By Tevfik Kadan
The US House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which involves a decision to establish new bases on the Aegean islands.
The bill, which encompasses the budget for the US Department of Defense (Pentagon) for the fiscal year 2024 and sets defense spending policies, was passed in the House of Representatives last month. The $886 billion bill includes a range of provocative clauses, from arming the PKK/PYD in Syria to measures against Russia and China. It was revealed that an additional amendment not present in the original bill was introduced during the debates in the House of Representatives.
Grace Meng, a member of the Democratic Party in the US House of Representatives, introduced an amendment to the bill aimed at increasing US military presence in Greece. Meng’s proposal focuses on supporting Athens and calls for the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State to jointly submit a report to relevant Congressional committees. This report is expected to analyze the security relationship between the US and Greece, specifically exploring ways to establish additional bases on Greek islands and expand US military presence in the region. This request was added to the bill and accepted by a significant majority in the House of Representatives.
In a statement regarding the amendment Meng said, “My amendment in support of the robust US-Greece defense relationship, particularly with respect to the expansion of basing rights between our two nations, will only help to further fortify the bond between the US and Greece.”
The bill passed in the House of Representatives will be presented to the US Senate in the coming days, and after approval in the Senate, it will be submitted to US President Joe Biden for signature.
On top of the existing 9 bases, the US wants 11 bases more
Grace Meng’s proposal is a continuation of the expanded defense cooperation agreement signed between the US and Greece in October 2021, granting the US forces access to additional military bases in Greece. With this agreement, the US gained the right to station troops in four more bases in addition to the five existing five. The initial five locations were the Souda Bay Naval Base, Salamis Naval Base, Kastelli, Kalamata, and Andravida Air Bases. The new locations were determined to be the Yannuli Barracks in Alexandroupoli, a firing range in Litochoro, the Georgulas Barracks in Volos, and the Suda Naval Base in Crete. Following the agreement, reports in the Greek media indicated that the US had temporarily increased its base number to nine, but the Pentagon had requested twenty.
Greek media: ‘Blue Homeland’ drowning in the Aegean
The Greek newspaper Pentapostagma announced the amendment in the House of Representatives under the title “New American Bases in Greek Islands – Blue Homeland Drowning in the Aegean.”
The newspaper writes: “The strong military ties between Athens and Washington have become more visible recently with joint training between the Greek Armed Forces and the US aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford. With the proposal to establish new bases on the Aegean islands, approved in the House of Representatives, this relationship has reached its peak.”
The Greek newspaper Ekathimerini made the following assessment: “The increase of US military activities in Greece by the Pentagon is a response to Russia’s naval operations and the war in Ukraine.”
10th F-16 Viper delivered to Athens
According to an announcement from US company Lockheed Martin, the Greek Air Force received its 10th upgraded F-16 Viper fighter aircraft. The US is providing modernization kits for F-16s to Greece that it didn’t to Türkiye. Based on the agreement between the two countries, Lockheed Martin will modernize and deliver 84 F-16s to the Greek Air Force by 2027.
The aircraft’s upgrades are being carried out by the Greek Aerospace and Defense Industry under the guidance of Lockheed Martin teams. It is expected that this modernization will bring more than $1 billion in economic benefits to the Greek defense industry.