US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt has once again highlighted the strategic importance that the base at Souda Bay in Crete has for Washington, describing it as a model of bilateral military cooperation.
Speaking at a reception Friday evening marking 242 years since the founding of the American navy, Pyatt said Greece and the US are two allies that are pursuing similar goals.
The growth, he said, of the base from just 16 personnel in 1969 to approximately 250 commissioned and enlisted personnel and approximately 650 US and local national civilians and contractors today reflects the growing defense cooperation between the two nations, as well as the strategic importance of the base.
“Recent military operations have further underlined Souda’s significance in the Mediterranean,” he said, adding that the base is dedicated to taking care of the fleet and airborne operations in this strategically critical area of the world, and to deepening cooperation with “our Greek allies.”
“This is where the rubber meets the road,” he said.
His remarks came a few hours before Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras left for a five-day visit to the US and is indicative of the extremely positive climate that exists between Athens and Washington.
Souda Bay will also feature prominently in talks that will take place between the extended team accompanying Tsipras and US officials about defense and security.