Featured

One of the Purged NATO officers while serving abroad….

I am one of the Turkish officers purged while serving in NATO, nothing to do with the coup attempt.

“My individual losses are nothing compared with my country’s losses”

http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/11/27/502999158/stark-choice-for-natos-turkish-officers-arrests-at-home-limbo-in-europe

img_0652

Broken Wings

whatsapp-image-2017-02-13-at-20-10-57

Broken-wings2

Turkish Air Force has been direly impacted by the recent purge and the effects were felt very quickly in the battlefield. Despite having close to 300 fighters in the inventory and operating in a rather small operational arena, Turkey resorted asking US for air support for the ground forces. The well-publicized “joint” operations with Russia has been detrimental rather than instrumental, as recent suspiciously timed “friendly fire” incident during an air strike claimed the lives of 3 Turkish soldiers living 9 wounded.

The self-evident question is “Why is Turkish Air Forces not able to carry her own weight and provide the ground support required?” Certainly it is not the lack of material, as it has more fighters currently than any other Air Force in Europe. The answer lies within the human factor, as Turkey has lost more than half of its pilots due to ongoing purge, resulting in abysmal operational capability.

A REAL CONCERN FOR TURKEY

After the latest published decree with force of law regarding measures to be taken under the State of Emergency, the number of the Turkish Air Force pilots purged since 15th July 2016 has exceeded 550.

Measures taken under the State of Emergency[1] Pilots Purged from Turkish Air Force
Decree-Law NO. 668 of 27 July 2016 284
Decree-Law NO. 670 of 17 August 2016 8
Decree-Law NO. 675 of 29 October 2016 9
Decree-Law NO. 677 of 22 November 2016 90
Decree-Law NO. 679 of 06 January 2017 32
MOD Administrative decrees of  September/October 2016 128
TOTAL 551

During a press interview on 15 August 2016, government spokesmen have declared that pilot/seat ratio has fallen to 0.8 after decree 668[2]. Since then, 267 more pilots have been purged, which brings down the pilot/seat ratio to a disastrous number of 0.4[3]. Also, it is important to point out that purge is still continuing and also some of the remaining pilots are suspended and waiting for an indeterminate future.

In a desperation effort, Turkish government doubled the pilot salaries[4] with a decree and asked hundreds of pilots that had served mandatory service time and had left for the “Big White Aircraft – aka Civilian Airlines” to come back to service. The Turkish government had hoped and Ministry of Defence announced that hundreds of pilots would return “back home” from civilian airline companies. However results were heartbreaking and only 12 came back[5] which interestingly was paraded as a big success.

On the other hand, side effects of doubling pilot salaries are yet to surface. Even before the doubling act, large salary gap between pilots and other specialties were a source of discontent amongst the latter. After the dust settles, no doubt the “doubled” discontent will cause friction among ranks of Air Force.

The government sponsored media constantly tries to downplay the situation. In a recent news,[6] it is announced that the pilot shortage is decreasing significantly, as 225 new pilots were “ready to fly”. A closer look into this claim reveals that they have been talking about the number of pilot candidates planned for flight school, which will take years before they could be combat ready.

Even before the purge Turkish Air Force was struggling with manning the cockpits. In 2012, a decrease in mandatory service time from 15 years to 10 years was introduced. This change cost Air Force extra, as 53 additional pilots left service on average each year since 2012[7]. An average of 100 pilots graduate from Flight School in the Air Force per year and approximately 100 pilots leave Turkish Air Force to work at the commercial airlines each year, however the unexpected increase of departures from 100 to 153 already had a big impact for Turkish Air Force. Concern was so severe that the issue was brought up at both Council of Ministers and Turkish Grand National Assembly several times[8]. The pre-purge pilot shortages combined with additional 550 pilots purged since, sets and undeniably grim picture.

