The Sledgehammer Keeps Crushing The Turkish Armed Forces

Today is the first diversionary of the arrests made by the third wave of the Sledgehammer case.

If you have heard it all ready, the Sledgehammer is the name of the  of an alleged Turkish secularist military coup plan which reportedly dates back to 2003. The trial for the criminal case has just started in 16 December 2010.

But during the 2010 there were a number of arrests during the investigation for the case. In February 2010, 95 people were detained. 86 of these were military personnel, 70 of them in active duty including 4 admirals. Most of them were released from custody in 2010. But after the hearing of 11 February 2011 the court decided to arrest 163 officers. Most of these 163 officers were arrested for the same case in 2010.

As today more than 347 officers (35 retired rest in active duty) including General İlker Başbuğ, who served as chief of the Turkish General Staff from 2008 to 2010, are behind bars.

There are many inconsistencies among the documents used for the Sledgehammer Indictment which prove that this evidence was fabricated and should not be valid. But the irrationality of the Sledgehammer allegations has failed to halt the case or to persuade the court to release the defendants pending the completion of their trial.

This is an excellent guide to Sledgehammer. and this is an excellent guide to the power struggle behind the whole thing.
The situation is especially dire for the Turkish Navy. 25 active duty admirals are imprisoned at the moment. Among them are commanders of the Northern Sea Area, Southern Sea Area, Submarine Group Command, Southern Task Force, Plans and Policy Department, Chief of Staff of the Fleet Command, Deputy Commander of Navy Personnel Department,  all important and key commands for the navy.

When he unexpected resigned from his post of Chief of General Staff, General Koşaner clearly indicated the negative effects of the long and indecisive legal process of the Sledgehammer case for the Turkish Armed Forces in general. All the active duty officers who are on trial right now, have lost their promotions as the Personnel Law of the Turkish Armed Forces prohibits an active officer who is on a trial to be promoted to a higher rank before he is acquitted.

What makes me sad is the fact that the fabric of the Turkish Armed forces has been tampered by this McCarthyism plot. Many fine, brilliant and cleaver officers are lost their way up as they are behind bars during the slow progressing criminal case.

The Sledgehammer case did not only put the traditional and carefully planned promotion scheme, build on hard work and loyalty in disarray, they have also created enough diversion and distraction of all services from their primary duty of national defence. The traditional promotion scheme of Turkish Armed Forces has the purpose like in all other armed forces to prepare officers for their next assignments and make sure that only deserving officers are allocated to their billets. For next couple of years many officers will be forces to take commands for which they are not fully prepared or not equipped. The damage of these interventions into the Turkish Armed Forces will haunt us for a long time in the future.

The whole process bears heavily on the families of the defendants too. The wives and children of the defendants are waiting their loved ones to return to their homes to continue with their normal life. The military families especially families of navy personnel are accustomed for long periods of deployments. But even these long deployments have a termination date. For the Sledgehammer case there no such date in sight.

Sun Tzu said: For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.

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Another Arrest In Sledgehammer

Yesterday, Air Force General Bilgin Balanlı was arrested. He is accused to be a part of the alleged Sledgehammer conspiracy. He is the highest ranking officer to be arrested in this case (yet)

According to news reports his main crime might be to order periodic areal reconnaissance flights over a large farm turned into a private village in Eskişehir. This village is populated solely by the members of the Naqshbandi order of Sufi Islam.

General Balanlı is the commander of the Turkish Armed Forces War College. According to the customs of Turkish Armed Forces the holder of this post is promoted to be the head of Turkish Air Force. Thus with the arrest of the future Commander of Turkish Air Force ( İf not arrested Gen. Balabanlı was be the commander of TuAf in August 2011) has broken the line of succession.

He is the 31st general in Hasdal Military penitentiary, Istanbul. As a comparison, there are only 30 generals in the HQ of the Turkish General Staff. In other words there are enough generals in custody to run an armed forces in size of Turkey’s.

