Greece’s port of Alexandroupolis is now hosting the “largest shipment of US military equipment in history,” the American Embassy in Athens said on Friday.
US carriers have been transferring helicopters and military vehicles that will participate in the upcoming NATO exercise “Atlantic Resolve” from its vessel to the port.
Another incredible day and milestone in Alexandroupoli welcoming the largest shipment of US equipment in history as the port grows as a lynchpin of the US-Greece defense & security relationship & a key gateway to the Western Balkans and the Black Sea region. @USAmbPyatt @hndgspio pic.twitter.com/YPtVK8tJVg
— U.S. Embassy Athens (@USEmbassyAthens) December 3, 2021
A large number of helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), tanks, cannons, and artillery are expected to reach the Greek port near the border with Turkey as part of an extensive military shipment that is of an unprecedented scale.
Operation Atlantic Resolve began in 2014 in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine. The U.S. at that time took several immediate steps to enhance the deterrence posture along the eastern flank of NATO, including augmenting the air, ground, and naval presence in the region, and enhancing previously scheduled exercises.
Alexandroupolis’ expanding strategic role for US military
Speaking at an event on Atlantic Resolve Distinguished Visitors Day in the northern Greek city, US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt said that “the ever-growing volume of military activity at the Port of Alexandroupolis underscores this location’s expanding strategic role and importance for Greece, for the United States and for the wider region.”
This day, he said, “marks the largest transfer of U.S. military equipment through the port of Alexandroupoli to date,” with the arrival of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade from Fort Hood in Texas on its way to Stefanovikio that will operate in Europe for the next nine months, while the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade is heading back Fort Riley, Kansas, with its 27 helicopters and 259 pieces of military hardware after nine months of service.
Speaking extensively on the recently updated Greece-US Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA), the ambassador said that it enshrines the commitment by both countries to address the security challenges of today and tomorrow through a strategic relationship. The MDCA “is not a ceiling, it’s a platform upon which we can continue to grow and expand our strategic relationship,” he pointed out.
The partnership with Greece has become “one of America’s strongest defense partnerships in Europe,” the outgoing ambassador noted, thanking the Greek government for its commitment and support of US and allied military operations.
“A stronger and more secure Greece is important to America’s interests in this region. Deepening and expanding defense cooperation between our democratic nations not only benefits us, but it makes NATO stronger and more capable. And that’s exactly what we’re doing here in Alexandroupoli today,” Pyatt concluded.
Greece’s National Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos underlined that “what is now happening in Alexandroupolis is not of an aggressive nature against anyone, and any such remarks are ridiculous.”
Greece is not threatening anyone but will defend its territory against any attack while at the same time “boosting our diplomatic efforts in all directions” to strengthen alliances, he added.