The TSK has always been like this, we were afraid to speak up
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is being criticized nowadays in an unprecedented manner.
The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attacks a station and those who die because of this attack are held accountable. A series of questions are being asked, from why the station was not fortified to why the attack was not repelled.
A landmine planted by the PKK explodes, those travelling in an army vehicle die, and society rises up. Questions about why an armed vehicle was not used and why the roads were not scanned properly are being asked.
When we make a list of the recent news stories in the papers, we are faced with an image of incompetent, badly managed armed forces. Whereas, those who remember the past know that we used to talk only about “our heroic soldiers.” How they had driven the PKK into a corner, how the commanders fought and risked their lives.
Is that really so? Was everything perfect in the past and has everything now gone bad?
Were the commanders of the past extremely capable, experienced and informed, and those of today incompetent? The TSK was once an institution considered to be above blame, now it has deteriorated?
No, our armed forces are the same as they used to be.
The commanders are trained the same. They read the same books, receive the same instructions and respect the same principles. There is no difference between yesterday and today in these respects.
The difference between yesterday and today stems from us.
The one that has changed is not the TSK, it is us.
We have become impudent (!).
The TSK used to make unbelievable tactical mistakes in previous years too. PKK attacks were met by heavy casualties; inexperienced soldiers confronted highly experienced guerillas in the mountains; stations were raided. However, all these negative aspects were filtered at two stages.
The first filter was a lack of knowledge. We were not able to hear what had happened. More precisely, nobody gave us adequate information. The TSK would feed as much as it wanted, particularly the heroic deeds of the soldiers, and then the rest would go to the archives.
The second filter was fear.
The media was afraid. Other sources were not checked thoroughly and it was said that they were the “disinformation of the enemy.” There was also a team of journalists who only lacked military uniforms. On T.V. channels (especially the TRT) and in the print media, they would glorify the officers and manage an influential propaganda machine.
In the eyes of the public, the TSK and its commanders were all life savers. They were the insurance of this country’s well-being. They knew best and they did the best.
Now, that era is over. The fears are over. The law on “alienating the public from the military” is still valid, but it is not practiced any more. The former influence of the TSK in political and social fields does not exist anymore. As a result, both the flow of information has increased and also the pens of writers have become sharper.
Nowadays, we see the reality of the TSK.
We are facing old maladies: incompetence and shortcomings stemming from inadequate training.
For this reason, we should not be surprised at what is being experienced. Let’s not blame the commanders or the armed forces.
We should also particularly know that our armed forces are not, as it was previously assumed, an extremely brilliant institution with tremendous influence, working like a Swiss watch.
We should not be surprised that such irregularities will continue until true modernization in the army is conducted.