As expected the trial of the Sledgehammer case is proceeding very slowly so that it might take years before it ends.

I know enough history that fate does not have mercy on nations that purged their officers like we do now.

>Sledgehammer And Turkish Navy

>Last week 10thHigh Criminal court of Istanbul issued arrest warrants for 163officers of Turkish Armed forces in connection with the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) case.

106 of the officers,arrested, are currently serving in the armed forces. Some of themwere arrested last year again in connection with the Balyoz case butlater they were released as the court decided it was not necessaryfor their imprisonment during the case.
So what has changed? Whyare these officers arrested some for the second time. Well inDecember last year, after an anonymous tip off the police found somedocuments alleged to be related to the planed military coup thearrested officers are accused of.
There are manyinconsistencies and gross mistakes in the first set of the documentson which the case whole case is build upon.
Whether the arrestedofficers are really guilty in planning a military coup or that thewhole case is just a very big scaled hoax will be determined duringthe trial.
Out of the 106 active duty officers arrested, 31 are generals or admirals. There are 301 generals and admirals in the Turkish armed forces. Thus every one out of ten general/admiral is behind bars at the moment and some them were destined to go higher. But the Balyoz case put all these carefully laid plans in jeopardy.

According to the PersonnelLaw of the Turkish Armed Forces an active officer who is on a trialcannot be promoted to a higher rank before the case has ended. It means that the 106 active duty officers now under arrest will not getany promotions before the Balyoz case is finished, even if they arereleased from the prison during the case. 
What does it mean? Itmeans that the whole promotion system evolved in the Turkish ArmedForces is in disarray at the moment. Like in all other armed forceswith longs standing traditions around world the promotions of theofficers especially those in flag positions are carefully arrangedand there are certain key positions on the road to the top.
What worries me is a trial of just magnitude will take at least a couple of years until a verdict can be reached. Some analyst predict that the Balyoz case may continue 3 to 5 years and this estimate does not include the period needed for the appeal to to the higher court. Alone the reading of the indictment lasted 13 court sessions. Now given the estimated length of the trials these officers will not get any promotions for the next 3 to 5 years at least.

The situation isespecially dire for the Turkish Navy. 11 admirals are in imprisonmentat the moment. Among them are commander of the Northern Sea Area andcommander of Southern Sea Area. A quick glance to the organizational chart of the Turkish Navy will reveal that these two are among top 4commands in the navy. And it is a tradition that the Commander of theNorthern Sea Area is promoted unless he messes up big time to be theCommander of the Fleet. And the Commander of the Fleet is actually aCommander of Turkish Naval Forces in waiting.
Among the imprisonedadmirals are: Commander of Submarine Group Command, Commander of thePlans and Policy Department, chief of Staff of the Fleet Command,Deputy Commander of Navy Personnel Department, Commander of SouthernTask Force.  All important and key commands for the navy.
The Balyoz case did notonly put the traditional and carefully planned promotion scheme buildon hard work and loyalty in disarray, it also has created enoughdiversion and distracted all services from their primary duty ofnational defence as many of the top brass was busy with theirpersonal self defence.
Sun Tzu said: Forto win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acmeof skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.


The enemies of Turkish Navy are having a field day without the doubt.  

The Father Of Milgem Has Died

Admiral Örnek, on board of frigate TCG Salihreis during Denizkurdu-05 exercise. Photo: Turkish Naval Forces.

Today, in the early morning hours the 20th Commander of Turkish Naval Forces, retired Admiral Özden Örnek has died. He was 75 years old and being treated for an undisclosed illness for the last 15 days at a hospital.

Admiral Örnek was at the helm of Turkish Naval Forces between August 2003 and August 2005. This was a period of time with a lot of fundamental changes in Turkish Navy.

The Milgem project wasn’t started during his tenure but he was tirelessly promoted the idea inside the Turkish armed force and fought for it. He was instrumental in bringing the procurement agency, the shipyard and the design office together and create a working project scope.

