Long-awaited US Army missile defense headquarters opens in Turkey to positive reviews
Stars and Stripes May 25, 2023
An under-the-radar Army missile defense mission in southern Turkey got a boost this month when a new operational headquarters that was seven years in the making finally came to fruition.
The so-called Ready Building, where soldiers are responsible for surveillance and early warning of tactical ballistic missile threats, also is expected to make day-to-day life easier for troops operating at one of the Army’s more austere and secretive locations.
“The original building that the command team was working out of made it difficult to complete tasks and coordinate with the military police and orderly room,” 2nd Lt. Nicholas Solis, the 11th Missile Defense Battery’s executive officer, said Thursday in a statement.
Now, “everything is condensed into one and we can get work done more efficiently,” he said.
A ribbon cutting for the new building was held May 18.
The statement, issued by the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, did not specify the exact location of the facility, noting only it’s based in Turkey.
However, U.S. and Turkish officials in the past have spoken publicly about the mission, which is carried out in the small mountain town of Kurecik.
U.S. soldiers began arriving at the site around 2012 in connection with NATO missile defense efforts that primarily are focused on threats emanating from Iran.
Referred to by the military as Site K, it has a high-powered radar that is key to NATO’s missile defense architecture, which also involves U.S. Navy missile defense missions based out of Romania and Spain.
The critical role of the radar site has been used on occasion as diplomatic leverage by Turkey, which has made threats in recent years about cutting off American access to the location in connection with disputes on matters such as Ankara’s military role in Syria and its acquisition of Russian air defense systems.
But despite the periodic rifts, it has remained business as usual for the Army’s Turkey mission. The Ready Building, which officially opened on May 18, will be used as the new headquarters for Army air defenders, who previously were dispersed across the barbed wire protected site, the command said.
Turkish contractors involved in the project persisted through the aftermath of two major earthquakes in February to bring it to its conclusion, officials added.
In the wake of the disaster, living facilities were set up on site for contractors, according to the Army statement.
The former worksite used by air defenders will be replaced with a year-round recreation facility allowing for an array of indoor sporting activities.
That will help soldiers get through the area’s harsh winters more easily, the Army said.