Turkish military to release soldiers early

Turkish military to release soldiers early

Turkish military to release soldiers early

Turkish men serve between six and 15 months, according to the level of their studies. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

The Turkish army is to discharge several hundred thousand soldiers as a result of an agreement between the General Staff and the government to shorten the compulsory military service of male citizens from 15 months to 12 months for private soldiers.

Some 40,000 soldiers will be immediately released while the remaining 240,000 will be discharged gradually, daily Posta reported on Oct. 6.

The Turkish Armed Forces is made up of nearly 600,000 soldiers of whom 208,923 are professional and 379,352 are conscripts as of October 2013, according to the official numbers given on the army’s website.

The minimum term of service is 15 months in the current regulation, resulting in an ongoing requirement to equip, train and sustain new recruits.

The Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said a study was ongoing on the issue of shortening military service on Oct. 4. The General Staff announced the following day that an agreement had been reached with the government to shorten the compulsory military service of male citizens from 15 months to 12 months for private soldiers, adding that the duration of the short term military service, to which university students can apply, would remain six months. If the plan is enacted before the start of the new year, nearly 280,000 soldiers of the 379,352 who are currently serving in the army will benefit from an early discharge, as per the new regulation.

Professional army

As soon as the legislation is approved by Parliament and published in the Official Gazette, around 40,000 soldiers who completed 12 months of military service will be discharged.

In 2012, Turkey’s General Staff began to implement a new system to fight terrorism by forming and assigning only special teams of professional soldiers to conflict areas. A 50,000-place capacity was created for the post however only 1,500 professional border troops were appointed due to the low level of applications.

“Professional army” members were offered a monthly salary of 3,100 Turkish Liras and an additional 7,000 liras of compensation for every year they served in the military. Refusing the obligatory military service due to conscientious objection is illegal in Turkey and punishable with imprisonment by law. Upon reaching the legal age, a citizen automatically becomes enlisted and subject to military law. Such acts are deemed “insubordination to military officers” and carry up to two years of military imprisonment for each offence; in Turkey, civilians can be tried at military courts.