In his book Milgem’in Öyksü -The Story of Milgem- published in 2017, he tells the story of his internal and external struggles very outspokenly.

In 2007 a new magazine published a diary allegedly belonging to Admiral Örnek. These counterfeit documents and other digital data was used against him and many prominent Turkish naval officers in Sledgehammer plot. He was sentenced to 20 years in 2012 and spend 41 months behind bars only to be acquitted after the case’s prosecutor argued that digital data in the files submitted as evidence in the case were faked and did not constitute evidence.

Naval officers who had worked with him praise his work and believe that his vision will shape the Turkish Naval Forces in 21. Century.

Admiral Örnek is survived by his wife Sevil, his son Tolga and two grandchildren from his son Burak who died in January 2018.

 

Turkish Task Force Starts Its Circumnavigation Of Africa

TDGGTomorrow, on 17 March 2014, the Barbaros Turkish Maritime Task Group will leave Turkish Naval Base in Gölcük to starts its circumnavigation of Africa.

The task force will contain the frigates F-495 TCG Gediz, F-245 TCG Oruçreis, the corvette F-511 TCG Heybeliada and the replenishment tanker A-595 TCG Yarbay Kudret Güngör.

During the deployment, which is expected to take 102 days, Barbaros TMTG will navigate round the African continent from west to east and will make 40 port visits in 28 countries and conduct military exercises with their navies.

It will be the first crossing of Cape of Hope by Turkish ships after 148 years. The ships will travel for about 15,000 nautical miles approximately 30,000 km throughout their sail.

This deployment is not just a navigational exercise of circumnavigation around Africa. It is also a powerful application of Turkish soft power to Africa. During the last decade Turkey finally realized that there is more Africa than just the Mediterranean countries where Turkey had links for centuries. With the discovery of sub Saharan Africa Turkish entrepreneurs started to do business with these countries. They were followed quickly by missions of Turkish Foreign Ministry and flights from Turkish Airlines.

As I learn more about the details of the activities planed during this deployment more I understand how much background work must have been done to make this happen. Below are the some highlights of the planned activities:

  • Turkish defence companies Meteksan, Otokar, TAI, Dearsan, Havelsan, Roketsan, Aselsan, STM will show their products in following cities:

Thema, Ghana
Lagos, Nigeria
Luanda, Angola
Dar es Salaam Tanzania
Mombasa, Kenya

  • Turkish Ministry of Health will conduct health checks and provide medical assistance in following cities:

Banjul Gambia
Dakar, Senegal,
Port of Sudan, Sudan

  • Military music bands will perform concerts in following cities:

Las Palmas, Spain
Conakry, Guinea
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Pointe-Noire, Congo
Cape Town, South Africa
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Mombasa, Kenya
Djibouti, Djibouti
Port of Sudan, Sudan

  • Members of Multinational Maritime Security Centre of Excellence will conduct maritime security and boarding training in following cities:

Lagos, Nigeria
Pointe-Noire, Congo
Luanda, Angola
Simon’s Town, South Africa
Mombasa, Kenya

  • There will be theoretical training in all ports of call.
  • Various high-ranking Turkish officers will visit their counterparts in 17 different cities.

This deployment of Barbaros TMTG is not just about hearts and minds either.

The frigate F-245 TCG Oruçreis will take part in Obangame Express Exercise between 19 and 21 April 2014. Obangame Express, conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, is an at-sea maritime exercise designed to improve cooperation among participating nations in order to increase maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.  It focuses on maritime interdiction operation, as well as visit, board, search, and seizure techniques.

The two frigates and the corvette will conduct live missile firing exercise in Denel Overberg Test Range between 5 and 9 May 2014. There they will test their skills to the limits.

And when the Barbaros TMTG reaches Gulf of Aden it will conduct anti piracy operations between 5 and 11 June 2014.

This deployment is one of most meticulous prepared foreign deployments of Turkish Navy and a text-book example how nations can use their military to gain affection abroad. But not everybody is sharing my sentiments.

