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Cablegate: Afghanistan: Mod On Rc-North Changes, Political

VZCZCXRO3806
PP RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHHE #0073 0570701
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 260701Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5456
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L HELSINKI 000073

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/23/2020
TAGS: AF FI MARR MOPS PREL SWE
SUBJECT: AFGHANISTAN: MOD ON RC-NORTH CHANGES, POLITICAL
SUPPORT

REF: A. HELSINKI 71
B. STOCKHOLM 79

Classified By: P-E Chief Scott Brandon, Reasons 1.4(b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: MOD Policy Director Jarvenpaa discussed
potential realignment of RC-North, the new Turkish PRT there,
and political support for Finland's activities in Afghanistan
with P-E Chief in a February 23 meeting. Post requests
additional releasable information regarding increased U.S.
military forces in RC-North (see para. 6). END SUMMARY.

2. (C) In a February 23 meeting with P-E Chief, MOD Policy
Director Pauli Jarvenpaa related his understanding that
German authorities are considering a realignment of RC-North
under which Germany would take over responsibilities for PRT
operations in the area surrounding Mazar-e-Sharif while
Sweden and Finland shifted their PRT from Mazar-e-Sharif to
the northwestern portion of RC-North around Faryab.
Jarvenpaa did not raise the issue himself nor did he express
an opinion on the merits of the idea, which he characterized
as "under internal German discussion." Jarvenpaa did opine
that Sweden might not be particularly keen on leaving
Mazar-e-Sharif given the amount they had invested in
infrastructure there, and that such a move would put the
Swedes right back where they started.

3. (C) Jarvenpaa confirmed that discussions were ongoing
among RC-North contributors about the new Turkish PRT there.
He understood that the Turks had modified their initial
concept for a "civilian PRT" and would deploy roughly 100
soldiers along with the same number of civilian experts.

4. (C) Jarvenpaa related that he had just returned from
testifying before the parliament's foreign affairs committee
on Afghanistan. The committee strongly supported the
government's planned increases in Finnish military and
civilian contributions, and many members were eager to hear
details on Finnish military operations which were provided by
FDF Operations Chief MG Raty and the immediate former
commander of Finnish forces in Afghanistan. While the SDP
statement at the plenary session the previous week (ref A)
had not endorsed the increases, Jarvenpaa felt comfortable
that the SDP was still behind the policy. "Perhaps they got
a phone call from the President," he mused, referring to the
fact that President Halonen, officially nonpartisan but from
the SDP, supported the government's policy. When asked about
parliamentary visits to Afghanistan, Jarvenpaa could not
recall that any Finnish parliamentarians had visited except
those that were serving ministers. He pointed to the
difficulty of providing security for such a visit, which
would only be feasible for a handful of MPs at the most.

5. (C) COMMENT: We continue to ask members of parliament and
government officials whether there is any consideration given
to a parliamentary visit to Afghanistan, given the
significant Finnish commitment there over the last eight
years. Cost and security are frequently raised as obstacles
by MFA and MOD officials, though most parliamentarians
indicate that they would jump at a chance to see things for
themselves. While Afghanistan is on track to become
Finland's largest and longest-running crisis management
operation, its merits will continue to be debated by MPs,
almost none of whom have any direct experience of conditions
on the ground there. END COMMENT.

6. (C) ACTION REQUEST: Jarvenpaa requested more information
on U.S. troop increases in RC-North. MPs had questioned him
on the effect of the heightened U.S. military presence in
RC-North. He explained that this would help the COIN effort
and so would be advantageous for Finland. Post requests
releasable information on the plans for an increased U.S.
military presence in RC-North which we can share with the
GOF. REL ISAF information for government use only as well as
less detailed information which could be used to address
questions from parliamentarians and the media would be
helpful.
ORECK

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