Cablegate: Spain Commits Additional Troops to Afghanistan
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SUBJECT: SPAIN COMMITS ADDITIONAL TROOPS TO AFGHANISTAN
1. (SBU) Summary: Spain's Council of Ministers approved September
11 an additional contingent of 220 military personnel who will join
the permanent contingent Spain has in Afghanistan, bringing the
total to 998 military personnel. Minister of Defense Carme Chacon
must now ask for Congressional authorization of the deployment.
Though no date for her testimony has been set, MOD staff are
clearing her calendar for the week of September 21,and approval of
the deployment is expected. This cable offers a snapshot of present
and promised Spanish commitments to Afghanistan and the current
domestic political debate about Spain's mission. Opposition
politicians who otherwise support Spanish participation in
Afghanistan have been quick to remind the Spanish public that
Zapatero said in December 2008 he would not authorize the
participation of Spanish troops in offensive actions in Afghanistan,
even if President-elect Obama asked for it. End Summary.
//Spanish Casualties and Numbers of Troops in Afghanistan//
2. (SBU) Spain, a major NATO ally, has suffered proportionately
higher casualties than many other troop-contributing countries.
Spain has lost 87 troops in Afghanistan since the beginning of the
ISAF operation. Most of these casualties came in two aviation
accidents, rather than offensive operations against the Taliban.
Following is the information available to Post from media and
Ministry of Defense sources about Spanish troops, pledges and
commitments. See additional assistance provided by the GOS
beginning at para 6.
- Permanent contingent: 778
- 508 in Herat
- 218 in Qala-i-Naw
- 52 in Camp Stone instruction camp
- Electoral battalion: 450 (They will return to Spain when the
elections, including subsequent rounds, are declared over.)
- Kabul Airport: 66 military personnel and four Civil Guards from
October 2009 to May 2010
- Engineering Unit: 180(They will return to Spain when the new Base
of Qala-i-Naw is finished.)
- New Monitors: 12 military personnel and 30 Civil Guards for the
training of the Afghan Army to be sent at the end of 2009. (NOTE:
President Zapatero announced at the April 3-4 NATO Summit that 40
Civil Guards would be sent to training the Afghan Police. This
deployment has not yet been approved by the Council of Ministers,
but Guardia Civil representatives are discussing the matter with
NATO authorities. END NOTE.)
3. (SBU) The Council of Ministers approved September 11 sending 220
more troops to Afghanistan. Post has learned that the troop
increase, a maneuver group, would come out of the 450-man election
support force in place now. Minister Chacon has portrayed the
Council's decision as the appropriate response to recommendations
contained in a report presented by the Defense Chief of Staff
General Rodriguez, who requested more troops to reinforce the
security of Spanish troops already there. Minister Chacon will now
have to ask the Congress for permission to send the troops,
something that she will likely do in a special session of the
Congressional Commission on Defense. The authorization will
doubtless be granted, although minority parties such as the United
Left (IU) and BNG will vote against it, asking the GOS for the
withdrawal of all Spanish troops.
4. (SBU) Although most parties support increasing the number of
troops and have been asking for some time for better training and
equipment, they may use Chacon's appearance as an opportunity to
accuse the Government of not telling the truth about the real nature
of the mission. The Popular Party is already publicly and loudly
demanding the President appear in Congress to admit that Spanish
soldiers are participating in an actual war, where Spain is
defending freedom, democracy and human rights, rather than in a
peace-keeping operation as GOS officials have long asserted.
5. (SBU) President Zapatero is aware that Spanish public support for
sending additional combat troops to Afghanistan is low (26 per cent
according to Transatlantic Trends 2009). The President's decision
to send additional troops, instead of increasing Spanish economic
assistance in Afghanistan as 68 per cent of Spaniards would
reportedly prefer (Transatlantic Trends 2009), will open him to
criticism from some minority leftist parties. These smaller parties
could accuse Zapatero of increasing the Spanish deployment just to
please President Obama.
MADRID 00000924 002 OF 003
//Economic Assistance Commitments/Pledges//
6. (U) Following is the information available to Post from media and
Ministry sources about other Spanish assistance, pledges, and past
- Pledge of one billion dollars through 2016 to back the new Afghan
government's eventual adopted development strategy. The aid would
concentrate on management, education (especially women and girls),
and development of Afghan economic infrastructure, especially
communications and agriculture. (Source: August 13, 2009 -
Zapatero's letter to President Obama) NOTE: Zapatero referenced a
conversation between Bernardino Leon and NSA Jones. This promised
aid has been portrayed as above and beyond existing Spanish
commitments, pursuant to Afghan government programming, but it
remains to be seen whether the GOS will apply current pledges to
this total and how fast such aid is likely to be disbursed. End
- Four million euros to the Fiduciary Fund of the Afghan National
Army (announced by Zapatero at the April 3-4, 2009, NATO Summit)
- Five million euros to the Afghan Electoral Fund (announced by
Zapatero at the April 3-4, 2009 NATO Summit)
- Five million euros in 2009 to the UNDP to be allocated to the
construction of a "Centro de Capacitacion Agricola y Desarrollo
Rural" (announced by Soraya Rodrguez, Secretary for International
Cooperation and Development on February 19)
- 1.5 million euros for Afghan elections (approved in the November
14, 2008, Council of Ministers)
- Eight million euros to fund colleges of agriculture in Kabul and
in Badghis (announced by Moratinos at the June 2008 Paris
- One million euros in May 2008 to prevent a food crisis in Badghis,
in response to a WFP appeal.
- 250,000 euros to the UNDP-managed Afghan Counter Narcotics Trust
Fund given in 2007.
- 150 million euros, over five years, pledged at the January 2006
London Conference. By February 2009 the media report that Spain had
already disbursed 112.7 million euros (49 million were managed by
international organizations, 37.5 million by the AECID, and 6.2
million in de-centralized cooperation).
- 110 million euros from 2001 to 2005 in aid to Afghanistan, through
both bilateral and multilateral contributions (commitment made at
the Tokyo Conference)
7. (U) Other assistance:
- Training of the Afghan Police - In February 2009 Civil Guard
Officers finished the training of 130 members of an Afghan Police
Unit in the PRT in Qala-i-Naw.
- On July 28, 2008, the Spanish Ministry of Defense signed with its
Afghan counterpart an agreement whereby Spain would build a Forward
Support Base in Qala-i-Now, for ANA use at a cost of 14.5 million
euros, as well as train, equip, and monitor a 150-strong ANA unit.
Estimated total: 20 million euros.
- As of June 2008, Spain had committed 12 experts to the EU police
training mission (EUPOL-Afghanistan), of which eleven were on the
ground at that time.
- In October 2007, two Spanish Instruction Teams (52 trainers) left
for Herat to train two units of the Afghan Army, under ISAF command.
The mission, according to the media, was supposed to last at twelve
months, with a cost of 200,000 euros a month, plus an initial cost
of another 200,000 euros in infrastructure.
- According to then-Minister of Defense, Jos Antonio Alonso, the
cost of the military deployment in Afghanistan from January 2002 to
early 2007, was between 600 and 700 million euros.
8. (SBU) SUMMARY: Spain remains committed to Afghanistan. Though
the 220-man plus-up is being presented as an operational requirement
MADRID 00000924 003 OF 003
(and no doubt it is), there is also a political calculation here --
the GOS is sending a clear message of support to the U.S. There
will be a price for this among Zapatero's socialist base and with
the far left parties whose votes in Congress he needs.
Nevertheless, the GOS appears determined to press ahead.