Turkish Air Force Commander General Abidin ÜNAL at the inauguration ceremony for 153rd SQ on November 2016. Small number of pilots for a squadron providing initial training for F-16

As the operations picks up in southern border, with old flames being rekindled in the west, the immediate threat that needs to be remedied is the number of combat ready pilots and the number of experienced pilots who plays a key role in planning and execution of operations[9]. Keeping in mind that the flight school has the capacity to train average 100 pilots a year at a maximum rate, pilot shortage will continue to be a major concern at least for the next 10 years[10]. However, most of the pilots that left during both pre-purge and purge periods were experienced instructor pilots, which brings up the question whether the pilot production rate can even catch up to the previous  levels. Combined with increased operational tempo in the south, Air Force will have to make a decision on where they will employ the small number of experienced pilots. Most likely scenario is, immediate concerns on the operational front will override the mid-long term concerns, which will deepen the hole, Air Force is already in.

Another temporary solution created by the new decree is to give a second chance to the officers washed out from pilot training[11] years ago and are serving in different specialties such as intelligence officer, infantry officer etc. “Internal sourcing” approach will have the benefit of shortening the transition period compared to a civilian recruit, however fixing one hole by pulling cork from another hole is hardly a wise approach for saving the ship. Specialties such as air space controllers, targeteers have long training periods. The role of non-flyer specialties in combat effectiveness should not be overlooked. Pilot-centric mentality is a thing of the past, as operations gets more and more complicated and increased tempo requires more from the ground crews. Another problem with “Internal Sourcing” approach is the fact that it will undeniably lead to decreased standards in pilot training. Those candidates formerly washed-out due to failing to reach the standards will not suddenly find a newfound talent, and instructors will be forced to accept sub-standard candidates due to pressure from upper echelons to increase pilot output.

A REAL CONCERN FOR NATO

Expertise and experience lost following the military pilot purge is hard to regain since the remaining few is being used and abused in the dangerously high operational tempo in Euphrates Shield. The requirements for the air support in Operation Euphrates Shield is growing, as lack of adequate close air support has already cost 54 tanks/armored vehicles. The tremendous loss of fighter pilots restricts the Turkish Air Force operational tempo which in turn caused Turkey to urge US/European Allies to support operation in Al Bab. In fact, so dire is the situation that Turkey resorted asking “New Strategic Ally – Russian Air Force” for close air support marking a highly unusual military partnership between a NATO member and Moscow[12].

The purge of combat pilots will not just produce consequences for Turkish Armed Forces but also to NATO’s both peacetime and combat establishment as well. Turkey has a significant number of officer posts in NATO’s command structure of which considerable of them are pilots[13]. In an interview on early December, SACEUR General Curtis Scaparrotti expressed the effect of empty Turkish posts as “I had talented, capable people here, and I am taking a degradation of my staff for the skill, the expertise and the work they produced”. It will be very difficult for Turkey to fill these posts with experienced and qualified cadre as Turkey will no doubt choose to utilize those scarce assets in operations or training.

General Scaparotti’s concern is likely not limited to command structure. Turkish contribution to NATO’s strike power is also under question. NATO must keep in mind this serious critical capability shortfall since Turkey has more fighter jets than they could realistically fly and sustain in combat. This poses a grave vulnerability for the southern flank of NATO as Turkey is one of the largest providers of fighter aircraft in NATO.

In light of recent strategic shift towards Russia, whether Turkey would be willing to contribute to a major scale enduring NATO ops in the region, both in aircraft and basing, is the real troubling question amidst Erdogan’s post-purge “Strategic Adventurism”

 

[1] Decress with force of law can be found at http://www.resmigazete.gov.tr/default.aspx.

[2] “Numan Kurtulmuş: Ayrılanlar dönecek”, 15 August 2016, http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/numan-kurtulmus-ayrilanlar-donecek-40195302.

[3] Turkey has approximately 600 total Aircraft.

[4] Nobody should expect that doubling pilot salaries to keep the moral and motivation of pilots high while they are surrounded by continuous purge atmosphere, in which no one is safe.

[5] “Basın Odası/ Hv.K.K.lığından Haberler”, https://www.hvkk.tsk.tr/en-us/.

[6] http://www.haberturk.com/gundem/haber/1362829-tsknin-pilot-acigi-azaliyor

[7] The extra bleeding of pilots should normally end in 2017.

