Viewing cable 07REYKJAVIK298, ICELAND PRESENTS ITS VISION FOR NATO AIR POLICING
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|07REYKJAVIK298||2007-10-16 16:04||2011-01-13 05:05||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Reykjavik|
VZCZCXYZ0001 RR RUEHWEB DE RUEHRK #0298/01 2891646 ZNY CCCCC ZZH R 161646Z OCT 07 FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3466 INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE 0060 RHMFISS/HQ USAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L REYKJAVIK 000298 SIPDIS SIPDIS DEPT FOR EUR/NB, EUR/RPM OSD-P FOR DAVID CATE E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/15/2017 TAGS: MOPS NATO PREL MARR PGOV IC SUBJECT: ICELAND PRESENTS ITS VISION FOR NATO AIR POLICING Refs: A) NATO Document -- SG(2007)0516 B) Reykjavik 233 C) Reykjavik 247 Classified By: Amb. Carol van Voorst for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). ¶1. (C) Summary: In advance of the November Force Generation Conference, the Icelandic Defense Department briefed resident NATO ambassadors October 12 on Iceland's air policing wishlist: quarterly Allied deployments featuring planes on the ground at Keflavik for up to three weeks at a time. As incentives, Iceland would offer participants low-level flying opportunities and will cover major costs. Iceland hopes for generous commitments covering 2008-2010 at the conference. While the proposal shows the GOI has high ambitions for allied support, the very fact that the MFA hosted a broad consultation on the topic represents a welcome change in thinking at the ministry. End Summary. ¶2. (NC) MFA Defense Department Director Thorir Ibsen -- who took over from his longtime predecessor Amb. Jon Egill Egilsson in early September -- invited resident NATO ambassadors on October 12 to a presentation on Iceland's concept of air policing (AP) operations. The presentation was based on the NATO Military Committee- and North Atlantic Council-approved paper on peacetime air defense for Iceland, which passed silence in the NAC on July 26. That agreement envisions quarterly interceptor deployments to Iceland. Ibsen said that Iceland intends to formally invite NATO allies to provide AP services at the Global Force Generation Conference scheduled to commence on November ¶8. He also indicated that Iceland will seek to secure commitments from participating countries for an initial deployment in March/April 2008 and subsequent deployments through 2010. ¶3. (NC) Ibsen stated that Iceland would provide extensive ground support services including hangar and maintenance space, messing and berthing facilities, and expects the deployed aircraft to maintain a robust schedule of training and exercise play. He pointed out that Iceland offers opportunities for low altitude flying overland year round except for May-September. (Note: We do not yet know definitively if the Icelanders will provide fuel, as they did for the Northern Viking exercise in 2007.) ¶4. (NC) Iceland's ideal AP scenario: --participating NATO countries commit to participating in a three year rotational schedule (2008-2010); --aircraft deployed on a quarterly basis, with the first quarterly deployment during the March / April 2008 timeframe; --deployments in country for up to three weeks; --a force composition of at least 4 fighters. In give-and-take with the ambassadors, Ibsen displayed a healthy pragmatism about these goals. The GOI is aware that NATO allies' budgets and training schedules are probably already fixed for FY 2008 and in some instances FY 2009. He stressed that Iceland is willing to accept variations such as deployments shorter than three weeks or less than every quarter; more than one country at a time providing aircraft during the same deployment; and other possibilities. He admitted that it will be difficult to fill all four quarters in the first year but intends to use a high return on investment (i.e., lots of training opportunities and firm support from host nation) as a selling point. ¶5. (C) On the connection between quarterly deployments and annual military exercises, Ibsen said that Iceland hoped for an annual Northern Viking defense exercise in addition to the four annual AP deployments. However, while this would be the ideal scenario for Iceland, the GOI would accept what NATO allies were willing to offer. Pressed on specific commitments, Ibsen noted that Turkey has ruled out participation entirely, while the Danes and Norwegians have expressed mild interest. The GOI intends to approach the German government in bilateral discussions later this month. ¶6. (C) Comment: The GOI's wishlist is ambitious, but two positive changes in its thinking are apparent. First, the MFA acknowledged that it is asking for considerable contributions from allies whose available assets and manpower are already under pressure. Ibsen was careful to note that variations would be acceptable and that Iceland would work to ease the burden on contributing Allies. Second, the fact that the MFA hosted a consultative meeting with all NATO embassies in advance of making any formal proposal represents a sea change in the GOI's approach to these issues. Previous GOI initiatives at NATO uniformly came as a surprise to Allied ambassadors here; this new approach recognizes the need for better spadework in Reykjavik and in capitals. Both changes in tone and approach are welcome. Coming in addition to the GOI's announcement of Iceland's first-ever defense budget earlier this month, these indicate a new maturity in Icelandic thinking about its responsibilities for defense and its place in the Alliance. VAN VOORST