News: Gen. Breedlove visits 'boots on the ground' in Turkey
Story by Airman 1st Class Nicole Sikorski
GAZIANTEP, Turkey - U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, NATOs supreme allied commander for Europe and the commander of U.S. European Command, visited U.S. Army Soldiers deployed to Gaziantep, Turkey in support of the NATO-led Patriot missile augmentation of Turkish air defenses against Syrian aggression, July 31.
The general toured the Patriot missile site and spoke to Soldiers and the media about the importance of the local NATO mission and their role in defending Turkey from nearby Syrian violence which threatens families and produces a strain on the Turkish government. He also discussed future involvement of NATO forces in current world conflicts.
"While it's unfortunate that the threat remains, we are clearly demonstrating NATO's resolve and commitment to its core principles right here," he said.
Within the NATO alliance, when one ally is threatened, the whole alliance will come together to protect the ally. In his speech, Breedlove talked about the importance of that commitment with the unpredictable conflicts in the surrounding region.
"These are very important times here in Europe, perhaps the most critical since the end of the Cold War," the general said. "As Turkey continues to respond to the challenges from the south, there are significant changes happening in the overall security environment around us."
According to Breedlove, as the NATO summit approaches in September, it will be determined how NATO will remain more responsive to threats abroad and near home.
"Turkey will play a critical role in those discussions," he said.
In addition to his press conference, Breedlove toured the installation and got an inside look at Soldiers on the job. He also awarded outstanding service members with coins for their contribution to the mission.
"It's nice to have our leadership come and see operations that happen at Gaziantep at a personal level," said U.S. Army Spec. Kayla Echman, 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment Patriot fire control enhancement operator maintainer.