Stars and Stripes
February 5, 2013
US Patriot missile battery in Turkey comes under NATO command
STUTTGART, Germany: A U.S. Patriot missile battery now up and running near Turkey’s border with Syria fell under NATO command and control Tuesday, bringing the alliance’s effort…one step closer to becoming fully operational, U.S. military officials said.
Currently, five of six Patriot batteries belonging to Germany, the Netherlands and the U.S. are operating in Turkey…
A second U.S. Patriot battery is expected to become operational in the coming days as construction at its operational site in Gaziantep nears completion.
While four Patriot batteries belonging to Germany and the Netherlands have been operating for more than a week, the U.S. effort has been slower to get off the ground. U.S. officials have said the effort was delayed because of legal complications in obtaining the needed approvals from the Turkish government. Now, the mission appears to be back on track.
On Saturday, a battery of soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery out of Fort Sill, Okla., made the move from Incirlik Air Base to a Turkish army base in Gaziantep, said Capt. Royal Reff, a spokesman for the U.S. mission in Turkey. That battery became operational Saturday evening, he said. The other U.S. battery, still positioned in Incirlik, will soon make the move to Gaziantep to man the second Patriot system, bringing the NATO mission up to full capacity…The mission is expected to last up to one year.
In December, NATO defense ministers authorized the deployment of Patriots…
NATO deployed several air defense batteries to southeastern Turkey 10 years ago during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq…
Photo: Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter meets with troops and inspects Patriot missile batteries as he arrives at a Turkish army base at Gaziantep, Turkey on February 4, 2013. (Photograph: U.S. Defense Department)