[8] “Hava Kuvvetlerini bu yasa vurdu”, 12 March 2015, http://www.sozcu.com.tr/2015/gundem/hava-kuvvetlerini-bu-yasa-vurdu-769765/, “100 pilot istifa etti”, 14 March 2013, http://www.sozcu.com.tr/2013/gundem/100-pilot-istifa-etti-247496/

[9] Turkish Air Force depends on the pilots to a great extend for operational and tactical planning. So a portion of already scanty pilot cadre will have to be used for planning.

[10] Ten years asssessment could also be found at the analysis at https://warontherocks.com/2016/09/the-post-coup-purge-of-turkeys-air-force/

[11] Due to either medical reasons or elimination from flight school.

[12] Friendly fire incidents on 24 November 2016 (Although Officially culprit is not yet found) and 09 February 2017 which left more than 10 Turkish soldier dead and more than 20 wounded should force Turkey to consider the effectiveness of the Russian cooperation.

[13] Turkish Planner posts in AIRCOM, CAOCs and TUR JFAC are mostly manned by pilots.

A Short Analysis and Some Reflections on Turkey’s Incursion to Syria.

 

albab2

albab

A short analysis and some reflections on the Turkish Incursion To Syria (Operation Euphrates’s Shield)

Is there an exit strategy for Turkey other than total failure?

 It is not surprising that Turkish Syrian foreign policy is currently stuck in the town of El-Bab, name meaning “The Gate”. El-Bab is historically defined as a gate towards Aleppo. That also indicates the intent of the Operation Euphrates Shield.  Erdogan’s Sunni sectarian/political ambitions started off this operation on the wrong foot.  It was prepared hastily in the middle of the biggest purge Turkish Armed Forces had seen. Experienced cadre that had been resisting to adventurous ambitions of the regime, was being replaced with new opportunists looking for glory.

During the first stage of the operation, Jerablus was captured without intense fighting and was presented as a great military success by mouth-piece media. Later on, a captured ISIS member would reveal that ISIS did not fight back at this first stage, but simply blended into the population by cutting their beards. The media glory did not last long, disaster struck at Al-Bab where Free Syrian Army had already been failing against ISIS stronghold. By this time the affiliated Free Syrian Army (FSA) had already turned out to be a failure against ISIS strongholds in the vicinity of Al-Bab. Turkish Special Forces captured villages and turned them over to FSA, who abandoned the villages by the next morning. Even the start of the operation for Al-Bab was postponed several times because the FSA was not ready.

There are many causes for the stall Turkish forces are experiencing in Al-Bab. The first apparent factor seems to be lack of intelligence. The ongoing operation seems to be conducted without adequate intelligence on the operational area. The lack of targeting info could be the reason why artillery shelling was preferred. Needless to say, this non-precision approach brings the risk of fratricide and civilian casualties with it. Already, some sources have claimed that hundreds of civilians died because of TUR artillery shelling and air attacks. And also one of the important things that needs to be highlighted here is the fact that Turkish military is short of air to ground guided missiles, that is why Turkish officials made an official meeting with South Korea to receive PGM (precision guided missile) kits as an urgent operational requirement. Based on this shortage it is already known that Turkish jets are mostly dropping classic, not-guided bombs to Jerablus and Al-Bab.

Based on dozens of media reports by human rights organizations[1] there have been hundreds of civilian casualties as a result of the Turkish artillery’s imprecise shelling and the Air Force’s use of unguided (dumb) bombs. This could be because the stockpile of Precision Guided Munitions (PGM) is extremely low.

Another intelligence/planning failure was the lack of appreciation for the types of weapons enemy has.  Strategic planners (if many are left after the massive purge!) at Turkish General Staff should have known that, ISIS had access to sophisticated anti tank guided missiles (ATGM) weapons and had been using them in the field extensively, and should have planned accordingly. Also related is the terrain factor. Using the relatively permissive flat terrain, ISIS was able to move freely and quickly which enabled them to hunt tanks and other armored carriers with ease. Timing of the operation is not in concert with the choice of Armor either. Armor needs large logistics support which can be a nightmare in winter. The disconcerted planning and execution of the operation has led to appalling results. Credible sources stated that, contrary to public statements by the Turkish General Staff, 54 tanks have been destroyed / damaged so far. Losses are great yet gains are tiny. Despite the overwhelming conventional superiority enjoyed, even the logistics lines of ISIS, used for reinforcements and evacuations, are not cut yet.

