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Viewing cable 06REYKJAVIK119, ICELAND: COAST GUARD DIRECTOR SHUT OUT OF

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06REYKJAVIK119 2006-04-03 18:06 2011-01-13 05:05 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Reykjavik
VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRK #0119/01 0931800
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 031800Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2679
INFO RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 0226
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 0201
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L REYKJAVIK 000119 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
OSLO FOR DATT 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/02/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PREL MARR PINR IC
SUBJECT: ICELAND:  COAST GUARD DIRECTOR SHUT OUT OF 
POST-NASKEF PLANNING 
 
REF: REYKJAVIK 118 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR CAROL VAN VOORST, REASONS 1.4 (B AND D). 
 
1. (C) Summary:  In informal conversation 3/31 Icelandic 
Ministry of Justice Deputy Permanent Secretary disclosed to 
Embassy that Coast Guard Director Georg Larusson has lost the 
confidence of Minister of Justice Bjarnason because he is not 
seen as a team player.  This explains why decisions about 
search and rescue (SAR) provisions to follow on from the 
planned departure of the 56th RQS from Naval Air Station 
Keflavik (NASKEF) are being handled in Bjarnason's private 
office, which has hired a consultant to vet helicopter sales 
offers, with the ICG largely cut out of the action.  Embassy 
advises U.S. officials for now to work directly with 
Icelandic Justice Ministry officials on Coast Guard issues as 
Larusson's tenure appears increasingly troubled.  End summary. 
 
2. (C) On the margins of the March 31 bilateral defense talks 
(reftel), poloff discussed with Iceland Ministry of Justice 
and Ecclesiastical Affairs Deputy Permanent Secretary Stefan 
Eiriksson (strictly protect) the ministry's planning for 
near-term replacement of the SAR assets Iceland will lose 
when the 56th RQS departs Iceland shortly as part of NASKEF 
downsizing..  Eiriksson, a 36-year-old lawyer, is also his 
ministry's head of police and judicial affairs, in which role 
he has oversight of the Iceland Coast Guard (ICG).  Poloff 
inquired into how Eiriksson's boss, Justice Minister Bjorn 
Bjarnason, has given him only until Easter to come up with an 
interim plan.  Asked if he was working all hours or felt he 
had things under control, Eiriksson answered, "A bit of 
both."  He explained that the Ministry had contracted for the 
services of a 72-year-old former Icelandair Director of 
Operations and Chairman of the Association of European 
Airlines Committee on Technology and Operations, engineer 
Leifur Magnusson, to evaluate the sales offers that have been 
pouring into the Ministry from helicopter manufacturers 
(note: including Sikorsky; end note).  Magnusson contributed 
much-needed technical expertise to Ministry deliberations. 
 
3. (C) Poloff asked why the decision-making on SAR assets was 
being handled in this way by Ministry principals rather than 
delegated to the presumed subject-matter experts at the ICG. 
Eiriksson confided that Bjarnason is fed up with leaks and 
public complaints from the ICG and is tempted to privatize 
some of its functions.  Icelandic law enforcement functions 
that have been partially privatized, such as the call center 
service on the country's 112 (equivalent to U.S. 911) line, 
have worked well, Eiriksson observed.  The contractors seem 
happy to have the work and get on with their job without any 
whining.  In contrast, ICG officials are frequently heard in 
the press complaining that they do not have enough resources 
properly to carry out their responsibilities -- thus creating 
a public relations headache for the Minister. 
 
4. (C) Poloff then asked why, indeed, the ICG found itself in 
the position of making public pleas for greater funding.  ICG 
Director Larusson, in the job since January 2005 following a 
successful stint as Immigration Director (also under the 
Justice Ministry) was believed to be Bjarnason's personal 
pick for his job, as someone who understood 21st-century 
security challenges and shared Bjarnason's hard line on law 
enforcement.  Eiriksson offered that Larusson's management of 
the ICG has been somewhat of a disappointment.  Unlike the 
National Commissioner of Police (NCP), for example, Larusson 
has not been willing to make tough choices about where to use 
the resources he has been given.  Larusson will get more 
resources when he has demonstrated the capacity effectively 
to husband what he has -- and not before, Eiriksson declared. 
 
5. (C) Comment:  While the motivation for Eiriksson's 
surprising candor is unclear, the accuracy of what he said 
appears to be supported by recent observations of Larusson 
and his top policy deputy, Commander Asgrimur Asgrimsson 
(note:  a U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduate; end note).  At a 
meeting with U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Thomas Collins March 
28 that Eiriksson also attended, Larusson seemed unusually 
taciturn and distracted.  Asgrimsson pointedly asked Collins 
whether the USCG saw any advantage in privatizing some rescue 
services and visibly welcomed the Commandant's answer that he 
did not.  He afterwards complained to poloff that the people 
making decisions for the ICG these days were not consulting 
with the professionals there, resulting in lowered morale at 
the organization.  Under the circumstances, potential U.S. 
interlocutors may be wise to route their proposals for ICG 
reforms through Eiriksson, whose political star seems to be 
 
on the rise -- or at least not imploding.  End comment. 
van Voorst