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Cablegate: Dasd Clad/Major General Conant's August 4-6 Visit

DE RUEHWL #0264/01 2400112
O 270112Z AUG 08




E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/05/2018

Classified By: Pol/Econ Counselor Margaret McKean; Reason 1.4 (b) and (

1. (C) Summary. During a joint visit by DASD James Clad
and PACOM J-5 Major General Conant to New Zealand, both met
with Minister of Defense Phil Goff, Secretary of Defense John
McKinnon, and Vice Chief of the Defense Force Jack Steer.
Senior MOD officials welcomed enhanced bilateral military
engagement and urged USG to support New Zealand's proposed
A-4 sale. DASD Clad presented a letter from Deputy Under
Secretary of the Navy Billingslea offering increased
engagement on Maritime Domain Awareness, which was welcomed
by the GNZ. An MOD roundtable led by Paul Sinclair, head of
the GNZ International Defense Relations, reviewed GNZ-USG
collaboration in the eight areas of bilateral engagement
agreed to earlier this year; they agreed they would proceed
cautiously and methodically. The GNZ expressed renewed
interest in the Global Peacekeeping Operation Initiative
(GPOI) but made no commitments. MOD officials stressed that
expanded cooperation would be constrained by staffing and
resource limitations including upcoming replacement costs for
naval support vessels, the army's vehicle fleet, and the
aging Hercules and P-3 planes in the New Zealand Air Force.
DASD Clad summarized USG policy interests in the region and
suggested that New Zealand might participate in the upcoming
Kokoda Foundation dialogue in Australia. He promised U.S.
military support for assisting the NZDF in realizing the full
capabilities of its equipment. Clad underscored USG interest
in GNZ support within the NSG for the US-India civilian
nuclear deal and a long-term GNZ contribution in Afghanistan.
End Summary.

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Meeting with MOD: A4s and PICs

2. (C) Discussions at the MOD began with Defense Minister
Phil Goff and Secretary of Defense John McKinnon on the
topics of Burma and Afghanistan; Major General Conant
expressed condolences for the loss of Goff's nephew in
Afghanistan last year. Goff then moved onto the new
amphibious ship HMS Canterbury and its problems, but the MOD
noted they were all fixable. He stated the vessel would open
opportunities for working with the US Coast Guard, in
addition to current fisheries efforts, while also affording
other opportunities with this new large vessel and amphibious
capability, possibly with the Pacific Partnership. DASD Clad
then presented a letter from Deputy Under Secretary of the
Navy Billingslea, offering increased participation in
Maritime Domain Awareness. Goff welcomed this and stated the
interaction with DOD is positive and the streamlined waiver
process is "first-rate." He further indicated that MDA is
good news and fulfillment of Washington decisions, tying this
to results of the informal DOD talks. Goff said he was
looking forward to a visit by the Admiral either to or from
Antarctica in January, 2009. In particular, he advised there
are some huge challenges in the Pacific and they are keen to
see the US fulfilling its role. He further stated that the
relationship between NZ and CENTCOM is close due to their
role in Afghanistan, but the relationship with PACOM is still
continuing to develop.

3. (C) The A-4 sale topic was briefly discussed with Goff
saying it looked promising, but there appeared to be a slight
concern with the rules and that the NZDF was seeking legal
advice. This concern revolves around a requirement to have
the assets to support the contract, but that the company
(ATAC) needed the contract in order to acquire the assets.
DASD Clad stated he would like to liaise with NZ Embassy DCM
Ian Hill on a weekly basis to which Goff responded with
appreciation, further expressing appreciation for Deputy
Secretary of Defense England having spoken to Deputy
Secretary Negroponte on this topic previously and hoping that
it could be resolved before NZ's November elections. He also
stated that this sale would help the NZDF pay for their new

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NH-90 and AU-109 helicopters. NZ Air Force pilots will be
trained by Germany in these new helicopters, and both can be
operated off of the Canterbury.

