The increase of conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean calls for a stronger U.S. Sixth Fleet, but Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson, has stated there is no plan to bolster scarce U.S. naval resources in the region. One way the alliance can adapt is by boosting military power of existing members to deter aggression in the region. Greece is one example of a member nation that should increase its involvement, and thereby strengthen NATO’s capabilities.
Greece has a long history with the West, and serves as a key geopolitical asset for NATO. The country forms the alliance’s southern tip, and its large eastern border is exposed to volatile conflicts that unfold in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Persian Gulf. Greece is a trusted and capable ally that is one of five alliance members that meet the alliance goal of spending two percent of gross domestic product on defense, consistently surpassing the minimum as far back as 1988. The Hellenic Republic regularly participates in military exercises with allies and partners, and hosts U.S. forces and multiple NATO facilities.
Souda Bay on the Greek island of Crete is the southernmost fighter base in NATO with one runway at the Hellenic Air Force’s 115th Combat Wing, 31 Theater Air Base Vulnerability shelters and munitions storage. NSA Souda Bay is a designated Forward Operating Site, providing sustained support for deployed air and maritime operations to the United States, allies and partners. Souda Bay is one of the few locations capable of hosting a permanently based aircraft carrier in the Eastern Mediterranean along with destroyers and amphibious ships to allow quicker and more cost effective responses in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf.
Athens, Washington, and NATO should identify more synergies to work together and protect peace and commerce in the Mediterranean Sea.
You may R.S.V.P. to Georgea Polizos at email@example.com or via telephone 202-785-8430.
Lexington Institute and American Hellenic Institute
Souda Bay: NATO’s Military Gem
Monday, March 21, 2016
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