NATO salutes 60 years of Turkish membership in alliance

Feb 21, 2012

ByU.S. Army Europe Public Affairs

HEIDELBERG, Germany -- This year U.S. Army Europe’s ally Turkey marks 60 years of membership to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The Republic of Turkey has contributed forces to international missions under the banners of the United Nations and NATO since 1952, including peacekeeping missions in Somalia and the Balkan states of the former Yugoslavia, support to coalition forces in the Operation Desert Storm, and in the global war on terror.

Beginning in December 1995, the U.S. and several of its allies deployed peacekeeping forces to Bosnia for Operation Joint Endeavor. That contingent, known as Task Force Eagle, was comprised of 20,000 American Soldiers and forces from 12 other nations, including Turkey. The task force implemented the Dayton Agreement, the peace treaty that put an end to the three-and-a-half year war in Bosnia.

Soon afterward Turkish forces provided assistance in another Balkan region when they supported the NATO-led peacekeeping force known as the Kosovo Force. Turkey, along with other military forces, entered Kosovo in 1999 to support the NATO mandate to deter hostility, establish and maintain a secure environment, and demilitarize the Kosovo Liberation Army.

Turkey has played a key role in the global war on terror and helped to establish peace and security in Iraq and Afghanistan. Turkish forces have been deployed to Afghanistan since 2001 as part of the U.S. stabilization force and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. Since then Turkey has twice held the leadership of ISAF, has helped train thousands members of the Afghan National Army; has spent nearly $1 million dollars on anti-narcotics efforts; and has operated two fully equipped hospitals, two clinics and two mobile clinics that have treated around 650,000 patients annually.

Turkey provided extensive logistical support to American troops in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, including humanitarian airlift operations, refueling and sustainment operations and other military operations.

Recently European countries throughout NATO have joined with the U.S to begin laying the framework for a NATO-led missile defense shield in Europe. Turkey chose to support the development of the shield and the stationing of an early warning radar system on its soil.
"We've had a long-standing military partnership with the Turkish Land Forces, we've trained together, we've fought together, and because of that close relationship and those experiences, our U.S. Soldiers are better trained and prepared and I believe, the Turkish Soldiers are as well," said USAREUR Commander Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling in a USAREUR release about the general’s December visit and discussion with Turkish Land Forces Commander Gen. Hayri Kivrikoglu.

USAREUR continues to operate hand-in-hand with its Turkish allies. One recent example is illustrated by a military-to-military small unit exchange program that sent USAREUR Soldiers to the Turkish commando school in Isparta Turkey while a team of Turkish commandos traveled to Vilseck, Germany to train in U.S. small unit tasks with Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 2nd Cavalry Regiment.

In a USAREUR release on that training Maj. Robert Johnston, a Central Europe liaison officer with USAREUR’s Security Cooperation Division, described why USAREUR’s cooperation with Turkish forces has been profitable for both countries.

“The Turkish Land Forces have an in-depth and long-term knowledge of counterterrorism, and USAREUR units have knowledge gained through counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Johnston said. “Events like these tend to strengthen the bonds of military camaraderie and make future events more acceptable to both sides.”

View images of USAREUR and Turkish Soldiers participating in small unit exchange training on the USAREUR Flickr page.

More articles and video stories about Turkey’s 60 years in NATO are available on the NATO website.


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