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Cablegate: Lithuanian Defense Under Secretary On Baltic

DE RUEHVL #0818/01 2481355
P 051355Z SEP 06




E.O. 12958: N/A

VILNIUS 00000818 001.2 OF 002

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: MOD Under Secretary Renatas Norkus gave
the Ambassador areadout of the recent Baltic Defense
Ministers' meeting and a sketch of his plans for his upcoming
visit to Washington during a meeting September 1. The Baltic
Defense Ministers agreed they would try to encourage NATO to
extend the Baltic Air Policing program until 2018, when the
Balts plan to provide their own air defense. The Ministers
agreed to work toward a joint NRF contribution and to explore
joint procurement possibilities. Norkus also said that
Lithuania would ask about the possibility to use the
transportable parts of NATO's air defense system currently in
Iceland. During his visit to Washington, Norkus wants to
discuss the Riga agenda at DoD and State. He will be
especially keen to talk about Lithuania's PRT mission in Ghor
Province, Afghanistan and prospects for reconstruction
projects there. End Summary.

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Baltic Defense Ministers' Meeting

2. (U) Norkus told the Ambassador that at the August 30
Baltic Defense Ministers' meeting the Lithuanian, Latvian,
and Estonian DefMins agreed they would encourage NATO to
continue the current Baltic Air Policing (AP) regime until
2018, at which time the Baltic states will be able to provide
their own air defense. Lithuania plans to make procurement
decisions in the 2010 - 2011 timeframe for interceptor
aircraft that will help it reach air defense self-sufficiency
in the long term. In the meantime, extension of AP will
allow Lithuania and the other Balts to follow methodical
defense reform and modernization without the disruptions of
"big ticket" procurement in the near term. The Ministers
also resolved to work to reduce costs for NATO rotational
units doing Air Policing and to encourage all allies to
contribute units (currently, allies have signed up through
the end of 2007). Between now and 2018, the Balts will
concentrate efforts on airspace control improvements,
particularly radars. Baltic defense officials will brief the
NATO Military Committee and SACEUR on their AP ideas.
Lithuania will also raise the issue with the Polish Defense
Minister (visiting Vilnius the week of September 5) and DASD

3. (U) The three Baltic Defense Ministers decided to explore
ways they could work together to contribute to the NATO
Response Force (NRF). All agreed they would like to
re-invigorate land forces cooperation, ultimately leading to
a joint NRF contribution. The Ministers tasked their Armed
Forces to develop appropriate proposals.

4. (U) The ministers agreed to explore joint procurement
possibilities for political and practical reasons. Radars
are the first priority. They tasked their Armed Forces to
develop appropriate proposals. Eventually, joint procurement
will also be considered for armored personnel carriers,
electronic countermeasures, and helicopters.

5. (SBU) Although it was not mentioned in the Joint
Communique from Jurmala, Norkus told Ambassador Cloud that
Lithuania intends to query NATO about using the transportable
components of the NATO-provided air defense system, currently
deployed in Iceland, in the Baltic region. Lithuania is also
exploring the possibility of using NATO common funding to
purchase long-range radars (as Poland, Czech Republic, and
Hungary have done).

Norkus's Agenda for his September 18 - 22 Visit to Washington
--------------------------------------------- ----------------

6. (SBU) Norkus said that one of his primary goals for his
visit to Washington is to compare notes on Lithuanian and
U.S. positions for the upcoming NATO summit. He intends to
meet with DASD Dan Fata and others at the Departments of
Defense and State to discuss the Riga agenda and current
operations. Norkus plans to present the possibilities for
future Lithuanian contributions to the NRF. He will mention
that Lithuania is seriously considering the Strategic Airlift
Initiative and a possible "buy-in" of C-17 flight hours. On
enlargement issues, Norkus said that Lithuania supports ID
for Georgia, believing it will likely be offered at the NATO
Foreign Ministers Ministerial in New York in December. He
mentioned that Lithuania, like many allies, is hoping for
more favorable developments in Ukraine, but believes that
Riga should offer some positive language to keep Ukraine "on
the radar screen". On the subject of the Middle East
Training Initiative, Norkus commented that Lithuania would
like to train Iraqi and Afghan officers at the Lithuanian
Military Academy.

VILNIUS 00000818 002.2 OF 002

7. (SBU) Norkus is also eager to hear official U.S. views
about the progress of ongoing missions in Iraq, Afghanistan,
and Lebanon, while sharing the Lithuanian perspective. On
Lebanon, he confirmed that Lithuania will not send troops,
but will continue to monitor the situation and consider
future requests for military contributions if the required
capabilities and resources are available for deployment. He
is particularly keen to talk about reconstruction efforts in
Ghor Province, Afghanistan, where Lithuania leads its PRT.
Norkus expressed satisfaction with the performance of the
military aspects of the mission, but voiced concern that
civilian reconstruction progress in Ghor is lagging behind
that of neighboring provinces. He believes that this uneven
development may create force protection issues in the future
when the local inhabitants' expectations are not met. Norkus
intends to bring a representative from the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs to outline Lithuania's efforts to encourage
international governmental and NGO support for reconstruction
projects in one of Afghanistan's poorest regions. He
mentioned that he would like to meet with Mary Beth Long and
Deborah Kagan at DoD, and other appropriate officials at
State, to discuss Ghor Province reconstruction issues. (We
note that Norkus already has a meeting set on September 19
with SCA DAS Gastright.)

8. (U) Norkus plans to discuss Lithuania's defense and
diplomatic outreach to its neighbors to the East, and, in
particular, would like to share views about programs and
talks with Moldova, the South Caucasus, and Central Asia.
Norkus also intends to talk about the more difficult
relationships Lithuania has with Belarus and Russia, and the
national security implications of current energy issues.

© Scoop Media

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