How Turkey’s military upheaval will affect NATO

Gen. Necdet Ozel, Turkey

From Alexander Christie-Miller, the Christian Science Monitor:  The resignations of Turkey’s top military brass, along with the detention of scores of officers, have sparked fears that the capability of NATO’s second-largest army is being eroded. . . .

Traditionally, Turkey’s politicians have merely rubber-stamped the decisions suggested by the Army, but since last year, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded the final say in military appointments.

Yesterday, Mr. Erdogan joined remaining senior officers for the four-day meeting in which he could now remold the military leadership.

“The resignations alone are not a problem, but the arrests are a far bigger issue,” says Gareth Jenkins, a military analyst in Istanbul with connections to Turkey’s armed forces.

Twelve percent of serving generals and admirals are in prison. You’re getting an erosion not of the political influence of the Turkish military – which is already gone – but of their military capability,” he adds.

Turkey is involved in NATO missions in Afghanistan and Libya. But one Turkish fleet currently operating off the coast of Libya, is lacking its commander; Vice Admiral Kadir Sagdic, head of Southern Sea Area Command, was detained last summer on suspicion of plotting a coup.

Doubts about new chief of staff

Media critical of the government have raised doubts about the experience of the man slated to replace Kosaner, Gen. Necdet Ozel. Formerly head of the military police, he was promoted to acting chief of general staff hours after the resignations.

Such media outlets point out that he has had no experience serving in NATO structures, nor has he received training in the United States.

Meanwhile, the resignations and imprisonments mean that there are now no eligible generals with the four-star ranking required to assume the role of head of the Air Force, and only a single three-star Air Force general.

Mr. Jenkins fears further resignations could mean inexperienced soldiers may be catapulted several ranks into top positions.  (photo: AP)

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