A report titled “U.S. & Greece: Cementing a Closer Strategic Partnership” by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), one of the largest think tanks in the Jewish lobby in the US, proposes that the US draw up plans to relocate personnel and equipment from Turkey to Greece, such as airplanes, air-refueling airplanes, AWACS, a TPY-2 Ballistic Missile Warning Radar System and B61 Tactical Nuclear Weapons.
As it notes:
“Dormant for decades, the Eastern Mediterranean is back as a cockpit of competition. New challenges and opportunities for U.S. national security are arising in this historical link between Europe, Asia and Africa. Concerted U.S. engagement with the region is increasingly necessary, both to defend against growing shared threats and to capitalize on strategic realignments already underway.
This imperative is most evident when it comes to America’s relations with Greece. If the Eastern Mediterranean is once again a vital strategic crossroads, then Greece is emerging as the nexus connecting several vital geoeconomic and political issues. More and more, Athens is becoming a crucial, pro-U.S. geopolitical actor at the center of every key security issue in the region.
These issues are manifold. The primary driver of regional change has been Turkey’s transformation under President Erdoğan from a democratic and reliable NATO partner to a proRussian autocracy hostile to the West. Increasingly, Ankara’s ambitions point toward greater regional influence, and possibly even predominance, at the direct expense of Greece, Israel, Cyprus, Egypt and other U.S. partners.
A major potential flashpoint between Turkey and these countries comes from the simultaneous discovery of considerable natural gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean. The prospect of additional energy discoveries raises tensions and the risks of conflict further. Meanwhile, renewed great power competition is bringing with it Russian, Iranian and Chinese inroads, often at U.S. expense, in the Eastern Mediterranean region, from the Levant and North Africa to the Balkans…”
“Greece’s strategic location near the intersection of three continents, combined with rising challenges from Turkey and major new energy discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean, are forcing its leaders to think increasingly in geopolitical terms.
This differentiates Greece from much of the rest of Europe, where security competition is often considered a vestige of the past – although Vladimir Putin has forced even some further north to begin questioning whether geopolitics are indeed dead. Led by the Hellenic Armed Forces, Greece has come to conceptualize itself as a key geopolitical actor at the center of four circles:
the Balkans, Black Sea, Middle East and North Africa. Each of these presents its own problem set for both Greece and the United States, while also creating new opportunities to bolster the U.S.-Greece relationship…”
Separately from these options, the United States should also view Greece and potentially Cyprus as attractive options for relocating U.S. military assets currently deployed in Turkey if that becomes necessary. Given Ankara’s growing hostility to the United States, Greece and NATO more generally – including limited and inconsistent access to Incirlik Airbase for U.S. counter-ISIS operations in Syria, and threats to close the base altogether – American policymakers should consider hedging the potential loss of access by developing plans for redeploying forces out of the country, as officials have mooted recently. Germany set a precedent in 2017 when it redeployed its forces from Incirlik to Jordan.
The possibility of moving U.S. forces out of Turkey offers both the prospect of generating leverage to change Ankara’s behavior, and ensuring reliable access for these forces in nearby partner countries if Turkey follows through on some of its threats to deny access to the United States. Greece has indicated its willingness to host most or all these forces. The United States should therefore develop contingency plans to redeploy its forces from Turkey to Greece and/or to the British airbase at Akrotiri on Cyprus, if that becomes necessary. These forces include:
• Aerial refueling aircraft, which could redeploy permanently to Greek or British-Cypriot
• AWACS surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft;
• TPY/2 missile defense radar installation;
• B-61 tactical nuclear weapons (according to press reports); Greece used to host such weapons as recently as 2001, and it still has facilities with appropriate safeguards, though it is uncertain whether Athens would agree to host these capabilities.
Read the full report HERE