U.S. to Turkey: We’re Taking Those Patriots Home

Days after Turkey agreed to let the U.S. launch airstrikes into Syria from Incirlik, the U.S. announced its pulling the Patriot missile system out of the country.

Just days after Turkey agreed to let the U.S. launch airstrikes against Islamic militants Syria from Incirlik, the U.S. announced its pulling its Patriot missile systems out of the country, apparently because of recent Turkish bombing of Kurds in Iraq.

My colleague, Richard Sisk, has the story at Military.com:

The U.S. announced Sunday that Patriot anti-air and missile batteries and 400 troops deployed to Turkey will be withdrawn following a similar move by NATO ally Germany seen as a protest against Turkish airstrikes on the Kurds.

The Pentagon put out a joint statement by Washington and NATO ally Turkey saying that the Patriot batteries, which were sent to Turkey in 2013 to protect against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, would return to the U.S. by October.

Turkey asked for the deployment of the Patriots following the shoot down in 2012 of a Turkish fighter by Syrian air defenses.

The statement said the MIM-104 Patriot system made by Raytheon Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. will return to the U.S. for upgrades, But it didn’t elaborate on what kinds of enhancements are in store — or make any mention of Turkish airstrikes in northwestern Iraq against the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK.

NATO in late 2012 authorized the deployment of six of the truck-mounted launchers to Turkey, acquiescing to Ankara’s plea to help shield the country after a mortar fired from neighboring war-ravaged Syria killed five Turkish civilians. The U.S., Germany and Netherlands all furnished two batteries apiece.

The Netherlands earlier this year withdrew its batteries because it reportedly didn’t have the money to keep them deployed. Germany, meanwhile, on Saturday announced it would take back its systems in 2016, ending a three-year mission. The U.S. followed suit on Sunday.

Will the removal of the Patriot batteries in Turkey mean greater risk for the six U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets now flying missions into Syria? No, according to the Pentagon, Sisk reported:

“The U.S. will maintain ‘a persistent presence’ of Navy Aegis anti-missile ships in the eastern Mediterranean, the statement said. ‘These ships offer a range of capabilities to support the defense of Turkey and NATO missions, including support for NATO air and missile defense.'”

The U.S. military has more than 1,000 Patriot missile batteries in the inventory in various configurations, including the Lockheed Martin-made PAC-3, which features improved software and radar to better discriminate and track ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and other threats.

The U.S. Army plans to spend $380 million in fiscal 2016, which begins Oct. 1, to buy 10 enhanced launcher electronic systems for the PAC-3, among other enhancements, according to budget documents. Separately, the service plans to spend $417 million to buy 80 PAC-3 missiles equipped with solid rocket motors, larger fins and upgraded guidance systems as part of a performance improvement known as the Missile Segment Enhancement, or MSE.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Ccc

    They were hacked….

  • Curt

    Or like Germany (OK, they didn't have the people or spares to continue to support the deployment) it could be that there hasn't been a continuation of the threat and the mandate expired. It is not like it was ever planned as a continuous presence.

  • donbacon

    "NATO in late 2012 authorized the deployment of six of the truck-mounted launchers to Turkey, acquiescing to Ankara’s plea to help shield the country after a mortar fired from neighboring war-ravaged Syria killed five Turkish civilians."
    There never was any air or ballistic missile threat "from neighboring war-ravaged Syria." It was just another useless Pentagon dog-and-pony show., while they complain of not having enough money.

  • Lance

    The main reason for the air defense missiles was 3 years ago when Obama wanted Syrian President Assad to go and there was fear he launch a airstrike against Pro-rebel Turkey. Now that ISIS is the main threat and the Syrian Air Force has been largely moved to the extreme south of Syria seems there no need for SAMs no in Turkey.

  • BlackOwl18E

    I no longer think of Turkey as an ally. They have passively supported ISIS in a lot of ways and their support of this movement has made me see that the US needs to totally rethink its relationship with that country.

