Washington Asks NATO To
Deploy AWACS Planes In US
MSNBC Staff and Wire Reports

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.


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