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Cablegate: Codel Skelton Meets with Romanian Military

VZCZCXRO6520
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHBM #0802 3371326
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031326Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0124
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BUCHAREST 000802

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE EUR/CE FOR ASCHEIBE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OREP PREL MARR MASS MOPS RO
SUBJECT: CODEL SKELTON MEETS WITH ROMANIAN MILITARY
LEADERSHIP

REF: STATE 120174

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: During a 23-25 November 2009 visit to
Romania, House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Ike
Skelton (D-MO), ranking member Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA)
and four other HASC members met with senior leaders of the
Romanian MOD and General Staff, members of the parliamentary
Defense Committee and the Romanian President's National
Security Advisor, as well as visiting Romanian soldiers
wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq. CODEL Skelton thanked
Romania for their force contributions in Afghanistan, Iraq
and the Western Balkans and expressed Congressional support
for deepening U.S.-Romanian Political-Military cooperation.
END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) CODEL Skelton met November 24 with Chief of General
Staff Adm Gheorghe Marin, Chief of Land Forces MGen Dan
Ghica, Deputy Defense Minister Viorel Oancea and other MOD
officials to discuss U.S.-Romanian defense cooperation and
especially joint operations in Afghanistan. The CODEL
thanked the Romanians for their contributions and sacrifices
in Afghanistan and Iraq. The MOD reps expressed their pride
in their close relationship with American Armed Forces and
emphasized that through this cooperation and joint training
Romania was working to modernize its military forces. Gen
Ghica told the CODEL that the Romanian Land Forces were eager
to continue their contributions in Afghanistan but asked for
Congressional help in acquiring the equipment necessary to do
the job properly. He focused specifically on heavily armored
vehicles such as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles
(MRAP) and armored construction equipment for combat
engineers. Ghica noted that Romanian troops were patrolling
Highway One between Kabul and Kandahar alongside American
troops but they did not yet have the same equipment as the
American units. He added that Romanian combat engineers have
been underutilized due to their lack of armored bulldozers
and graders. Finally, the Romanians noted that their
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) capabilities had been seriously
degraded by operations in Iraq, where they had essentially
worn out all of their existing aircraft. The MOD had already
begun to lose experienced pilots and technicians due to a
lack of usable UAVs, and they were seeking assistance in
purchasing new systems or in allowing Romanian pilots to
operate U.S. UAVs in Afghanistan.

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3. (SBU) The Delegation met separately with four members of
the Romanian Parliament Committee on Defense, Public Order
and National Security, led by committee chairman, Costica
Conacheu and including representatives from each of the three
major political parties. The MPs emphasized that, regardless
of who won the December 6 presidential runoff, Romania would
remain committed to the mission in Afghanistan and the close
relationship with the United States. They acknowledged that
the political parties disagreed on many topics, but they were
united behind the view that a strong relationship with the
U.S. was essential to Romanian security. The CODEL and their
Romanian counterparts also shared views on the legislative
branch oversight responsibilities, especially in the context
of the military. The CODEL advised the Romanians to visit
with their troops, to talk with them and to see their
equipment so that they would be better educated about the
military's needs and procurement priorities.

4. (SBU) The CODEL also met with Iulian Fota, National
Security Advisor to Romanian President Traian Basescu, who
explained that Romanian engagement in Afghanistan had not
been an issue in the presidential elections because all the
major candidates and parties agreed on the importance of the
mission. He also discussed the importance of the Black Sea
area for regional stability and global energy security. Fota
said that Romania had a key role in promoting and securing
regional stability and that it was vital that NATO and the
U.S. increase their influence throughout the Black Sea area.

5. (SBU) Finally, the Delegation visited the military
hospital in Bucharest and met with soldiers wounded in Iraq
and Afghanistan, many of whom had received medical treatment
in the U.S. or at U.S. facilities in Germany. Several
soldiers expressed their gratitude for lifesaving treatment,
while the CODEL thanked the soldiers and their families for
their service. Two soldiers still require follow-up care not
available in Romania, and the CODEL promised to explore the
possibility of arranging treatment at U.S. facilities. The
CODEL asked the Romanian hospital and Embassy Bucharest for
specific information on the patients' conditions and
treatment requirements. Post is following up directly with
CODEL staff and the hospital.
GITENSTEIN

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