The US expects more military rotation from Greece in the Mediterranean - Europe - stripes

The US expects more military rotation from Greece in the Mediterranean - Europe - stripes

Spc. Cavalry catcher Matthew Williams, assigned to the Second Cavalry Regiment, fires a Stinger rocket using Man-Portable anti-aircraft systems during an Artemis Strike fire attack near Crete in 2017.

STUTTGART, Germany - The US wants to increase troop rotation in Greece and gain more access to bases that may facilitate missions ranging from the eastern Mediterranean to the Black Sea and the Balkans, the American top diplomat said in Athens.

US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt said Washington and Athens are working on updating the long-term defense cooperation agreement to allow for broader military missions. Currently, the US military agreement with Greece focuses on operations at the US Navy base in Souda Bay. But there is little room for growth at this long-standing military hub, Pyatt said.

Pyatt said that Greece has many other military facilities that are "underutilized" and could play a bigger role. "And that's one of the priorities, because our experts are working on a defense cooperation agreement," he said in a paper.

Pyatt's comments coincided with Tuesday's visit by Lieutenant General Tod Wolters of Europe to Greece, who had talks with Lieutenant General Christos Christodoulou, Commander of the Defense Forces.

Sailors assigned to USS Ross, a targeted rocket destroyer, launched the line as the ship moored on Souda Bay in Crete on April 12, 2019. The US wants to increase rotation of troops to Greece.

"Because Greece is such a valuable NATO ally in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, we must look at the highest level to develop our defense relations and security cooperation," said Lieutenant Cmdr. EUCOM Representative Joe Hontz.

A new defense cooperation deal with Greece comes as Athens seeks closer military ties with the United States. Last year, the Greek Defense Secretary called on the US military to build new bases in the country, citing locations in Larissa, Volos and Alexandroupolis.

It is already active in areas far from Souda Bay in the US, including the MQ-9 Reaper drones flying from Larissa. Rotation units, including army combat aircraft, have been deployed to other parts of the country.

“The pace of our military action today is higher than it has been for decades (and) we are committed by both our governments to make this series of exercises, this rotation series, even bigger and more meaningful next season. , "In the Pyatt. "So we're in a good position there."

Cooperation with Greece is taking place at a time of heightened regional tension, Athens is at odds with Turkey and Russia is increasing its military presence in the Mediterranean.

In 2010, China began to buy stakes in the Greek port of Piraeus, seeing it as a strategic intersection of the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. China now has full control over a Mediterranean port that is a gateway to southern and central Europe.

Events in Taormina