NATO forces are preparing position against Syria, with around 400 US troops among them.
U.S. troops will be in direct position for the first time to take action against the government of Syrian President Bashr al-Assad with the deployment of 400 American forces and two Patriot missile batteries in Turkey, possibly as soon as mid-January.
The missiles and troops will be under the overall control of NATO. But the missiles will be operated by U.S. forces with the ability to choose whether to override computer systems that automatically order firing against any incoming Scud missiles, according to U.S. military officials.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that he had signed orders for the Patriot missiles, emphasizing that he was sending a clear message to Syria that NATO will defend Turkey.
NATO’s involvement is the result of deaths of Turkish civilians, but even more so as a result of Syria’s firing of SCUD missiles, which can carry chemical weaponry to do massive amounts of damage. The most advanced Patriot missiles are designed to directly shoot down SCUDs.
CNN quotes Adm. James Stavridis, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe,
Stavridis confirmed that the U.S. units, along with the other Patriot batteries, will be directly tied into NATO’s extensive air defense system in southern Europe.
‘I will retain operational command responsibility for the deployment of the six Patriot batteries. Over the coming days and weeks, we will train and exercise the layers of command down to the actual Patriot battery to make sure we are ready to expeditiously engage any potential incoming missiles,'”
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