- BRUSSELS, Belgium - At Washington's
request, NATO will soon deploy surveillance aircraft for anti-terrorist
operations in the United States in response to the attacks on New York
and Washington, NATO officials said Sunday, an unprecedented use of foreign
military forces to defend the U.S. homeland.
- NATO officials would not say why the United States had
asked for the airborne warning and control system (AWACS) planes to be
deployed there or whether they would be used to free up U.S. aircraft for
deployment in other regions.
- The United States itself has a fleet of 33 AWACS planes,
28 of which are stationed at an airbase in Oklahoma. All that is needed
before the AWACS planes are deployed is military advice and final approval
by national representatives at the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization in Brussels, NATO officials said. NATO allies agreed Thursday
to a complete eight-point list of assistance the United States had requested,
including the use of some of its fleet of AWACS aircraft based in Geilenkirchen,
Germany. A NATO representative would not say whether the planes would be
flown from Geilenkirchen or from another location. NATO has also used AWACS
in Bosnia and the Balkans to assist in air operations. The deployment of
foreign military forces to help defend the U.S. homeland is without precedent.
While some NATO countries have based forces in the United States for extended
periods " German air units, for instance, are exercising with their
U.S. counterparts " this is believed to be the first time such forces
were sent specifically to play a role in national defense.