Admiral Nusret Güner, who had resigned to protest the Sledgehammer and other trials when he was expected to become the Commander of the Turkish Naval Forces, after a 1.5-year tenure as the head of the Fleet Command, criticized the upcoming African campaign of the Turkish Navy, pointing out the tensions in the Black Sea over the Crimean crisis .

The Black Sea waters are boiling because of what’s happening in Crimea and Ukraine. The United States and Russia are playing chess. They make moves one after another. When there is an imminent risk of clash, it’s an unacceptable situation that the Turkish Naval Forces are engaged in an African campaign in a way that they weaken their presence in the region,” Güner told daily Hürriyet.

Güner said he considers the African campaign as a wrong move for one more reason, which is the current status of Turkish naval forces. “The Sledgehammer trial and other legal cases have weakened the professional experience and skills of the Navy staff,” he said.

I agree with Mr. Güner’s remarks that the Black Sea waters are boiling and the shady trials against the Turkish high-ranking officers mostly from Naval Forces has created a havoc among the ranks of Turkish Navy. But I do not think that these are enough reasons to cancel the deployment of Barbaros TMTG. As being the former Commander of Turkish Naval Fleet, he must be in a better situation to judge the strengths and weaknesses of our navy but if we cannot spare 2 frigates and one corvette out of our fleet of 16 frigates and 8 corvettes, then something is not correct.

Even if the points made by Mr. Güner are correct we have other means to counter them. We have a good fleet of submarines that can creep very close to Crimea and gather very important intelligence. If we have to show the flag in the Black Sea we have many fast attack craft and some long range coast guard vessels that can fulfill the mission even if we cannot spare any of the 14 frigates left.

It is a very big pity that because of the shady trials many aspiring high-ranking officers are behind the bars today. The loss of their collective expertise and experience is a big blow to our navy. But expertise and experience are not gained by staying at home. They are gained by daring to new adventures and going to places that are new. Barbaros TMTG is just going to do that.

The Turkish Navy Superior To The Russian Black Sea Fleet?

While I was down with a severe case of  flu, the editor of the fox2magazine.net  (one of the few military related Greek websites I find it worth reading) send me a very interesting article from Russian origin.

Apparently the Russians played a war game with the scenario of a armed conflict between Russia and Turkey. And we won.

A war game for a aeronafmachia Black Sea by Russian specialists: The conflict leads to the calibration points and the corresponding score.The result hopeless for the Russian side – Turkey triumphs.

Currently, in the Black Sea only Turkey has a fleet capable of dealing effectively with Russia.Analysts, taking into account the conclusions of the military-political situation of such a conflict, worked two scenarios: A possible confrontation with the Turkish side only as enemies, a second with NATO as a whole.

The possibility of a military conflict between Russia and Turkey, without the participation of NATO – real. This escalation in military conflict can occur through one of the hot spots in the Caucasus and the Middle East. Already, Moscow and Ankara have major differences in the approach on how to solve the Syrian crisis. The interests of the Russians in Cyprus meet the Turkish position to solve the problem. Russia and Turkey have different views on the issue Karabakh. The involvement of NATO in these conflicts is not obvious, the analysis concludes.

Synthesis of the two forces 

Therefore, the opponent of the Russian Black Sea Fleet may be only the Turkish Navy, which has 15 submarines, 19 frigates, 25 missile boats and 20 minesweepers. These forces are likely to be supported by regular air forces. Of the approximately 440 aircraft of the Turkish Air Force that could impact undertake missions against ships and establishments of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea, can be used in 100 or maybe more of these aircraft.

O Operational Strategic formation of the Black Sea Fleet in early 2013, according to open sources, including two submarines and 41 surface ships. However, 20% to 50% of ships in need of repair.

The Naval Air consists of 34 aircraft and 40 helicopters of various applications.Specifically, it has 18 attack aircraft Su-24M (actually – bombers) Su-24M, four to seven seaplanes submarine role Be-12, an aircraft An-12PP EW recognition and four Su-24 MR.The helicopter fleet consists of 30 ASW Ka-27PL and eight helicopters based EW project Mi-8. All aeromesa of Naval Aviation is not functional.

