INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Portuguese Contribution to Unifil

Published: Thu 31 Aug 2006 02:17 PM
VZCZCXRO0399
OO RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ
DE RUEHLI #1861 2431417
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 311417Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY LISBON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5116
INFO RUEHXP/ALL NATO POST COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES IMMEDIATE
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT IMMEDIATE 0056
RUEHPD/AMCONSUL PONTA DELGADA IMMEDIATE 0249
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHMFIUU/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS LISBON 001861
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MARR MOPS PREL LE PO
SUBJECT: PORTUGUESE CONTRIBUTION TO UNIFIL
REF: LISBON 01743
Summary:
1. (U) The Portuguese Superior Council on National Defense
(CSDN) held an extraordinary session on August 29 and
unanimously voted to send an Army Engineering and
Construction Company with up to 140 personnel in mid-October
to support UNIFIL. During the same meeting, the CSDN also
announced the possible reduction of troops in Bosnia and the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). End Summary.
2. (U) The Superior Council on National Defense, presided by
President Cavaco Silva, held an extraordinary session August
29 to decide the composition of Portugal's contribution to
UNIFIL. Basing its decision on operational relevancy, risk,
and cost, the CSDN unanimously elected to deploy to southern
Lebanon an Army Engineering unit rather than a frigate,
helicopters, or mechanized Army unit as suggested by press
reports. The GOP estimates the mission will cost 9.3 million
euros, 70 percent of which would be supported by the United
Nations. The DAO confirmed with the Ministry of Defense that
the Engineering unit will integrate into UNIFIL's third phase
in mid- October to rehabilitate destroyed infrastructure.
The Spanish daily El Pas reported on August 31 that the
Portuguese will be under Spanish command, but the DAO has not
yet been able to confirm this with the Ministry of Defense.
3. (U) During the same meeting, the CSDN announced the
possible reduction of troops in Bosnia and the DRC but stated
that this was separate from their decision to contribute to
UNIFIL. Currently, Portugal has 49 marines in the DRC and
two infantry companies in Bosnia. The GOP had already
started discussion in May 2006 to downsize their presence in
Bosnia by one company. Any troop reductions would occur at
the end of the year or the beginning of next year.
4. (U) Comment: Portugal indicated early on that it wanted
to contribute to UNIFIL but had been waiting for
clarification of the mission mandate (reftel). The August 25
EU Meeting on UNIFIL helped solidify thoughts on what kind of
military assistance Portugal could provide. The Portuguese
view their selection of an engineering unit as a low- cost,
moderate-risk, high-visibility contribution to UNIFIL. This
decision reflects Portugal's desire to play a greater role in
the Middle East despite limited financial resources. While
the decision to reduce troops in Bosnia and the DRC occurred
during the same Council meeting, these reductions had been
discussed well before the Lebanon crisis.
O'Neal
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