C2 (command and control) of the operation is a perplexing matter by itself. One of the shocking details of this ongoing operation (from credible senior sources) is that there is NO Joint Strategic Operational Plan (OPLAN). Hence there is no joint understanding of the whole campaign. Normally, there must be an official political directive to military planners stating the objectives (desired end state) for the use of force.  For an operation of this magnitude an operational plan (OPLAN) at joint level is a must in order to determine the lines of operation and align the lines of effort. The OPLAN is the cornerstone for the synchronization of efforts and proper execution of the operation. However, what I know (from credible resources) that the plan is just a few power point slides with arrows and timings (at the scale of months).  According to this so called CONOPS (Concept of Operations); 3 months were envisaged for control of Jarablus, likewise 3 months for Al-Bab, another 3 for Mumbic and just another 3 months for RAKKA!!! (when I first heard it, I thought it was a joke; reflecting back how many months have been spent for Kirkuk by the Us-led coalition forces).

Official reports indicate that the 3 star head of Special Forces (LtGen. Aksakallı, a staunch supporter of Erdogan) is commanding at operational level with this HQ in Silopi / Turkey. I personally know this small HQ, it is not joint, it was built just to coordinate the support of Turkish units in Iraq with Pashmerga. Considering the amount of armor units used, a Special Forces commander with no experience in armor warfare, is not a smart choice. Destroyed tanks in the battle testify to what should have been common sense. I have also heard that LtGen. Aksakallı has sent a report about the failure so far accusing Land Forces Command, according to his report he is accusing armoured and infantry units which is under command of Land Forces Command. As clearly seen at this  report one of the basic principles of warfare, unit of command is a waste for this operation.

Rather than acknowledging incompetence, Erdogan regime tried to save face by claiming “Lack of US help to Turkish troops”. Prime minister went as far as claiming that “The others are not doing anything, we are the only ones fighting”. So what was the help they were talking about? Forgetting the fact that US neither agreed with the plan nor promised any help regarding Al-Bab, why was Turkey asking for US help in the first place?

It is obvious that mentioned “help” from US would come from the air, whether being strike or intelligence. Turkish Air Force was used to be paraded as the largest in Europe. With more than 250 fighters, it should be easily able to provide any kind of air support needed. In fact, Turkish General Staff claim 1233 guided munitions strike on 1141 IS targets, yet fails to show any significant effect on enemy will or ability to fight. Either, Air force is operating extremely ineffectively, or these numbers are suspicious. Turkish Air Force is no stranger to this type of scenario, it had major doctrinal changes in fight against PKK towards 2009 which resulted in success between 2010-2011. (Thanks!! to National Intelligence Agency for wrong targets in Uludere and tying hands of military during “Peace process”  as Erdogan admitted later on, PKK was able to regroup and restrategize, nulling all the gains). So assuming those numbers are right, what is the source of inefficiency? Could it be that, majority of experienced planners, pilots and intel officers are in jail now? Even some who are not in jail are hard pressed, like Pilots in Diyarbakir who report to police everyday and go fly missions on the same day? Morale of whatever good personnel left is down the drain, as they see personnel getting arrested everyday and wondering when is their turn?

Erdogan has not been shy in expressing his desire of toppling Assad or “Praying in Mosque of Amawi ” in Damascus. After getting rid of the military elite that resisted involvement in Syria, Turkish Armed Forces entered Syria with no clear objective of associated plan. “Town hopping” approach has failed in the first real resistance. Al-Bab operation carries all the marks of politically fueled greedy adventurism, carried out by a crippled force under incompetent leadership. Will the “desire for glory” continue in the wake of upcoming presidential referendum? A military victory or defeat could make all the difference.

[1] http://breakingenergy.com/2017/01/12/the-battle-for-al-bab-is-bringing-u-s-turkish-tensions-to-a-head/

 

 

The only aim of this Commission is to prevent or at least delay ECHR decisions for human rights breaches in Turkey.

