The Netherlands this week will conclude its mission of protecting southwestern Turkish airspace with two Patriot missile batteries stationed near Incirlik Air Base, according to a base release. Replacing the Dutch personnel and hardware will be members of the Spanish air force and their own Patriot gear, according to the Jan. 22 release. “No missiles came in, but we showed some really strong resolve” during the two-year mission, said Col. Niels Vredegoor, commander of the 1st Netherlands Ballistic Missile Defense Task Force. In January 2013, the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands each sent two Patriot batteries to Turkey in response to a Turkish government request for air defense assistance from NATO to help protect its territory from the threat of ballistic missile threats from Syria as civil war raged in the latter nation. Last year, the Dutch announced that they no longer had the resources to continue the mission; Spain then stepped up. US and German batteries remain vigilant in southern Turkey at Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep, respectively. The German government earlier this month agreed to continue its mission until January 2016, reported Reuters.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.