Cablegate: Hldg: Constructive Progress On U.S. Bmd And

Published: Thu 12 Nov 2009 07:07 AM
DE RUEHWR #1139/01 3160706
O 120706Z NOV 09
S E C R E T WARSAW 001139
EO 12958 DECL: 10/15/2019
Classified By: Ambassador Lee Feinstein for reasons 1.4 b and d
1. This corrected cable replaces WARSAW 01071.
2. (S) SUMMARY. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, led a U.S. delegation to Warsaw for the first-ever U.S.-Poland High Level Defense Group (HLDG). Polish Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Stanislaw Komorowski led the Polish delegation. The discussion on the first day of the HLDG focused on providing more details for U.S. Missile Defense plans and a prospective Polish role in the new concept as well as additional aspects for the deployment of a U.S. Patriot battery to Poland for training and exercises. Additionally, the U.S. delegation laid out three potential alternative presence options which, if Poland chose, could replace a Patriot garrison as a post-2012 permanent presence of U.S. Armed Forces. Day 2 of the HLDG focused on strategic discussions, including U.S.-Poland bilateral defense cooperation, Afghanistan, and NATO’s new strategic concept. In addition, the Polish side provided reaction to the possible alternative presence options the U.S. outlined the previous day. Polish reaction to the BMD proposal was positive, though they were disappointed that the SM-3 site would not become operational until 2018, and they sought more information about how early preparations for the deployment could begin. The response to alternative presence options was very positive, both in plenary session and in a small two-on-two dinner meeting the night before. The questions about the Patriot presentation focused on timing and interoperability. END SUMMARY.
3. (U) The U.S. delegation included USAF MG Paul Schafer, EUCOM Director, Strategy, Policy, and Assessment; USAF BG John Hesterman, Joint Staff Deputy Director for Politico-Military Affairs; Ambassador Lee Feinstein, U.S. Embassy Warsaw; DAS Pamela Quanrud, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs; DAS Frank Rose, Verification, Compliance, and Implementation; and Ms. Nancy Morgan, MDA Director for International Affairs. The Polish side included Deputy Foreign Minister Jacek Najder; MG Mieczyslaw Gocul, Chief of Strategic Planning Directorate, General Staff of the Armed Forces; and Piotr Pacholski, MOD Director of the Missile Defense Office.
4. (S) Undersecretary Komorowski began by explaining that Poland understood the reasoning for the U.S. decision to change direction on a European Ballistic Missile Defense program, but that more detail on the threat and the potential SM-3 deployment in Poland would be welcome. Komorowski underscored that Poland wanted to take its responsibility for the decision on whether to take part in the new system seriously and was looking for further details on the system to inform that decision.
5. (S) Ambassador Vershbow opened by stating that we know the September 17 briefing on the new U.S. approach had raised many questions. We welcomed this opportunity to explain this approach in greater detail, and why we felt it was a better approach for U.S.-Polish relations and for NATO. Nancy Morgan of the Missile Defense Agency briefed the Polish side on the U.S. Missile Defense Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) plan. The brief laid out the objectives for each of the four phases, described the potential role that Poland could play, and illustrated the differences between the Ground Based Interceptors (GBI) and the Standard Missile (SM)-3 program. Following the brief, the Polish delegation asked many questions about the importance of Poland’s location for the program, other ways Poland might be able to participate in the system beyond hosting a land-based SM-3 system, and the timing necessary for Poland’s decision. The Poles also asked how the SM-3 system, if deployed in Poland, could become a NATO system, and finally, a series of hypothetical questions on the adaptive nature of the system vis-a-vis the changing threat.
6. (S) ASD Vershbow said that with regard to location, Poland was given “right of first refusal” because of its previous commitments and because Poland was a very good site for defending all of Northern Europe. That said, Poland was not the only possibility for a northern European interceptor site. ASD Vershbow said that the timing of activating the Polish site in 2018 rather than 2015 was driven by analysis of the threat, but also by the development timeline of the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor, which was key to providing wide-area protection to allies in Northern Europe. Ambassador Vershbow stressed, however, that preparation of the site could begin well in advance of activation, possibly in 2013, but that we would need to work with Congress to get funding for early site preparation. With regard to how NATO might defend itself from missiles coming from elsewhere than Iran or Syria, BG John Hesterman of the Joint Staff said that sea-borne platforms could provide surge capability against threats from an unforeseen direction, land-based sites could be upgraded with more interceptors if the scale of the threat were increased, and radars could be reoriented. The Poles asked whether proceeding with Phase III when SM-3 Block IIA would be deployed to Poland was firm or would die if perception of the threat receded. ASD Vershbow reassured the Poles of U.S. commitment on this point.
