Top brass reshuffle indicates full government control over Turkey's arms purchases
The Turkish government made its mark in the process to choose the new force commanders of the army, who were announced following the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) held between Aug 1 and 3. AA photoThis year’s annual reshuffle of the military top brass underlines full government control over defense procurement decisions in the future, officials and analysts said.
They said the new command structure featured generals who would work in full respect to government’s authority in procurement, agreeing to retreat to a minimal role in specifying requirements and choosing bidders.
“In the past the general shapes the procurement process even by solely telling the government which equipment the military needed. I think this role too would be minimized with the selection of a government-friendly top brass,” said one London-based Turkey specialist.
A local agent for a Western major player in the Turkish market said: “The days when we used to try to impress the generals are over. Now the only sensible counterpart for all international bidders is the government.”
The Supreme Military Council, chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, decides on promotions and retirement of top military officers every year, and announced unexpectedly the retirement of the paramilitary gendarmerie force commander, Gen. Bekir Kalyoncu, who had been the leading candidate to take over the Land Forces.
Kalyoncu was viewed as a government critic. Instead, Gen. Hulusi Akar was given the job and, according to custom, would be expected to replace Gen. Necdet Özel as overall head of the armed forces in 2015. The General Staff also announced on its website the appointment of Vice Adm. Bülent Bostanoğlu as commander of the Navy, Lt. Gen. Akin Öztürk as head of the Air Force and Gen. Servet Yoruk as commander of the gendarmerie.
Last October, the government introduced a new set of rules to regulate the procurement mechanism and broaden the jurisdiction and administrative powers of the civilian procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM).
Under the new rules a program will take off when a military request for a weapons system has been approved and proposed by the SSM and approved also by the defense minister. The SSM will be solely responsible to determine the ideal modality for every procurement. It also will have powers to buy from a sole source when it deems it necessary due to “national interest, confidentiality, monopoly of technological capabilities and meeting urgent requirements.”
“The new rules, coupled with the profile of the new top brass, mean that we may see a one-man show in procurement in the powerful personality of the prime minister,” said one Ankara-based analyst.