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Cablegate: Finland to Announce Increased Afghanistan Support

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHHE #0036/01 0251611
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 251611Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0119
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5411
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L HELSINKI 000036

SIPDIS

NSC FOR JEFF HOVENIER; STATE FOR JARRETT BLANC (S/SRAP),TOM
GRAMAGLIA AND CAROLYN COBERLY (SCA/A)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/25/2020
TAGS: AF ECON EFIN FI MARR PGOV PREL
SUBJECT: FINLAND TO ANNOUNCE INCREASED AFGHANISTAN SUPPORT
AT LONDON CONFERENCE

REF: 10 STATE 06355

Classified By: DCM Michael A. Butler for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY. At the London Conference Finland will
announce its plans to increase its contributions to
Afghanistan. On January 22 President Halonen and the
Government decided to increase its military and civilian
presence and to direct additional development assistance to
the northern provinces. By early 2011 Finland should
complete deployment of roughly an additional 50 troops,
bringing the total to 195. Those troops likely will end up
at the PRT in Mazar-i-Sharif, though the Government could
consider additional troops to a possible Nordic OMLT. The
Government will add two development positions in Afghanistan,
and could increase from 24 to roughly 30 EUPOL trainers. It
also will consider sending civilian advisors to UNAMA. The
Government will confirm later whether it is re-directing
existing funds to the north, or additional funds, and whether
it will contribute to the Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund.
END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) In a January 25 meeting, Director for the MFA's Unit
for Security Policy and Crisis Management told Pol-Econ Chief
that at the January 28 London Conference the Government of
Finland (GOF) would announce its plans to increase its
contributions to Afghanistan. Kantola accepted reftel
points, raising only his interest in the question of civilian
structures within NATO, the EU and UN. Specifically, he
wondered about whether plans to increase would substitute or
supplement existing civilian offices in NATO and the EU.
Regarding post-Lisbon EU organization, he assumed the Foreign
Affairs Committee would discuss this on January 25, but he
could not predict the outcome. Kantola said Finland is
willing to consider providing a seconded advisor to NATO
Senior Civilian Representative staff, and to UNAMA as well
should the UN open secondments beyond military and police.

FINLAND INCREASES MILITARY CONTRIBUTIONS

3. (C) On January 22 the GOF announced its plan to increase
its troop level from 145 to 195. Kantola pointed out that
Finland's own announcement is confusing, as it refers to
"approximately 50" additional troops while also describing
195 as a maximum. Prime Minister Vanhanen, when announcing
the plan, referred to "roughly 200." Kantola said that the
GOF wants to retain some flexibility on the number, but that
the Parliament might insist on a hard ceiling. The GOF
intends to deploy the troops through 2010, with all being in
place by early 2011. Kantola could not provide any timetable
for deployment, in part because the Finns await the results
of German-Swedish decisions regarding the PRT in
Mazar-i-Sharif. The Defense Ministry will clarify the
deployment timetable later.

4. (C) Kantola said most of the additional troops would go to
the PRT, but could not say definitively all would go there.
Of the outstanding 145 slots 30 are for OMLTs. Kantola held
out the possibility of additional contributions to OMLTs,
perhaps to a Nordic OMLT, but conceded that Finland still has
empty slots to fill. He pointed out that the new GOF plan
permits contributing to battalion-level OMLTs, adding that
going down to the battalion level is the only way Finland
would be able to fill outstanding positions.

5. (C) The GOF's announcement described the increase as
"temporary." Kantola stated that "temporary" is not
accurate, and struggled to find the correct English word to
describe the GOF's decision; he said that the GOF's mandates
are typically open-ended, and this is no different. However,
it appears that an open-ended mandate for these additional
troops was politically difficult, resulting in the explicit
promise from the GOF that it would periodically re-visit its
decision.

MORE CIVILIANS, PERHAPS MORE DEVELOPMENT FUNDING

6. (C) The GOF announced publicly that it would direct
additional development funding for the northern provinces.
Kantola could not confirm whether this meant additional
development funding or a reapportionment of existing funds,
but he suspected the latter. (NOTE: In a January 22 meeting
an official with the MFA's European Security and Defense
Policy Office told Poloff that Finland likely would focus
more attention on agricultural development with a view to
providing livelihoods to demobilized fighters. END NOTE.)

Nor could Kantola confirm a GOF contribution to the Peace and
Reintegration Trust Fund. He said that the GOF would add two
development positions in Afghanistan, one based in the
Embassy and one in the PRT. The Embassy slot should be
filled this Spring; Kantola could not say when the other
might be filled. (NOTE: We had not received elaboration from
the MFA's Afghanistan Office before the deadline. END NOTE.)
Kantola also said that the decision whether to contribute
more police trainers rested with himself. He had not decided
yet, but thought it likely the GOF would increase, perhaps
from 24 to approximately 30. He reiterated that Finland
would also consider providing civilians to UNAMA, especially
if they opened additional offices in the northern provinces.

PARLIAMENT TO DEBATE GOF PLAN

7 (C) According to Kantola, the GOF's plan could go before
Parliament for debate and a vote as soon as the first week of
February. The GOF does not need Parliament's approval for
the increases: as Kantola noted, the decision on troops
belonged to the President, and the EUPOL decision was
effectively his. However, Kantola pointed to Parliament's
negative view in 2008 of Finland's support for
battalion-level OMLTs, which led to the GOF removing that
option. He stated Parliament, or the Foreign Affairs
Committee alone, could force the government to change its
plan if it issued direct and blunt criticism.

ORECK

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