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Turkish Military

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Title: Turkish Military  
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Turkish Military

Turkish Armed Forces
Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri
Founded May 3, 1920[1]
Service branches Turkish Coast Guard
Headquarters Ankara
Supreme Military Commander President Abdullah Gül
Minister of National Defence İsmet Yılmaz
Chief of the General Staff Necdet Özel
Military age 20
Conscription 6-12 months depending on education level
Active personnel 595.800 (01.11.2013) military personnel[2]
Reserve personnel 184.443 Gendarmerie[2]
5.400 Coast Guard[2]
Budget $18.2 billion in 2013 (ranked 15th) [3]
Percent of GDP 2.4% (2011)
Domestic suppliers Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation
FNSS Defence Systems
Turkish Aerospace Industries
Gölcük Naval Shipyard
Akdal Arms
Foreign suppliers  United States
 United Kingdom
 South Korea
Annual imports $675 million (2009 est. in constant 1990 USD)[4]
Annual exports $830 m (USD)[5]
Related articles
History Military history of Turkey

Standard of the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Turkish Armed Forces

The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) (Turkish: Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri (TSK)) are the military forces of the Republic of Turkey. They consist of the Army, the Navy (including naval aviation and naval infantry), and the Air Force. The Gendarmerie and the Coast Guard, both of which have law enforcement and military functions, operate as components of the internal security forces in peacetime, and are subordinate to the Ministry of Interior. In wartime, they are subordinate to the Army and Navy. The President of Turkey is the military's overall head.

The current Chief of the General Staff is General Necdet Özel. The Chief of the General Staff is the Commander of the Armed Forces. In wartime, he acts as the Commander in Chief on behalf of the President of Turkey, who represents the Supreme Military Command of the TAF on behalf of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.[6] Commanding the Armed Forces and establishing the policies and programs related with the preparation for combat of personnel, intelligence, operations, organization, training and logistic services are the responsibilities of the General Staff. Furthermore, the General Staff coordinates the military relations of TAF with NATO member states and other friendly nations.

After becoming a member of NATO on 18 February 1952, Turkey initiated a comprehensive modernization program for its Armed Forces. The Turkish Army sent troops to fight in Korea, where they played pivotal roles at some points. Towards the end of the 1980s, a second restructuring process was initiated. The TAF participate in European Union battlegroups under control of the European Council, as a part of the Italian-Romanian-Turkish Battlegroup, which will be on standby for duty during June–December 2010. It also contributes operational staff to the Eurocorps multinational army corps initiative of the EU and NATO.


Main article: Military history of Turkey

War of Independence

After the end of World War I, many Ottoman military personnel escaped from Rumelia to Anatolia in order to take part in the national movement. During the War of Independence, on May 3, 1920, Birinci Ferik Mustafa Fevzi Pasha (Çakmak) was appointed the Minister of National Defence, Mirliva İsmet Pasha (İnönü) was appointed the Minister of the Chief of General Staff of the government of the Grand National Assembly (GNA).[1] But on 3 August 1921, the GNA resigned İsmet Pasha from the Minister of National Defence because of his failure at Eskişehir-Kütahya and on 5 August, just before the Battle of Sakarya, appointed the chairman of GNA Mustafa Kemal Pasha (Atatürk) to the commander-in-chief of the Army of the GNA. Turkey won the War of Independence in 1922.

World War II

Turkey remained neutral until the final stages of World War II. In the initial stage of World War II, Turkey signed a treaty of mutual assistance with Great Britain and France.[7] But after the fall of France, the Turkish government tried to maintain an equal distance between both the Axis and the Allies. After Germany conquered the Balkan states, and the Axis (Germany and Italy) became neighbours with Turkey in the Aegean Sea, Turkey signed a Treaty of Friendship and Non-Aggression with Germany on June 18, 1941.

After the German-Soviet War broke out, the Turkish government sent a military delegation under Lieutenant General Ali Fuat Erden to the German Eastern Front and Germany.[8] After the German retreat from the Caucasus, the Turkish government got closer with Western Allies and Winston Churchill secretly met with İsmet İnönü at the Yenice Train Station near Adana on 30 January 1943, with the intent of pulling Turkey into the war, on the side of the Allies. A few days before the start of Operation Zitadelle, the Turkish government sent a military delegation under General Cemil Cahit Toydemir to Belgorod and observed the exercises of the 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion and its equipment.[9] But after the failure of Operation Zitadelle, the Turkish government participated in the Second Cairo Conference in 1943, where Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and İsmet İnönü reached an agreement on issues regarding Turkey's possible contribution to the Allies. On 23 February 1945, Turkey declared war against Germany and Japan, after Yalta Conference announced that only states which were in war with Germany and Japan by 1 March 1945 would join the United Nations.[10]

Korean War

Main articles: Turkish Brigade and Battle of Wawon

Turkey participated in the Korean War as a member state of the United Nations. It sent the Turkish Brigade to South Korea and suffered 731 losses in combat. On 18 February 1952, Turkey became a member of NATO.[11] The Korean government donated a war memorial for the Turkish soldiers who fought and died in Korea. The Korean pagoda is in Ankara and it was donated in 1973 for the fiftieth anniversary of the Turkish Republic.


