Viewing cable 10PARIS170, SECDEF GATES'S MEETING WITH FRENCH MINISTER OF DEFENSE HERVE
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|10PARIS170||2010-02-12 13:01||2010-11-28 18:06||SECRET//NOFORN||Embassy Paris|
VZCZCXRO4066 RR RUEHSL DE RUEHFR #0170/01 0431349 ZNY SSSSS ZZH R 121349Z FEB 10 ZDK FM AMEMBASSY PARIS TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8302 INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//USDP/ISA/ISA-EURNATO// RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 6557 RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3937 RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1783 RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0955 RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 PARIS 000170 NOFORN SIPDIS E.O. 12598 DECL: 02/12/20 TAGS: PREL MOPS MAR FR IR AF NATO SUBJECT: SECDEF GATES'S MEETING WITH FRENCH MINISTER OF DEFENSE HERVE MORIN, FEBRUARY 8, 2010. PARIS 00000170 001.2 OF 004 Classified By: Alexander Vershbow, ASD/ISA. Reasons 1.4 (b/d). Ref: USNATO 56 ¶1. (S/NF) SUMMARY: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (SecDef) was hosted by French Minister of Defense Herve Morin for a working lunch during an official bilateral visit to Paris on February 8, 2010. SecDef and Morin agreed on the basic themes to be included in NATO's revised Strategic Concept. On Missile Defense, SecDef refuted Morin's contention that a European Missile Defense system is both unwise and unnecessary but pledged to give France and other Allies better information on the costs and command and control structure of the U.S. proposal. Both Morin and Gates agreed that Iran's rejection of an engagement track meant that the time for pressure had arrived, but both noted concern over China's opposition to a new UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR). On Afghanistan, SecDef praised French contributions and highlighted ongoing trainer shortfalls. SecDef raised U.S. concerns over the sale of a Mistral-class helicopter carrier to Russia as sending a mixed signal to both Russia and our Central and East European Allies. Morin refuted this idea, arguing that the sale was a way to send a message of partnership to Russia at a critical time. Morin requested that the upcoming U.S. Air Force Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new in-flight refueling tanker aircraft be unbiased. SecDef told Morin that he had full confidence that the RFP would be as fair as possible. END SUMMARY. ---------------------- NATO Strategic Concept ---------------------- ¶2. (S/NF) Morin welcomed SecDef to France and asked about U.S positions regarding the revised NATO Strategic Concept. Morin noted France's interest in a document that would inject new ideas, be adopted with great momentum, and define NATO's roles and missions. It should not just be a restatement of the conventional wisdom. ¶3. (S/NF) SecDef told Morin he favored a short document that was perhaps three to five pages in length. The Strategic Concept should move NATO from a traditional defensive alliance to a security alliance that can address a wide range of global threats. SecDef said that the Strategic Concept must better align resources with NATO's level of ambition; it must lay out a comprehensive approach to civil-military cooperation and enhance partnerships with the EU, UN and other international organizations. SecDef concluded that, above all, financial and broader structural reform must be pursued -- either as part of the Strategic Concept or in parallel. ¶4. (S/NF) Morin agreed on length and the need for NATO to take on new missions, but he wondered what types of missions members had in mind. Cyber attacks? Terrorism? Proliferation? Missile Defense? Morin also stated his belief that NATO needed to bring some clarity to its area of operation so that NATO did not end up extending to the Pacific. He added that, in his view, extending the Alliance to Georgia would weaken Article 5. SecDef stated his preference for NATO to focus its efforts in the Euro-Atlantic area, perhaps extending into the Mediterranean. He concurred with Morin that a bigger Alliance posed challenges. ¶5. (S//NF) Morin told SecDef that the UK MoD had proposed drafting a joint French-UK proposal on NATO reform to then present to the U.S. Noting that the objective was to overcome blockages from those countries that had underwhelming General Staffs, Morin asked whether SecDef thought it would be better for Europe to build consensus at home and work its own ideas, or for Europe and the United States to develop joint proposals. SecDef replied that he thought it best not to have two proposals, but that he would consult with SecState. He also said he hoped that the Senior Officials Group would come up with some concrete and viable ideas for reform. --------------- Missile Defense --------------- ¶6. (S/NF) Morin, having expressed strong reservations to new U.S. and NATO missile defense (MD) plans at the NATO ministerial in Istanbul (reftel), said he wanted to explain how France sees MD and raise