The Bundestag, the German parliament, has approved the deployment of Luftwaffe Patriot air defense systems to Turkey. The vote was 461 in favor and 86 against, with eight abstentions.
The deployment will consist of two Patriot batteries, command and logistics elements, and 170 soldiers, plus medics, military police and other support personnel. The Patriot "deployment module" is drawn mainly from Flugabwehrraketengruppen (air defense groups) 21 in Sanitz and 24 in Bad Sülze in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in eastern Germany, which are scheduled to be disbanded as part of the latest reorganization of the Bundeswehr. Delivery of their equipment will be by sealift.
The mandate approved by the Bundestag is for up to 400 personnel, the same level U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the U.S. would deploy, together with two Patriot batteries. The Bundestag mandate lasts until Jan. 14, 2014, and also covers German crew members of NATO E-3A airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft.
The Netherlands plans to send two Patriot batteries and up to 360 military personnel to Turkey.
Germany, the Netherlands, the U.S. and Turkey are consulting within NATO about the exact deployment location for the Patriots, which international press reports are already speculating will be Diyarbarkir.
The three countries' Patriots will come under the command of Supreme Allied Commander Europe, U.S. Navy Adm. James Stavridis.
During the first reading of the bill in the Bundestag, German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière echoed other allied officials in ruling out the Patriot deployment being used to impose or support a no-fly zone over Syria.