Turkey: Are our nuclear weapons at risk?
Ever since the U.S. invented the atomic bomb, Congress has been unwavering in its determination that American-made atomic weapons must remain -- except in a time of all-out nuclear war -- in sole U.S. possession at all times. But, back in the 1950s, with the Soviet menace looming over Western Europe, some of our NATO allies wanted to "share" in our nuclear power.
By the early 1960s, small "custodial" units of U.S. Army Artillery and Ordnance officers, Warrant Officers, and NCOs were allocated to NATO nations that possessed 8-inch and 155mm artillery capable of firing U.S.-provided nuclear shells. Hunkered down inside a triple-concertina fence topped with razor wire and armed only with pistols, our custodial personnel depended on their "host" nation to defend them against the communist-inspired, anti-nuclear protest groups that were rising all over Western Europe.
Under the terms of top-secret bi-lateral agreements, our custodial units were to be protected, at all times, by a host-nation infantry platoon. If anti-nuclear protestors menaced the sites, an entire host-nation infantry battalion had to respond in less than one hour. While most of the host-nations rarely met their troop commitments and response times, we had little concern. After all, the host-nations were on our side. We never feared that the host nations might overrun our tiny custodial detachments and take our nuclear weapons for themselves. That is, until now.
Currently, the U.S. has nuclear-weapons storage sites in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and (hope you are sitting down) Turkey. Over 50 U.S. nuclear weapons are stored at Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, by word and deed, has made it clear that he is converting Turkey from a western-oriented secular nation into an Islamic Caliphate -- a 21st Century version of the Ottoman Empire. Because Erdogan has been providing ISIS in Syria and Iraq with arms and ammunition, a logical assumption is that Turkey and ISIS would join together in forming a restored Islamic Caliphate.
As our Korean War veterans know so well, the Turks are fierce and brutal fighters who delighted in beheading captured North Korean and Red Chinese soldiers. If Turkish President Erdogan ordered the Turkish Army -- which has now been purged of officers favorable to NATO -- to storm Incirlik Air Base, the 1,500 U.S. troops stationed at Incirlik would be quickly overrun.
Given Turkey’s key geographic position astride the land bridge between Europe and the Orient and astride the waterways between Russia and the Mediterranean, the demands of a nuclear-armed Turkish Caliphate would have to be met. Or, Russia and/or Israel could decide to obliterate Istanbul and Ankara, casting civilization into the nuclear darkness of World War III.
Fortunately, at the core of every nuclear weapon there is something called the "Pit." Without its Pit, a nuclear weapon becomes just another conventional, TNT-packed bomb. Pray the Obama Administration has had the wisdom to already remove the Pits from those 50 or more nuclear weapons at Incirlik and has returned them to the United States. But, given the way the Obama Administration has managed our defenses since 2009; those nuclear weapons could still be intact, offering Erdogan a temptation he might not be able to resist.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the Army Language School, the George Washington University, the Infantry School, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
©2016. William Hamilton.
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