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Viewing cable 10ANKARA251, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE GATES'S MEETINGS WITH TURKISH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10ANKARA251 2010-02-16 11:11 2010-12-30 21:09 SECRET Embassy Ankara
VZCZCXYZ0004
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAK #0251/01 0471120
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 161120Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2130
INFO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD IMMEDIATE 1572
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL IMMEDIATE 0191
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO IMMEDIATE 7716
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 4315
S E C R E T ANKARA 000251 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/16/2020 
TAGS: PARM PREL PTER TU
SUBJECT: SECRETARY OF DEFENSE GATES'S MEETINGS WITH TURKISH 
MINISTER OF NATIONAL DEFENSE AND CHIEF OF THE TURKISH 
GENERAL STAFF, FEBRUARY 6, 2010 
 
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. 
 
----------- 
Afghanistan 
----------- 
 
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 
strategy. 
 
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. 
 
-------- 
Pakistan 
-------- 
 
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. 
 
---------------- 
Counterterrorism 
---------------- 
 
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 
leadership. 
 
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 
U.S. 
 
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 
jobs. 
 
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. 
Jeffrey 
 
           "Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at http://www.intelink.s 
gov.gov/wiki/Portal:Turkey"