Cablegate: Secretary of Defense Gates's Meetings with Turkish


DE RUEHAK #0251/01 0471120
O 161120Z FEB 10

S E C R E T ANKARA 000251


E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/16/2020

Classified By: Ambassador James F. Jeffrey for reason 1.4 (b, d)

1. (S/NF) Summary: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
(SecDef) met with Turkish Minister of National Defense Mehmet
Vecdi Gonul (MND Gonul) and the Chief of the Turkish Genral
Staff General Ilker Basbug (Gen Basbug) in separate meetings
during his bilateral visit to Ankara on February 6, 2010.
SecDef thanked Gonul and Basbug for Turkey's valuable
contributions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Gonul stressed
Turkey's important role in Afghanistan as a Muslim country in
the Alliance and Basbug hailed continuing U.S. and Turkish
support to Afghan National Security Force training and
assistance to the Pakistani Armed Forces. SecDef and Gonul
discussed the importance of a Turkish role in European
Missile Defense. On combating the PKK in Turkey, SecDef
agreed with Basbug that the key to further progress is
greater Iraqi cooperation with Turkey. SecDef highlighted to
Gonul opportunities to increase military capability and gain
economic benefits through choosing Sikorsky helicopters or
Raytheon Patriot PAC-3 systems in ongoing tenders.

Bilateral Relationship

2. (C) MND Gonul stressed the importance of the SecDef's
visit, noting that it built on the Prime Minister's December
meeting in Washington with President Obama in December.
SecDef agreed on the importance of the bilateral
relationship, and recalled that Turkish-American solidarity
extended from the Korean War through the present in
Afghanistan. SecDef said he believed that Turkey was
undervalued as an Ally by many Europeans.


3. (S/NF) In both meetings SecDef conveyed U.S. appreciation
for Turkey's contributions to Afghanistan -- including
providing troops, OMLTs, POMLTs, a PRT, commanding
RC-Capital, providing access through the Incirlik air base,
and allowing the transit of non-lethal goods to Afghanistan
through Turkish air space. Regarding Turkey's contributions
to ISAF, GEN Basbug said that "we are trying to do our best"
with the PRT in Wardak province and command of RC-Capital.
He observed that the hardest aspect of the fight against the
Taliban was differentiating between the real Taliban and
those that merely helped or supported the Taliban or even
indigenous forces not aligned with the Taliban. However,
Basbug was hopeful that Allies could win over some of those
who were sympathetic to the Taliban through a reintegration

4. (S/NF) Gonul emphasized that Turkey had a "special
connection" with the people of Afghanistan due to common
Islamic roots. Turkey's involvement in ISAF offered a way of
refuting insurgents' attempts to use Islam as ideological
justification for their efforts. SecDef agreed that having
Muslim soldiers participate in ISAF drives home the fact that
the fight in Afghanistan is not against Islam but rather
against terrorists who "pervert Islam."

5. (S/NF) Basbug was upbeat about prospects for success in
Afghanistan, noting that the positive tone of GEN
McChrystal's brief at the NATO CHODs conference had inspired
more optimism among his colleagues than had his original
September brief on his assessment. SecDef said he agreed
with McChrystal's latest assessment that the situation was
serious but no longer deteriorating, but warned that no one
should exaggerate how well things were going. At the
Istanbul Ministerial as well, he said, there had clearly been
a change in mood among the Ministers present. Significantly,
Defense Minister Wardak had told him that for the first time
he had begun to hope for a successful outcome in Afghanistan.

6. (S/NF) Basbug described the terrorist attacks in Kabul on
January 18th as serious, but said that the ANSF response
ultimately offered an "outstanding" example of how to manage
a very complex operation. Nine terrorists were killed and
two were captured, and the terrorists did not ultimately
achieve their objectives. Describing post-attack operations
as "a cause for optimism," Basbug said that the Afghan forces
involved showed they were motivated, well disciplined, and
well prepared for the fight. Basbug then reviewed Turkey's
plans for training the ANA and the ANP, stressing that the

priority was to provide unit training both in Turkey and in
Afghanistan. So far, he said, Turkey had trained three
Afghan companies and would open a training center in Kabul to
do battalion-level training soon.


7. (S/NF) Basbug also raised Pakistan, recalling his October
visit at the invitation of General Kayani. During his visit
to Swat province he had witnessed a hundred-fold improvement
in security since his previous visit, citing the return of
civilian populations to the region as a clear success for
Pakistani forces. Sec Def agreed, observing that the degree
of success by Pakistani forces ran counter to all of our
intelligence predictions.

8. (S/NF) Basbug highlighted the TGF's support for Pakistan's
armed forces - especially on logistics and maintenance of
equipment, including spare parts for their Air Force. He
said that although overall relationships with Pakistan were
sometimes difficult, cooperation remained solid at the
military level.


9. (S/NF) Basbug raised the issue of Turkey's protracted
fight against the PKK, highlighting progress over the past
year due to the elimination of key leaders, divisions within
PKK ranks, and dwindling morale of PKK fighters. This
progress, Basbug said, was the result of increased
U.S.-Turkish cooperation since the end of 2007, including
intelligence sharing, provision of ISR support, and use U.S.
UAV assets in Northern Iraq. Basbug concluded by requesting
additional support from the United States government, Iraqi
government, and KRG. Drawing a parallel to U.S. actions in
the cross-border region of Pakistan, Basbug said that in
order to continue to eliminate the PKK threat, Turkey needs
more support from all stakeholders to pursue the top PKK

10. (S/NF) Addressing Turkey's outstanding Reaper UAV
requests, SecDef reaffirmed to Basbug that the U.S. is
committed to the sale of Reapers to Turkey, but offered the
caveat that the sale would first have to be approved by
Congress. SecDef added that the Pentagon is also looking at
additional reconnaissance capabilities in addition to the
Predators currently flown by the U.S. The U.S. he said, is
considering some UAVs with shorter dwell times, which have
proven to be effective in Iraq. Regarding current UAV
support -- which already provides an average of 16-17 hours
of coverage daily -- SecDef said that Gen Odierno will look
at ways to surge up to 24-hour coverage when necessary, e.g.
for operations involving high-value targets.

