Patriot TMD Deployment
The Pentagon confirmed 18 June 2021 that the US was reducing by eight the number of Patriot anti-missile batteries in the Middle East. The agency confirmed a report in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that said Saudi Arabia would see the greatest reduction in US military support, while Kuwait, Iraq and Jordan would also be impacted. The WSJ said the US plans to pull a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, jet fighter squadrons and accelerate the withdrawal of US troops from the kingdom, in addition to the withdrawal of the anti-missile batteries. The decision reflected both Washington's repositioning of US forces to counter Russia and China as well as shifting sands in the Middle East.
The Pentagon began sending Patriot anti-missile batteries and the THAAD system to Saudi Arabia after an attack on a Saudi oil facility carried out by Iranian drones in September 2019. During an 02 June 2021 phone call, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin informed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of the changes as most of the hardware being removed is currently located in Saudi Arabia. In Iraq, the US moved Patriot anti-missile systems into the country in January 2020. That month, Iran fired missiles at US troops at the Ain al-Asad air base in retaliation for the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a targeted US drone strike at Baghdad International Airport.
US troops began deploying in Turkey on January 05, 2013 to operate Patriot missile-launch batteries to defend against threats from the conflict in Turkey's neighbor Syria. German and Dutch soldiers were expected to start deploying to Turkey within days. The six Patriot batteries were scheduled to be operational by the end of January.
On 4 December 2012, NATO ministers of foreign affairs agreed to augment Turkey’s air defence capabilities by deploying Patriot missiles to the country. The situation along NATO's south-eastern border with respect to Syria, and the repeated violations of Turkey’s territory raise grave concern. Under the agreement, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States would provide Patriot missile batteries, subject to their respective national procedures. It was announced 22 December 2012 that Germany would deploy its batteries to Kahramanmaras [Kahramanmaras Airport - 37°34'N Longitude 36°55'E], the Netherlands would deploy its batteries to Adana [Incirlik AB - 37°00'N 35°26'E ], and the United States would deploy its batteries to Gaziantep [Oguzeli Airport - 37°03'N 37°13'E . Once deployed, the systems would be under the operational command of NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR).
The Dutch government approved the delivery of two Patriot missile batteries to Turkey to boost its air defenses along the border with Syria on December 8. The Dutch Cabinet said it would commit a maximum of 360 troops to operate the Patriot systems under a yearlong NATO mandate. The German government agreed to send two Patriot batteries and up to 400 troops to Turkey. On 14 December 2012 the US announced it would send two batteries of defensive Patriot missiles to Turkey. During a visit to a U.S. base in Turkey, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he is ordering the missiles and 400 military personnel be sent to Turkey. The Patriot missile units will be sent from Germany and the Netherlands.
In September 2014 Spain announced its intentions to deploy a Patriot missile battery to Turkey after the Netherlands ends their missile defense contribution to the area in January of 2015. The United States announced in Augus 2015 it would withdraw its Patriot missile system deployed near Turkey's border with Syria when its mandate expired in October. The US decision came a day after Germany said it would withdraw about 250 troops stationed in Turkey when the mandate for their air-defense mission ended next year after a reassessment of the threats stemming from the conflict in neighboring Syria.
Due to the diminishing missile threat from Syria, the United States announced in September 2015 that it will withdraw its two Army Patriot missile defense batteries and close to 300 soldiers that operate them from the hills above Gaziantep in southern Turkey, close to the Syrian border by this October. The batteries had been on station since January 2013, protecting the city of Gaziantep from Scud missile threats emanating from neighboring Syria and its ongoing conflict. Gaziantep is one of Turkey's largest cities, with a population of nearly 1.5 million.
The United States would likely withdraw its Patriot missile defense battery from Jordan in near future, said Riki Ellison, Chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance in a August 19, 2015 statement. The U.S. announced earlier in the week that it would withdraw two Patriot missile battalions from Turkey by October, citing a diminished ballistic missile threat emanating from neighboring Syria.
This same assessment probably extends to the Scud missile threat to Jordan, according to Ellison, stating that the "requirement for having an Army missile defense battery deployed in Jordan...is also likely removed, with a pending decision for withdrawal of these forces forthcoming."
A single U.S. Patriot battery, consisting of 4-6 individual launchers and around 150 U.S. Soldiers has been on station in Jordan since the summer of 2013. Originally deployed to take part in joint exercises, the battery has remained to provide defense against air and missile threats emanating from the ongoing conflict in Syria.
Turkey appealed to its NATO allies on 08 October 2015 to shore up missile defenses in the country aimed at shooting down Syrian rockets, as Germany said again that it will withdraw its Patriot batteries and the United States was set to do the same.
The United States on 09 October 2015 started to withdraw its Patriot missile batteries from Turkey, despite Russia's weekend incursions into Ankara's airspace amid a deepening crisis in Syria. The batteries, based in Turkey's southeastern province of Gaziantep, have been taken to the Turkish harbor of Iskenderun for shipping back to the United States, the Dogan news agency said. The withdrawal came despite Ankara's appeal for its NATO allies to keep their Patriot missiles in the country, as Russia started air raids on Islamic State targets in Syria on Sept. 30 and Russian fighters breached Turkish airspace twice on Oct. 3 and 4.
Despite increasing isolation on the international stage, Turkey appeared to have at least one friend left: Spain. Madrid will renew an agreement to keep its surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries along the Turkey-Syria border.
Ankara’s downing of a Russian Su-24 attack aircraft on November 24 drew international condemnation. Moscow took the strongest stance against the attack which left two Russian servicemen dead, but Turkey’s NATO allies voiced their frustration over Ankara’s aggressive actions. Despite publicly affirming support for Turkey, both the United States and Germany announced that they would remove SAM batteries stationed in Turkey at the end of 2015.
Turkey’s defense against ballistic missile threats will be handled by the Aegis ships to be permanently stationed in the Eastern Mediterranean, within the framework of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), announced in 2009.
After the 1991 Gulf War, the PATRIOT missile system never left Southwest Asia (SWA). Units from Germany and the United States have been rotated to staff the PATRIOT systems in SWA. One year, two of the three units in Germany divide the assignment for six months temporary duty each. The next year, two of the units from the continental United States divide the mission for six months each. Thus, prior to the deployment of PATRIOTs to Korea, in any two-year period, four of our nine PATRIOT battalions each experienced a six-month period of deployment.
One of the units that had served in SWA was the 2nd Battalion (PATRIOT) 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment (2-7 ADA). This unit had served in the Gulf War, and had rotated back to SWA from April to September 1993, and then scheduled to be stabilized at Fort Bliss Texas for two years. However, in April 1994, with little advance preparation, 2-7 ADA deployed for an unaccompanied six-month tour in Korea. After six months, it was replaced by 1-43 ADA, which was to be forward stationed in Korea, with soldiers serving in it for one year unaccompanied tours.
In mid-February 2016 the United States temporarily deployed an additional Patriot missile battery in South Korea in response to North Korea's recent nuclear test and long-range missile launch. The US military command in South Korea said an air defense battery unit from Ft. Bliss, Texas, had been conducting ballistic missile training using the Patriot system at Osan Air Base, south of Seoul. US Forces Korea would not confirm how long the new missile battery would be deployed at the base. The move came ahead of talks to set up an even more sophisticated US missile defense system known as THAAD.
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