Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Verdict is in: The Missiles are in

This blog post is a follow-up to the previous post on the deployment of NATO (sponsored) Patriot surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) along the Syrian-Turkish border.

Today, NATO approved the deployment of SAMs along the Syrian-Turkish border, as requested by the Turkish government. The missile deployment is a direct response to the multiple territorial violations by the Syrian military. NATO's latest announcement said the SAMs installation would be carried out using missile batteries from Germany, the United States and the Netherlands. PAC-3 batteries, the latest version of the US-built system, are expected to be used. Also, the systems will fall under the command of the Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, the top NATO military officer.

The exact details of the deployment, including the number of batteries that would be used and how many foreign military personnel would be involved, are yet to be decided. A joint NATO team is studying possible basing sites in Turkey, and parliaments in both Germany and the Netherlands must then approve shifting assets and the possible involvement of several hundred soldiers. It is unclear if any American soldiers would need to be deployed. Due to the complexity and size of the Patriot batteries - including their radars, command-and-control centers, communications and support facilities - they cannot be flown quickly by air to Turkey and will probably have to
travel by sea.

Despite the concerns from Russia and other regional actors, most importantly Syria, NATO and Turkish officials continue to emphasize that the SAMs can only be used for defensive purposes. However, there is a possibility that Syria could choose to use chemical/biological weapons against the rebels and its citizens, which would effectively end the existential dam of neutrality and release the flood of support for military intervention in Syria. Then, the SAMs would provide the first line of defense for Turkish airspace, and a military campaign to establish a no-fly zone would go into effect.

As of right now, there are no clear signs that a military escalation outside of Syria has mounted, but the possibility for conflict will loom over this conflict until a true cease fire is enacted within the country. Moreover, the SAMs do not symbolize the escalation of military force, but they are a definite sign against the violation of Turkey's territory and the conflict's status quo.

Class, do you foresee the SAMs as a positive strategy to contain the violence in Syria, or do see the SAMs as a platform for military intervention and a no-fly zone?

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