Armed Forces Radio Signs Off in Iceland

The linchpin of the North Atlantic portion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO/ETAN) is no longer considered important, so the USA is pulling out. Totally out by October. And the airwaves are silenced, the last Mahan high school graduation has occurred. NAS Keflavík is soon no more.

Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, RÚV, reports that the US Armed Forces Radio at the Keflavik military base signed off yesterday, June 1st. It started operations in 1951 and had broadcast continuously for 55 years.

According to RÚV, the US Armed Forces Radio, colloquially known as “Yankee Radio”, made more American music available to Icelandic audiences and “deeply influenced the music, fashion and attitudes of Icelandic youth.”

Iceland joined NATO in 1949 and entered into a formal defense agreement with the US in 1951. Earlier this year, the US decided unilaterally to withdraw the bulk of its forces from the military base at Keflavík in a move that has been characterized as a “unilateral cancellation” of the US-Icelandic Defense Agreement.

That is the Icelandic view. The US view is Iceland, where is that? However I remember hearing a Icelandic Member of the Parliament (Althingi – and yes, it is the Parliament, as Icelandic puts “the” in places you never would) talk about how he learned English watching bootleg Bonanza shows. Geography says western Iceland, where most of the folks live, is on the North American Plate, but recent politics is pushing them to Europe.

I guess the locals will all become “FM-heads,” listening to FM 95.7 (Warning, serious Europop)

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Richard Gardner
About Richard Gardner
Richard Gardner is a “retired” Navy Submarine Officer with military policy, arms control, and budgeting experience. He contributed over 100 pieces to OTB between January 2004 and August 2008, covering special events. He has a BS in Engineering from the University of California, Irvine.


  1. Ron says:

    I worked for a number of years to make this happen (remove the USAF aircraft). We only have x amount of aircraft, and they are divided by so many missions, training, test , maint. and other. We can’t afford to spend money in Iceland, because times have changed and they are not the “early warning” they used to be. Iceland is a wonderful place with wonderful people, but the cold war is over.

  2. I would have more sympathy about a “unilateral cancellation” of the US Icelandic defense agreement if someone could 1) identify the military threat to Iceland that we are abandoning them to face alone and 2) identify the contributions of Iceland in our own current global war on terror.