Within the submarine forces, the Black Sea Fleet has only two submarines – one class and one class 877 641B. On surface vessels including a heavy cruiser, a large anti-submarine ship, three frigates, four small pyraflofora ships, seven small anti-submarine ships race, 11 minesweepers, seven large amphibious ships, six missile boats.

The aviation arm of the Black Sea Fleet may be lined up to race for 12 Su-24, three seaplanes Be-12 and two Su-24MR recognition, 18 Ka-27PL and five helicopters EW.

In the end the Russian realized that in its current state the Russian Black Sea Fleet was not up to the task of protectingthe Russian interests against. Turkey.

This is the result at the end of the first week of combat operations. Russian losses can thus reach a critical value for the continuation of hostilities, while the Turkish Navy will retain the ability to fight. The primacy, even in the coastal zone of Russia under loss.

The war game continues the analysis of a military conflict between Russia and Turkey, considering the likelihood of an alleged involvement of NATO naval units that are likely to enter the Black Sea: Three groups fighting in the composition having three categories of ships, supported by two aircraft carrier battle groups from the Eastern Mediterranean. The Black Sea Fleet will not be able to cause any serious damage to the enemy, while he suffered many losses will rapidly lose its significance as a functional entity.

The war game that shows the current composition of the Black Sea Fleet is unable to solve the problem of protecting the interests of Russia in relation to the response of a military confrontation in the south, the report concludes.

I am not surprised by the findings of the Russians. The Turkish Navy has a clear numerical superiority over the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The condition of the Turkish warships are also better than the Russian ships.

Yes “quantity has a quality all its own”, but all historical and military scholars know that a numerical superiority does not always guaranties a certain victory. The education of the crew of the ships their morale, the counts too. And personally I am not sure about this aspect of the Turkish Navy.

Last week the Commander of Turkish Navy Admiral Nusret Güney resigned. He was expected to be the next Commander of Turkish Naval Forces in Augusts 2013 and he was the only remaining officer in this rank. The recent wave of political motivated trials such as notorious Sledgehammer case or the recent spy ring case did not only put the traditional and carefully planned promotion scheme, build on hard work and loyalty in disarray, they have also created diversion and distraction.

The traditional promotion scheme of Turkish Navy has the purpose like in all other armed forces to prepare officers for their next assignments and make sure that only deserving officers are allocated to their billets. For next couple of years many officers will be forced to take commands for which they are not fully prepared or not equipped. The damage of these interventions into the Turkish Navy will haunt us for a long time in the future. The Russians should remember the effects of such purges have on armed services.

My Impressions From 4.Naval Systems Seminar

On Monday and Tuesday, I was in Ankara attending the 4th Naval Systems Seminar, a highlight for the Turkish naval industry. This is the first part of my impressions from the seminar. In this part I will focus on the general mood of the seminar and will share what I found important from the opening key speeches. In the next part I will try to share my impressions from company presentations I have attended.

If I try to summarize the general mood of the 4th Naval Systems Seminar I would say “Steady as she goes” and “Patience”. The last one actually said by the Undersecretary FoRDefense Industries Mr. Murat Bayar. Why patience? Because the Turkish defense industry and the foreign companies need to be patience in the coming years regarding Turkish naval projects.

I start my impressions of the 4th Naval systems Seminar by telling who was absent from the event:
The most obvious absentee was the Turkish Navy. The number of the officers in uniform were less than the fingers in my one hand.

This absence can be interpreted in two ways: First the navy is pulling itself backwards as a procurement source and redefines its role as the requirement definition authority and end-user. But even then representatives of the navy should be present to exchange ideas, to observer new technologies and to talk about new projects. The second explanation for the absence of the Turkish Navy may be the shock of the Sledgehammer. At a time when 26 out of 48 admirals of the Navy are being bars, the navy may net be in a mood for new acquisition.