Main article: Cyprus dispute

On 20 July 1974, the TAF launched an amphibious and airborne assault operation on Cyprus, in response to the 1974 Cypriot coup d'état which had been staged by EOKA-B and the Cypriot National Guard against president Makarios III with the intention of annexing the island to Greece; but the military intervention ended up with Turkey occupying a considerable area on the northern part of Cyprus and helping to establish a local government of Turkish Cypriots there, which has thus far been recognized only by Turkey. The intervention came after more than a decade of intercommunal violence (1963–1974) between the island's Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, resulting from the constitutional breakdown of 1963. Turkey invoked its role as a guarantor under the Treaty of Guarantee in justification for the military intervention.[12] Turkish forces landed on the island in two waves, securing 37% of the island's territory in the northeast for the Turkish Cypriots, who had been isolated in small enclaves across the island prior to the military intervention.[13][14][15]

In the aftermath, the Turkish Cypriots declared a separate political entity in the form of the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus in 1975; and in 1983 made a unilateral declaration of independence as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which was recognized only by Turkey. The United Nations continues to recognize the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus according to the terms of its independence in 1960. The conflict continues to overshadow Turkish relations with Greece and with the European Union. In 2004, during the referendum for the Annan Plan for Cyprus (a United Nations proposal to resolve the Cyprus dispute) 76% of the Greek Cypriots rejected the proposal, while 65% of the Turkish Cypriots accepted it.

PKK Campaign

Main article: Turkey – Kurdistan Workers' Party conflict

The TAF are in a protracted campaign against the PKK (recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and NATO)[16][17][18][19][20] which has involved frequent forays into neighbouring Iraq.

During the 1980s and 1990s many Kurdish rural communities were uprooted in an effort to limit the PKK's base of logistical support.[21] These actions by the TAF had resulted by the mid-1990s in more than 3,000 Kurdish villages being deserted while according to official figures 378,335 Kurdish people had been displaced and rendered homeless.[21]

War in Afghanistan 2001-

After the 2003 Istanbul Bombings were linked to Al-Qaeda, Turkey deployed troops to Afghanistan to fight Taliban forces and Al-Qaeda operatives, with the hopes of dismantling both groups. Turkey's responsibilities include providing security in Kabul (it currently leads Regional Command Capital), as well as in Wardak Province, where it leads PRT Maidan Shahr. Turkey was once the third largest contingent within the International Security Assistance Force. Turkey's troops are not engaged in combat operations and Ankara has long resisted pressure from Washington to offer more combat troops. According to the Washington Post, in December 2009, after US President Barack Obama announced he would deploy 30,000 more U.S. soldiers, and that Washington wants others to follow suit, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reacted with the message that Turkey would not contribute additional troops to Afghanistan. "Turkey has already done what it can do by boosting its contingent of soldiers there to 1,750 from around 700 without being asked", said Erdoğan, who stressed that Turkey would continue its training of Afghan security forces.

Humanitarian relief

The TAF have performed "Disaster Relief Operations," as in the 1999 İzmit earthquake in the Marmara region of Turkey. Apart from contributing to NATO, the Turkish Navy also contributes to the Black Sea Naval Co-operation Task Group, which was created in early 2001 by Turkey, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia and Ukraine for search and rescue and other humanitarian operations in the Black Sea.

Turkish Armed Forces today

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), in 2010 the Turkish Armed Forces had an active strength of around 510,000 personnel. In addition it was estimated that there were 378,700 reserve personnel and 152,200 paramilitary personnel (Turkish Gendarmerie and Turkish Coast Guard). This gives a combined active and reserve personnel strength of around 1,041,900 personnel.[22] In 2010, the defence budget amounted to 26 billion liras.[23] The Law on the Court of Accounts was supposed to initiate external ex-post audits of armed forces' expenditure and pave the way for audits of extra budgetary resources earmarked for the defence sector, including the Defence Industry Support Fund.[24] However the Ministry of Defense has not provided the necessary information [25], so the armed forces expenditure is not being properly checked.

