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Turkish Armed Forces

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Turkish Army – Military Power & Armed Forces

The Turkish armed forces consist of the Land Forces, Naval Forces and the Air Force. The country also has two paramilitary forces which have both law enforcement and military functions. During peacetime, both the Gendarmerie and the Coast guard serve under the Ministry of Interior but during wartime, they are transferred to the Defense Ministry where they serve under the Army and the Navy respectively. Currently, the Turkish Armed Forces has 510,000 personnel on active duty, 378,700 reserve personnel and 152,200 personnel serving in in the Gendarmerie and the Coast guard. 

The Turkish president is the supreme commander of the Turkish Armed Forces. The Minister of Defense who is appointed by the president oversees the Defense Ministry. The chief of the General Staff is the commander of the armed forced during wartime. He acts in this capacity on behalf of the president who is the Supreme Commander of the armed forces. The president also acts on behalf of The Grand National Assembly Of Turkey which is made up of the Turkish people’s representatives. In 2018 the armed forces budget was US $17.8 billion. The chief of the general staff’s duties include establishing policies and programs related with the preparation for combat of personnel and coordinating the intelligence, organization, training and logistics of the armed forces. The chief also directly commands the Special Forces (Maroon Berets).

Turkey is a member of NATO. It has therefore committed to defend any other member state of NATO if that member is attacked. Turkey is also one of the five-member states of NATO who are part of the nuclear sharing policy of the alliance. A total of 90 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.  

The Land Forces perform the functions of the army by conducting warfare on land. The Gendarmerie which acts under the Lands Forces during wartime. It maintains law and order in rural areas during peacetime. Gendarmerie personnel are also trained in riot control, urban warfare and counter-terrorism. The Navy constitutes the naval warfare branch of the service. The Coast Guard maintains law and order on Turkey’s maritime waters during peacetime. The Air Force is the aerial warfare branch of the service. Members of the armed forces are trained by the Turkish War Academies. The armed forces maintain military bases abroad in countries like Qatar, Syria and Somalia.

The armed forces have actively participated in the Second World War, the Cyprus dispute, the Kurdish Turkish conflict (which is ongoing), the Bosnian and the Kosovo war and the war in Afghanistan (which is ongoing).

The Turkish military has a record of interfering in the country’s politics. It executed three coup d’états in 1960, 1971, and 1980. It also attempted but failed to overthrow President Erdogan’s government in 2016. Currently, due to the attempted coup, there is a purge happening in the armed forces to remove personnel accused of sympathizing with the coup plotters.

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