NATO live fire exercise in Crete irritates Turkey

An Avenger fires a Stinger missile during Artemis Strike, a live-fire exercise at the NATO Missile Firing Installation off the coast of Crete, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. ROBERT DURR/U.S. ARMY via Stars and Stripes

Sputnik/SCF — The US Army is practicing artillery defense in a live-fire exercise with Patriot, Avenger and Stinger missiles as part of Artemis Strike 2017, which runs from October 31 to November 9 at the NATO Missile Firing Range Installation in Chania.

The exercise is aimed at boosting air missile defense capabilities through “integration of allied assets,” US Army Europe said.

​Two-hundred US soldiers and about 650 German airmen are participating in the two-week exercises.

The US Army recently upgraded its fighting manual to prepare for “near-peer adversaries” who boast modern military capabilities, marking a shift from focusing on counter-insurgency operations. The military’s battlefield “advantage… has steadily eroded,” due to potential adversaries as Russia, China, North Korea and Iran having studied the Pentagon’s modus operandi the past 15 years in Iraq and Afghanistan, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said.

The US and German personnel plan to fire up to 100 Patriot and Stinger missiles from Chania,

The exercise caused some irritation in Turkey, as expressed in the pro Erdogan media. A report in The Star daily, a staunch supporter of the  Turkish President said NATO has started a new military drill in the Mediterranean to surround Turkey. “The US, Germany and Greece have launched a missile drill called Artemis to attack ‘an enemy in the East’,” the newspaper said in its lead story.

“The US, which selected terrorist organizations the PKK/PYD [Kurdistan Workers’ Party/ Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party] for an alliance and equipped them with heavy weapons, has taken another step against Turkey that became pretty clear following the coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Washington, which has imposed a covert weapons embargo on Turkey, and Germany, which talks about ‘occupying Turkey,’ have launched a joint missile drill in Greece,” the daily claimed.

According to Star the drill is a result of Turkey’s insistence on buying an S-400 air defense system from Russia despite threats from NATO.

Speaking to the daily, retired Gen. Fahri Erenel said that NATO, for the first time in its history, has declared a member state a potential new enemy.

Meanwhile Turkey’s top defense procurement panel has agreed, Friday to officially order a second batch of F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation multirole fighter aircraft under the multinational Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program bringing Turkey’s total order of F-35s  to  116 aircraft.