Aug 8, 2021 - World

Senator asks Pentagon to help Greece fight wildfires

A local resident gestures as he holds an empty water hose during an attempt to extinguish forest fires
A local resident gestures as he holds an empty water hose during an attempt to extinguish forest fires approaching the village of Pefki on Evia (Euboea) island on Aug. 8. Photo: Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) penned a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin urging the Pentagon to provide additional support to Greece as the country battles devastating wildfires.

State of play: Dozens of wildfires broke out in Greece last week after the country suffered its worst heatwave in decades. They have continued to rage unabated and forced hundreds to evacuate.

  • Greece has deployed its army to fight the fires and has received international assistance from Cyprus, France and Israel. Germany also said it would send firefighters and vehicles.
  • Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called the situation a "nightmarish summer," adding the government's priority "has been, first and foremost, to protect human lives."
  • Extreme heat waves are also among the clearest manifestations of human-caused global warming, studies show.

The big picture: Menendez said he applauded a decision by the Department of Defense to deploy a P8 aircraft to Greece to help monitor for "threats to infrastructure and residential areas."

  • "These efforts have saved lives and I urge the Department to fulfill additional requests for assistance, including the deployment of CH-47 helicopters," Menendez wrote.
  • "Greece is a close and valued NATO ally. I urge the Administration to take all measures necessary to support the people of Greece in their time of need," he added.
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