November 18, 2007:
The U.S. Air Force is flying U-2
aircraft recon missions for the Turkish forces fighting PKK Kurdish rebels
along the Iraqi border. The U-2 carries spy satellite grade sensors, so it can
give a very detailed view of what is down there, even if people are hiding
under cover. PKK rebels often use caves to hide out in, but sufficiently
sensitive sensors can even detect if people are camping out in a cave.
Turkey has been complaining, for several years,
about the PKK hiding out in northern Iraq camps, then crossing into Turkey to
ambush soldiers and police. The Turkish parliament recently authorized the
Turkish military to enter Iraq in force to root out the PKK. The Turks have not
made such a move yet, but over 20,000 Turkish combat troops are on the border
and ready to go.
Turkey does not have the kind of UAVs, spy
satellites and recon aircraft the U.S. possesses, and apparently called in some
favors to get the U-2s, and apparently some other photo and electronic recon
aircraft, to help with this counter-terrorism effort. Moreover, the U.S. has
operated U-2s from Turkish airbases for half a century, so the Turks can feel
it's time that their hospitality was reciprocated.