50 American soldiers to protect shield team in Turkey

September 15, 2011, Thursday/ 18:25:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

The US-led early warning radar system to be implemented in Turkey under the umbrella of the NATO is to be protected by some 50 US soldiers who will be responsible with the internal protection of the host site Kürecik military base of Malatya province.

The external security of the Kürecik base will fall on the shoulders of the Second Military Command that is stationed around 60 kilometers outside Kürecik.

One of the world’s most highly developed radar systems, a US Raytheon production, AN/TPY-2 X-band radar will be stationed in the base in Kürecik, which is in need of reparation before the radar system may be deployed. The US has requested Turkey to initiate a security mechanism around the highly developed system against attacks to sabotage the base, particularly from Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Hezbollah and even Iran.

Turkey last year forced the removal of a statement in last year’s NATO summit in Lisbon, which stated that Iran was the target of the early warning defense system. However, the system that is going to be implemented in Kürecik is nevertheless aimed at deterring potential threats from Iran and blocking a possible nuclear assault by the country.

The military base in Kürecik was home to US air radar defenses until its functions were terminated by the US in early 1990s. The base will undergo a series of extensive repairs to be able to accommodate the well developed high technology radar system.

Turkish and American officials were engaged in feasibility work for the deployment of the radar system in Malatya, Muş and Erzurum, all provinces located in the eastern half of the country, and close to the Turkish border with the Middle East. Kürecik in Malatya was later on agreed upon as the ideal spot for the deployment of such a system that could diagnose the launch of a nuclear missile. The location however was an issue of concern among US officials who believed that Kürecik was too desolate a location for its security personnel and the radar system, but Ankara eased off the concerns by pledges of extensive security around the radar zone.

Diyarbakır was left out as an option for the radar system due its mountainous terrain.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Ministry on Wednesday acknowledged that Kürecik town of Malatya was picked as the spot for the deployment and an agreement regarding the location was signed by US and Turkish parties.

According to the agreement signed between the parties, the information to be obtained through the radar defense system is to remain inside NATO and will not be shared with third parties. Turkey, with clear reference to Israel, had drawn a condition in the radar deployment that NATO should not allow countries to make us of the information obtained by the system in line with their own goals.

It is also stated that Turkish side does not favor the Raytheon engineers taking part in the operating of the radar, on grounds that the personnel might be used by US intelligence agencies.

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