Panetta Approves Turkish Patriot Deployment

Some 400 US military personnel will deploy to Turkey in the coming weeks to operate two batteries of Patriot missiles that the United States is sending to help defend Turkey, said Pentagon Press Secretary George Little. NATO decided earlier this month to augment alliance member Turkey’s air defense capabilities in the face of threats from Syria. “We are prepared in the context of NATO to support the defense of Turkey for an unspecified period of time,” explained Little on Dec. 14. He would not elaborate on the location or duration of the Patriot deployment. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed the deployment order for the Patriot units on that same day while en route to Turkey as he wrapped up a trip last week that included official stops in Afghanistan and Kuwait. Panetta visited airmen at Incirlik AB, Turkey, located some 60 miles from the Syrian border, on Dec. 14, thanking them for their service and spending another holiday season away from their families. Both the United States and Turkey share concerns about how Syrian violence could affect regional stability, he told the airmen. (AFPS report by Cheryl Pellerin) (Panetta transcript)