7. (S) Following delivery of the Non-Paper providing further definition to the US policy regarding Patriot rotations, LTC Sean Gainey from U.S. Army Europe briefed the concept for the Phase 1 rotations of a U.S. Patriot battery to Poland. In response to a direct question from Komorowski following the brief, ASD Vershbow emphasized that the rotations will be solely for training and exercises and would not add to Polish air defense capabilities, and Maj Gen Schafer reinforced the point made by the interagency cleared Patriot non-paper that the Patriot battery would not be operational at any time. The U.S. delegation asserted that the U.S. is committed to doing quarterly rotations in Poland through 2012. However, it was made clear that training opportunities would be limited to basic familiarization training due to current disclosure restrictions unless Poland decided to buy Patriot systems. ASD Vershbow also reiterated that a deployment of a Patriot battery would not take place without a ratified Supplemental Status of Forces Agreement (SSA). However, the U.S. would, on the basis of continued progress on SOFA negotiations, move forward with bilateral planning for a March 2010 deployment in good faith that the SSA would soon be brought into force.
8. (S) Near the end of Day 1 discussions, ASD Vershbow presented new options for potential cooperation which the U.S. believed may be more useful to Poland than Patriot rotations. He explained that we looked at other alternative programs that would be affordable for both countries, would assist in the modernization of the Polish Armed Forces, would help Poland better meet its NATO force goals, and would be sustainable by the U.S. military. The three options presented were: 1) a quarterly rotation of F-16s, and the establishment of a small permanent support detachment, which would focus on enhancing Polish fighter capabilities, increasing sortie readiness and meeting NATO commitments; 2) quarterly C-130 rotations from Ramstein AFB, also with a small permanent support detachment in Poland with the goal of increasing Polish readiness and ability to support own and NATO operations; 3) the relocation of a U.S. Naval Special Warfare unit from Stuttgart to Gdansk or Gdynia. The Polish delegation accepted U.S. unwillingness to discuss Patriot Phase 2 and the garrison until after consideration of the alternate presence options, and the atmosphere in the room was positive and constructive. Komorowski also said both in a small meeting preceding the HLDG and in plenary that the Patriot’s contribution to Polish air defense is minimal, though important symbolically.
9. (S) At the start of Day 2, the Polish delegation presented its initial reactions to the alternative presence proposals. Undersecretary Komorowski said he believed the proposal for F-16 rotations was his favorite. The reactions from the Polish experts included many questions of detail: when could the rotations arrive, how many planes would each rotation have, how many people would be in the permanent support unit, would the U.S. be able to provide tanker and AWACS support, and would the rotation only operate in Poland, or would it be allowed to train Polish ground and air crews? EUCOM pledged to follow up with more detailed discussions on these proposals at a later date. To the three proposals, Undersecretary Komorowski added a fourth for the U.S. to consider - as an additional rather than a replacement for any of the U.S. proposals. Noting that Polish Minister of
Defense Bogdan Klich planned to sign an agreement with his Ukrainian counterpart that very day establishing the framework for a combined Polish-Ukrainian-Lithuanian Brigade that would be stood up for international deployments by 2013, Komorowski asked if it would be possible for U.S. involvement in this brigade, either assigning some forces or stationing officers at the permanent headquarters to be located in Lublin.
10. (S) Undersecretary Komorowski defined the Polish approach to defense cooperation by dividing proposals for new programs into two categories: Afghanistan deployment assistance and programs funded through Foreign Military Financing (FMF). On Afghanistan, Komorowski detailed a “wishlist” for U.S. cooperation including better help on UAVs and other sensors, giving Poland access to “Four Eyes”-level intelligence by making it a Fifth Eye, increased U.S. provision of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, and the building of a runway in Ghazni to support C-130 flights. On FMF, Komorowski stated that Poland wishes to focus mainly on C4ISR purchases to increase the interoperability of Polish military equipment. BG Hesterman of the Joint Staff related that the Chairman has a lot of empathy for Poland’s MRAP issues based on our own experiences with IEDs and that the Chairman remains fully engaged in assisting Poland in this critical area. On the runway question, Hesterman reiterated what the Chairman told the Polish CHOD in June that the U.S. is willing to assist with contracting support coordination to build the extension. He added that with the Afghanistan strategy and resourcing under review and decisions pending in our capital and others, that there could be more developments in this area.