some questions. First, he believes that the shift from Theater Missile Defense (TMD) to defense of populations and territory will give publics a false sense of security, since the sword was ultimately stronger than the shield. For France, security came from strong defense and deterrence. Second, Morin asked what threat the system aims to counter. Nuclear states or rogue states? Third, Morin asked about funding and how European countries would participate in command and control (C2) decisions. Morin summarized his own personal opposition to MD by asserting that the U.S. and Europe have differing mentalities on defense spending. He said the U.S. has true resiliency with PARIS 00000170 002.2 OF 004 "infinite" means, while in Europe defense spending has collapsed in every country but the UK and France. As a result, any development needing common funding will dilute the already weak European defenses. Morin concluded by stating that it was folly to assume that MD would give us added security. ¶7. (S/NF) SecDef refuted Morin's arguments, pointing out that MD contributes to deterrence. SecDef explained to Morin that the system was aimed at nations with a handful of nuclear weapons and a limited but growing missile capability to launch them. Noting Iran fits that profile, SecDef said that MD provides a good deterrent against limited attacks. ¶8. (S/NF) SecDef agreed with MoD Morin that the U.S. owed NATO answers on C2, costs, and the role of common funding. He pledged to provide more details on these issues, as well as on how ALTBMD and the U.S. Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) fit together. However, SecDef said it was important to move ahead with the MD study that was endorsed at the 2009 NATO summit, since it would provide some of the answers France was seeking. SecDef reminded Morin that POTUS will want to obtain a decision affirming the Alliance role in MD at the Lisbon summit in late ¶2010. ¶9. (S/NF) Responding to SecDef's discussion of MD, Morin asked why there was a need to shift from theater to population defense. SecDef said the systems the U.S. was deploying have broader applications. For example the THAAD system, which the U.S. had deployed to Hawaii as a measure against North Korean threat, protects both the theater and the population. Gates offered the Aegis ship-borne SM-3, which was used to shoot down a defunct satellite, as a second example of a system that could also have broader applications and deter Iran from holding us hostage by threatening missile launches. ¶10. (S/NF) Recalling that Russian Prime Minister Putin once told him Iran was Russia's greatest threat, SecDef noted that Russia could plug into the new system. SecDef highlighted two Russian objections to the former system: first, the radar in the Czech Republic would have been so powerful that it could see into Russia; second, Russia believed that the three-stage Ground-Based Interceptor could have been converted easily to an offensive weapon. The SM-3 missiles in the new approach can only be defensive in nature, however. For these reasons, the U.S. believed partnering with Russia is once again potentially possible. (NOTE: Following the meetings, Morin's critical comments on Missile Defense were disavowed by senior officials at the MoD and the MFA, who said that his views were his own and that the U.S. should essentially "erase" what he had just said. END NOTE.) ----- Iran ----- ¶11. (S/NF) Shifting from Missile Defense to Iran, SecDef noted that Russia is now of a different mind on Iran because of Tehran's persistent rejection of international proposals for negotiated solutions and its concealment of the Qom facility. SecDef believed Russia would be supportive of a new UNSCR, although it may have different views on the severity of sanctions, but he expressed concern about China. SecDef said that Russia could perhaps help on China, but that securing the support of other non-permanent Security Council members was also an issue. In this regard, SecDef told Morin he had been blunt with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, telling him that if Iran developed nuclear weapons, we were facing two scenarios: nuclear proliferation in the Middle East or a regional war (or perhaps both). ¶12. (S/NF) Morin asked SecDef if he believed Israel had the capability to strike Iran without U.S. support. SecDef responded that he didn't know if they would be successful, but that Israel could carry out the operation. SecDef told Morin that he believed a conventional strike by any nation would only delay Iranian plans by one to three years, while unifying the Iranian people to be forever embittered against the attacker. ¶13. (S/NF) MoD Morin agreed that China could be problematic on the UNSCR and queried SecDef how the U.S. believed we could ensure their vote, especially in light of the upcoming Dalai Lama visit and the U.S. weapons sale to Taiwan. SecDef told Morin that because of Congressionally mandated rules, the U.S. was required to provide defensive weapons for Taiwan. He observed