The absence of new projects was also very noteworthy. In previous Naval Systems Seminars the companies were very keen to tell you in an excited way about their new solutions, upcoming systems. They were eager to tell you about the things they will be doing in the future. This year most of the companies told us how they are doing things and what they did. The lack of new building projects was remarkable. The only announcement for a new project was the the declaration of the contract signing date for the Moships and Ratship: 28th October 2011.

The Turkish shipyards that are currently constructing ships for the Turkish Navy were also absent: RMK, Yonca-Onuk, Dearsan.

So who was there? The British. They were there and were doing full court press. UKTI DSO was one of the guest supporters of the seminar and provided additional support for the simultaneous translation service. All large-caliber British guns such as BAE Systems, Rolls Royce, BMT Defence Services, MDBA, IHS Janes, UKTI DSO were present was well as representatives of British armed Forces.

The large Turkish defense contractor like Aselsan and Havelsan were present. Also present were shipyards ADIK and Istanbul Shipyard. The other companies attending the seminar were mostly subsystem or component suppliers.

For me it was nice to see that the number of the attending universities was more than previous seminars. This means that more and more young people are interested and doing academical research in defense related issues. If an effective way to convert promising R&D projects from our Universities into commercial products can be found then the future will be bright for the Turkish defense industry.

I believe the speeches made by the Undersecretary For Defense Industries Mr. Murat Bayer and Mustafa Şeker, Head of Naval Systems,Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (UDI), at the opening session were brilliant in capturing the sprit and the mood.

Mr. Bayar started his speech by talking about the long distances covered by Turkish naval shipbuilding since the initiation of the Milgem project. He told that after the decrease in commercial shipbuilding, all the shipyards in Turkey were looking up to the naval projects for survival. But the coming naval projects were not enough for the survival of the shipyards doing business with the Turkish Navy let alone to allow new players to enter into market.

He told that Turkish shipyards must find new markets in order to remain profitable and to stay in business. Mr Bayar added that any military systems, that Turkey owns the intellectual rights was successfully exported. Therefore the key for the successful export of Turkish naval industry lies in creating new designs that can be exported without the need of an export approval from a third country.

Mr. Bayar views propulsion and weapon systems as two key areas where Turkey should invest more. Other than these two, Turkey is capable to produce all the major subsystems of a modern warship.

Turkish naval exports

The last 5 years were good times for the Turkish naval shipbuilding industry. The value of the signed contracts is more than 2 billion USD. At least 5000 people are working on military ship building projects in Turkish yards. But the future is not as rosy as the coming projects are smaller. This is why Mr. Bayar told to the audience that we should have patience and find new markets for our growing naval shipbuilding industry.

Mr. Mustafa Şeker, the newly appointed Head of Naval Systems,UDI, started his speech by explaining the new structure of the undersecretary for Defence Industries. This restructuring of the UDI can be attributed to the growing concern for the life cycle support management of the initiated projects. As the number of the indigenous ships and sub systems used by Turkish Navy increases, the support these ships and the subsystems through their life becomes an important issue. With the new structure inside UDI it is hoped that the institution can now focus more on this issue.

Like Mr. Bayar, Mr. Şeker also advises caution to protect the gained capabilities and trained human force in the shipbuilding industry. He talked about the Turkish naval exports both potential and realized and stressed that the export of Turkish naval products seems to be a valid option for the continuity of the success.

At the end of this speech Mr. Şeker highlighted the following issues as critical for the future of the Turkish naval shipbuilding industry:

The work and the performance of the selected firms, by the strategic goals must be monitored and supported

The sub-contractors should be given opportunities or the sub-systems development and procurement by increasing the proportion of local content

The acquisition of new technologies must be emphasized

Materials/systems suitable for dual use should be developed

Export-oriented international cooperation should be supported

Admiral Bilgel, The New Commander Of Turkish Navy

Admiral Murat Bilgel is the new commander of Turkish Navy. According to the traditions of Turkish Navy, the Commander of the Fleet is the first in line of succession for the top command post. Thus the promotion of Admiral Bilgel from the Commander of the Fleet to the Commander of Turkish Navy was no surprise.

