The U.S. Department of State is allowing all nonessential personnel, including military family members at Incirlik Air Base, to leave southern Turkey voluntarily.
However, officials had not decided Tuesday whether the Air Force would be flying civilians out of Incirlik, said Maj. Toni Kemper, a spokeswoman at Incirlik.
For the time being, school will continue to operate at Incirlik, said Frank O’Gara, spokesman for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe.
Thomas Ellinger, DODDS’ Mediterranean District superintendent, is working with Col. Marc Felman, 39th Wing commander at Incirlik, and school principals to try to gauge the impact of the authorized departure, including “how many teachers will take advantage of it, and how many students may remain,” O’Gara said.
If schools should close, students would return to schools at their home of record, while some teachers would be assigned temporary jobs in Washington, D.C., DODDS officials said last month.
The State Department on Monday night issued the authorized departure notification for Incirlik and for family members at the U.S. Consulate in Adana. Incirlik is in south-central Turkey, about eight miles north of Adana, Turkey’s fourth-largest city.
The authorization is a result of “increased security concerns in southeast Turkey, especially along the Turkey/Iraq border,” according to a State Department news release.
The release also advised U.S. citizens in southeast Turkey to leave, and warned against traveling there.
The U.S. embassy in Ankara and consulates in Istanbul and Izmir are not affected by the warnings.
Incirlik, used by the U.S. military to patrol a no-fly zone over northern Iraq and a possible staging point for an Iraq operation, increased its security Tuesday to its second highest level, along with the rest of the European Command, said Kemper. U.S. personnel were not allowed to leave the base.