Turkey reshuffles land, air and navy commanders at key military meeting
ANKARATurkey’s land, air and navy commanders were reshuffled at an annual Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meeting on Aug. 2, restructuring the military under Chief of the General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, who will continue to lead the Turkish Armed Forces until 2019.
Replacements were made at the YAŞ meeting in Ankara under the leadership of Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and with the approval of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Topics on existing security threats and the fight against terrorism were also covered in the meeting.
Yıldırım said Turkey is currently fighting three terror groups and that significant results were achieved in the last year.
Gendarmerie Forces Commander Gen. Yaşar Güler will replace Land Forces Commander Gen. Salih Zeki Çolak, with the possibility of being appointed as the Chief of General Staff in 2019 under the normal promotion system.
Gen. Hasan Küçükakyüz, commander of the ballistic missile defense unit at Eskişehir Air Base, will replace Air Forces Commander Gen. Abidin Ünal. Vice Adm. Adnan Özbal will be appointed as the Naval Forces Commander, while Adm. Bülent Bostanoğlu will retire.
Özbal’s appointment as commander of the naval forces was a surprising move as Fleet Commander Adm. Veysel Kösele was expected to assume the role because of his higher rank.
All three outgoing commanders have completed their normal terms at their posts.
The replacements came nearly one year after a bloody coup attempt was staged by members of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) inside the army. Around 200 generals were expelled from their positions in the aftermath of the coup attempt and this year’s annual YAŞ meeting was supposed to reshape the military cadre.
Some 61 colonels were promoted to general and admiral ranks with YAŞ decisions.
Six generals and admirals were also promoted to higher ranks.
The term of office for eight generals was extended for one year, while the term of office for 168 colonels was extended for another two years.
Anti-terror fight at significant phase: PM Yıldırım
In a statement before the YAŞ meeting, Yıldırım commented on Turkey’s current security threats and the point it arrived in the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), FETÖ and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“The fight against the PKK has been carried out very successfully especially in the last one year. The strategy for the offensive that was decided early August last year and the work in full coordination with the Turkish Armed Forces and other security units have given the expected result. Last year we decided in the beginning of August to lead the struggle and to work in full coordination with the Turkish Armed Forces and other security units. The struggle against the PKK has reached significant levels,” Yıldırım said.
He added that the government had accelerated measures against infiltrations of terrorists from the country’s southern border as a result of the “integrated border security program,” while adding that the southern region was still the main source of the security problem.
Third YAŞ meeting since coup attempt
It was the third YAŞ meeting since last year’s failed coup attempt and the second after its structure was changed.
Along with Yıldırım and Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and some senior army commanders were present at the meeting.
With the change to the structure of YAŞ, deputy prime ministers as well as foreign and interior ministers are also now required to attend the meeting.