Military News

Idaho Air Guard members in Turkey safe amid coup fallout

A trio of Idaho National Guard A-10c Thunderbolt II "Warthog" planes fly in formation over the Simplot Sports Complex in June 2013.
A trio of Idaho National Guard A-10c Thunderbolt II "Warthog" planes fly in formation over the Simplot Sports Complex in June 2013. Idaho Statesman file

Members of the Idaho Air National Guard deployed to the Middle East were not harmed during an attempted coup over the weekend in Turkey, an official said Monday.

“All of our personnel are present and accounted for, safe and sound. They’re continuing to do their jobs in the outstanding manner they have since they arrived,” said Maj. Chris Borders, the Air Guard spokesman.

Incirlik Air Base is a strategic center for U.S. operations against the Islamic State militant group. Turkish Brig. Gen. Bekir Ercan Van, a top commander, and several other Turkish military leaders at the base were arrested over the weekend after being implicated in the coup. Power to the base was cut off and planes were not allowed to take off Saturday.

Borders said he could not confirm or deny that Air Guard members are stationed at the base in the south-central city of Adana. However, in late May, the Department of Defense announced that crews from the Idaho Air National Guard were flying and maintaining A-10 warthogs from Incirlik.

A parent of one of the Air Guard members told the Idaho Statesman the soldiers were able to let their families know they were safe, but were not able to provide other details.

When it was announced earlier this year that more than 500 troops would be sent to the Middle East in support of ongoing operations against the Islamic State militant group, the Air National Guard said it would not be able to provide details on specific deployment locations or troop strength.

“We’re not authorized to disclose any specific locations, any specific equipment, any specific personnel numbers. That is operational security that is established by the combatant command,” Borders said.

The failed military coup led to the deaths of 104 soldiers and 161 civilians. At least 1,440 others were injured.

Nearly 3,000 military personnel have been detained since Friday, the Associated Press reported on Monday. They include 103 generals and admirals detained for questioning, 41 of whom have been arrested.

Power at Incirlik Air Base remained off for a third day Monday. The U.S. military is using portable generators to keep the base operational. Sorties targeting the Islamic State resumed Sunday after a halt Saturday when Turkey closed the airspace around Incirlik.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell

  Comments