4. (C) Discussions turned to Tonga, with Minister Goff
stating the reform process was getting underway, but he
cautioned that although the Prime Minister was part of the
democracy movement, he may also be linked to some of the 2006
riots. Goff advised that a Cabinet paper was coming out on
the Solomon Islands, extending NZ's troop commitment (about
platoon size) for another five years. He also stated that
the Solomon government was quietly cooperating with RAMSI,
but the growing food and oil crisis could create popular
pressure for government change. The discussion on Timor
Leste focused on Chinese influence, highlighting that the
presidential palace, Ministry of Foreign Affairs building,
and Defense HQ were all built by the Chinese. Goff stated
that the Chinese have also provided money for patrol vessels,
but they had no made no provision for follow-on maintenance
or training. Goff then stated that the Asia-Pacific would
have a heightened Chinese presence over the next several
years and that it would be a good chance to discuss China
with ADM Keating when he transits to or from the Antarctic.

5. (C) Secretary of Defense John McKinnon expressed pleasure
with the recent visit of Secretary Rice. He then discussed
the NZDF's upcoming participation in "Cooperative Spirit," an
ABCA (five eyes ground forces organization) exercise to be
held in Germany in September. This will be the first time in
many years that the NZDF is able to participate in a
substantial ground exercise, and they intend to send
approximately 170 army personnel. McKinnon emphasized their
key challenge is managing resources and often must determine
whether to participate in such events on a case-by-case
basis. He welcomed USG visits, noting Major General Conant's
presence, and stated that increased PACOM visits to NZ will
enhance visibility on possible engagement opportunities. The
SecDef concluded with comments regarding the upcoming visit
of Lt. General Mataparea, NZ Chief of Defence (CDF), to the
US and indicated that the NZDF desired in-depth roundtables
during his visit.

New Zealand Defense Force Challenges

6. (C) At an MOD roundtable chaired by Paul Sinclair, MOD
Policy Planning Director Andrew Wierzbicki explained that New
Zealand is seven years into its reinvestment program for New
Zealand's Defense Forces (NZDF). The GNZ has spent roughly
4.5 billion NZ dollars over the past decade, which is the
most significant expenditure since World War II, he added.
The MOD is working on an updated
reinvestment/refurbishment/replacement schedule that is
scheduled to go to Cabinet in the next few weeks. Much of
the reinvestment has a U.S. component, said Wierzbecki, who
cited GNZ purchases of the Javelin anti-tank weapon system,
the modifications to the Boeing 757 aircraft, the lightly
armored vehicles, the P-3 Orion upgrade being done in Texas,
and the Hercules upgrade being done in Canada. On the naval
side, the GNZ has contracted with Raytheon to upgrade
equipment. Wierzbicki noted that a key issue for the MOD is
that, despite the ongoing reinvestment program, the GNZ
expects the operations tempo in Timor Leste, the Solomons,
and Afghanistan to continue unabated. Sinclair added that
some military officers have been on overseas deployments six
times, making retention and recruitment an issue.

7. (C) Wierzbicki said that the next 10-15 years will see
the most significant upgrade of the NZDF self-defense and
war-fighting capability in the form of proposed upgrades to
the NZDF frigate systems at a projected cost of NZD 800
million, as well as the replacement of naval support vessels,
the army's vehicle fleet, the P-3 Orions and the Hercules
aircraft in the NZ Air Force. DASD Clad asked whether the

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opposition National Party, if elected, might look at defense
procurement differently. Wierzbicki responded that National
has indicated that it would commission a white paper but not
made any firm commitment on priorities. The Policy chief for
the MOD added that defense, including decisions on equipment
replacement, will have to take their place among the
competing priorities within other social sectors such as
health, education, and social welfare. In discussing GNZ
efforts to get the maximum from the HMS Canterbury, DASD Clad
urged the GNZ to be creative in seeking USG assistance to
fully realize Canterbury's capabilities.

