United States set to deploy patriot batteries in Turkey 1 reply

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9th August 2004

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#1 5 years ago

Turkey already has a set of four patriot batteries, two from Germany and Netherlands each. The US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has indicated Turkey will receive these along with some 400 or so personnel to help and man them. Panetta also went to Incirlik Air Base, a US airforce base, where he formally announced this to the staff there.

This decision was expected to come since Turkey had been pushing on NATO to do this for them, and it was a matter of time before the US did so. The reasoning behind deploying them is to intercept rockets, so as to prevent them from landing on Turkey's side of the border.

Other NATO nations are supposed to deploy their own too. They state that by the end of January the missile battery will be fully operational.

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United States to Deploy Anti-Missile Units in Turkey By THOM SHANKER, ERIC SCHMITT and MICHAEL R. GORDON

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta signed an official deployment order on Friday to send 400 American military personnel and two Patriot air defense batteries to Turkey as its cross-border tensions intensify with Syria, where loyalist forces have increasingly resorted to aerial attacks, including use of ballistic missiles, to fight a spreading insurgency.

The American batteries will be part of a broader push to strengthen Turkey’s defenses that will include the deployment of four other Patriot batteries — two from Germany and two from the Netherlands. Each battery contains multiple rounds of guided missiles that can intercept and destroy other missiles and hostile aircraft flying at high speeds.

Mr. Panetta’s deployment order, the result of NATO discussions last week, represents the most direct American military action so far to help contain the Syrian conflict and minimize the risk it will spill across the 550-mile border with Turkey, a NATO member that is housing more than 100,000 Syrian refugees and providing aid to the Syrian rebels trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

Tensions between Turkey and Syria have escalated in recent months as Syrian forces have bombed rebel positions along the border and occasionally lobbed artillery rounds into Turkish territory. The Turks have also grown increasingly alarmed that Mr. Assad’s forces could fire missiles into Turkey.

News of the Patriot deployment order came as antigovernment activists inside Syria reported fresh mayhem, including an unconfirmed rebel claim to have downed a government warplane attacking insurgent positions near the international airport in Damascus, the capital.

In Moscow, meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry sought to distance itself from comments a day earlier by its Middle East envoy that the Syrian rebels may defeat Mr. Assad, a longstanding Kremlin ally and arms client. A ministry spokesman, Aleksandr K. Lukashevich, said Russia remained committed to a political solution in Syria.

“We have never changed our position and will not change it,” Mr. Lukashevich said. He rejected a comment made by a State Department spokesman on Thursday that Moscow had “woken up” and changed its position as dynamics shifted on the battlefield, saying “we have never been asleep.”

All six Patriot units deployed in Turkey will be under NATO’s command and are scheduled to be operational by the end of January, according to officials in Washington.

George Little, the Pentagon spokesman, said Mr. Panetta signed the order as he flew from Afghanistan to this air base in southern Turkey, close to the Syrian border.

“The United States has been supporting Turkey in its efforts to defend itself,” Mr. Little said.

The order “will deploy some 400 U.S. personnel to Turkey to support two Patriot missile batteries,” Mr. Little added, and the personnel and Patriot batteries will arrive in Turkey “in coming weeks.” He did not specify their deployment locations.

After landing at Incirlik on Friday, Mr. Panetta told a gathering of American Air Force personnel of his decision to deploy the Patriots.

He said the United States was working with Turkey, Jordan and Israel to monitor Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons, and warned of “serious consequences” if Syria used them, but he did not offer any specifics.

“We have drawn up plans for presenting to the president,” Mr. Panetta said. “We have to be ready.”

Turkey’s worries about vulnerability to Syrian missiles, including Scuds that might be tipped with chemical weapons, were heightened recently by reports of increased activity at some of Syria’s chemical sites, though Mr. Panetta said this week that intelligence about chemical weapons activity in Syria had “leveled off.”

The recent Scud missile attacks by Mr. Assad’s forces against rebels in northern Syria have only added to Turkey’s concerns. The Scud missiles were armed with conventional warheads, but the attacks showed that the Assad government is prepared to use missiles as it struggles to slow rebel gains.

Syria denied Thursday that it had fired Scuds this week. But NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said that the intelligence gathered by the alliance indicated that they were Scud-type missiles. “In general, I think the regime in Damascus is approaching collapse,” he said. “I think now it’s only a question of time.”

NATO foreign ministers last week endorsed the decision to send Patriot batteries to Turkey. The details of how many each nation would send were not worked out until this week, officials said.

With the nearly two-year-old Syrian conflict entering its second winter and many thousands of people struggling for food and warmth in cities ruined by protracted fighting, the humanitarian costs seemed to be mounting.

An activist in Syria’s central province of Homs, who identified himself as Abu Ourouba, said the town of Houla — where the United Nations confirmed in May that Syrian troops had killed more than 100 people, including at least 32 children — was facing a catastrophe.

“Houla has been besieged from all directions for the past 10 days. Until now, not even one loaf of bread has entered Houla. The food that was available is beginning to run out very quickly. Most children don’t have milk anymore. The kids are at risk of dying from hunger,” he said. Shelling along access routes meant no one could walk “unless they crawl” to avoid hundreds of strikes from tanks, warplanes and rocket launchers, the activist said.

Thom Shanker reported from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, and Eric Schmitt and Michael R. Gordon from Washington. Reporting was contributed by Anne Barnard, Hania Mourtada and Hwaida Saad from Beirut, Lebanon, Alan Cowell from London, Ellen Barry from Moscow and Rick Gladstone from New York.

Though of course there is probably more to this than meets the eye. This does, to me at least, indicate an increasing interest in Syria by NATO, beyond what ever support they may have given to the opposition forces more covertly.


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28th November 2003

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#2 5 years ago

For Germany there are 8 launchers in one partiot battery, each with 4 missiles ready to go. This looks more like a preparation for a war than just a precautionary measure to me.

The US claimed recently that Syria was preparing to use chemical weapons. At the same time a youtube video showed Syrian rebels using captured chemicals to kill some hares in an experiment. And now even Russian officials admit that Assad is losing ground. There are also reports that Assad is by now using Scud missiles (with conventional warheads) against his own population.

Regardless of which side is favored, it is probably a good idea to make sure that neither crazy dictators nor islamist terrorists start using those chemical weapons on themselves or on others.