Covering the Bases: Reassessing U.S. Military Deployments in Turkey After the Attempted Coup d’Etat

September 12, 2016
12:00 pm -

Covering the Bases: Reassessing U.S. Military Deployments in Turkey After the July 2016 Attempted Coup d'Etat

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies hosted a discussion on the U.S.-Turkish military relationship. In the wake of the recent coup attempt and growing fractures between the two allies, this expert discussion took a close look at our current security ties and US assets currently deployed to Turkey. The event took place on Capitol Hill on Monday, September 12. The conversation featured former Commander of the U.S. European Command and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Allied Command Operations, retired four-star U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove; former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman; and FDD Senior Counselor John Hannah. The discussion was moderated by Catherine Herridge, Chief Intelligence correspondent at Fox News Channel.




The Republic of Turkey has been a reliable NATO ally and staging point for the U.S. military for more than six decades. Today, American forces in Turkey target the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, man key components of the European integrated missile defense system, provide logistics for regional operations, and deter a resurgent Russia. But in the wake of July’s attempted coup and the escalating Syrian war, tensions in U.S.-Turkish relations have risen dramatically, prompting growing questions about the future of the security partnership, including the reliability of U.S. access to Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base. Where is this important, but increasingly strained, relationship headed and what steps should Washington take to ensure its vital interests are secured?

The conversation was centered on a new FDD report that provides a comprehensive analysis of the history of the U.S.-Turkish military relationship and the mounting challenges. The report urges Congress to consider alternative basing options to Incirlik, should US-Turkish ties continue to deteriorate.

General Philip Breedlove is a retired four-star U.S. Air Force General. He served as Commander of the U.S. European Command and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Allied Command Operations and has held numerous operational, command and staff positions. He has completed nine overseas tours, including two remote tours, and commanded a fighter squadron, an operations group, three fighter wings, and a numbered air force. He also served as Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. Operations Officer in the Pacific Command Division on the Joint Staff; Executive Officer to the Commander of Headquarters Air Combat Command; the Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force; and Vice Director for Strategic Plans and Policy on the Joint Staff.  Gen. Breedlove served as the Commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe; Commander, U.S. Air Forces Africa; Commander, Air Component Command, Ramstein; and Director, Joint Air Power Competence Centre, Kalkar, Germany.  He was responsible for Air Forces activities in an area of operations covering more than 19 million square miles.  This area included 105 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. 

Ambassador Eric Edelman serves as a senior advisor to FDD’s Turkey Program and is a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.  He retired as a Career Minister from the U.S. Foreign Service on May 1, 2009. He served as U.S. ambassador to Finland in the Clinton administration and to Turkey in the Bush administration and was Vice President Cheney's principal deputy assistant for national security affairs. He has served in senior positions at the Departments of State and Defense as well as the White House where he led organizations providing analysis, strategy, policy development, security services, trade advocacy, public outreach, citizen services, and congressional relations. Amb. Edelman has been awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Presidential Distinguished Service Award, and several Department of State Superior Honor Awards.

John Hannah is senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where he brings two decades of experience at the highest levels of U.S. foreign policy. During the first term of President George W. Bush, he was Vice President Dick Cheney’s deputy national security advisor for the Middle East, where he was intimately involved in U.S. policy toward Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, the peace process, and the global war on terrorism. In President Bush’s second term, Mr. Hannah was elevated to the role of the vice president's national security advisor. In his previous government service, Mr. Hannah worked as a senior advisor to Secretary of State Warren Christopher during the Bill Clinton administration, and as a senior member of Secretary of State James Baker's Policy Planning Staff during the presidency of George H. W. Bush. Outside of government, Mr. Hannah has served as deputy director and senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He has also practiced law, specializing in international dispute resolution.

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security. Ms. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent. A lead correspondent for the network’s coverage of the 9/11 Benghazi terrorist attack, Ms. Herridge has also reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, Qatar, Israel and Guantánamo Bay. She has covered stories including the ethnic conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, the Northern Ireland peace agreement, and 9/11 in New York City. Ms. Herridge’s book, The Next Wave: On the Hunt for al Qaeda’s American Recruits (2012), exposes the new face of terrorism and predicts the source of future threats in the Middle East and North Africa.