WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and America’s highest-ranking military officer, paid a two-day visit to Greece on Monday and Tuesday.
In Athens, Dunford met with his counterpart, Adm. Evangelos Apostolakis, and described the US relationship with Greece as “probably as good as it has been in many, many years.”
“The US military is planning to expand its presence in Greece as Washington’s relationship with Turkey deteriorates,” Newsweek reported.
Greece was under Ottoman rule for nearly four centuries, until gaining its independence in 1830, and it has had, at best, uneasy relations with Turkey in the time since.
“If you look at geography, and you look at current operations in Syria, you look at potential other operations in the eastern Mediterranean, the geography of Greece and the opportunities here are pretty significant,” Dunford told reporters traveling with him.
A US official accompanying Dunford further explained that “the welcome mat for an expanded presence comes as Greece faces increasing uncertainty over its relationships with Russia and Turkey,” Military Times reported.
It cited Dunford as saying that the increased use of Greek military facilities was not linked to Washington’s ties with Ankara and that the US expected to continue to use Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base.
However, as Military Times noted, “US-Turkey relations have deteriorated significantly over the last several years over disagreements about US policy in Syria, the 2016 failed coup in Turkey and Turkey’s pursuit of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system.”
Dunford told reporters that Greece is prepared to consider greater military cooperation with the US.
They “made a general overture saying they would be willing to consider that, and I certainly was enthusiastic about the possibility,” he said.
US officials, including Dunford, also explained that they are not looking for access to large bases in Greece, but their objective is to arrange for more US service members to travel there for the purposes of training, education, and exercises.