The U.S. Senate passed the annual defense authorization bill last week which includes provisions aimed at bolstering US-Greece defense partnerships. The legislation now must be signed by President Biden before becoming law.
The U.S.-Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Partnership Act of 2021, which was sponsored by U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), was included in the annual defense authorization bill, the NDAA, which passed on Dec. 8.
The gargantuan bill now goes to the Oval Office to await President Joe Biden’s signature.
US-Greece Defense bolstered by the passage of defense bill
“The enactment of the U.S.-Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Partnership Act of 2021 is a powerful demonstration not only of the Congress’s commitment to strengthening our bilateral defense relationship and enduring ties with our Hellenic partners, but also of our appreciation for Greece’s pivotal role in securing regional security and economic prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Chairman Menendez said upon the passage of the bill.
“As a life-long advocate and stalwart supporter of the deep American bonds with Greece, Cyprus and Israel, I am incredibly proud to see Congress take such a critical step to reaffirm the 3+1 partnership as the lynchpin of democracy and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and as an invaluable alliance for the United States.”
BREAKING: Congress just passed my U.S.-Greece Defense & Interparliamentary Partnership Act, demonstrating our commitment to our Hellenic partners & appreciation for their pivotal role in securing regional security & economic prosperity in the Eastern Med. https://t.co/ZyrSstkEbe pic.twitter.com/c0zmeplGf8
— Senate Foreign Relations Committee (@SFRCdems) December 15, 2021
Major provisions of the U.S.-Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Partnership Act include support for the modernization of Greece’s military through the authorization of the European Recapitalization Incentive Program’s assistance to Greece. This mechanism supports Greece’s transition from Russian to Western-produced military equipment.
The bill also frees up a total of $1.8 million per year for international military education and training assistance to Greece for the fiscal years 2022 through 2026.
The legislation also supports the U.S. providing direct loans to Greece for the procurement of defense articles, defense services, and design and construction services pursuant to the further development of Greece’s military forces.
Regarding the transfer of American military equipment to Greece, the bill authorizes expedited delivery of any future F-35 aircraft ordered by Greece.
It also requires the Secretary of Defense, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, to submit a report to Congress on Greece’s defense needs and how the United States will seek to address such needs through transfers of excess defense equipment to the country.
As part of Parliamentary engagement within the 3+1 Framework, the 2021 bill also authorizes the establishment of an interparliamentary group among Cyprus, Greece, Israel and the United States to serve as the legislative component of the 3+1 process launched among the governments in March of 2019.
Separate from the aforementioned U.S.-Greece Defense Act of 2021, the NDAA also authorizes $41,650,000 during the next fiscal year for military construction at the Naval Support Activity Base at Souda Bay on the Greek island of Crete.
The NDAA flew through the U.S. Senate by a vote of 89 to 10.
Philhellene Senators Menendez, Rubio write Partnership Act of 2021
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was joined by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in introducing new legislation to bolster the United States’ defense partnership with Greece earlier this year. Entitled the U.S.-Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Partnership Act of 2021, the bipartisan legislation bolsters support for Greek military modernization, authorizing new transfers of American military equipment, and fostering increased multilateral engagement among Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and the United States.
“As a reliable NATO ally, Greece plays a critical role in promoting security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. The 200th anniversary of Greek independence reminds us of the long history of U.S.-Greece cooperation based on our shared commitment to democratic values, and we must continue building that cooperation in the years to come,” said Chairman Menendez.
“In order to ensure that the Eastern Mediterranean remains secure, the U.S. must bolster its defense relationship with Greece by supporting Greece’s efforts to modernize its armed forces. This legislation seeks to strengthen the bonds of friendship between the U.S. and Greece in order to advance our shared values, promote security cooperation, and support a secure Eastern Mediterranean for years to come.”
“This bipartisan legislation will continue to enhance defense cooperation with Greece, a valued NATO ally,” said Senator Rubio. “By extending Foreign Military Assistance to Greece and establishing an interparliamentary partnership with democratic countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, this legislation reaffirms our strong commitment to the region at a time when malign actors are working to undermine international security and stability.”