Military Intelligence Sharing Still an Issue

8. (C) NZDF Colonel Kevin Arledge noted that in the past
two years, defense intelligence cooperation has grown and
relevant agencies from both countries are moving forward on
image sharing. He commended the linkages between New Zealand
and CENTCOM vis-a-vis Afghanistan, saying that there is not
the equivalent relationship with PACOM at the J-2 level. The
military-to-military intel relationship remains a work in
progress, continued Arledge. New Zealand cooperation with
DIA is fine but OSD policy issues remain, he added. Arledge
said that New Zealand could do more with the United States
but much depends on IT connectivity. As an example, he cited
the 2006 Fiji crisis and the intelligence collection and
sharing that tracked the coup and its aftermath. He said
that it worked through the NSA but was "cumbersome and slow."
Arledge cautioned that he worries what would happen if a
security crisis emerged again in the Pacific and current
limitations are not addressed. DASD Clad acknowledged that
connectivity remains an issue, and we have also discussed it
with Australia. There may be opportunities to discuss the
issue further when the NZDF Chief visits Washington in
September; MG Conant and Colonel Arledge agreed that a
planned meeting between PACOM, either Admiral Keating or Adm.
Willard, and the NZDF Chief of Navy in Singapore in February
will also be a chance to discuss these issues. Conant also
suggested that this could be discussed when the NZDF Chief
visits PACOM in September. DASD Clad informed the MOD
officials that the USG had agreed to invite New Zealand to
participate with Japan, Singapore and Australia in the
cooperative Maritime Domain Awareness program.

Eight Areas of Cooperation

9. (C) Paul Sinclair detailed US-NZ progress in the eight
areas of mil-to-mil cooperation approved by the USG
interagency in 2007. He reiterated New Zealand's commitment
to proceed cautiously and methodically. The Proliferation
Security Initiative (PSI) is an area where both countries are
working multilaterally in a positive way, said Sinclair, who
pointed to the upcoming New Zealand-hosted PSI exercise
(Operation Maru) in September. He welcomed the robust USG
participation, noting that Maru has received a good regional
response as well as from countries outside the southern
Pacific. On North Korea and UNSCR 1718, New Zealand has
offered strong support to the US, noted Sinclair, citing FM
Peters interest in nonproliferation efforts in the Korean
peninsula. Within the ASEAN Regional Forum, the US and NZ
work closely. New Zealand, along with Indonesia and Japan,
serves as co-chair of the maritime security group where New
Zealand is focused on enhancing its bilateral relationship
with Indonesia, added Sinclair who offered that the GOI's new
naval commander is a significant improvement over the former,
highly nationalistic, commander. Sinclair said that New
Zealand supports the Philippines/USG initiative in the ARF.

10. (C) Within PKO, New Zealand remains a participant in
Afghanistan, and Sinclair noted that the GNZ has signed off
on continued NZDF support to Afghanistan through to September
2009, at which point the Cabinet will review the matter.

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MFAT's Justin Fepuleai added that MFAT CEO Simon Murdoch had
passed the same message to Secretary Rice during the latter's
July 26 visit to New Zealand. Sinclair asked for an update
on the Global Peacekeeping Operation Initiative (GPOI),
adding that New Zealand lacks information on GPOI. DASD Clad
responded that GPOI enhances professionalism of participating
militaries; MG Conant urged New Zealand to join, adding that
Mongolia, Indonesia, and the Philippines have signed on. He
explained that the purpose of GPOI is to ensure that
contributing nations to UN PKOs understand UN standards for
participating in UN peacekeeping operations and are trained
to meet them. Clad pressed New Zealand to look at GPOI
multilaterally and offered that PNG is interested in joining.
Air Commodore Peter Stockwell said that New Zealand's
capacity to attend is an issue. He downplayed the ability of
Pacific Island countries to make a strong contribution to
international PKOs, saying that the PICs see it as a cash
generating exercise (citing Bangladesh as an example of a
contributor more interested in the UN salaries than the
actual work of peacekeeping) as opposed to a capacity
building one. MG Conant stressed that the program is a UN
activity but there is USG funding for it. Within PACOM, GPOI
is growing, added Conant.

