July 15 and Akıncı Airbase (13): How to be a staff officer through fraud

July 15 and Akıncı Airbase (13): How to be a staff officer through fraud

Becoming a staff officer who opens the door to the path leading to become a general in the Turkish Armed Forces is possible by passing a tough exam. 

The multiple choice and written answers asked in this exam cover a wide-range of topics from history to economics, from foreign policy to energy issues alongside military-related subjects. 

The staff officer’s exam can be taken after completing the third year of being in the first lieutenant position. An officer can take this exam up to six times, including the period after becoming a captain.

Preparing for the exam requires a challenging effort. The young officers trying to be staff officers on the one hand serve in the field units, for example fly as part of the squadron if they are pilots, and on the other hand prepare for the tests of the academy. Those who pass the exam, receive a two-year education at the Air College within the body of the War Colleges Command in Istanbul. In previous practices, if some 200-250 officers joined the air forces every year in one term, depending on the need and, with an emphasis on the category of pilots, just 35 to 40 officers were chosen in the staff officer’s exam. 

Yes, the exam was difficult in the past, but if you were a Gülenist officer, then you did not have to tire yourself a lot for the staff officer’s exam. Fethullah Gülen’s spiritual personality would bring you the practical solution to make you pass the staff officer’s exam easily. How?

It is best to listen to the answer of this question from the testimony of the Air Pilot Staff First Lieutenant Müslim Macit, who took an active role in the July 15, 2016, coup attempt:

“We took the academy exams. Here we met with Mehmet Ayan with the code name ‘Mahmut.’ Along with an ‘abi’ [elder brother] whose name I did not know, Mahmut came to us, made us swear, and told us, ‘I will give you an SD card; study from this.’ And I, with Abdullah, studied for this. In the document for which we studied, there were exam questions. These exam questions were the same as the [original] exam. If I am not mistaken, I scored about 88 or 90 points. They told me, ‘Do not answer all of the questions, mark to get 88 or 90.’ And we arranged this by getting 10 or 12 [questions] wrong. In the written exam, on the other hand, we did it by giving wrong answers to some.”

This exam that Macit spoke of, a confessor in the Akıncı Airbase case, was held in December 2015. In that period, Macit served at the Akıncı Airbase’s 142nd squadron as a first lieutenant.

Macit, in his testimony, also describes the house where the SD (memory) card was given to him. This is a house located on the Mehtap Avenue in Barıştepe neighborhood of Ankara’s Keçiören district. After studying data on the SD cards, the first lieutenant gave them back to Ayan.

Another important detail is that the questions and their answers were given to Macit together with his classmate Abdullah Özen, with whom he previously stayed in the same house. Macit explains that he was “in contact with” Özen, whom he knows as being a Gülenist, since the Air Force Academy. They stayed for a long period of time in the same rented house; the same “abis” have seen them together. From this explanation, it is understood that Macit was in a sort of dual cell structure with Özen. Along with this, it is interesting that the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) did not assign a job to Özen during the July 15, 2016, coup attempt, even though Özen was serving at the Akıncı Airbase…

There are a lot of thought-provoking points in Macit’s testimony. First of all, let’s look at the incident’s date. The staff officer’s exam was conducted in December 2015, which is exactly two years after the brotherhood moved against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with the Dec. 17-25, 2013 operation. 

This incident shows that at a time when Erdoğan thought he was putting up a fight against Gülen, the brotherhood could infiltrate easily into the staff officer’s exam at the Air Forces Command, pave the way for Gülenist officers, and more precisely could “run wild” as it wished in the military. 

The main thought-provoking question that these confessions bring in front of us is this. Many Gülenist officers, such as Macit, have taken from their “abis” (brothers) in the brotherhood the questions and without a need to study, they have easily passed the exams. The result of this, many officers who would have probably passed the exam unless a fraud had been committed, were eliminated without being staff officers, although they deserved it. 

Who should assume the responsibility for the injustice done to them?

Besides, we know that the problem here is not only limited to the staff officer’s exam in the army or the naval and air forces. For decades, thousands of members of the brotherhood entered military academies and military high schools through widespread fraud in entrance examinations undertaken by the Student Selection and Placement Center (ÖSYM) for these educational institutions, while usurping the rights of thousands of people who were not members of the brotherhood. 

It is difficult to find a statement to describe the size of the unfairness, the suffering created here. In fact, it is understood that Macit was also himself to some extent uncomfortable with becoming a staff officer this way. When he opened up the subject to his “abis,” the answer he got was: “Your case is sacred, one of you has to be there…”