Turkish government decided to establish a super commission “Commission for Examininig/Screening State of Emergency Acts” even superior to Constitutional Court by Decree 685.

Mission of this commission will be examinig dismissal of government servants, officers, academics, students and closure of institutions.

This so called Impartial Commission will be consist of 7 members, 5 of which will be chosen by Prime Minister and Minister of Justice. This Urgent Commission members will be chosen in one month, case acceptence date will be declared in 6 months.

This Super Commission will solve nearly 135.000 cases in 2 years, which means 267 cases for each day, one case in every 2 minutes.

Decisions of the Comission could be appealed to the administative court, then district admininstrative court, then Counsil of State, then Constitutional Court.

This commission is against Turkish Constitution Art. 35 “Extraordinary tribunals with jurisdiction that would in effect remove a person from the jurisdiction of his legally designated court shall not be established.”

This commission is against Turkish Constitution Art. 35 and  European Convention on Human Rights Art. 6 and Art. 13.

Turkish Constitution Art. 35 “Extraordinary tribunals with jurisdiction that would in effect remove a person from the jurisdiction of his legally designated court shall not be established.”

ECHR Art. 6 “In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law”

ECHR Art. 13 “Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.”

Only aim of this commission is to prevent or at least delay ECHR compensation decisions for human rights breaches.

Symptoms of the Deviation of Turkish Armed Forces from West

Resim1.jpg

Symptoms of the Deviation of Turkish Armed Forces from West

Over the last year, political deviation of Turkish government from the West to the East is widely reported by Western media. Now it is obvious that the axis of Turkey is deviating from western allies to Russia. However, this could not be accepted as a usual policy change due to national interests. Keeping in mind the ground-zero level relations after downed Russian Jet on Turkish border, speed of the deviation would be seen better.  As being a balancing actor in Foreign Policy, Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) put the brakes on disruptive policies of the politicians by advising international responsibilities and security risks. Therefore, contrary to expectations, Turkey’s drastic and rapid deviation to Russia could not be possible without a military consent.

Russia has started first out of area mission in Syria since the end of the Cold War and that is a symbol of Russian military’s return back to Cold War norms. Presence of Russian mobile[1] A2/AD (anti-access/area denial) assets increased the threat perception of Allied countries from Russia’s “near abroad” into East Mediterranean and Black Sea. The main concern was how to conduct joint entry operations and neutralise A2/AD threat in those areas. Turkey’s geographic position and the presence of NATO-integrated TAF assets in the area were very critical to balance the threat.

Turkey was mostly affected from the growing threat in its neighbouring areas since 2008, but NATO’s Article 5 protection was the guarantor of its defence. However, Turkey’s threat perception has changed from external[2]  to “internal security” after the 15 July coup attempt. Shift in threat perception supplemented with suspicions over Western support to coup attempt and thus leads to Erdogan-Putin rapprochement.

How did TAF consent received?

As a result of coup attempt happened on 15 July 149 Generals (45.8%) together around 60 % (or more) of the flag officers and general staff officers of TAF are purged.  Which is not dissimilar to NATO posts, 509 (%71) officer’s tour have been terminated in various NATO and Military Attaché positions. A list of expelled generals and staff officers show most were officers who gave priority to Atlantic ties and held strong pro-NATO stances. NATO officers/generals, whose common denominators are being western minded, egalitarian, secular, politically non-biased, honest and successful, purged from their positions.

Just after coup attempt, all generals, officers even NCO’s who were not classified as being affiliated with pro-government movements, and cannot be controlled, were expelled or detained. Pro-government groups in the TAF are; Perincek Group (those with Eurasian perspective), SADAT group (radical political Islamists, who allegedly ran training camps for  ISIS  in  Turkey  in  addition  to smuggling weapons and personnel to Syria) and opportunistic  generals/officers  (those,  who  were  basically exploiting the situation by  establishing  close  relations  with  the  governing  party).

