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Viewing cable 07STATE18563, DEMARCHE REQUEST ON ICELANDIC PEACEKEEPERS IN PRT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07STATE18563 2007-02-14 19:07 2011-01-13 05:05 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Secretary of State
VZCZCXYZ0003
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHC #8563 0451944
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 141937Z FEB 07
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHCP/AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHRK/AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHVL/AMEMBASSY VILNIUS IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB IMMEDIATE 0000
INFO RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO IMMEDIATE 0000
UNCLAS STATE 018563 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: MARR PREL PGOV IC AF LH DA HR UK CA NATO
SUBJECT: DEMARCHE REQUEST ON ICELANDIC PEACEKEEPERS IN PRT 
CHAGHCHARAN 
 
REF: A. A) KABUL 5855 (NOTAL) 
     B. B) REYKJAVIK 431 (NOTAL) 
 
1.  (U)  Sensitive but unclassified, protect accordingly. 
 
SUMMARY AND ACTION REQUEST 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (SBU)  Department requests that addressee embassies 
demarche host governments requesting that they urge Iceland 
to keep its mobile patrol team in PRT Chaghcharan beyond 
April 2007.   Please report host government reaction by 
February 20.  End summary and action request. 
 
GOAL 
---- 
3.  (SBU)  The USG's ultimate goal is to convince the 
Government of Iceland (GOI) to reverse its decision to 
withdraw its mobile patrol team of civilian peacekeepers from 
PRT Chaghcharan in April 2007.  To that end, we seek to 
enlist the other countries whose forces make up PRT 
Chaghcharan (Lithuania, Croatia and Denmark) as well as 
Afghanistan, Canada and the UK in demarching Iceland.  We 
would expect the three governments contributing forces to the 
PRT to be receptive to this idea, as PRT leaders are very 
concerned about losing the unique capabilities their 
Icelandic colleagues bring to their operations.  Afghanistan 
has an obvious stake in the effectiveness of the PRT.  Canada 
and the UK would also be useful and credible voices in the 
demarche, both because of their own major contributions in 
Afghanistan and because Iceland seeks increased defense and 
security cooperation with them (and with Denmark) in the wake 
of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iceland this year. 
Embassy Reykjavik has already informally raised this issue 
with the GOI.  Following demarches by the PRT members and 
others, Department expects to ask Embassy Reykjavik to 
present a more formal demarche to reinforce the message. 
 
BACKGROUND 
---------- 
 
4.  (U)  The GOI intends to withdraw the Icelandic mobile 
patrol team (Mobile Liaison Observation Team/MLOT) from 
Afghanistan at the end of April 2007 (Ref A).  This decision 
reflects an effort by the GOI, which has no military, to 
steer its peacekeeping contributions away from activities 
that are controversial with the Icelandic public, 
particularly from roles where Icelandic peacekeepers are 
armed or wear military-type uniforms (Ref B).  Posts may draw 
from the following background information in requesting host 
governments to demarche the GOI: 
 
--The Government of Iceland intends to withdraw its civilian 
peacekeeping personnel from the Lithuania-led PRT in 
Chaghcharan in April 2007. Iceland's contribution to the PRT 
currently consists of a Mobile Liaison Observation Team 
(MLOT) totaling 13 persons.  The withdrawal of the Icelandic 
MLOT would be a serious loss for the PRT. 
 
--Because of its make-up, special equipment, and experience 
driving in the kind of harsh terrain found in Ghor Province, 
the Icelandic team has been especially effective in 
conducting patrols.  Moreover, through its reliability, 
efforts to pass on skills to other patrol units, and unique 
rescue capability, the Icelanders have made the PRT as a 
whole much more effective. 
 
--The Icelandic MLOT is unique in the resources and skills it 
brings to its designated patrols in PRT Chaghcharan.  A major 
problem for all the other patrols is lack of experience at 
driving in the harsh mountain conditions of Ghor Province. 
The Icelandic team is used to off-road driving up steep 
inclines and fording rivers - including at night.  The 
Icelanders, and only the Icelanders, have truly all-weather 
vehicles (Nissan Patrols) and the appropriate tires for 
handling the extremely rough and mountainous terrain of often 
snow-bound Ghor province (there are no paved roads). 
--The makeup of the Icelandic team of civilian specialists -- 
two counter-terrorism policemen, a search and rescue worker, 
skilled drivers, a paramedic, and a mechanic (who 
participates in the patrols) - has resulted in remarkable 
reliability for the team's missions, and particularly 
valuable and insightful reporting.  Even if Iceland were to 
turn over its vehicles to other PRT elements at the end of 
April, it would waste much of the major investment Iceland 
has made in bringing the vehicles to Afghanistan because, 
without the corresponding special driving skills and 
ride-along mechanic, the vehicles would soon become as 
vulnerable to problems as the rest of the PRT's vehicle 
fleet. 
 
--Beyond the value they add through their own patrols, the 
Icelanders contribute by making every effort to pass on to 
the other elements their special driving skills.  Moreover, 
this winter the Icelanders have already had occasion to 
rescue other units' stranded vehicles, and they have been 
paired up with other units as a safeguard. 
 
--We understand that the Icelandic Government's policy on 
peacekeeping, as stated by Foreign Minister Sverrisdottir 
October 19, is to take on purely civilian missions where 
Iceland has particular niche capabilities to contribute, 
while gradually increasing the number of peacekeepers 
deployed overseas at any one time.  Although the Icelandic 
team's mission in PRT Chaghcharan involves real danger and 
close cooperation with military forces, it is still a 
civilian mission and a perfect example of an Icelandic niche 
capability.  The team's rules of engagement do not allow it 
to participate in combat except in self-defense, its members 
are not part of the PRT's quick response force, and they do 
not perform guard duty. 
 
--The core mission of PRT Chaghcharan is performing patrols, 
and the Icelandic MLOT does this uniquely well and makes an 
all-but-irreplaceable contribution to enabling the other 
elements to perform their roles effectively.  The team's 
withdrawal just a couple of months from now would be a 
serious loss to the PRT.  We urge you to join us in 
approaching the Government of Iceland, asking that it 
reconsider this decision. 
RICE