Stepping up their coordination, ironically under the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA which promised to end any American military presence in Greece, United States forces joined with the host country in conducting an anti-terrorist drill on the island of Crete.
They will be held Dec. 2-7 with one in the port of Souda where the US Navy still has a base after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipas backed away from rabid promises to kick out the Americans and take Greece out of NATO, instead helping the defense alliance, even sending troops to Afghanistan although he swore he wouldn’t allow Greek forces to be sent to foreign soil.
It will be the largest ever anti-terror exercise in Greece, said Kathimerini, and is being codenamed Jackal Stone, as the annual exercise of the US Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) which will include special forces from the Greek police and Coast Guard as the two countries are stepping up their relationship under Tsipras who said he would end it.
The scenarios involve an Islamic State terrorist attack on a large cruise ship and countererrorist operations on an islet outside Souda and in the city of Iraklio, Crete’s largest, according to a high-placed source who spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity.
The general command is exercised by the US commander at the Souda Bay Naval base, the most prominent such base for the US and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean. Hellenic Police (ELAS) is the Greek operational commanding force.
Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, leader of the pro-austerity, marginal, jingositic Independent Greeks (ANEL) who are Tsipras’ junior coalition partner, has reportedly been wooing the US to have at least one more military base in the country.