11. (C) For the NATO Global Partnership, Paul Sinclair
observed that NATO/EUCOM head General Craddock is coming to
New Zealand soon. New Zealand, he continued, is pleased with
the consultative process within NATO, and New Zealand's Chief
of Defense Force attended the May 12 CDF conference in
Brussels, which was well done and a good follow-on from the
NATO Bucharest Summit in April. Relations with NATO in
Afghanistan are "working well," said Sinclair, with New
Zealand looking more at the NATO intelligence network. NATO
has concerns about their lack of intelligence connectivity
with PACOM and other partners, and they are taking any
opportunity available to explore options and discuss the
issue. Sinclair offered that the Singaporean Defense
Minister would be visiting New Zealand and said the GNZ would
push the GOS to do more in Afghanistan; Clad welcomed the
initiative. DASD Clad said that the Australians had said
they are more satisfied than before with NATO operations in
Afghanistan. Clad proposed the New Zealand be represented at
the upcoming Kokoda Foundation security meetings in
Australia. For Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Sinclair
said that US-NZ cooperation was good during the current
three-month period of the NZ frigate HMS Te Mana in the Gulf.
No deployment, however, is scheduled for 2009 at the moment.

12. (C) On the subject of humanitarian relief operations,
New Zealand is pleased to be able contribute to these
exercises and welcomes participation in the upcoming
Operation Mercy exercise in PNG. MG Conant said that the US
military is considering further "angel teams," in which
military medical personnel are air dropped onto various
Pacific islands; previous teams have had very positive
experiences with local populations who had not seen a US
service member since World War II. Conant asked if New
Zealand would like to join such teams; Stockwell responded
that it would depend on availability of personnel. Clad
offered to provide the GNZ with a copy of the after action
report on the USG response to the cyclone in Bangladesh.
Wellington DATT asked whether the HMS Canterbury would be
available to play a role in a Pacific Partnership activity.
Stockwell said that the Canterbury was scheduled to do a
similar activity in Tokelau but has had too many technical
problems this year; next year could be a possibility, he
added, possibly as part of a Quads process.

Japan, PIC Issues

13. (C) Related to greater Singaporean involvement in
Afghanistan, Sinclair informed the USG officials that the GNZ

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has tried over the past nine months to engage the Japanese on
participation in the New Zealand PRT in Bamiyan. MG Conant
downplayed GNZ expectations, noting that the Japanese defense
establishment has gone through tough times. Sinclair
observed that the GOJ is sending some planes to participate
in Operation Maru (September 15-19), but GNZ efforts to build
a defense relationship with Japan have been less than
successful; NZ feels that Japanese forces lack self
confidence in overseas deployments. DASD Clad urged the GNZ
to continue to engage with the Japanese.

14. (C) On East Timor, Sinclair noted that New Zealand is
trying to get involved in the reform of the security sector
since there will be no prospect of an international
withdrawal of forces until the Timorese can manage their own
security forces. New Zealand and Australia do not want to be
security guarantors indefinitely, he underscored, but
cautioned that a return to insecurity is "one shot away."
Although the GNZ welcomes the current stability, Sinclair
noted that New Zealand knows well that the underlying
problems remain. UNPOL, continued Sinclair, is completely
ineffective with no real mentoring capacity. DASD Clad
responded that the Australians recognize that they may be
there indefinitely; within the USG, Timor is viewed as a
largely an issue for Australia and New Zealand. MG Conant
noted that PACOM's Admiral Keating has offered more ship
visits to East Timor. Clad added that at Australian behest,
the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) has had
two meetings on a national security strategy for Timor Leste,
with a third meeting scheduled. Sinclair complained that
some of the international training programs are working at
cross purposes, noting that the Brazilian military police are
teaching the Timorese civilian police in military police
tactics, which are not appropriate to civilian policing.


15. (C) Throughout the discussion, DASD Clad commented on
how positive the mil-to-mil environment had become and the
excellent cooperation and dialogue. He urged continued
collaboration and engagement within the expanded boundaries
of military cooperation, and promised to remain focused on
the A-4 issue. Both GNZ and USG officials agreed that each
country's upcoming elections will have no negative impact on
the extremely cooperative mil-to-mil relationships between
the US and New Zealand. End Comment.

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