Purge of Western-minded officers will lead to the reorganisation of TAF, increase in the power of Eurasianist officers in the TAF by appointing to critical positions, and deviation from western alliance. Infiltration of Perincek group into the TAF had begun in 1970s when leftist movements during the Cold War were at their height. As being the current dominant group in TAF, Eurasianists have made a temporary alliance with the SADAT followers in TAF with the principle of “enemy of my enemy is my friend”.  It is very clear that Eurasianist are not associated with Erdogan mindset and this leads to some critical and even threatening announcements to the Erdogan’s policies. Having been established solely for short-term interests, this alliance destined to fail due to different motivations and agendas of the groups. What is not known is who controls Euroasianists’ agenda? Is it Russia or Erdogan? Whoever it is, it seems that both possibility are advantageous for Russia.

As expected, reorganization of the TAF began with clash of afore-mentioned groups to grab desired positions on the way of controlling TAF. As mentioned by Michael Rubin[3], after the purge of almost all Western-minded officers and generals, the power struggles are now more visible and parties are preparing for big battle by recruiting and arming supporters. It is known that the military personnel who are associated with Sadat group have been assigned to various Human Resources Departments of the TAF. That has been done intentionally to balance Eurasianist group in favour of Erdogan and Erdogan called retired SADAT members per task with an emergency decree. It is reported by media channels that thousands of weapons and military equipment are un-located since 15 July, which can be only explained by two groups’ militarization against each other. Whoever wins, that will lead to instability and chaos in Turkey, which will have impacts on European security structure. Turmoil in Turkey would also prevail over Europe. Europe may not be able to stay away of it as they did in Syria Crisis.

15 July 2016 coup attempt can be seen as a milestone towards enhancement of Turkish-Russian military relations.  Main transformation projects in TAF had been carried by purged Western-minded officers and generals. Purge of those personnel halted 30 years long of military transformation towards NATO and has led to start of a new era of “isolation from West” and “biat” (to swear allegiance) culture.

 What are the symptoms of the Deviation of TAF?

Purge of Western-minded officers enhanced the coordination between Russia and Turkey in the military level. First top-level meeting happened in Ankara on 15 September. The meeting was a symbol of the military leg of the normalisation process, which has started first on the political level. One of the most important outcomes of the talks is that both top soldiers agree that regional problems can only be resolved through joint initiatives of regional countries as Turkish military sources described the meeting as “fruitful.”

Military coordination has resulted in some outcomes in the field. The parties agreed to form a joint military and intelligence mechanism to coordinate their activities in the Middle East, including Syria. With this mechanism, joint operations against ISIS could be started. In this case Turkey would be able to make cross-border interventions against PYD forces in North Syria to prevent completion of Kurdish corridor. Turkey’s policy moves against PYD in Syria caused politic tensions with US and weakened military coordination. It is assessed that Turkey’s disagreements with US over PYD has been exploited by Russia in her advantage.

Military coordination has continued with the two sides agreed on intelligence sharing in support of Turkish unilateral Operation Euphrates Shield on 24 October. That was an indicator of Turkey’s lack of military intelligence in the Northern Syria during the time of operation. Military Intelligence Collection assets had been handed over to “National Intelligence Service” (MIT) as part of transformation process. After that development Turkish General Staff has been dependent on MIT intelligence for to understand the crisis close to the Turkish border. MIT’s inability to meet the expectations of military necessities is evident in poor planning and ineffective targeting during the Operation Euphrates Shield during which more than 40 Turkish personnel killed in action till today.

Russian officials said Turkey quietly joined the pool on intelligence sharing created by Russia, Syria, Iraq and Iran. This is also in line with Turkish MoD statement suggesting the operation was coordinated with the agreement of Russian, Iranian and even Syrian officials through “indirect communication channels. That is a clear example of TAF officials are in daily contact with Russia, Iranian and even Syrian officials. However, Turkey’s intelligence sharing with non-NATO countries created concerns over the safety of NATO intelligence network. Turkey’s intelligence sharing with non-NATO entities is possible and cannot be controlled at the moment.