In 1998, Turkey announced a programme of modernisation worth US$160 billion over a twenty year period in various projects including tanks, fighter jets, helicopters, submarines, warships and assault rifles.[26] Turkey is a Level 3 contributor to the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme.[27] The final goal of Turkey is to produce new generation indigenous military equipment and to become increasingly self-sufficient in terms of military technologies.

Havelsan of Turkey and Boeing of the United States are in the process of developing a next generation, high altitude ballistic missile defence shield. Turkey has chose the Chinese defense firm CPMIEC to co-produce a $4 billion long-range air and missile system.

Turkish Army

Main article: Turkish Army

The Turkish Army can trace its origins from remnants of Ottoman forces during the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. When Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his colleagues formed the Grand National Assembly (GNA) in Ankara on April 23, 1920, the Kâzım Karabekir's XV Corps was the only corps which had any combat value.[28] On November 8, 1920, the GNA decided to establish a standing army (Düzenli ordu) instead of irregular troops (the Kuva-yi Milliye, Kuva-yi Seyyare, etc.)[29] The army of the government of the GNA won the Turkish War of Independence in 1922.

As of 2006, the Turkish Army had 1,300 troops deployed in northern Iraq, according to documents released as part of the United States diplomatic cables leak.[30] The Turkish Army also maintains around 17,500 troops in Northern Cyprus, as part of the Cyprus Turkish Peace Force (Kıbrıs Türk Barış Kuvvetleri, or KTBK.)[31]

Turkey has largely finalised the acquisition model for its T-Loramids surface-to-air missile (SAM) programme after confusion over whether it had abandoned a direct purchase of systems, including offset commitments by the bidding companies.

Turkish Navy

Main article: Turkish Navy

The Turkish Navy navy is the naval warfare service branch of the Turkish Armed Force. The Turkish Navy maintains several Marines and Special Operations units. The Amphibious Marines Brigade (Amfibi Deniz Piyade Tugayı) based in Foça near İzmir consists of 4,500 men, three amphibious battalions, an MBT battalion, an artillery battalion, a support battalion and other company-sized units.[32] The Su Altı Taarruz (S.A.T. - Underwater Attack) is dedicated to missions including the acquisition of military intelligence, amphibious assault, counter-terrorism and VIP protection; while the Su Altı Savunma (S.A.S. - Underwater Defense) is dedicated to coastal defense operations (such as clearing mines or unexploded torpedoes) and disabling enemy vessels or weapons with underwater operations; as well as counter-terrorism and VIP protection missions.[32]

Turkish Air Force

Main article: Turkish Air Force

The Turkish Air Force is the aerial warfare and youngest service branch of the Turkish Armed Forces. It is primarily responsible for the protection and sovereignty of Turkish airspace but also provides air-power to the other service branches. Turkey is one of five NATO member states which are part of the nuclear sharing policy of the alliance, together with Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.[33] A total of 90 B61 nuclear bombs are hosted at the Incirlik Air Base, 40 of which are allocated for use by the Turkish Air Force in case of a nuclear conflict, but their use requires the approval of NATO.[34]

The Air Force took part in the Operation Deliberate Force of 1995 and Operation Allied Force of 1999, and later participated in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina, employing two squadrons (one in the Ghedi fighter wing, and after 2000 one in the Aviano fighter wing.)[35] They returned to Turkey in 2001. In 2006, 4 Turkish F-16 fighter jets were deployed for NATO's Baltic Air Policing operation.

Turkish Coast Guard

Main article: Turkish Coast Guard

The Turkish Coast Guard is a branch of the Turkish Armed Forces and was established in 1859. Affiliated with the Guarding Administration (Ottoman Turkish: Muhafaza Memurluğu), the Coast Guard is responsible for controlling the maritime jurisdiction areas and coasts of Turkiye and fighting all kind of illegal action in the responsibility area. Turkish Coast Guard is also the main Search and Rescue Coordination Authority in Turkish SAR Zone. During peace time, it is under the command of the Turkish Interior Ministry. However, during emergency and war time it falls under the command of the Turkish Navy.

Turkish Gendarmerie

Main article: Turkish Gendarmerie

The Turkish Gendarmerie is responsible for maintaining law and order in rural areas which do not fall under the jurisdiction of regular police forces. The Gendarmerie has around 200,000 active personnel. The Jandarma Özel Harekat (Gendarmerie Special Operations Command) units of the Turkish Gendarmerie are trained for riot control, urban warfare and counter-terrorism warfare. The Turkish Coast Guard is responsible for maintaining law and order in the Turkish territorial waters. It has around 2,200 active personnel. It is responsible to the Interior Ministry during peace time. In peacetime the Grendarmerie and the Coast Guard fall under the control of the Ministry of the Interior., not the Turkish Armed Force.

