Defending NATO

We've had a busy several days at my headquarters in Mons, Belgium as we undertake the primary business of the Alliance: protecting our borders.

Given the continuing turbulence in Syria, the NATO nations -- acting upon the request of member Ally Turkey -- have decided to deploy purely defensive Patriot missiles to the Turkish-Syrian border.EUCOM image 

Syria is clearly a chaotic and dangerous situation; but we have an absolute obligation to defend the borders of the Alliance from any threat emanating from that troubled state.

The Patriots will deploy specifically to counter potential missile threats from Syria. Given a number of recent cross border incidents with artillery and mortars landing in Turkey and killing Turkish civilians, we are concerned with possible SCUD missile activity inside Syria. SCUDs, which are medium-range surface-to-surface missiles, are particularly worrisome because they can carry chemical payloads.

Over the past few days, a handful of SCUD missiles were launched inside Syria, directed by the regime against opposition targets. Several landed fairly close to the Turkish border, which is very worrisome.SS-1 Scud missile on its MAZ-543P-TEL at the National Museum of Military History, Bulgaria

The Patriots have a limited range and will be deployed in a self-defense mode for the population centers in southern Turkey. Of note, we have done this before during previous periods of turbulence in the region, including in 2003 when Dutch Patriots were deployed.

This purely defensive deployment of six patriot batteries will help protect major population centers in Turkey. The three nations who will be deploying two batteries each are Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States.

There are a number of moving parts to a deployment like this. Not only do we need to move a fair amount of actual missile hardware into Turkey -- missiles, command and control, radars, transport, and hundreds of Soldiers -- but we also have to put into action the command and control framework.

Fortunately, we already have the framework for command and control in the NATO standing defense plan agreed to by all 28 NATO member nations. It will flow from my HQ in Belgium to our Air Defense Command in Ramstein, Germany, and down to the Patriot batteries in Turkey -- including full visibility and connectivity with the Turkish national air defense systems, of course.

As the Supreme Allied Commander for operations globally, I will retain operational command responsibility for the deployment of the six Patriot batteries. Over the coming days and weeks we will train and exercise the layers of command down to the actual Patriot battery to make sure we are ready to expeditiously engage any potential incoming missiles. I'm confident we'll be able to defend the borders of the Alliance.EUCOM image

In the end, this is what Alliances are all about: banding together to share resources and expertise to protect our borders. I anticipate we'll begin moving the systems toward Turkey very soon, and hope to have systems in place in the coming weeks after final national decisions are made and assets are allocated to NATO Command.EUCOM image 

The 28 nations of NATO stand together in this situation, as we do in Afghanistan, the Balkans, the waters of the Horn of Africa, and elsewhere -- and now on NATO's south-eastern border. 

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Comments: 1

by David Corbett on December 14, 2012 :

With Russia at least nominally withdrawing its support from teh Assad regime -- or at least admitting its days are numbered -- I fear the SCUD launchings will only increase, whether from defiance, desperation, or both. Good to know we're forward-deployed at least on the missile front. I wonder what the refugee situation will begin to look like as the situation in Syria deteriorates further. Thanks, Admiral, as always, for the updates and the vigilance.

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