On January 12 2017, Russian and Turkish military officials signed a memorandum on combat flight safety during missions – and agreed to coordinate airstrikes against terrorists in Syria. Al-Bab is an obvious area for these efforts. With that Turkish-Russian military cooperation will be observed in the air and on the ground. As a result of that cooperation Russian and Turkish aircrafts has reported to start joint operation together in the vicinity of Bab where US UAVs has conducted airstrikes in the previous week. The symbolic meaning UAVs and the Russian jets presence in the area clearly indicate that US-Turkish partnership in Syria is weakening which is replaced by Russia.

Incirlik is also a very important base for US in the power balance of the region due to; US nuclear weapons in it, it’s key role in US and allied operations in the Middle East and many other military strategic factors. Having Russians on it’s side, Turkey is trying to change US policies in Syria and Iraq by using closure of Incirlik Base card. On the other hand, since the beginning of Syrian Crisis, Russia is accumulating its military power in the region. Russia sees Incirlik Base as an obstacle before its dominance in the region. As a result of current deviation from Western world, Erdogan regime and its media outlets intentionally keeping the closure of Incirlik Base on the agenda.

Military rapprochement with Russia come along with cooperation in the field of defence industry. As a result of this, despite NATO summit declaration in Warsaw (June 2016) calling for freezing military contacts of its members with Russia, formal and informal negotiations on Air and Missile Defence Systems and many other Russian arms already started. That decreased Turkey Foreign Policy’s credibility. Possible delivery of S-400 systems to Turkey will likely improve Russian A2/AD posture in the region, which will also threaten allied countries military presence in the area. That will also enable for Russia to track the air picture of allied assets. By the way, it should also be noted that a similar purge of Western-minded, politically unbiased personnel happened at “Under-secretariat for Defence Industries”, which is the institution responsible for modernization projects of the TAF.

Security Implications for Europe

Turkish-Russian military partnership is against the founding principle of the NATO, which is primarily established for collective defence. Moreover, during the times when Russia is challenging the European Security with illegal interventions, ie in Ukraine, Turkish-Russian military partnership is a symbol of how Erdogan is irrespectfull to international law and responsibilities. Turkey’s bilateral military partnership with Russia will likely have negative consequences for her.

If the Turkish and Russian partnership remains limited to Syria, that won’t likely harm Turkey’s military and diplomatic relations in the short term with NATO. However, this partnership will be benefited by Russia-only by filling the place of US military foothold (ie Bab and Incirlik) and makes Turkish military dependent on its military power. This option is likely as long as two countries have mutual interests in Syria and Middle East. When interests clash over Syria, Turkey will find itself isolated even from West and Russia.

Eurasianist officers/generals who are replaced the purged officers in NATO posts already started to criticize NATO policies and strategies in Turkey and not hesitate to announce pro-Russian views on NATO headquarters. If the military partnership with Russia enhances out of Syria, that will lock the decision making process of the Alliance; will be seen as against to the founding principle of the Alliance and will put Alliance documentation and intelligence at risk. These will lead to weakening of Alliance. In this situation, it is highly likely that NATO will suspend military relations with Turkey. Diplomatic relations with Turkey will be maintained in order to keep the coherence of the Alliance but suspect to change with a sudden and irrational foreign policy outcome. West would not want to lose Turkey but a problematic country against Western policies should not be tolerable anymore.

Conclusion

As TAF has been an important member of the Western security bloc and a strong member of the NATO, there is no doubt that dismissal of western, minded officers/generals begin to have major effects on TAF’s strategic identity and organizational culture. Due to the prominent role of TAF in Turkish political structure and in NATO, these effects have reflections in both.  We begin to see the military symptoms of this deviation in TAF and will continue to see more symptoms in the upcoming days.

[1] Frigate, submarine and aircraft loaded anti-access and area denial systems.

[2] Russia; as seen in previous NATO summits Turkey asking for NATO support in order to neutralise Russian threat

[3]Michael Rubin: Turkey is Headed for a Bloodbath, http://europe.newsweek.com/michael-rubin-turkey-headed-bloodbath-515787?utm_source=social&utm_medium=whatsapp&utm_campaign=/michael-rubin-turkey-headed-bloodbath-515787%3frx=eu