US Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has significant ties to US-Turkey weapons sales, alarming many as Turkish president Erdogan prepares to invade Syria and threatens massacres. Shanahan joined Boeing in 1986, and worked there for the next 30 years. As for qualifications he had no previous government experience, but he was a longtime executive within the military industrial complex.
While overseeing Boeing’s Rotorcraft Systems Shanahan was directly connected to Turkey’s war against the Kurds. The US first announced the possible sale of Chinook helicopters to Turkey in 2009, as part of a $1.2 billion weapons sale. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency noted the primary contractor would be a division of Boeing overseen by Shanahan.
The announcement of his appointment came over Twitter. “I am pleased to announce that our very talented Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, will assume the title of Acting Secretary of Defense starting January 1, 2019. Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing,” Trump tweeted.
Human rights organizations have noted the role of US weapons and military equipment in Turkish atrocities over the years. The vast majority of planes and helicopters used by the Turkish Air Force are of US origin.
The US announced a $3.5 billion sale of Patriot missiles to Turkey last week. A Secretary of Defense with Shanahan’s background suggests plans to escalate US military support for Turkey, as president Erdogan threatens to commit massacres in Northern Syria.
The US has long been Turkey’s largest arms supplier. Turkey is one of the top 10 buyers of US military equipment and Turkey receives significant military aid.