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Viewing cable 07REYKJAVIK298, ICELAND PRESENTS ITS VISION FOR NATO AIR POLICING

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07REYKJAVIK298 2007-10-16 16:04 2011-01-13 05:05 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Reykjavik
VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRK #0298/01 2891646
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 161646Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3466
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE 0060
RHMFISS/HQ USAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L REYKJAVIK 000298 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/NB, EUR/RPM 
OSD-P FOR DAVID CATE 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/15/2017 
TAGS: MOPS NATO PREL MARR PGOV IC
SUBJECT: ICELAND PRESENTS ITS VISION FOR NATO AIR POLICING 
 
Refs: A) NATO Document -- SG(2007)0516 
  B) Reykjavik 233 
  C) Reykjavik 247 
 
Classified By: Amb. Carol van Voorst for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C) Summary: In advance of the November Force Generation 
Conference, the Icelandic Defense Department briefed resident NATO 
ambassadors October 12 on Iceland's air policing wishlist:  quarterly 
Allied deployments featuring planes on the ground at Keflavik for up 
to three weeks at a time.  As incentives, Iceland would offer 
participants low-level flying opportunities and will cover major 
costs.  Iceland hopes for generous commitments covering 2008-2010 at 
the conference.  While the proposal shows the GOI has high ambitions 
for allied support, the very fact that the MFA hosted a broad 
consultation on the topic represents a welcome change in thinking at 
the ministry. End Summary. 
 
2.  (NC) MFA Defense Department Director Thorir Ibsen -- who took 
over from his longtime predecessor Amb. Jon Egill Egilsson in early 
September -- invited resident NATO ambassadors on October 12 to a 
presentation on Iceland's concept of air policing (AP) operations. 
The presentation was based on the NATO Military Committee- and North 
Atlantic Council-approved paper on peacetime air defense for Iceland, 
which passed silence in the NAC on July 26.  That agreement envisions 
quarterly interceptor deployments to Iceland. Ibsen said that Iceland 
intends to formally invite NATO allies to provide AP services at the 
Global Force Generation Conference scheduled to commence on November 
8.  He also indicated that Iceland will seek to secure commitments 
from participating countries for an initial deployment in March/April 
2008 and subsequent deployments through 2010. 
 
3.  (NC) Ibsen stated that Iceland would provide extensive ground 
support services including hangar and maintenance space, messing and 
berthing facilities, and expects the deployed aircraft to maintain a 
robust schedule of training and exercise play.  He pointed out that 
Iceland offers opportunities for low altitude flying overland year 
round except for May-September.  (Note:  We do not yet know 
definitively if the Icelanders will provide fuel, as they did for the 
Northern Viking exercise in 2007.) 
 
4.  (NC) Iceland's ideal AP scenario: 
--participating NATO countries commit to participating in a three 
year rotational schedule (2008-2010); 
--aircraft deployed on a quarterly basis, with the first quarterly 
deployment during the March / April 2008 timeframe; 
--deployments in country for up to three weeks; 
--a force composition of at least 4 fighters. 
 
In give-and-take with the ambassadors, Ibsen displayed a healthy 
pragmatism about these goals.  The GOI is aware that NATO allies' 
budgets and training schedules are probably already fixed for FY 2008 
and in some instances FY 2009.  He stressed that Iceland is willing 
to accept variations such as deployments shorter than three weeks or 
less than every quarter; more than one country at a time providing 
aircraft during the same deployment; and other possibilities.  He 
admitted that it will be difficult to fill all four quarters in the 
first year but intends to use a high return on investment (i.e., lots 
of training opportunities and firm support from host nation) as a 
selling point. 
 
5.  (C) On the connection between quarterly deployments and annual 
military exercises, Ibsen said that Iceland hoped for an annual 
Northern Viking defense exercise in addition to the four annual AP 
deployments.  However, while this would be the ideal scenario for 
Iceland, the GOI would accept what NATO allies were willing to offer. 
 Pressed on specific commitments, Ibsen noted that Turkey has ruled 
out participation entirely, while the Danes and Norwegians have 
expressed mild interest.  The GOI intends to approach the German 
government in bilateral discussions later this month. 
 
6.  (C) Comment:  The GOI's wishlist is ambitious, but two positive 
changes in its thinking are apparent.  First, the MFA acknowledged 
that it is asking for considerable contributions from allies whose 
available assets and manpower are already under pressure.  Ibsen was 
careful to note that variations would be acceptable and that Iceland 
would work to ease the burden on contributing Allies.  Second, the 
fact that the MFA hosted a consultative meeting with all NATO 
embassies in advance of making any formal proposal represents a sea 
change in the GOI's approach to these issues.  Previous GOI 
initiatives at NATO uniformly came as a surprise to Allied 
ambassadors here; this new approach recognizes the need for better 
spadework in Reykjavik and in capitals.  Both changes in tone and 
approach are welcome. Coming in addition to the GOI's announcement of 
Iceland's first-ever defense budget earlier this month, these 
indicate a new maturity in Icelandic thinking about its 
responsibilities for defense and its place in the Alliance. 
 
 
VAN VOORST