WASHINGTON, July 18, 2016 — All U.S. service members and civilians in Turkey are safe in the wake of the July 15 attempted coup there, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters today.
“We've taken appropriate steps to maintain the safety and security of our civilian and military personnel, their families and our facilities, and we will continue to do so,” he said of about the roughly 3,000 Americans in Turkey, about 100 of whom are family members.
Family Departure Previously Ordered
Cook noted a departure order that was previously issued for families, and particularly those who were tied to Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, where the U.S.-led coalition is a tenant and is using the base to conduct counter-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant airstrikes and other operations. Turkey is a NATO ally and is a member of the counter-ISIL coalition.
“We've had a clear assessment of what the situation is now with regard to safety and security of our people,” Cook said. “And that was our primary concern throughout this entire process.”
U.S. Operations Continue
Defense Secretary Ash Carter is focused on making sure U.S. operations continue, personnel remain secure and the relationship with Turkey continues to progress, the press secretary said.
“We are confident that the measures we have in place and the support we're receiving from the Turkish government is adequate to address any security concerns we have at this time, and we'll continue to watch it very, very closely, as you would expect we would,” Cook added.
Force protection efforts also have ensured U.S. assets are safe, he said.
“We were, of course, concerned enough that we elevated our force protection,” the press secretary said. “So this was clearly a situation of unrest in Turkey that was a cause of concern for us. We took steps to protect our people and our facilities, and I think that was the appropriate thing to do in light of the circumstances.”
Power at Incirlik Not Restored
Cook said power has not yet been restored at Incirlik, but U.S. operations there continue. “[We’ll take] whatever steps we need … to try to mitigate any impact that there could be on the [counter-ISIL] campaign,” he said, and he confirmed that the United States has backup power to conduct its operations.
“We adjust as we need to, to make sure we keep the pressure on ISIL [and] that we keep our operations going,” Cook said. “And we are very thankful the coalition is able to adjust in other ways, should there be any sort of delay or some sort of impact on our operations going forward.”
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)