Turkish gov’t introduces new decree law to overhaul army
REUTERS photoTurkey’s government is set to conduct a major overhaul on various spheres of the country’s military after surviving a coup attempt on July 15 that highlighted the extent of the infiltration of the outlawed Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) into the top ranks of the military.
With the latest state of emergency decree law published in the Official Gazette on July 31, the Turkish army will be subjected to a series of changes in a number of fields, including its services commands, educational and health institutions and the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ), in a move that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said should be considered as part of a larger restructuring process that includes the state and the judiciary.
In a televised interview hosted by ATV and A Haber on July 30, Erdoğan said the country needed to aim for a wholesale restructuring in the state with the changes.
Land, Navy, Air forces under Defense Ministry
As part of the newly-passed decree, the Land Forces, Naval Forces and Air Force commands will come under the control of the Defense Ministry, while the president and the prime minister will have the authority to receive direct information and issue force commanders direct orders that will be executed immediately without the need for approval from another post.
The move comes after the Gendarmerie General Command and Coast Guard Command were brought under the Interior Ministry with the second decree law that was published in the Official Gazette on July 27.
Change in YAŞ structure
Meanwhile, several top cabinet ministers will have seats on the YAŞ, according to the decree law. The country’s deputy prime ministers and foreign, justice, and interior ministers will now join the prime minister, chief of general staff, defense minister, and force commanders on the council.
A number of military officers, including some generals and admirals, will no longer sit on the council.
Under other reforms, the Gendarmerie will now be answerable to the Interior Ministry, so the Gendarmerie commander will also no longer sit on the council. The defense minister will also replace the deputy chief of general staff as the council’s secretary-general.
National Defense University to replace military academies
The new regulations also stipulated the establishment of a National Defense University, which is slated to be an umbrella body encompassing all educational institutions of the Turkish Army. With the formation of the university, all current military academies will be closed and all military education will be administered through the newly-formed institution.
The university will be tied to a rector and will feature institutions that will educate staff officers and provide graduate-level education and operate Land Forces, Navy Forces and Air Force schools, non-commissioned officer colleges and non-commissioned officer vocational schools for higher education.
The university’s rector will be chosen by the president out of three names suggested by the Defense Ministry and also approved by the prime minister. The umbrella institution’s establishment will be formed by decisions of the cabinet.
The Defense Ministry will be tasked with executing all administrative aspects of the institutions as it will appoint heads for the institutes, hire the necessary academic personnel and regulate admissions conditions.
According to the new regulation, students who are set to graduate from military academies by Aug. 30 will not be appointed to posts of commissioned and non-commissioned officers.
Regarding the new regulation on the education aspect of the military, Erdoğan also announced the decision to close down current military schools, including military high schools, and that all students from various high schools would be able to enter military education institutions under the roof of the National Defense University. Erdoğan also hinted that the new regulation would instill an academic identity in military education institutions, saying that they will function on an academic undergraduate and graduate education basis, not a rank basis.
The regulation instigated that current students enrolled at both military high schools and military academies will be transferred to high schools and universities that would be chosen based on the scores they got during their admission period.
With the dismissal of some 1,389 military personnel with the decree law on July 31, the number of total personnel dismissed since the coup attempt reached 3,073.
Erdoğan’s chief aide-de-camp Col. Ali Yazıcı, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar’s aide-de-camp Lt. Col. Levent Türkkan and Defense Minister Fikri Işık’s speech writer Col. Tevfik Gök were among the dismissed soldiers.
Military health institutions under Health Ministry
Another aspect of the overhaul planned for the military concerned its health institutions. As part of the recent decree law, the Gülhane Military Medical Academy (GATA) and other military hospitals will be brought under the control of the Health Ministry.