Army examines readiness for combat amid Syrian turmoil
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The military’s readiness for combat was the focus in a statement released after the Supreme Military Council meeting. AA Photo
Turkey’s top military board reviewed the army’s combat readiness yesterday amid growing concerns turmoil in its southern neighbor could spread further instability in the region.
“During the meeting, the Turkish Armed Forces’ operations for the internal security and border security were discussed; the TSK’s combat readiness has been examined and measures to meet the needs in this end have been evaluated,” read a written statement following the bi-annual Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meeting yesterday.
Examining the army’s combat readiness is routine work of the YAŞ, but its coinciding with the developments in Syria is significant.
The YAŞ convened yesterday as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan returned to Ankara after a 20-day-period of convalescence following surgery on his digestive system. Back in Ankara on his first working day, Prime Minister Erdoğan chaired the YAŞ meeting, which was also attended by Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and top commanders.
Having spent nearly three weeks in recovery, Prime Minister Erdoğan attended both morning and afternoon sessions of the meeting. In the previous meeting earlier this year, Erdoğan had sat alone at the head of the table, in a symbolic show of growing civilian authority over the military.
Traditionally, the prime minister and the chief of general staff would sit together at the head of the table during YAŞ meetings, but Erdoğan broke this custom after former Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner and the land, naval and air forces commanders resigned from their posts just before the annual YAŞ meeting on July 29. The image was understood by many to signify Erdoğan’s full control over the military.
As a part of the routine program, YAŞ members paid a visit to Anıtkabir, Atatürk’s mausoleum, led by Prime Minister Erdoğan earlier that morning. “Republic of Turkey, which is the holy heritage of our martyrs and war veterans, is proceeding stably towards its aims to be a regional and global power. Our Turkish Armed Forces is also continuing to be the safeguard of our country’s security and our regions’s peace and stability with its deterrence,” Erdoğan wrote in Anıtkabir memorial book.
Two of four-star general YAŞ members are behind bars in alleged coup cases and their seats were left empty during the YAŞ meeting yesterday.
YAŞ member Gen. Bilgin Balanlı, former commander of Turkey’s military academies is the highest-ranking suspect in the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) coup case. Another YAŞ member, Gen. Nusret Taşdeler, former head of the Aegean forces appointed as head of the army’s educational command during the previous YAŞ meeting, is a suspect in the “Internet Memorandum” case, an alleged document created by the general staff detailing plans for setting up 42 Internet sites to distribute propaganda against the AKP.
In a separate development, Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek paid a get-well-visit to the Prime Minister Erdoğan late afternoon, after the YAŞ meeting.