The former commander Admiral Yiğit was to retire this August due to his age. The timing of the promotion of Admiral Bilgel was also expected.

As the change of the top command post of Turkish Navy happened in accordance with the established rules and traditions why did Admiral Yiğit asked for his early retirement along with the Chief of General Staff and commander of Army and Air force just two days before the meetings of Turkey’s Supreme Military Council (YAŞ)?

Those retirements / resignations were a gambit as we can now see. The commander of Navy, Army and Air force were to be retired because of age restrictions anyway. Only, General Koşaner had one more year to command.

But by asking for and early retirement in a resignations style the military was able to put some pressure on the politicians and gained an important concession during the meetings of Supreme Military Council.

According to the Personnel Law of the Turkish Armed Forces an active officer who is on a trial, cannot be promoted to a higher rank before the case has ended. It means that all the active duty officers now under arrest will not get any promotions before their cases have ended. If this rule had been applied most of the generals and admirals on Balyoz, Ergenekon and similar cases were to be retired as they cannot get any promotions and their waiting period is over.

The concession the military got from the politicians is a grace period of one year for the officers in prison. If their trials are finished within one year and they are declared not guilty then these officers can continue with their military careers and Turkish Armed Forces would not lose several good educated, professional and intelligent officers.

We have to wait for one year if the gambit of the military was worth it or not. In the meantime story weather is awaiting Admiral Bilgel on his home front.

Top Four Commanders Of Turkish Armed Forces Resigns

I am very unhappy.

Yesterday, 29 July 2011 was day that will not be forgotten easily. The top 4 commanders of Turkish Armed Forces, the Chief of the General Staff of Turkish Armed Forces General Kosaner, the Commander of Army General Ceylaoğlu, the Commander of Navy Admiral Yiğit and the Commander of the Airforce General Aksay resigned from their posts by asking for their retirement.

The fifth member of the top brass, The Commander of Gendarmerie General Özel, who did not resigned is appointed as the commander of Army immediately. According to the laws and rules the Chief of the General Staff must command an armed service before being appointed. The Gendarmerie is not considered as one of the main armed service, as it is the police force that operates in rural areas. Thus General Özel was appointed as the commander of the Army so that he can be selected as the next Chief of the General Staff.

The resigns of the top commander of the Turkish Armed Forces came as a shock only two days before the next meetings of Turkey’s Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) that convenes in August each year to decide on senior military assignments and promotions.

Below is the Google translation of the farewell speech of General Kosaner.

“Currently, 173 active duty, 77 retired total of the 250 general, admiral, officers, noncommissioned officers and gendarme sergeant specialist, as the detainees are deprived of freedoms. Arrests are the universal rules of law, rights, justice and conscience to accept was made in accordance with the values​​, as expressed by the many lawyers, it is not possible. In this situation, many times forwarded to the competent authorities, in spite of being told and followed the legal framework, the problem has not been possible to find a solution. Although there is currently no definitive judicial decision of the rights of prisoners-admiral of the 14 generals and 58 colonels, as well as further threat to freedoms in accordance with our laws this year to present Supreme Military Council, lost the right to take Supreme Military Council evaluated and punished in advance. A long-term objective of the investigation and arrests in the Turkish Armed Forces kept alive ever tried to be created the false impression that public opinion in a criminal organization, so the opportunity to know all kinds of false news media bias, slander and accusations that the great incentive to take a stand against our nation own armed forces. This situation can not be eliminated, and the attempts made by the authorities ignored the rights and laws protect our staff as chief of staff is my responsibility to meet the obstacle, the occupation that I eliminated the opportunity to continue this noble task tenure. Whatever the conditions before that served as the holy members of the Turkish Armed Forces hero after that superior discipline, courage and absolute faith in the sacrifice success once again expressed confidence, while the Turkish Armed Forces I wish all the members of the health and well-being.”

