By: Thom Shanker, Eric Schmitt, and Michael R. Gordon / New York Times
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta signed an official deployment order on Friday to send 400 American military personnel and two Patriot air defense batteries to Turkey as cross-border tensions with Syria intensify.
The American batteries will be part of a broader push to beef up Turkey’s defenses that will also include the deployment of four other Patriot batteries — two from Germany and two from the Netherlands.
All six units will be under NATO’s command and are scheduled to be operational by the end of January,
according to officials in Washington.
George Little, the Pentagon spokesman, said Mr. Panetta signed the order as he flew from Afghanistan to this air base in southern Turkey, close to the border with Syria.
“The United States has been supporting Turkey in its efforts to defend itself,” Mr. Little said.
After landing at Incirlik Friday, Mr. Panetta told a
gathering of American Air Force personnel of his decision to deploy the Patriots. He said the United States was working with Turkey, Jordan and Israel to monitor Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons, and warned of “serious consequences” if Syria used them, but he did not offer any specifics.
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