Cablegate: Eu Informal Defmin Meeting, Deauville, and Eu


DE RUEHBS #1716/01 3150615
R 100615Z NOV 08



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/07/2018

Classified By: USEU/POL M-C Chris Davis, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C/NF) SUMMARY: Finnish Defense Counselor (protect)
discussed with USEU Defense Advisor the October 1 EU's
Informal Defense Ministers' Meeting at Deauville, and a
UK-France-Germany proposal for an EU crisis management and
planning capability. On capabilities, the French presidency
views its capability goals as paramount. They are: European
Air Transport Fleet, helicopters, maritime counter-mine
warfare, maritime aviation, military space activities, and
the relationship between the EDA and OCCAR. Ministers
discussed, with the participation of the NATO Secretary
General, the challenges of creating and maintaining
multinational high-readiness forces and of generating the
political will to use them. The necessity of U.S. support
for operations was also discussed. Ministers reviewed
current EU operations in Bosnia, Chad and off the coast of
Somalia. Finland supports a minimalist approach in Bosnia
and will send troops to a UN operation in Chad. Ministers
drew no conclusions on the juridical challenges
of anti-piracy operations. Finally, our Finnish source was
surprised that ministers did not take up a UK-FR-GE proposal
to develop, under Council General Secretariat, a
civil-military strategic planning structure, which he
described in detail. END SUMMARY

Capabilities la Franaise

2. (C/NF) Janne Kuusela (protect), Finnish Defense
Counselor, reading from Finnish reporting cables, told us the
Deauville meeting was unusually dynamic and interesting, not
the normal recitation of goals. The Chief Executive of the
EDA, Alex Weis, made the initial presentation delineating
European priorities derived from the Capability Development
Plan. Weis was then, according to Finnish reporting,
humiliated by the French, who downplayed the EDA's effort and
insisted that the capability goals of the French presidency
were paramount. The French made no mention of the Capability
Development Plan's conclusions nor the fact that these same
ministers had endorsed those conclusions previously. The
French cited their well-known preference for the European Air
Transport Fleet (Kuusela was skeptical this would ever fly),
helicopters, counter-mine warfare in the littoral waters of
Europe, maritime aviation, military space activities, and the
relationship between the EDA and OCCAR, the French hope being
that the
latter would act as a procurement agency for the former.

Battlegroups: Use it or lose it

3. (C/NF) Kuusela described a robust and useful discussion
at Deauville about the use of EU Battlegroups. After the
Finnish MoD's suggestion that the EU use its Battlegroups or
lose them, the UK intervened to say that it agreed, but that
HMG felt the EU should first discuss whether it ever intended
to engage in major military operations. The UK also pointed
out the very useful transformational aspects of developing
and establishing a Battlegroup. Poland interjected that the
Battlegroup is a Rolls-Royce of rapid reaction that is best
kept in the garage until a sufficiently important operation
warrants its use. Romania said it preferred to get its
transformational benefits from participation in NATO's NRF.
France thought that the EuroCorps was too often overlooked
for operations. The Chairman of the EU Military Committee,
French General Henri Bentgeat, then said that there are a
great many multi-national formations not affiliated with the
EU and that any discussion of their use must take NATO's need
o account as well. Further, he said merely establishing a
Battlegroup, especially if it is not used, is too costly as
50% of the cost of a high-readiness unit is just in getting
it ready. Next, it was suggested that the Battlegroup fill
the role as the EU's strategic reserve for operations.
General Bentgeat felt that if the situation warranted the
use of a Battlegroup, then the political will to employ it
would be forthcoming. The real problems of political will
aside, the UK re-iterated the need for the transformational
benefit in capability and mentality that come through the

process of standing up a Battlegroup.

The U.S. as Military Partner

4. (C/NF) According to the Finnish Defense Counselor, the
NATO Secretary General, who for the first time attended the
entire ministerial -- fulfilling a French proposal --
remarked that within NATO a similar discussion was under way
with respect to the NRF. Importantly, he reportedly
challenged ministers by asking if Europe or NATO really
contemplated conducting a significant military operation
without the participation of the United States. He said NATO
could not employ the NRF without the U.S. wondering if the EU
could employ a Battlegroup in an emergency without U.S.
assistance. General Bentgeat, reportedly noting the
"wisdom" of the NATO Secretary General's words, discussed the
lessons learned from the Nordic Battelgroup experience. He
cited the lack of lift and political will, and also the
failure to agree on costs, noting that the EU has still not
decided whether rapid reaction operations would be commonly

To Catch a Thief

5. (C/NF) Ministers also discussed a French proposal on
maritime surveillance and evacuation (NFI) and were briefed
on the French operation to rescue the crew of the private
yacht seized off Somalia. According to reporting from which
Kuusela was reading, the French paid the ransom at sea and
then using UAVs, helicopters, and other electronic means
tracked the pirates to land at which point the apparently
very numerous pirates split up and headed out in a great many
directions, too many in fact for the French to follow and
intercept. The result was that most of the ransom money was
lost and few of the pirates were apprehended.


