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Cablegate: Czech Parliament Completes Approval for 2005

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

UNCLAS PRAGUE 001856

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MARR EZ IZ
SUBJECT: CZECH PARLIAMENT COMPLETES APPROVAL FOR 2005
OVERSEAS DEPLOYMENTS

REF: A. PRAGUE 1838
B. STATE 270548
C. PRAGUE 1855

Sensitive but unclassified -- not for internet distribution.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The Czech Chamber of Deputies approved the
final chapters of the government's 2005 deployment plan on
December 15. The deployment plan, which reflects the
government's priority in the Balkans, calls for up to 600
troops for the KFOR mission in Kosovo, and up to 90 troops as
part of the EU's operation in Bosnia. In Iraq it covers the
previously authorized team of military policy through
February, 2005, as well as a small group of military surgeons
in Basra; approximately 90 Czech troops will be deployed in
Afghanistan. Any deployment of military police in Iraq
beyond February (as per ref B) would need separate
parliamentary approval. END SUMMARY

2. (U) The 2005 deployment plan approved by the Czech
parliament on December 15 will cost the Czech government 1.3
billion Crowns, or roughly 56 million dollars. The plan
authorizes the deployment of up to 850 personnel, or
approximately 3.5% of the current Czech military force.

3. (SBU) The 2005 deployment plan has been pending for some
time. Former Prime Minster Spidla's cabinet had approved the
overall plan in July; the Senate approved it later in the
summer. But political instability, and opposition from the
Civic Democrats (ODS) -- who want to limit the number of
foreign deployments to three, and ideally two -- kept the
comprehensive plan from being sent to the Chamber of Deputies
for a vote. The less controversial deployments, to Kosovo
and Afghanistan, were separately approved by the Chamber in
November, as was the two-month extension of the military
policy in Iraq until after the Iraqi elections. The new
Bosnia mission was the most controversial and the explicit
target of ODS criticism. The GOCR intentionally scheduled
the vote on the Bosnia mission to coincide with voting on the
2005 budget, i.e., when the government was sure that it would
have all coalition members in place to maintain its one-vote
majority.

4. (U) For the deployment to Kosovo, the number of Czech
troops will grow from approximately 400 to 600 next year.
They will operate in a joint battalion with 100 Slovaks in
the Central Brigade, now commanded by Finns. The Czechs
expect to take command of the brigade in August of 2005.

5. (U) In Bosnia, roughly 25 troops will accompany two M-17
helicopters that are being sent for use by Eurofor HQ staff,
and 40 Czechs will join 40 Austrians in a mechanized unit.
Six Czech staff who have been at mission HQ will continue
their assignments.

6. (U) The Czechs will have approximately 90 troops in two
operations in Afghanistan. One group of 50, primarily
engineers and demining experts, has been working with the
ISAF mission in Kabul. Their mission will continue in 2005.
A second group of 40 light infantry recon troops and medical
staff will be deployed as part of the German PRT in Faisabad.

7. (SBU) The 4th contingent of Military Police training Iraqi
police at a base in Shaiba, not far from Basra, as part of
the multinational force, MNF-I, rotated back to Prague in
December. The 5th contingent of approximately 80
MPs, which recently replaced them, will stay in Basra until
February 28, consistent with the parliamentary decision last
month. No additional military police deployments were
discussed during the parliamentary vote on December 15.
Orders for the 5th contingent include breaking camp before
their return to Prague.

8. (U) The December 15 decision did include authorization for
a six-member Czech surgical team that will remain in Iraq
with a British field hospital. Parliament also authorized an
additional 35 troops from an NBC platoon to join the NATO
Reaction Force in the second half of the year.

9. (SBU) The GOCR is under increasing pressure from the U.S.
and UK to extend (or otherwise replace) their military police
in Iraq beyond February (reftels). As discussed in more
detail ref C, the next opportunity for the Czech parliament
to approve additional Iraq deployments will be during early
February.
CABANISS

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