The first American military forces have arrived in Turkey to man Patriot missile batteries along the border with war-wracked Syria, NBC News reported Friday, January 4. Defense officials said that 27 out of an eventual total of 400 American service members tasked with operating and supporting two Patriot missile batteries were already in Turkey. In December, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed an order to send the Patriot batteries to Turkey following cross-border artillery and fighter jet attacks by Syria against Turkish targets. The widely expected decision followed similar steps by Germany and the Netherlands, which are also sending Patriot batteries meant to intercept and shoot down incoming enemy combat aircraft and missiles. Turkey, a NATO member, has repeatedly scrambled jets along the countries’ 560-mile joint frontier and responded in kind when shells from the 22-month-old Syrian conflict came down inside its borders.