The risk of military conflict in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean is increasing. Deterrence does not demand ground forces. But at a minimum it does require moving U.S. naval forces eastward from Spain and relying on existing agreements—such as the one that the U.S. has with Greece—to use the naval base at Souda Bay on the island of Crete as the focal point for America’s Mediterranean naval forces.
Last summer, responding to Russia’s slow-motion invasion of Ukraine, then-NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the alliance was planning new bases in Eastern Europe. The alliance should also heed the call of former NATO Supreme Commander Adm. James Stavridis for “more robust maritime deployments both north in the Baltic and south in the Black Sea.”
Shifting naval forces in the Mediterranean to the east makes parallel good sense. A single amphibious ready group would provide a minimum ability to project U.S. power and control the sea. Adding a carrier or a multiple-vessel surface action group capable of striking ISIS targets on land would help stave off the use of the Mediterranean as a highway into Southern Europe for terrorists and their weapons.