maandag 7 januari 2013

Dutch Patriot batteries leave for Turkey

Two Dutch Patriot units left for the port of Eemshaven near Delfzijl today, to be shipped to Turkey. A total of 150 vehicles and 130 trailers will transport the missile defence materiel to the seaport. As part of Operation Anatolian Protector, the systems will protect our NATO Ally against Scud missile attacks from Syria.

Dutch Patriot PAC-2 launcher. Photo: MoD
The military personnel of the Defence Ground-based Air Defence Command started their 300-kilometre road journey at their home base, the Luitenant-generaal Best - Barracks in Vredepeel. The two Patriot air defence systems, including radar stations and launch installations, will move in 6 convoys of 25 vehicles and around 20 trailers each. At the port of Eemshaven, the materiel will be loaded onto a cargo ship and then travel, accompanied by 5 military personnel, to Turkey, where it is expected to arrive on 22 January.

Chief of Defence General Tom Middendorp was there to see the military personnel off. “By baring our teeth, in a military sense”, he said, “we prevent the use of even more violence. It may sound contradictory (…), but sometimes weapons are what is needed to prevent more deaths and injuries. That is exactly how the Netherlands uses its armed forces, and we have seen this for instance in our successful counterpiracy operations.”

Tomorrow, some 30 Dutch and 20 German quartermasters will leave from Eindhoven Air Base to make preparations for the mission. The main force of around 270 Dutch military personnel will follow on 21 January.

Real threat
Turkey asked NATO for assistance in protecting its population and territory from attacks by medium-range missiles from conflict hotspot Syria, its neighbour to the south. Middendorp: “The threat is a very real one. These so-called Scud missiles have a potential range of hundreds of kilometres, so they could easily hit Turkish cities.”

The Netherlands, Germany and the United States will each cover a sector, sending 2 Patriot systems each. The Dutch will be going to Adana, which with 2.1 million inhabitants is the largest city in southern Turkey.

(Ministry of Defence, The Hague, 7 January 2013)

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