11. (S/NF) SecDef emphasized that Turkey's dialogue with KRG
was very important. In his meeting the previous week with
KRG President Barzani, SecDef said he pressed him once again
to work with the PKK to persuade them to abandon violence.
Basbug agreed and said Turkey's dialogue with the KRG was
particularly important as a measure to persuade the KRG to
take a more proactive approach to the PKK.

12. (S/NF) Basbug expressed concern about the U.S. drawdown
of forces from Iraq, lamenting that while Turkey has been
successful in reducing the PKK threat, it will be difficult
to finish off the threat after U.S forces leave. He
concluded that Turkey would need to "finish the problem"
before the U.S. drawdown was complete.

Missile Defense and Iran

13. (S/NF) MND Gonul said he considered the new US Phased
Adaptive approach better than the previous Administration's
approach, since the previous system did not cover Turkey.
SecDef agreed, noting that the Polish and Romanian agreement
to host SM-3 missiles. He further emphasized that without a
radar based in Turkey, significant areas in the eastern part
of the country would not be covered by the system.

14. (S/NF) Gonul told SecDef that discussions about the radar
were ongoing within the Turkish government and inquired about

what alternate sites the U.S. was considering. SecDef
responded that other countries in Southeast Europe might be
interested in hosting the radar, but reiterated that Turkey
was the optimal site. SecDef explained that one of the
reasons why he had embraced the new administration's approach
was that it provided protection for Allies and troops earlier
than the previous program without reducing protection of the

15. (S/NF) Turning to Iran, Gonul cited the enrichment
program and acknowledged that Ankara is "concerned about the
Iranian threat," but said that the international community
does not yet have evidence that there is a weapons program.
Gonul said that even though Turkey does not expect an attack
from Iran, the threat from Iran to Turkey's European allies
would make an air defense capability important. (Comment: His
acknowledgement of an Iranian threat to Europe diverges from
previous Turkish statements underplaying such a threat.) He
repeated that the system would be designed to defend all of
Europe, and not solely Turkey.

16. (S/NF) SecDef counseled that if Iran goes forward with a
nuclear weapons program, other states in the region were
likely to proliferate as well. Additionally, there was a
good chance Israelis would at some point decide that military
action was necessary. As Turkey would inevitably be unable
to sit out on any conflict in the region, it is important to
be prepared militarily and Ankara should not hesitate to
acquire defensive systems, even as the international
community works to stop Iran's efforts.

Acquisition Advocacy

17. (C//NF) During his meeting with Gonul, SecDef advised
that Turkey had opportunities to increase its military
capabilities while gaining economic benefits by selecting
U.S. companies in currently open tenders. First, Sikorsky,
was prepared to guarantee that for every helicopter produced
in Turkey and bought by Turkey, Sikorsky would produce a
second helicopter in Turkey for export. SecDef explained
that in addition to providing modern equipment for Turkey,
this offer would provide hundreds of millions of dollars in
export revenue. Gonul replied that Sikorsky had told him
Turkey was the largest consumer of Sikorsky helicopters after
the U.S. and that Turkey already was buying 70 Sea Hawk
helicopters (as well as 14 heavy lift helos (CH-47s) from
Boeing). The tender for the new project had been running for
two years and the short list included Sikorsky and an Italian
company. Gonul believes Sikorsky has a good chance to win.

18. (C/NF) A second opportunity involves the co-production of
Raytheon PAC-3 Patriot systems. Demand for these systems in
the Gulf States could potentially yield hundreds of millions
of dollars in export revenue. SecDef stressed that "nothing
can compete with the PAC-3 when it comes to capabilities."
These opportunities are a chance for Turkey to earn revenue
while simultaneously enhancing capabilities and creating

19. (C/NF) Gonul said this competition right now was between
the U.S., Russia and China, but noted that French MoD Morin
had indicated in Istanbul that the French would also make a
bid including co-production arrangements. Gonul observed
that as this was an expensive project and he had limited
familiarity with the PAC-3: he needed to be careful to make
the right choice. SecDef pointed out that the Raytheon
package would be easier to integrate with the command and
control of the U.S. and others using the same system.

Joint Strike Fighter

20. (C) Gonul said Turkey was pleased to be part of the joint
Strike Fighter (JSF) program and noted his belief that it was
important for Turkey to have maintenance facilities in
Turkey. SD remarked that because the program was recently
restructured, cost estimates were now realistic. SecDef
noted he had directed the JSF program manager to put
additional funding in the FY2011 and FY2012 budget for JSF.
However, because of contractor delays, the timeline had
slipped about a year. In conclusion, Gonul raised Turkey's
F-16 modernization program and expressed concern that new
upgrades precluded Turkish access to computer systems and
software modification previously allowed. Turkish Under

Secretary for Industry Bayar told SecDef he would pursue this
issue in greater detail with Under Secretary of Defense for
Acquisition Ash Carter.

21. (U) SecDef has cleared this cable. Drafted by OSD staff.

"Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at http://www.intelink.s"

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