The United States is looking to expand its military presence in Greece, the Military Times quoted Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford as saying.
The comments come at a time when the United States and Greece’s neighbor Turkey are at odds over a number of issues, including Turkey’s detention of a number of U.S. citizens, U.S. support for Syrian Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State and Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missiles.
The United States imposed sanctions on Turkey last month and some Turkish government supporters have called on Ankara to stop U.S. forces using the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey in response.
“If you look at geography, and you look at current operations in Libya, and you look at current operations in Syria, you look at potential other operations in the eastern Mediterranean, the geography of Greece and the opportunities here are pretty significant,” the newspaper quoted Dunford as saying.
But Dunford said greater use of Greek bases was not tied to U.S. relations with Turkey and the United States expected to continue to use of Incirlik.
However, the newspaper quoted one U.S. official as saying that Greece had “been looking around this neighborhood and recognizing the same instability … that we have … They’ve always had a nervousness about their NATO ally Turkey.”
U.S. officials, the Military Times said, told reporters that specific bases in Greece had been identified and that Supreme Allied Commander Europe Army General Curtis Scaparrotti was evaluating options for increased U.S. flight training, port calls and additional multilateral exercises.