11. (S) Deputy Foreign Minister Jacek Najder, the Polish Plenipotentiary for Afghanistan, provided a Polish strategic overview for Afghanistan. He concurred with COMISAF’s assessment that the Alliance had lost the strategic initiative and that NATO was not keeping pace with the insurgents. In Ghazni province, where Poland is focusing most of its attention, voting irregularities were high. While Poland is also disappointed with the way the election played out, Najder asserted that regardless of whether there is a run-off, the challenge will be in incorporating the lessons learned from the August election so that the 2010 Parliamentary elections in Afghanistan function better. Najder also called for a greater regional focus to expand to both India and Iran. Finally, Najder stressed that Poland remained in Afghanistan because of NATO and the importance that NATO has to Poland’s national security. However, he believed that NATO should delink success in Afghanistan with evaluations of NATO’s overall success. Komorowski emphasized that Poland was committed to the pledge of “in together, out together” on Afghanistan. However, he noted the difficulty for Polish politicians in reconciling the high public support for Polish membership in NATO with public support for consequences and responsibilities such as operation in Afghanistan, which come with NATO membership.
12. (S) ASD Vershbow noted that President Obama was still reviewing the recommendations of COMISAF and his resource requests, but emphasized that the U.S. would not turn away from Afghanistan, which was a test of NATO’s credibility. He agreed that it would be better to expand the discussion with Iran to encourage better behavior, but said that this was unlikely to succeed in the short term. In response to questions on the role of Russia in Afghanistan, ASD Vershbow recalled that Russia also wants to contain many of the threats to Russia, including terrorism and narcotics trafficking, but was also sensitive about the U.S. presence in Central Asia. Recalling the July agreement for air transit of lethal goods through Russia, ASD Vershbow stated his belief that NATO and the U.S. could find additional ways to partner with Russia on Afghanistan.
13. (C) Komorowski declared that it was time for a new document, not just the alteration of the 1999 Strategic Concept. He said that the most important aspect of the new strategic concept for Poland will be the reaffirmation of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty as the most important agreement between the Allies, and that Article 5 shall take
precedence over expeditionary operations. Noting that the strategic environment had changed, he stated his belief that a new doctrine was needed that would expand NATO’s capabilities to deal with its members’ obligations under Article 5. Komorowski explained that while out-of-area operations were valid NATO missions, that the new Strategic Concept must clearly state that NATO’s door remained open as well as introduce clarity into how NATO deals with its international partners, especially Russia. Komorowski related that Poland’s member of the “wise persons” group, Adam Rotfeld, was consulting with other central European countries to give them the sense that their input was taken in the process. Minister Najder concluded by simply stating that NATO remained a defense alliance, not a security organization.
14. (C) ASD Vershbow remarked that both countries came at the issue from a similar perspective. NATO, in his opinion, needed a shorter, crisper document which would be more accessible to both parliaments and public and better made the case for an increase in resources to meet NATO’s full mission set. There was a need to find the proper balance between Article 5 and expeditionary missions. Observing that Article 5 may need to be viewed more broadly to encompass non-military threats like cyber-attacks. ASD Vershbow cautioned that we would need to have a strategy with real meaning, backed up by planning, exercises, and capabilities. He said it was clear that zero growth of the NATO budget was unsustainable with the expansion of NATO missions and we needed to look at common funding and other reforms and get more value for money.
15. (S) COMMENT. In marked contrast to September 17, the mood of the two days of HLDG discussions was positive and constructive. The Polish delegation listened to U.S. proposals on BMD and Patriot, and both sides conveyed a sense that real progress was made. Concerns exist on the Polish side at having to wait until 2018 for SM-3 site activation, but the possibility raised by ASD Vershbow of early site preparation helped mitigate the concern. The Poles asked specific questions in an effort to determine whether Phase 1 Patriot rotations would have any operational capacity, but seemed to accept the fact that they would not and that this was the established U.S. position (despite the public comments of Komorowski following the meeting). The Polish side was prepared to defer discussion of the Phase 2 Patriot garrison, and the alternative presence options generated favorable interest. The question moving forward is the extent to which this constructive progress will be felt higher in the Polish government, particularly by Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. END COMMENT
16. (U) ASD Vershbow has reviewed and cleared this cable.
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