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ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Mobility Airmen are enabling their Army counterparts to meet a Secretary of Defense order to move two Patriot anti-missile batteries and hundreds of Soldiers to support Turkey, a U.S. ally.
According to officials, Airmen worked around the clock to support a NATO request to deploy two Patriot batteries to Turkey. The deployment is a defensive measure intended to deescalate the situation along the Syrian border while demonstrating NATO resolve.
"This operation is a great example of how Airmen support our allies across the globe every day," said Brig. Gen. Larry Martin, the 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center) vice commander. "The Air Force has the means to provide rapid global mobility in support of an important ally to demonstrate the strength and capability of both the U.S. and the NATO Alliance."
The operation is expected to extend into early next week, culminating in the deployment of approximately 400 U.S. service members and equipment.
One KC-10 Extender, KC-135 Stratotanker air refuelers, and six C-5 Galaxy airlifters will transport the Patriot batteries and much of the equipment and personnel belonging to the 3d Battalion, 2d Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Fort Sill, Okla., directly from Altus AFB to Turkey. Additionally, several C-17 Globemaster III aircraft will depart here to create an air bridge allowing further deliveries into Turkey, officials said.
According to air mobility leaders, an effort of this speed and scope in the midst of ongoing support to forces throughout Southwest Asia demands contributions from a total force team of active, Air National Guard and Reserve Airmen.
That team includes planners, mobility liaisons, contingency response Airmen, aircrews, maintainers and dozens of other support personnel.
"Mobility Airmen are proud to be part of an amazing joint team supporting NATO," Martin said. "We take great pride in making complex global mobility requirements a reality."
Participating units include Airmen and aircraft from Bangor, Maine; Pease, N.H.; Joint Base McGuire-Dix Lakehurst, N.J.; Pittsburgh Pa.; Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas; Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass.; and Martinsburg, W.Va.
According to a NATO news release, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States offered to deploy two Patriot batteries each to Turkey. Germany will deploy its batteries to Kahramanmaras, the Netherlands will deploy its batteries to Adana, and the United States will deploy its batteries to Gaziantep.