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Cablegate: Rethinking U.S. Force Reductions in Europe: View

VZCZCXYZ0020
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHWR #0876 2401225
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 281225Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY WARSAW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8793
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 0506

S E C R E T WARSAW 000876

NOFORN
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR (A/S GORDON)
OSD FOR ASD VERSHBOW

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/28/2019
TAGS: MARR MOPS NATO PINS PREL PTER PL
SUBJECT: RETHINKING U.S. FORCE REDUCTIONS IN EUROPE: VIEW
FROM POLAND

REF: A. USNATO 329
B. BERLIN 935
C. WARSAW 360

Classified By: Ambassador Victor Ashe for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (S) SUMMARY: Embassy Warsaw believes there would be a
strong, negative Polish reaction to major U.S. force
reductions in Europe. From Poland,s perspective, a big
drawdown would be seen as evidence that the U.S. is less
committed to European security at a time of heightened
concern over the intentions of a resurgent Russia. Polish
officials have emphasized the need for NATO to bolster its
military capabilities to avoid becoming a political club more
than a military alliance. They are adamant about revising
NATO,s Strategic Concept to restore the balance between
external missions and territorial defense; they will strongly
protest a reduction in the resources needed for that defense.
The Poles tell us that it would be hard to justify continued
sacrifices in missions like ISAF if cooperation with the
Alliance is a one-way street, and the U.S. and other Allies
do not take Polish security concerns into account. END
SUMMARY.

2. (S) The Poles believe they have an implicit
understanding with the United States and the Alliance: they
will take active part in missions far from their borders,
particularly in Afghanistan, provided that the Alliance makes
adequate provisions for the defense of Poland,s borders.
Poland is ISAF,s seventh leading troop contributor, fighting
without caveats in Southern Afghanistan, and Foreign Minister
Sikorski told us recently that he is pressing Prime Minister
Tusk to approve another troop increase, from 2,000 to 3,000
soldiers. Some analysts have told us (Ref C) that the
greatest threat to Polish resolve in Afghanistan would not be
increased casualties, but a failure by the Alliance to
address Poland,s concerns about Europe,s territorial
defense. Poland would see U.S. troop cuts as compounding
shortfalls in the resources and political will needed to
defend Europe.

3. (S) Unlike the previous Polish government, the Tusk
government is not reflexively Russophobic, but Polish
officials remain concerned about a resurgent Russia. The GoP
took the lead in marshalling an EU reaction to Russia,s
invasion of Georgia, and faulted the U.S., among others, for
doing too little, too late. In a speech at the Atlantic
Council last year, the Foreign Minister launched the
&Sikorski doctrine8: the West must respond adequately the
next time Russia tries to change Europe,s borders by force.

4. (S) Foreign Minister Sikorski has told U.S. leaders
emphatically that NATO risks becoming a political club more
than a military alliance ) he believes it needs to change
the politically correct threat assessments (particularly
those concerning Russia), and put in place substantial
contingency planning and exercises. During bilateral talks
with the U.S. on Missile Defense, the Poles implied that the
Alliance,s Article V guarantees may not be dependable, and
pressed for bilateral U.S. security guarantees. As NATO
launches the process of revising NATO,s Strategic Concept,
the Poles are pushing hard to restore balance between
out-of-area operations and territorial defense. Polish
officials have hinted at how strong the reaction would be if
their concerns are not addressed in the new Strategic
Concept; the reaction would doubtless be even stronger if
they perceived strategic guidance as undercut by U.S. force
reductions.

5. (S) Poland would see significant U.S. force reductions
in Europe as the latest in a series of disappointments with
the U.S.: in their view, the U.S. failed to deliver promised
Iraqi contracts, to bring a loyal Ally into the Visa Waiver
Program, and most recently, to appoint an appropriately
high-level presidential delegation to the September 1
commemoration in Gdansk of the 70th anniversary of the
outbreak of World War II. Many Poles see this as part of a
broader regional trend, a downgrading of U.S. interest in
Central and Eastern Europe. Three Polish statesmen, Lech
Walesa, Aleksander Kwasniewski and Adam Daniel Rotfeld, were
among the signatories of the July letter from Central
European leaders to President Obama. The letter warned that
the region,s stability and Atlanticist outlook cannot be
taken for granted in the face of allegedly waning U.S.
engagement.

ASHE

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