03 STATE 318096 (NOTAL)

1.5 (B AND D).

1. (S) Summary: In anticipation of new Dutch FM Ben Bot's
travel to Washington February 9 for meetings with the
Secretary and at NSC and DOD we offer a snapshot of several
aspects of Dutch military participation in the Global War on
Terrorism presently under discussion in the Netherlands. The
GONL is reviewing its role in Operation Iraqi Freedom, NATO
ISAF and Operation Enduring Freedom to include extending
current deployments and possibly initiating new ones. We
judge FM Bot's visit a good opportunity to press the Dutch to
make and/or renew strong contributions to all of these
missions. The contributions are valuable in their own right
and would also bolster Defense Minister Kamp's position in
supporting the need to maintain capable, deployable forces in
the face of budgetary pressures and to use those forces in
support of our shared goals. Asking clearly for what we
want, especially if we want the Dutch to lead a PRT or
contribute forces to OEF, (or both), helps those in the
Netherlands who support robust Dutch participation.
Otherwise, the legacy of Srebrenica can lead to the Dutch
looking to undertake less difficult responsibilities. End


2. (C) The Cabinet renewed the deployment of Dutch troops in
Iraq on November 28, 2003 and parliament concurred with the
decision on December 11 (ref A). The Dutch presently have
approximately 1100 personnel, mostly infantry, conducting
stabilization operations in Al Muthanna province as part of
the UK's Multi-National Division Southeast. (Note: In
addition to its military contributions, the GONL committed at
Madrid to provide 10 million Euros for the Humanitarian
Multilateral Trust Fund and set aside three million Euros to
facilitate Dutch business opportunities in Iraq. The Dutch
have funded establishment of an Iraqi missing persons bureau,
and are considering assisting in exhuming mass graves. The
Dutch have also made available a Dutch air force Fokker
transport aircraft to support the UN World Food Program's
efforts in Iraq. End note.) The current military deployment
Al Muthanna is now scheduled to expire July 15. We
understand from UK sources that the British intend to request
the Dutch to extend their deployment beyond July. MFA and
MOD sources advise the GONL intends to start looking at this
issue in earnest in April and Defense Minister Kamp has been
floating trial balloons in the press that a renewal may be
coming. We judge it would be helpful to stress to FM Bot the
continued importance of Dutch participation in stabilization
operations in Iraq and urge renewal of that deployment in due
course. Amb. Sobel will begin this process in his February 3
call on FM Bot.


3. (C) The Cabinet approved deployment of six Dutch air force
Apache attack helicopters to Afghanistan in support of NATO's
ISAF mission (ref B) on January 30. Since the conclusion of
their co-leadership of ISAF III with Germany last August, the
GONL has been exploring options for further Dutch involvement
on the ground in Afghanistan. MFA sources advise the Dutch
are considering making a nominal contribution of personnel to
the German PRT in Konduz. Separately, the GONL is
particularly focused on current NATO deliberations on taking
over additional PRTs in Afghanistan and there is an
expectation that former Dutch FM and new NATO SYG Jaap de
Hoop Scheffer will be eager to get Dutch participation in a
PRT. MFA and MOD sources note there are considerable
operational, logistical and security questions that would
need to be addressed to satisfy the exhaustive requirements
of the GONL's approval procedure for deployments. (Note: We
judge the most important of these to be provisions for in
extremis extraction -- a legacy of the Dutch experience in
Srebrenica -- as well as assurances that an area is stable
before Dutch troops are deployed. End note.) There is a
certain level of enthusiasm for the PRT concept both in
parliament and in the MFA given that PRTs involve elements of
two Dutch fortes -- stabilization and development. At the
same time, there is considerable skepticism and/or budding
opposition to PRTs in the military which is concerned about
the force protection required, but also has a strong
preference to involve the Dutch armed forces in what it
perceives to be more combat-oriented operations. We
recommend that it would help the GONL internal political
dialogue to emphasize to FM Bot the importance we attach to
PRTs as part of achieving success for NATO's mission in


4. (S) The Dutch air force's participation in the EPAF F-16
squadron flying out of Manas, Kyrgyzstan, ended in October
2003, and Dutch naval assets (a frigate, a submarine and a P3
maritime patrol aircraft) have also returned from the region.
The Dutch have been considering for more than a year a
possible deployment of Dutch army special operations forces
to serve with CJTF-180 (ref C). The leadership of the Dutch
Army is very eager to undertake such a deployment and further
to ref D, post facilitated a dialogue between MOD and SOCCENT
to discuss possible options for employment of Dutch SOF
assets in CJTF-180. A key political concern expressed by
both MFA and MOD sources is the possibility that Dutch SOF
may detain Al Qaeda and/or Taliban members who may in turn be
sent to the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay. While we
understand MOD lawyers have approved Dutch use of a practice
employed by other coalition partners (detaining suspects and
calling for U.S. personnel to arrest them), concerns remain
as to the political viability of such an approach and whether
ministers would be prepared to defend it in parliament. That
said, in addition to the utility of Dutch SOF assets to
CJTF-180, we judge the political benefit of such a deployment
would be to get a well-trained/equipped ally involved in
combat operations as opposed to only peacekeeping and
stabilization (Note: the Dutch Army has not been involved in
combat operations since 1962 in the former Dutch New Guinea.
End note.) The GONL advises they have received enough
information from CENTCOM further to consultations arranged as
per ref D in order to make a recommendation to Ministers. We
believe it would help the Dutch decision-making process to
underscore the value of a Dutch SOF contribution to OEF.


5. (S) We do not accept the assertion of some of our Dutch
interlocutors that their participation in various military
operations is a zero-sum game. When asked to fill a pressing
need (such as with the Apaches, or with the dispatch of the
Dutch Navy's LPD to Liberia) a way has been found. The Dutch
have a good record of contributions to the GWOT both in Iraq
and Afghanistan and we think FM Bot's visit is a useful
opportunity to both acknowledge the value of these
contributions and to urge the Dutch to do more. Defense
Minister Kamp has laid out an ambitious program for
restructuring the Dutch military along more deployable lines
in the face of significant mandated budget cuts and is
contemplating using the Dutch military for more offensive
missions. Strong expressions to FM Bot of U.S. interest in
continued and new Dutch deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan
will help in the Dutch decision-making process as well as
assist Kamp in defending the need to maintain capable Dutch
forces and to employ them in pursuing our shared priorities.

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