But the failed military coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week has ratcheted up long-standing concerns about the military usefulness and security of the Incirlik armory, America’s largest foreign stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Security remains at the highest level, FPCON Delta. Electrical power was restored only Friday after a week-long blackout that strained living conditions at the base. The 3,000 U.S. service personnel stationed there have been ordered to remain inside the gates. Hundreds of military dependents were sent home months ago, amid fears of a terrorist attack.
The base was an operational center of the attempted coup. Its commander and his subordinates were arrested on suspicion of trying to overthrow the Turkish government, leaving junior officers in control. The developments have shocked U.S. military experts who say they demonstrate a worrying level of instability in Turkey’s military command close to the B61s.
Defense officials have never acknowledged the existence of these weapons on the base and refused this week at news briefings after the coup attempt to answer questions about them.
Lt. Col. Christopher Karns, an Air Force spokesman for U.S. Central Command in Qatar, said the electricity cutoff had forced water rationing and a slight reduction in bombing missions against Islamic State, also known as ISIS, but operations were returning to normal.