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Cablegate: Rfg: How to Keep the Dutch in Southern Afghanistan

VZCZCXRO6689
OO RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHNO #0563/01 3371538
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O 031538Z DEC 09
FM USMISSION USNATO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3682
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
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INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 0735
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 1310
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
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RUEHNO/USDELMC BRUSSELS BE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 USNATO 000563

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2019
TAGS: PREL MOPS MARR MCAP NATO AF
SUBJECT: RFG: HOW TO KEEP THE DUTCH IN SOUTHERN AFGHANISTAN

Classified By: Ambassador Ivo Daalder for reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C/NF) This is a request for guidance by OOB Brussels time
on December 4. See para 7.

2. (C/NF) SUMMARY. On December 2, the U.S. Ambassador and
NATO Secretary General (SYG) Rasmussen received a demarche
from The Dutch PermRep to NATO, Frank Majoor, requesting
options The Hague could pursue to keep a Dutch presence in
southern Afghanistan. Majoor said that The Hague would make
a decision on its future role in Afghanistan on December 7
and sought ideas that he could present to The Hague as
possible alternatives to a Dutch withdrawal from Uruzgan.
According to Majoor, Dutch senior leadership was interested
in maintaining a military presence as part of NATO's
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in
southern Afghanistan, but the option to stay in Uruzgan was
virtually off the table. He described the political
situation on this issue as increasingly complicated and hotly
debated in The Hague. The NATO SYG thought that a reduction
of a Dutch presence in Uruzgan would counterbalance years of
efforts it undertook to build good relations with local
officials and acquire an understanding of the local
situation. END SUMMARY.

Uruzgan Is Not An Option
-------------------------

3. (C/NF) The Dutch PermRep Majoor told the U.S. Ambassador
and NATO SYG Rasmussen, in separate discussions, that senior
Dutch leadership would soon make a decision not to continue
as the lead nation in Uruzgan province and continuation of a
Dutch role in any capacity in the province was seemingly
remote. Majoor also said that the continuation of the Dutch
Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and its development
activities in the province were increasingly unlikely.

But...We'd Like To Stay In The South
--------------------------

4. (C/NF) Majoor said, in light of the pending withdrawal,
The Hague was still interested in continuing a military
presence in southern Afghanistan. He sought ideas to find a
coherent military solution to an imminent decision to
withdraw and asked Daalder and Rasmussen what else the Dutch
could do in southern Afghanistan to continue as part of the
ISAF mission. Majoor noted that the Dutch Chief of Defense
would consult with SACEUR directly on this same question.
According to Majoor, if non-Uruzgan options were identified,
it might be possible to garner support and incorporate them
into Dutch senior level discussions. Majoor said that Dutch
senior leadership would meet on December 7 to debate its
future role in Afghanistan.

The NATO SYG Takes A Tough Line
---------------------------

5. (C/NF) The NATO SYG responded to the Dutch PermRep with a
stern message for The Netherlands to stay and continue as the
lead nation in Uruzgan province. Rasmussen said he was
investing lots of time and effort encouraging nations to
increase their military and financial contributions in
Afghanistan. In his view, he was asking many countries to
make difficult decisions and found it contrary to his efforts
to help the Dutch, simultaneously, reduce its forces. The
NATO SYG thought that a reduction of a Dutch presence in
Uruzgan would counterbalance years of efforts it undertook to
build good relations with local officials and acquire an
understanding of the local situation. Separately, the SYG
told us he was content to let the Dutch continue to feel the
political pressure from Allies than offer an exit strategy
too early. The SYG also informed the Ambassador that he
would call Prime Minister Balkenende to deliver a stern
message directly.

Will The U.S. Lead When We Leave?
----------------------------

6. (C/NF) Majoor asked Ambassador Daalder if the U.S. would
volunteer as the lead nation in Uruzgan after the Dutch

USNATO 00000563 002 OF 002


stepped down. Additionally, Majoor asked the U.S. to
consider providing force protection to civilian elements of
its PRT, if The Hague decided to continue Dutch development
efforts in Uruzgan province. Ambassador Daalder promised to
refer the questions to Washington in order to get an answer
before the December 7 meeting in The Hague.

Request For Guidance
----------------------

7. (C/NF) Request for Guidance: Mission requests guidance
for use with the Dutch senior leadership on the following
questions:

-- Will the U.S. volunteer to be the lead nation in Uruzgan
province after the Dutch step down from the role?

-- Would the U.S. provide force protection to Dutch civilian
PRT elements allowed to remain in Uruzgan after a drawdown of
Dutch military forces in the province?

-- Is there a coherent, military role the Dutch could play
within its available capacity outside of Uruzgan?

DAALDER

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