I know Google translation from Turkish into English sucks most of the time. So I try to make some sense.

General Koşaner clearly indicates the long and indecisive legal process of the Sledgehammer case. All the active duty officers have lost their promotions. According to the Personnel Law of the Turkish Armed Forces, an active officer who is on a trial, cannot be promoted to a higher rank before the case has ended. It means that the all active duty officers now under arrest will not get any promotions before the case is finished, even if they are released from the prison during the case or do not receive any sentencing.

It is obvious the pressure that was put on the Turkish Armed Forces by the Sledgehammer and other cases become in tolerable that they led to the resignations of today.

What makes me sad is the fact that the fabric of the Turkish Armed forces has been tampered. Many fine, brilliant and cleaver officers are lost their way up as they are behind bars during the slow progressing criminal case.

The Balyoz case and yesterdays resignations did not only put the traditional and carefully planned promotion scheme, build on hard work and loyalty in disarray, they have also created enough diversion and distraction of  all services from their primary duty of national defence. The traditional promotion scheme of Turkish Armed Forces has the purpose like in all other armed forces to prepare officers for their next assignments and make sure that only deserving officers are allocated to their billets. For next couple of years many officers will be forces to take commands for which they are not fully prepared or not equipped. The damage of these interventions into the Turkish Armed Forces will haunt us for a long time in the future.
Sun Tzu said: For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.

 

>A Small Naval Review of 2010

>As one year ends and the new one starts, the temptation to make lists about various subjects becomes almost irresistible. So I followed the urge in me and made this 5 point list about the most important events for Turkish Navy in 2010:

  1. The Sea Trials of TCG Heybeliada: The first ship of the Milgem class F-511 TCG Heybeliada stared her sea trails 26 months after her launching. These test also marked an important milestone of the overall project. For the first time a indigenous designed and built warship sailed. TCG Heybeliada is scheduled for the official commissioning in Turkish Navy this year.
  2. Turkish Naval Task Force: For the first time in the recent history Turkish Navy formed a Task Force and have it sailed in the Mediterranean Sea for 2 months. During its existence the task force made 10 port visits in 8 different countries and joint exercise with various navies. Turkish Navy intents to create another task force in 2011. This task force will sail in the Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and in adjunct seas and conduct port visits and other maritime duties.
  3. The Second Command of CTF-151: Between September and December 2010, Turkish Navy was in command of CTF-151 for a second term. CTF-151 is a multinational TF organized by US Navy. Its main mission is to provide security for merchant ships in Gulf of Aden against Somali pirates and to conduct interdiction operations against established pirate skiffs and motherships. One of the highlights during this period was the boarding made by US Marines to the M/V Magellan Star while the pirates were still on board. After a brief operations the pirates were comprehended white the crew of the ship was hiding in a safe room.
  4. The Sledgehammer: Sledgehammer is the name of an alleged Turkish secularist military coup plan which reportedly dates back to 2003. The trial for the criminal case has just started in 16 December 2010. But during the whole 2010 there were a number of arrest during the investigation for the case. In February 2010, 95 people were detained. 86 of these were military personnel, 70 of them in active duty including 4 admirals. I personally believe that the whole case is a text book McCarthyism. Though no one has proven guilty yet it has already hurt lives and careers of many. And most importantly it has created enough diversion and distracted all services from their primary duty of national defense as many of the top brass was busy with their personal self defense.
  5. The never ending wrestling at the Aegean: Despite the mutual visits of high ranking politicans and military personel,  the constant wrestling in the Aegean continues as ever. Last year movements of Turkish warships in Aegean found a bigger than usual coverage in Greek media. The movements of Turkish warships were accused of breaching the rules of innocent passage. And usually the opposition media blamed the Greek government of being to subversive. The Turkish side insisted that the movements of the warships should be regarded within the definition of transit passage. Although the relations between the two countries seems to be better than it was a decade ago the fundamental problems still linger around.
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