US military bases in Turkey
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US military bases in Turkey. Map of the Turkey with military bases of the United States
Izmir Air Force Base in Izmir, Turkey
Izmir Air Base, Turkey is one of the strategic military installations run by the US Air Force in Europe. It is almost 400 km away from Istanbul, in one of the oldest and largest cities of Turkey. It is also close to the Aegean Sea, which means it has direct access to the Middle East. Although the base is seen as being run by the Americans, it is not quite like that. The United States of America are not among Turkey’s best friends. As a matter of fact, the USA have provoked Turkey and turned up against them during one of their conflicts, with Cyprus. At that time, the Turkish government decided to close down all the American bases on its territory, except for those that also implied NATO activities. Although two bases were left open, the American operations were stopped. This base is one of them. It was initially run by the US Air Force, but now it mostly concentrates on NATO activities.
Izmir Air Base history dates long ago. Judging by how stormy the Turkish history is, it is not hard to figure out that the local armies had multiple bases in pretty much every city. It was a warring kingdom back then, therefore the military bases in this area date from centuries ago. However, the American history in the area is more recent. The first connections showed up in the autumn of 1952. The Allied Land Forces dealing with the southeastern part of Europe decided to maintain a military post in this place. In 1953, the first unit arrived there. The US Navy supported all these moves and decided to actively involve by sending over a small part of the 7206-th Air Base Squadron in the spring of 1954.
The USAFE (US Air Forces Europe) took over the responsibility for their own actions in the area in the first day of 1956, not to mention about the support towards any actions conducted by NATO. Over the next year, they took over two similar bases located in the close proximity of Izmir. The ’60s brought in a wave of updates. The American forces improved the water lines, the electric lines and the roofs. In 1963, they built a concrete pad for the tanks stationed in the area.
Izmir Air Base was in a tight competition with a close base – Cigli AB. The competition was over in 1970, when the Izmir base was given more responsibilities, while the base in Cigli went in a stand-by position.
Luckily for the inhabitants, Turkey is a peaceful country. The on site housing system is operated by a local office. You need to contact it before getting there, to ease and rush the process. You will be given a sponsor to help you accommodate to a new culture and new habits. The people who prefer the off site system must rely on the local real estate agencies. The prices are not always higher, while the facilities may even be better.
Incirlik Air Base in Incirlik, Turkey
Incirlik Air Base is one of the major strategically located US military bases. The base is in Turkey, which means that it is operated by both the US and the Turkish governments, unlike other co-bases. Most other military installations are operated by the US government, but under the regulation of the hosting government. Things are different here. The base is only 8 km away from Ardana, the fifth most important city in Turkey and the largest one in the southern part of the country. It is also around 50 km from the Mediterranean Sea, close to the Middle East. The population is mostly American – over 5000 troops. However, the base also hosts a few hundred British and Turkish soldiers. The place has two runways. One is 3 km long, while the secondary one is about 2.7 km. In free translation, the Turkish name refers to a place covered with fig trees. Most Americans have a hard time reading it, especially since they are not familiarized with the Turkish phonetics.
The Second Cairo Conference represented the beginnings of Incirlik Air Base. That is when the decision to build it was taken. However, the construction was delayed due to World War II. The actual construction began in 1951. Its initial purpose was to host the medium and advanced bombers. The hosting also included maintenance and repair operations. The first name was Adana Air Base and was given in 1955. The base kept it for three years only, as in 1958 it was renamed to what it is today.
The base played a major role throughout the history. It was close to Russia, therefore it was a very important place for the US government. It was mostly like a bristle in the Russian ribs. At the same time, the location was appropriate to deal with the crisis from the Middle East too, in countries like Israel or Lebanon.
Things became a little problematic during the ’70s. The United States of America decided to stop the Turkish use of American equipments during the invasion of Cyprus. At that time, Turkey decided to avoid being seen as just another country obeying the Americans. The government decided to shut down all the American bases in Turkey and turn them into Turkish military bases. Incirlik Air Base and Izmir Air Base were the only ones that were left alone, since they were part of a NATO agreement. All the non-NATO responsibilities were shut down though.
Other than that, the base was involved in humanitarian acts as well. The recent earthquake that struck South Asia is just one of the samples. Besides, it played a role in the Iraq invasion as well.
All the troops deployed to Incirlik Air Base will be hosted on base for safety reasons. Turkey is not considered to be a safe country by the US government, mostly because of the large Muslim communities. The place has 750 houses, therefore the space is limited. Most troops are hosted automatically, without any applications or anything alike.