Ankara mulls huge restructuring of military after failed coup attempt

Ankara mulls huge restructuring of military after failed coup attempt

Ankara mulls huge restructuring of military after failed coup attempt

AFP photo

Turkey’s Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) is expected to meet next week to discuss the army’s restructuring in the aftermath of the failed attempted coup, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, hinting that a new echelon could be appointed to bring “fresh blood” to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). 

The president’s remarks came amid fresh debate on ending the General Staff’s authority over military schools and giving it to the Education Ministry, while giving full control over the gendarmerie to the Interior Ministry has also been discussed. 

Another possible change in the pipeline was putting the entire army under the control of the Defense Ministry. 

 “They are all working together to do what might be done and... within a very short amount of time a new structure will be emerging. With this new structure, I believe the armed forces will get fresh blood,” Erdoğan told Reuters in an interview late July 21. 

Erdoğan referred to the YAŞ meeting that was scheduled to meet in early August, during which the appointments, dismissals and retirements of high-ranking military personnel were to be decided. YAŞ meetings are held under the leadership of Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and with the participation of Defense Minister Fikri Işık, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and other force commanders. 

Erdoğan’s statement that the army will get fresh blood after the YAŞ meeting was interpreted as a harbinger of a major change to the military’s echelon, with a new chief of general staff and force commanders. Senior government officials have openly admitted there were individual and institutional deficiencies in preventing the coup attempt and indirectly criticized the military leadership for not being able to control the army and the headquarters. 

Gen. Akar, Land Forces Commander Gen. Salih Zeki Çolak and Air Forces Commander Gen. Abidin Ünal, who had been taken hostage by coup plotters on July 15, have not yet completed their mandate in their positions, while Gendarmerie Forces Commander Gen. Galip Mendi and Naval Forces Commander Adm. Bülent Bostanoğlu were to retire in August. 

Gen. Mendi has already left his position since the attempted coup due to health reason and was replaced by Lt. Gen. İbrahim Yaşar.

“We will link the gendarmerie fully to the Interior Ministry,” Interior Minister Efkan Ala said in an interview on broadcaster NTV.

The gendarmerie is under the ministry in terms of its operations but in personnel issues, the authority is currently the military. 

“We will also evaluate linking the General Staff to the Defense Ministry but this is a decision that we will make on ourselves,” he said.

The General Staff is currently under the direct authority of the Prime Ministry and such a shift may decrease the army’s level in the state hierarchy.

Separately, daily Hürriyet quoted government sources on July 21 that the plans for shift in the military included ending the top brass authority on military schools that raise officers and giving their control to the Education Ministry. 

However, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on July 22 that no certain decision had been made on the issue.