Tuesday, December 4, 2012

NATO Patriots?

I was somewhat surprised that NATO was authorizing the sending of Patriot missiles to Turkey.  Why?  Two reasons: the US could send Patriot missiles to Turkey any time it likes; and NATO has not been that enthused about supporting Turkey.  I also didn't realize that NATO had Patriots as dedicated assets, more or less.  Sure, NATO has AWACS planes that are jointly staffed and funded, but Patriots?  Ok, I guess so.

Anyway, the US and Turkey chose to go the NATO route, when the US could have deployed a US battery in Turkey just as it has in the past in Israel and elsewhere.  Instead, getting a NATO vote to deploy the missiles to Turkey means that European countries have given some kind of consent and commitment that otherwise would not have existed.  That is the value added.  Since the commander of NATO [SACEUR] is an American (always has been)--Admiral Stavridis--this is not a dual key kind of system where Turkey needs to get another vote through the North Atlantic Council.  Stavridis can say yay or nay on his own (with significant guidance from DC--via the US Secretary of Defense). 

The Patriots are meant to defend Turkey from Syrian missiles and planes BUT they can also create bubbles of threat to Syrian planes over Syrian territory.  That is not NATO's intent, but, well, these things have a way of becoming more interesting than designed.

Interesting times ahead.

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