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Viewing cable 10BERLIN157, DEFENSE MINISTER ZU GUTTENBERG REVEALS STRUGGLE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10BERLIN157 2010-02-04 16:04 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Berlin
VZCZCXRO6323
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHPW RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHRL #0157/01 0351607
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 041607Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6478
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BERLIN 000157 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/03/2020 
TAGS: PREL MARR MOPS NATO GM AF
SUBJECT: DEFENSE MINISTER ZU GUTTENBERG REVEALS STRUGGLE 
WITH FM WESTERWELLE ON TROOP INCREASE FOR AFGHANISTAN 
 
REF: A. BERLIN 138 
     B. BERLIN 112 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR PHILIP D. MURPHY. REASONS: 1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY.  Defense Minister zu Guttenberg revealed in 
a February 3 meeting with Ambassador Murphy that coalition 
partner FM Westerwelle -- not the opposition Social 
Democratic Party (SPD) -- had been the single biggest 
obstacle 
to the government seeking a bigger increase in German 
troops for Afghanistan.  But even with the modest planned 
troop increase of 500 (with 350 more in reserve), zu 
Guttenberg said a restructuring of the current Bundeswehr 
presence would allow Germany to increase the number of 
soldiers involved in the training of Afghan National Army 
(ANA) by more than 1,000.  While Westerwelle has portrayed 
his skepticism about additional troops as principled, it 
was also motivated by a desire to put zu Guttenberg "in his 
place."  While the size of the troop increase is settled, 
the length of the new ISAF mandate remains open.  The 
government is hoping to have the new mandate approved by 
the Bundestag before the end of February, with significant 
(if not majority) support from the opposition SPD and 
Greens.  END SUMMARY. 
 
WESTERWELLE: BIGGEST OBSTACLE 
 
2. (C) In explaining the lower-than-expected planned 
increase in the number of German troops for Afghanistan, zu 
Guttenberg told the Ambassador that Westerwelle's opening 
position in the coalition negotiations on the new mandate 
had been "not one additional soldier."  In that context, it 
had been difficult to get agreement on any increase at 
all.  (Comment: Zu Guttenberg proposed 1,500 additional 
troops at the initial January 4 mini-cabinet meeting on 
this issue.  End Comment.) 
 
DOING A LOT MORE WITH A LITTLE MORE 
 
3. (C) To help justify the need for more troops, zu 
Guttenberg said he had forced the Bundeswehr to do a 
complete review of all the existing positions in 
Afghanistan, which had confirmed that some could be 
eliminated in light of the new ISAF counterinsurgency 
strategy.  He said a restructuring of the current 
Bundeswehr presence, combined with the troop increase, 
would boost the number of soldiers involved in the training 
of the Afghan National Army (ANA) from 280 to 1,400.  The 
restructuring includes turning the battalion-size quick 
reaction force based in Mazar into a "protection and 
training" battalion.  A second such battalion will be 
created in Kunduz by augmenting the existing infantry 
company there with new troops.  Zu Guttenberg reiterated 
that Germany strongly supports COMISAF's focus on 
protection of the population and partnering with the Afghan 
national security forces (ANSF), and that the German 
"trainers" (i.e., the two new maneuver battalions) will 
operate in the field with the ANSF. 
 
PUTTING ZU GUTTENBERG IN HIS PLACE 
 
4. (C) While zu Guttenberg said he is avoiding public 
comment on whether the outcome of the coalition talks on 
the new mandate is a "victory" for him or Westerwelle, FDP 
Defense Policy Spokesman Elke Hoff told poloff separately 
that Westerwelle's hard line against additional troops had 
been motivated in part to "teach zu Guttenberg a lesson." 
She claimed that zu Guttenberg had been too presumptuous 
last fall in making speeches in Canada and the U.S. about 
how Germany would significantly increase its troop 
contribution to ISAF.  He might have been able to get 
agreement on a higher ceiling had he engaged 
parliamentarians first and showed "greater respect for the 
political process." 
 
OPEN QUESTION: LENGTH OF THE MANDATE 
 
5. (C) Zu Guttenberg confirmed that the cabinet would 
formally agree on the proposed new ISAF mandate February 9 
and that the first reading in the Bundestag would be 
February 10.  FM Westerwelle is scheduled to speak on 
behalf of the government in introducing the proposed 
mandate.  The government is aiming to hold the final 
Bundestag vote on the mandate -- following two weeks of 
committee hearings -- on February 26.  Zu Guttenberg was 
 
BERLIN 00000157  002 OF 002 
 
 
confident that a large number (if not a majority) of 
opposition politicians from the SPD and Greens would vote 
in favor of the new mandate. 
 
6. (C) A February 2 meeting of state secretaries 
tentatively agreed that the new mandate should run, as is 
the custom, for one year, expiring in February 2011.  Zu 
Guttenberg indicated, however, that it might be preferable to 
stick to the length of the current mandate, which expires 
in December 2010.  He expressed concern that having the 
mandate lap over into early 2011 could lead to a premature 
debate on withdrawal, before the new strategy really had a 
chance to work.  (Comment: Another option under 
consideration -- and favored by some in the Chancellery -- 
is a 18-month mandate, so that any debate on the future of 
the troop presence would be put off until the fall of 
2011.  But the MFA objects that this would only raise the 
ire of the opposition and give them an excuse to oppose the 
mandate.  End Comment.) 
 
REASSURING THE GERMANS ON COMMAND OF THE NORTH 
 
7. (C) Zu Guttenberg confirmed that Germany very much 
welcomed the planned inflow of U.S. forces into the north, 
especially the helicopter assets, which filled a 
long-standing shortfall.  He noted, however, that many in 
Germany question whether the U.S. will be willing to accept 
continued German leadership of RC-North in view of the 
increased U.S. presence.  Ambassador Murphy assured him 
that the U.S. had no issues working for the German command in 
the North. 
Murphy