NEWS

US, Greece boost military cooperation

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The United States has decided to boost the presence of its armed forces in Greece, both on a permanent and a rotational basis, and has so informed its allies and partners.

According to well-informed sources, this enhanced footprint is presented as a natural deployment in a NATO ally’s territory, but behind that explanation lies Washington’s worry of a deterioration in Greek-Turkish relations at a time when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan can no longer be viewed as a steadfast ally of the West.

The rise in the points of US military presence in Greece was a given in the negotiations for the renewal of the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA). To the current points of US military presence – the naval base at Souda, Crete, the air bases in Larissa and Stefanovikeio, central Greece, and the port of Alexandroupoli, northern Greece – at least four more will be added. Indeed, the Greek Defense Ministry prepared a list of 22 locations for the Americans to choose from.

One very likely location is the base of the 117th Combat Wing in Andravida, western Greece – the site, in recent years, of the Iniochos air exercise. Its location permits fast deployment from Western Europe, especially Italy. In recent months the US has deployed F-15 and F-16 fighters, KC-135 tankers and MQ-9 Reaper drones.

Also quite likely is the island of Skyros, which provides the advantage of being in the Aegean without being too close to Turkey and having both air and naval bases.

The special forces are an important part of the cooperation, with US forces present permanently at Souda and on rotation in Rentina, northern Greece. The US is also advising the Greek General Staff on setting up its new Special Warfare Command. A few weeks ago, the US provided Greek Special Forces with advanced wireless devices with encrypted communication, worth $9 million, as well as Mark V Special Operations Craft.