6. (C/NF) Somalia: Kuusela related conversations among EU
naval planners at the ministerial who first estimated the
size of the EU's operational area as 300 square nautical
miles, which all thought was well beyond the capacity of a
few ships to patrol, given the small size of the pirate
dinghies. Then the estimate was raised to 500 square
nautical miles to the chagrin of those present. Ministers,
he said, also discussed the well-known list of practical and
juridical issues related to dealing with pirates without
coming to any conclusions, to include the inability to put
them ashore into the hands of a functioning police and
judicial system in Somalia, and the difficulty of identifying
them as pirates in the first place, since they usually claim
to be well-armed fisherman.

7. (C/NF) Chad: Relief by a UN operation is imperative,
concluded ministers from six nations, including Finland,
which promised to commit troops to a UN effort. Kuusela said
that current Finnish commitments to UN operations
post-Lebanon needed to be increased and Finland was
positioning itself for key positions in the UN hierarchy;
therefore, offering Finnish troops to a new UN operation in
Chad would have other benefits as well. Now that the rainy
season is coming to a close, he anticipated an increase in
rebel and bandit activity, while remarking that "Sweden left
us during the rainy season."

8. (C/NF) Bosnia: Kuusela said Finland favors the least
robust option of all those under consideration for reducing
the size of the EU force in Bosnia, because of the resource
drain of ALTHEA on other commitments. Kuusela added that the
consensus moved quickly in this direction.

EU OHQ: In the Planning Stage

9. (C/NF) Kuusela next discussed a UK-FR-GE proposal on a

structure for military strategic planning in Brussels that he
had thought would be discussed in Deauville. He reported
that the discussion did not take place as planned, presumably
because President Sarkozy considers the matter to be too
important a decision for defense ministers, preferring to
announce it at December's European Council meeting of Heads
of State and Government.

UK-French Win-Win

10. (C/NF) In laying out the proposal, Kuusela said that it
had to be a tri-partite one in order to gain the necessary
support, but that the Germans were merely bystanders.
(COMMENT: The original Battlegroup proposal was developed in
a similar fashion with the French bringing the Germans in at
the last minute END COMMENT) Kuusela said the effort was to
find a way forward in which the British, who did not object
in principle to strategic or advanced planning at the
European level, and the French, who want a stand-alone
structure at the strategic level in Brussels, could find
common ground. The British proposed a comprehensive
civilian-military center on the compound at SHAPE that could
integrate the work of both the EU and NATO; a proposal
Kuusela believed had U.S. support. The French objected as
this idea did not give France something in Brussels with a
European label. Kuusela's Finnish reporting said that a
UK-French agreement was reached in mid-late September;
however, the Elyse and Whitehall still disagree on some of
the details. The accord calls for a strategic
military-civilian planning and coordination function, with an
emphasis on coordination, under Javier Solana in the Council
General Secretariat. This mechanism is designed to produce
rapid strategic assessments to inform the EU decision-making
process in Brussels, while respecting the chain of command.
The proposal would not add any new billets, personnel or
structure in Brussels (presumably a win for the UK position),
but would enable the EU to function more effectively as a
unitary actor at the strategic political and strategic
military levels within the EU (a win for France).

EU Crisis Management and Planning Capability

11. (C/NF) Within the Secretariat and under Solana's Terms
of Reference, the new structure will combine DG E VIII,
Defense Aspects of ESDP, with DG E IX, Civilian Aspects of
ESDP, with the EU Military Staff, the Civilian Planning and
Conduct Capability (CPCC) and the Planning and Early Warning
Unit. According to our discussion with Kuusela, the new
structure will lean heavily on the Situation Center (SitCen)
and the relevant offices of the External Relations
Directorate General of the European Commission. The role of
the NATO Permanent Liaison Team to the EU Military Staff in
this arrangement is to be determined, as are permanent links
to NATO's strategic planning staff. This organization will
also have a Deployable Augmentee Cadre, a body of experts
that would detach itself in times of crisis to the
responsible organization, for example, to a framework
nation's Operational Headquarters (OHQ). The Military
Committee and the Civilian Committee will remain as advisory
bodies according to their current functions.

Wind in Sarkozy's NATO Sail

12. (C/NF) The UK does not see this as a fundamental change
in the intent of having a Council General Secretariat for
ESDP, but it will be a good way to put wind in the domestic
political sails of Sarkozy to help steer him back into NATO.
The French president will say, according to the Finns, that
this is a physically small change but a giant mental leap



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