Cablegate: Clarifying the Transition to Afghan Lead
PP RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHC #4108/01 0142254
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 142248Z JAN 10
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL NATO POST COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 0250
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4594
RUEHKB/AMEMBASSY BAKU PRIORITY 9927
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 1736
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RUEHDL/AMEMBASSY DUBLIN PRIORITY 1429
RUEHHE/AMEMBASSY HELSINKI PRIORITY 2812
RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV PRIORITY 3035
RUEHVJ/AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO PRIORITY 2914
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE PRIORITY 2504
RUEHSQ/AMEMBASSY SKOPJE PRIORITY 8035
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 8856
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI PRIORITY 2157
RUEHTI/AMEMBASSY TIRANA PRIORITY 4408
RUEHUM/AMEMBASSY ULAANBAATAR PRIORITY 7780
RUEHVI/AMEMBASSY VIENNA PRIORITY 0516
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 0905
RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB PRIORITY 3788
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 2434
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 5827
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 5528
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 6427
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 8747
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 1919
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 STATE 004108
EO 12958 DECL: 01/14/2019
TAGS AF, MARR, MOPS, NATO, PREL
SUBJECT: CLARIFYING THE TRANSITION TO AFGHAN LEAD
Classified By: Acting A/S Nancy McEldowney for Reasons 1.4(b,d)
For the Ambassador or Charge
SUMMARY AND ACTION REQUEST
1. (SBU) The Department requests action addressees clarify for host governments at the highest possible level the planning process for ISAF transition to Afghan lead at the provincial level, emphasizing that discussion of this issue must not be mischaracterized as a plan for the imminent withdrawal of ISAF forces. In order for provincial transition to occur, certain criteria pertaining to security as well as governance and development will have to be met. As the President stated on December 1, it is important that we increase our commitments to the mission now in order to create the conditions to begin to draw down international combat forces beginning in mid-2011.
2. (C) NATO is currently developing an annex to the ISAF Operational Plan that describes the process for a conditions-based, province-by-province transition of Afghan responsibility for security. NATO will discuss the plan, including political considerations, with the intent of achieving North Atlantic Council (NAC) approval prior to the January 28 London Foreign Ministers’ conference on Afghanistan. Welcoming this plan or progress toward it is a key deliverable of the London conference.
3. (C) It is vital that in public messages the transition plan not be confused with an exit plan or timetable. ISAF is currently in Phase 3 (Stabilization) of its five-stage Operational Plan. Phase 4 is Transition and Phase 5 is Redeployment, culminating in withdrawal. Transition has at times been erroneously equated with Transfer of Lead Security Responsibility (TLSR). ISAF Phase 4 Transition refers to a tangible demonstration of progress in the overall stability and security of Afghanistan and Afghan ownership and responsibility, based on rigorous security, governance, and development conditions. Transition will proceed on a province-by-province basis and be gradual. TLSR is an early tactical step in the partnership between Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and ISAF, controlled in theater at the operational level. It is part of the ANSF development process to encourage and accelerate ANSF capability, responsibility, and ownership, not an indication of changes in either ANSF capabilities or the security mission.
4. (C) It is important that our Allies and partners counter erroneous misunderstanding that international support for the Government of Afghanistan is wavering and any false expectation of an imminent withdrawal of ISAF forces. Using the London conference to lay out an exit strategy would send the wrong message to the people of Afghanistan as well as to Allied and partner publics.
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5. (SBU) The Department requests that action addressees report the results of their efforts by front channel cable slugged for EUR/RPM Aaron Cope, S/SRAP, and SCA/A by January 17.
6. (SBU) Action addressees should draw on the following points:
-- NATO is currently developing an annex to the ISAF Operational Plan describing the process for a conditions-based, province-by-province transition in consultation with the Government of Afghanistan and other stakeholders as appropriate. After discussing the plan and relevant political considerations, the North Atlantic Council aims to adopt the transition plan prior to the January 28 London Foreign Ministers’ conference on Afghanistan.
-- Transition is a tangible demonstration of progress in the overall stability and security of Afghanistan and Afghan ownership and responsibility. Transition will proceed gradually on a province-by-province basis based on rigorous security, governance, and development conditions.
-- The specific conditions for provincial transition are the focus of ongoing planning processes and have not been finalized. Transition of individual provinces should be undertaken with extensive consultations among NATO/ISAF, the Afghan government, UNAMA, and other key stakeholders, and only when it is clear that security, governance, and development conditions have been met and can be sustained.
-- Transition is not an exit strategy for ISAF, although it is an important step toward fulfilling ISAF’s mission. ISAF will retain supporting, enabling, and mentoring/advising roles throughout transition. International civilians will remain in place and may, in fact, increase as the international mission is civilianized and as conditions allow. The duration of the post-transition international presence will depend on local conditions. ISAF forces no longer required in one province may need to shift to other provinces that are in earlier stages of the transition process. Affected nations participating in the provinces in which transition is taking place will be consulted regarding any necessary changes in force posture.
-- It is important to distinguish Transition from Transfer of Lead Security Responsibility (TLSR), which is an early tactical step in the partnership between ANSF and ISAF whereby ISAF forces gradually assume the “supporting” role and ANSF take greater leadership. This process is controlled in theater at the operational level. It is part of the ANSF development process to encourage and accelerate ANSF capability, responsibility, and ownership, not an indication of changes in either ANSF capabilities or the security mission.
-- In the wake of President Karzai’s positive commitments in his November 2009 inaugural address, it is particularly important that in publicly discussing transition, ISAF countries neither imply that the commitment of the international community is wavering nor create unrealistic
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public expectations of an imminent reduction in ISAF forces.
-- On the contrary, now is the time to reinforce our contributions in Afghanistan, as President Obama stated in his December 1 address, in order to create the conditions that will allow us to begin the process of drawing down combat forces in the summer of 2011.
-- Welcoming NATO’s progress in developing a plan for provincial transition could be one useful deliverable of the January 28 international conference in London.
-- We expect the conference also will welcome and pledge support for an Afghan-led program of reintegration.
-- The conference will have a broader range of outcomes in governance and development as well as civilian coordination, not only security. It will provide Foreign Ministers an important opportunity to welcome GOA plans for initiatives on anti-corruption, sub-national governance, and economic development and to welcome the announcement of the new UN SRSG. The United States believes that the conference also should be able to welcome NATO’s plans to strengthen the mandate for its Senior Civilian Representative.
-- While this will not be a pledging conference, we will welcome any additional civilian or military contributions that Allies or partners might announce there. At NATO’s Defense Ministerial meeting on February 4-5 in Istanbul, we will encourage nations to clarify previously pledged commitments to ensure that forces deployed in 2010 have an operational impact. CLINTON