İzmir base likely to become NATO's Land Component Command
At an upcoming summit, NATO will shift its Land Component Command, which is based in Spain, to Turkey, and thus the structure of NATO's Allied Air Component Command in İzmir will change, Turkish daily newspaper Milliyet reported on Monday.
Turkish officials didn't deny the report, when approached by Today's Zaman.
“Negotiations on the issue have been continuing within the framework of reforming the structure of NATO. The decision regarding the future status of the İzmir base will probably be made during the June 8-9 summit of the NATO defense ministers,” diplomatic sources, speaking under the customary condition of anonymity, told Today's Zaman.
NATO is currently using its command base in İzmir to oversee its aerial mission as part of the operation against Libyan forces loyal to Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi.
In October 2010 at a meeting in Brussels during which Turkey was represented by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül, NATO ministers approved Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen's proposal to cut the military alliance's staff from some 13,000 to fewer than 9,000, and the number of NATO command bases by a third from the current figure of 11.
At the time, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates insisted that at least one command base should remain in Turkey, Turkish diplomatic sources explained, noting that Gates meant NATO's Allied Air Component Command in İzmir, the main mission of which is to prepare to conduct the full range of air operations throughout NATO's area of operations.