that every time the U.S. makes the sales to Taiwan, the Chinese suspend military-to-military relations, but only for the short term. -------- Pakistan -------- ¶14. (S/NF) Morin expressed doubt about the willingness of the Pakistani PARIS 00000170 003 OF 004 government to fight extremists at home. He noted that Karzai had told the French that if the Pakistan-Afghanistan border were closed, it would largely solve issues in Afghanistan. SecDef replied that he had told the Pakistani government two weeks earlier that Al Qaeda was helping the Pakistan Taliban to destabilize Pakistan. SecDef highlighted the dramatic changes in Pakistan over the past 18 months, especially in Swat and Bajaur provinces, which offered some hope of progress. SecDef said that there was increasing coordination between U.S. and Pakistani forces across the border. ----------- Afghanistan ----------- ¶15. (S/NF) Turning to Afghanistan, MoD Morin began by stating that although he had announced an additional 80 trainers, France had also sent a non-official contribution as well. (NOTE: Morin was referring to a classified deployment of French Special Forces that have a limited mission to find two kidnapped French journalists. END NOTE.) France had also sent an additional deployment of engineers to work exclusively on the Counter-IED mission. Morin underscored that France had significantly increased its contributions in Afghanistan in the past 18 months from 2700 troops to nearly 4000. ¶16. (S/NF) SecDef said the U.S. understood the domestic situation and that he would not have pressed France publicly for more forces until after the March elections. However SecDef requested that France strongly consider substantially increasing military and police trainers. SecDef said that while he would publicly praise French troops, which U.S. troops consider terrific fighters, he was fine with keeping these discussions close hold. ¶17. (S/NF) Shifting topics, Morin questioned the decision to specifically name mid-2011 as the start of a withdrawal, which Morin thought would simply make the Taliban wait it out. SecDef noted that whether to set a date for transition had led to one of the most protracted debates in Washington in recent months. SecDef had come to the conclusion, however, that the Afghans needed to be put on notice that they would need to take responsibility for their own security. He pointed out that there is no end date for U.S. involvement; July 2011 is just the beginning of a process. POTUS was very clear that the transition would be conditions-based. Morin agreed with this and urged that clear benchmarks be set that could reassure public opinion. SecDef concurred and observed that the U.S. public will not tolerate a prolonged stalemate. -------------- Russia/Mistral -------------- ¶18. (S/NF) SecDef expressed U.S. concerns about the Mistral sale to Russia. He told Morin that because of Sarkozy's involvement in brokering a ceasefire in Georgia, which Russia was not fully honoring, the sale would send the wrong message to Russia and to our Allies in Central and East Europe. ¶19. (S/NF) Morin told SecDef pointedly that he had pushed hard for the sale. He conceded that it was indeed a warship for power projection. But Morin asked rhetorically how we can tell Russia we desire partnership but then not trust them. Morin told SecDef that he understood the U.S. position on considering Central and East European Allies' concerns about the perceived threat from Russia. Morin argued, however, that this single ship would not make any difference with respect to Russian capabilities, as Russia's naval production ability was severely degraded. ¶20. (S/NF) SecDef replied that U.S. concerns were not about military capacity but about messaging. Some allies, because of their past experiences, are still very concerned with Russia and are not sure how much to trust the West. SecDef observed that Russian democracy has disappeared and the government was an oligarchy run by the security services. President Medvedev has a more pragmatic vision for Russia than PM Putin, but there has been little real change. -------------- KC-X Tanker RFP -------------- ¶21. (S/NF) Morin told SecDef he had one final, but major, topic to raise, the U.S. contract tender for a new tanker plane. He asked that the RFP be issued so that competition was equal for both companies and there was no bias. Morin stressed that it was important for our market economy to be a two-way street. He told SecDef that if the terms of competition are unequal, EADS would not submit a bid. ¶22. (S/NF) SecDef stated his belief that the RFP would be fair. He PARIS 00000170 004 OF 004 told Morin that the Air Force had established the requirements. He noted that since the previous competition, he had fired both the civilian and military leaders of the Air Force and that there was a new person in charge of the Pentagon's acquisition policy. SecDef said that it would be disappointing if EADS did not submit a proposal. ¶23. (U) SecDef has cleared this cable. Drafted by OSD Staff. RIVKIN