    Bombing the Kurds, one of the few reliable allies we have in that area, was a move that really screwed up the order of things and seriously helped ISIS. The Peshmerga are the only people in Iraq that have proven to be good allies and share some values that are relatively close to those of the west.

    • blight_asdfljsadf

      The Turks put their interests ahead of ours. Unsurprising. Give the Kurds state-esque autonomy in the Turkish state, and then you'll win over some tenacious allies to protect your southern marches from the Arabs. Then i'tll be the Iraqi's turn to worry about Kirkuk with a Turkish flag…

    • oblatt23

      We have a long history of betraying our allies. Turkey this week. The time for betraying the Peshmerga will come again too.

      • BlackOwl18E

        No alliance should be permanent, but I have strong reservations about how you worded that. As if Russia, China, and Europe don't have a history of betraying their allies either.

        The major world players change, but a nation's interests do not. The US has proven to be a solid ally to Western Europe pretty much to a point where it no longer benefits us, but gives them everything. Our alliances with Britain, Israel, and the Five Eyes nations has a long line of faith and mutual trust. I'm not saying that doesn't possess the capacity for change, but I don't see it changing any time in the future and we have proven to be faithful allies in many cases.

        However, I do understand the feeling that a lot of Middle Eastern countries have right now that the United States is unreliable in that region. An Israeli general last year said that the general sentiment in the area is that the most reliable allies now are the Russians. He didn't think they were on the right side, but they mean what they say and always back their "man" in the area. Kinda sad when the Russians are considered more trustworthy than us.

  • duker

    yes the Kurds seem the only ones left for the West to support. The Shia are arm in arm with the Iranians, the other Sunny states including Turkey are supporting ISIL.

    Time to redraw the map, the Alawites Druze and Christians to the west of Syria, The Sunnis with the middle of Syria and eastern Iraq, The Kurds with northern Iraq and the Shia with southern Iraq including Baghdad.

  • Mehmet

    Before condemning all of Turkey, imagine this story :

    Let's say that there is a dictator in Mexico City. When a few protests against his rule start, he crushes them with overwhelming power, and thus starts a civil war. Moderate Mexicans against the government. However the rebels are not organized and they break up into numerous groups based on ethnic and religious divides.

    Let's say the largest one is the Tarahumara People's Defense Force, who are communists, and they have struck a ceasefire with the regime. These people are also active in Texas and Arizona, and have waged a bloody war in the past against the US government, killing soilders, police and massacring locals for years.

    After a few years of bloody fighting where Cuba and Russia are involved to support the dictator by sending troops and weapons, a new fundamentalist Christian group based in Guatemala gains support inside Mexico. They are vicious and bloodthirsty as they kill, crucify and torcher civilians. They take the Spanish inquisition as their guide. They roll over rebel and government troops alike and take vast amounts of land all the way to the US border.

    Now then these maniac Christian Fundamentalist group and the Tarahumara People start a vicious war right at the US border. Millions of Mexican refugees pour over to Arizona and Texas. A great humanitarian catastrophy develops and the US tries to cope with the Mexcian regugees. You can see them in every city from San Fransicso to Chicago to Denver even new York, where they just pitch tent to any park and start living there. Some try to cross into Canada "for a better life", paying human smugglers. Many die on the road.

    And on top of these the Tarahumara start gaining on the Christian fundamentalist thanks to NATO bombing. Now their compatriots within Arizona and Texas also take arms against the US government and start attacking the police, bombing army barracks, executing hostages. You see the Tarahumara want independence on half of Arizona and Texas and all of Northern Mexico.

    Now say a republican president, seeing the situation decides to bomb the Tarahumara people in the US. He might also turn a blind eye to Christian Fundamentalists fighting the Tarahumara so that they can't concentrate all their attack on the US. Of course the US is condemned by many countries and even accused of being Christian Fundamentalists themselves.

    You see this is the situation Turkey finds itself now. Just as you might not agree with the bombing decision of the republican president in the story above, there are 10s of millions in Turkey who do not agree with the Turkish president. But it is what it is, and putting yourself in the situation might make you rethink how events are unfolding.