Role of the military in Turkish politics

After the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk prohibited the political activities of officers in active service with the Military Penal Code numbered 1632 and dated 22 May 1930 (Askeri Ceza Kanunu).[36] However, after the coups d'état in 1960, the Millî Birlik Komitesi (National Unity Committee) established the Inner Service Act of the Turkish Armed Forces (Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri İç Hizmet Kanunu) on 4 January 1961 to legitimize their military interventions in politics. In subsequent coup d'états and coup d'état attempts, they show reasons to justify their political activities especially with the article 35 and 85 of this act.[37]

The Turkish military perceived itself as the guardian of Kemalist ideology, the official state ideology, especially of the secular aspects of Kemalism. The TAF still maintains an important degree of influence over the decision making process regarding issues related to Turkish national security, albeit decreased in the past decades, via the National Security Council.

The military had a record of intervening in politics, removing elected governments four times in the past. Indeed, it assumed power for several periods in the latter half of the 20th century. It executed coups d'état in 1960 (27 May Coup), in 1971 (12 March Coup), and in 1980 (12 September Coup). Most recently, it maneuvered the removal of an Islamic-oriented prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan in 1997 (28 February Process).[38] The military executed the first democratically elected prime minister Adnan Menderes.[39]

On April 27, 2007, in advance of the November 4, 2007 presidential election, and in reaction to the politics of Abdullah Gül, who has a past record of involvement in Islamist political movements and banned Islamist parties such as the Welfare Party, the army issued a statement of its interests. It said that the army is a party to "arguments" regarding secularism; that Islamism ran counter to the secular nature of Turkey, and to the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The Army's statement ended with a clear warning that the TAF stood ready to intervene if the secular nature of the Turkish Constitution is compromised, stating that "the Turkish Armed Forces maintain their sound determination to carry out their duties stemming from laws to protect the unchangeable characteristics of the Republic of Turkey. Their loyalty to this determination is absolute."[40]

Contrary to outsider expectations, the Turkish populace was not uniformly averse to coups; many welcomed the ejection of governments they perceived as unconstitutional.[41] Members of the military must also comply with the traditions of secularism, according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom report in 2008, members who performed prayers or had wives who wore the headscarf, have been charged with “lack of discipline”.[42]

Paradoxically, the military was an important force in Turkey’s Westernization but now represents an obstacle to Turkey’s desire to join the EU. Most surveys show trust in the military declining - from an average 90% in 2002 to 60% in 2011.[39]

Over a hundred people, including several generals, have been detained or questioned since July 2008 with respect to so-called organisation Ergenekon, an alleged clandestine, ultra-nationalist[43] organization with ties to members of the country's military and security forces.[44] The group is accused of terrorism in Turkey. These accusing claims are reported, even while the trials are going on, mostly in the counter-secular and Islamist media organs.

On 22 February 2010 more than 40 officers were arrested and then formally charged with attempting to overthrow the government with respect to so-called "Sledgehammer" plot. They include four admirals, a general and two colonels, some of them retired, including former commanders of the Turkish navy and air force (three days later, the former commanders of the navy and air force were released). Partially as a result, the Washington Post reported in April 2010 that the military's power had decreased.[45]

On the eve of the Supreme Military Council of August 2011, the Chief of Staff, along with the Army, Navy, and Air Force commanders, requested their retirement. Appointment of the force commanders in the Supreme Military Council meeting without any delay affirmed the government's control over the appointment of top-level commanders. However, promotions continue to be determined by the General Staff with limited civilian control. The European Commission, in its 2011 regular yearly report on Turkey's progress towards EU accession, said that '..Further reforms on the composition and powers of the Supreme Military Council, particularly on the legal basis of promotions, still need to materialise.'[46] The service branch commanders continue to report to the Prime Minister instead of the Defence Minister. Following the crisis, Eric Edelman, a former American ambassador to Turkey and number two at the Pentagon under George W. Bush, described the TAF as "a broken and rudderless institution".[47]

Medals and awards

See also



Further reading

  • Gareth Jenkins, 'Power and unaccountability in the Turkish security forces,' Conflict, Security, and Development, Volume 1, Issue 1.

External links

  • Bosphorus Naval News
  • Turkish Navy Blog
bn:তুরস্কের সামরিক বাহিনী
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