Sunday, June 19, 2011

Turkey to host NATO ground forces



NATO's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Source: Press TV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/185429.html

Amid ongoing deadly unrest in Syria, NATO plans to turn its airbase in Turkey into a stronghold for the US-led military alliance's ground forces.

The alliance would transfer its ground forces from a military base in the city of Heidelberg in southwestern Germany and another outpost in Spain to the Izmir Air Station in western Turkey, Journal of Turkish Weekly reported earlier in the month.

The base, NATO's oldest stronghold in Turkey, currently accommodates 400 operational and technical forces.

The move constitutes a part of sweeping reforms in the alliance, which according to its Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen would ultimately "make NATO leaner, more flexible, and better able to deal with future challenges."

Outlining the changes, Rasmussen has said, “We have agreed to reshape NATO's command structure, making it more efficient, more deployable, and more compact.”

The reforms include effort to "streamline the agencies, which run individual NATO projects, such as ground surveillance and strategic airlift,” he added.

The developments come amid Turkey's recent adoption of a toughened stance vis-à-vis its southern neighbor Syria, which has been grappling with unprecedented unrest since mid-March.

The turmoil, which the government blames on armed groups and foreign elements, has left scores of people dead, including many soldiers and other members of its security forces.

Ankara has, meanwhile, threatened Damascus with military intervention in the countrywide unrest, which has been troubling the latter since mid-March. It has also created an expansive military camp close to the common border.

Early June, armed groups, who had received their weapons from Turkey, killed 120 Syrian police and other members of the security forces in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughour before burying them in mass graves.

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