WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–March 29, 2016 — The U.S. government has authorized the ordered departure of Defense Department dependents from Turkey, including those at Incirlik Air Base, according to Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook.
The move announced today comes out of an “abundance of caution” to security concerns in the region, and not in response to a specific threat, Cook told reporters.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in coordination with Secretary of State John Kerry, authorized the ordered departure for all DoD dependents in Izmir, Adana and Mugla provinces, Cook said.
This step does not signify a permanent decision to end accompanied tours at these facilities, according to a news release from U.S. European command.
“This decision allows for the deliberate, safe return of family members from these areas due to continued security concerns in the region,” he said.
The decision impacts 670 out of the 770 Defense Department dependents in Turkey, Cook said, adding that it is his understanding that “this will move quickly.”
The ordered departure applies to all dependents whose sponsors are under the authority of the commander of U.S. European Command, and includes dependents whose sponsors are stationed at Incirlik.
Dependents at Ankara and Istanbul are not impacted, the spokesman said.
Cook said the decision is intended to mitigate the risk to DoD elements and personnel, including family members, while ensuring the combat effectiveness of U.S. forces and mission support to operations in Turkey.
US, Turkey ‘United’ in ISIL Fight
Turkey is a strong ally in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Cook said.
“The United States and Turkey are united in our common fight against ISIL,” Cook said. Incirlik Air Base continues to play a key role in the coalition’s counter-ISIL operations, he said.
The commander of U.S. European Command, Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, said in the Eucom statement that the decision was made in consultations that included the government of Turkey, DoD and the State Department.
“We understand this is disruptive to our military families, but we must keep them safe and ensure the combat effectiveness of our forces to support our strong ally Turkey in the fight against terrorism,” Breedlove said.
‘Remain Vigilant,’ Says State Department
The State Department today issued an updated travel warning for Turkey.
In it, the department warned U.S. citizens about the increased threats from terrorist groups, while warning Americans to avoid travel to the southeastern Turkey, particularly near the border with Syria.
“Foreign and U.S. tourists have been explicitly targeted by international and indigenous terrorist organizations,” the warning reads. “U.S. citizens are reminded to review personal security plans and remain vigilant at all times.”
The warning noted that U.S. government personnel in Turkey remain subject to travel restrictions in Turkey’s southeastern provinces.
By: Lisa Ferdinando — Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter @FerdinandoDoD