An influential American think tank has proposed in a recent report that the U.S. should strengthen its military relations with Greece and consider moving its military bases from unreliable Turkey to Greece.
The Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) in its report “U.S. & Greece:Cementing a Closer Strategic Partnership”, says that Greece is becoming a crucial, pro-U.S. geopolitical actor at the center of every key security issue in Eastern Mediterranean.
It notes that Turkey under Erdogan has been transformed “from a democratic and reliable NATO partner to a pro-Russian autocracy hostile to the West.”
Increasingly –the report adds — Ankara’s ambitions point toward greater regional influence, and possibly even predominance, at the direct expense of Greece, Israel, Cyprus, Egypt and other U.S. partners.
“Athens appears to be filling the void left by Turkey’s gradual estrangement from America and the West. Greece aspires to take over Ankara’s role as the southeastern bastion of the Western alliance, and to become a diplomatic and economic hub interlinking Europe and other growing regional players like Israel, Cyprus and Egypt.”
The report by the Institute, whose primary mission is to educate Congressional, military and civilian national security decision-makers on American defense and strategic interests, primarily in the Middle East, says that “Greece needs deeper U.S. cooperation if it is to become a platform for projecting American power and promoting regional stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
It recommends four steps Washington should take in order to bolster Greece as an important regional player:
First, the United States should go beyond rhetorical support for Greece’s and Cyprus’ trilateral diplomatic fora with Israel and Egypt. Already France and Italy are sending tangible signals of support for their countries’ energy companies that are operating amid Turkish interference and intimidation offshore Cyprus. American policymakers must now seriously consider similarly concrete backing.
Second, the United States should strengthen Greece’s ability to defend U.S. interests by increasing bilateral military-to-military ties. This means providing meaningful amounts of foreign military financing (FMF) for Greece to purchase U.S. weapons and materiel.
Third, the United States should explore options to bolster its own forward military presence in Greece. This could mean increased rotational deployments through various installations and larger presences of forward-based troops at Greek bases, including: expanding the naval base at Souda Bay, establishing a new naval and air base at Alexandroupoli, increasing U.S. Air Force deployments in the country and enhancing U.S. Army training in Greece.
Finally, the United States should also view Greece and potentially Cyprus as viable, and reliable, options for relocating U.S. military assets currently deployed in Turkey. With Greece indicating its willingness to host most or all these forces, American policymakers should explore relocating some forces to Greece and develop options for further relocations in the event that their continued presence in Turkey becomes unsustainable.