Top Turkish general meets US officials
WASHINGTON - Hürriyet
Turkish Chief of General Staff Özel was set to meet US Defense Secretary Panetta (L) in his office yesterday and was scheduled to be the guest of his US counterpart Dempsey. AP photoAs part of his visit to the United States, Turkish Chief of General Staff Necdet Özel has visited top secret military bases of the U.S. army, where significant operations such as the raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden were commanded.
Gen. Özel was set to meet U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in his office yesterday and was scheduled to be the guest of the U.S. Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey at the Pentagon. Dempsey and Özel were to have lunch yesterday, before Turkey’s top military official was to be briefed extensively on improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the afternoon. Turkey and the Pentagon are seeking to share knowledge on IEDs. Özel was also invited to dinner as a guest of Dempsey and his wife Deanie Dempsey at their house yesterday. Özel visited Langley Air Base in the state of Virginia, where the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) is located. In this base, where Pentagon and the CIA jointly command operations, Özel received a briefing. On May 8, Özel had visited three separate military bases in Florida. One of them was Key West Navy Base where the Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) unit – known with the operation that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan – is located.
Briefing on F-35 jets
Özel also visited Tyndall Air Base of the first Navy Force in Florida and was briefed on the F-35 jet projects at the Eglin Air Base, where the 33rd Fleet is located. He met on May 9 with Turkey’s Ambassador to the U.S. Namık Tan in Washington, and also attended a lunch with American-Turkish Council members. Özel’s visit to the U.S. is regarded as the most secret kind, and it has been closed to media.
A source close to the Pentagon told daily Hürriyet that the visit was symbolically important as a sign of military to military relations between Turkey and the U.S. Former Turkish Chief of Staff İlker Başbuğ visited the U.S. three years ago, although his predecessor Işık Koşaner did not visit the U.S. during his tenure.