US army demands $26M from White House to upgrade facilities at İncirlik

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published 05.09.2017 20:47

The United States military has demanded a relatively high amount of funding from the proposed 2018 budget of the White House in order to upgrade the current conditions at Turkey's İncirlik Air Base, which was interpreted as a sign of further undeterred U.S. missions from the base despite rumors to the contrary, according to a recent report.

Besides upgrading the facilities and outposts at İncirlik base, which has an essential role in the operations of U.S.-led coalition across regions such as Syria, and Iraq, the U.S. Air Force is also set to build a new dormitory in İncirlik for the deployed airmen and requested $26 million for its funding, according to the proposed budget. The dormitories to be built by the Pentagon would accommodate 216 Security Forces airmen who are deployed at İncirlik, according to the report of Stars and Stripes magazine.

It is also stated that the U.S. Army has requested $6.4 million for the "operating site."

In recent months, there has been some speculation that the U.S. would withdraw its nuclear weapons from İncirlik Air Base and search for other alternatives.

The debate regarding the issue was prompted by an article titled "Concerns raised over military presence, nukes stored in Turkey" published by the U.S. military's Stars and Stripes newspaper. The article suggested that the U.S. should look for alternatives to the İncirlik base since it claimed that Turkey can no longer be relied on. The article also suggested that U.S troops and nuclear warheads can be moved from to Turkey to Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and even Jordan.

However, the Pentagon dismissed the allegations, underlining İncirlik base's importance. Department of Defense (DoD) spokesman Johnny Michael said in July that the U.S. does not have any plans to move its forces and stated that they are committed to Turkey as an ally.

In addition to Michael, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies also said that the U.S. has no intention of transferring its nuclear arsenal to Romania. "No, the U.S. is not moving its nuclear weapons from Turkey to Romania. For one thing, there are no Weapons Storage and Security System (WS3) vaults at Deveselu nor is there any place in Romania for storing the B61s," Lewis tweeted on his Twitter account.

The air base is currently used by the U.S.-led coalition to fight Daesh in the Middle East. Apart from U.S. and German Tornado jets, the British Air Force and the Royal Saudi Air Force also use the base. İncirlik is a key joint U.S. air base used by the Turkish Air Force too, located outside the city of Adana, some 150 kilometers (93 miles) from the Syrian border. Since November 2011, the U.S. Air Force has been flying unarmed drones from İncirlik Air Base. Since August 2015, the U.S.-led coalition has been launching airstrikes from the air base to strike Daesh as part of U.S.-led coalition operations.

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