The attempt of a military coup, a war in Syria, the aggravation in Karabakh and the tragedy of the Russian Su-24 heightened interest in the Turkish army. Army, this looks very impressive, but only at first glance: the problems and failures in her far more than the actual achievements.
References to statistics that are now filled with media indicate that Turkey still has an army, and this is a large army - the second in NATO and the sixth in the world. Up to half a million people serve on a permanent basis, of which up to 370 thousands - in the ground forces. At the same time, after the adoption of the “Concept of National Security” in 2006 and against the background of the consistent aggravation of the situation around Turkey, the Erdogan government launched a large-scale military reform, including technical re-equipment and optimization of the state. In fact, this resulted in an insignificant reduction in the number (up to 280 – 300 thousand people in the ground forces) and the adoption of single samples of the new technology. In general, if in numbers, then a formidable force. But the details are extremely distressing for the Turks.
The strap instead of the Koran
The Turkish army has historically been formed chaotically and torn, based on the current situation and economic opportunities, but the factor of regional confrontation has always played a decisive role. Until now, the main adversary is considered to be Greece - the same member of NATO, which left a serious imprint on the entire Turkish military machine. The basis of the army remains in the western part of Anatolia.
Contrary to popular belief that almost all the combat-ready parts of Turkey were tied to the Syrian and Armenian borders, the Turkish army did not weaken the group that threatened Greece even in calmer times, and in order to strengthen the units fighting against the Kurds, for example, from the west, regular parts, and as necessary to transfer reserves. The most combat-ready and large military units are still concentrated in the west of the country - 1-I field army with headquarters in Istanbul and bases in Gallipoli and Eastern Thrace has more than 120 thousand people. The Aegean (4-I) field army with headquarters in Izmir is located along the Aegean Sea, 2-I Field with headquarters in Malatia along the borders of Syria and Iraq, and the 3-I army with headquarters in Erzincan - along the borders of Georgia and Armenia. The 3 Army Corps was also assigned to the 3 Army, performing the functions of the capital garrison. There are still separate brigades and special purpose battalions subordinated directly to the High Command, but this does not change the essence - the main forces are concentrated in the west, and whatever events take place in Kurdistan or on the Syrian border, it remains unshakable. In the main headquarters of the Turkish army, they are accustomed to thinking that this correlation of forces corresponds to modern threats, so there is nothing to be corrected, except to move a couple of brigades, but not far and not for long.
The obsession with Greece has remained since the 20s and has acquired the character of a deep mental trauma. To such an extent that when it was required to change something in the military mechanism in connection with new threats, nothing really changed. This is despite the fact that the “new” threats were not born out of nowhere either: the Kurdish problem has always existed, like the Turkish-Armenian contradictions, which, after the collapse of the USSR, intensified against the background of the war in Karabakh. Syria has also been a problem since the time of Ataturk - Turkey either sought to occupy part of the former "mandated territories", bargaining for a long time with the United States and France, then directly interfered in the internal affairs of Damascus. Finally, no matter how ankara tried to demonstrate their peacefulness to Iran, the Persian-Turkish historical contradictions, too, have not been canceled, as well as the struggle for dominance in the region, not to mention the religious overtones.
Turkey has no military doctrine in its pure form. It is replaced by a clear understanding that the world around is hostile and unjust, and no one understands the Turkish soul. As a result, even the current attempts to create a register of real threats to the Turkish national state lead to the fact that both the generals and politicians continue to insist on the need to maintain the size of a huge army at such a level that it is possible to conduct military operations at the same time in almost all directions. And this, in turn, requires a high mobilization activity of the population, which is achieved not only by the artificially created high prestige of the army, but also by the complex system of military education.
Now military lyceums and gymnasiums (analogs of the Suvorov schools) have turned for the poor youth into a social elevator along with the schools of Imam Khatyb (especially in Eastern Anatolia). At the same time, there is also a buy-out system for those Turkish citizens who live abroad for more than six months a year, but the prices, as they say, bite. As a result, over the past twenty years, the personnel structure has changed radically, and the army has become a workers' and peasants, albeit in the Turkish version - the predominant stratum of young people with primary religious education. They mainly occupy non-commissioned officer positions and positions of platoon, mouth and battery commanders. Graduates of kara harp okulu schools receive something like a “lieutenant course”. At the same time, the morale of Turkish soldiers is constantly strengthened by methods of frontal propaganda in the style of the series “Magnificent Century”: En buyuk Asker bizim Asker (that is, the greatest soldier is our soldier).
The purge of professional personnel, which Erdogan started following the failed attempt at a military coup, threatens only to worsen the situation, since the level of professional and even general education training is not only the soldier, but also the noncommissioned officer and officer personnel is clearly not up to what is required in modern army. Especially in view of the rearmament that Turkey urgently needs.
Wild numbers - more than 6000 units tanks and armored vehicles, of which more than 3700 tanks are crafty and do not reflect the real situation. Most of this economy is trash that can be used in a guerrilla war against the Kurds, but in more serious clashes it is of little use. Even the well-known invasions of Turkish forces into Iraq, which so irritated the international community, sometimes resembled parades of retro cars. It was impossible to look without tears at the footage of local television, which showed off the columns of "Vietnam War Veterans" - American tanks M48 and M68, mothballed from warehouses.
It is worth mentioning the events of 1998 of the year when the Turkish-Syrian war almost happened. Then Ankara accused Damascus of harboring Kurdish militants, fitting almost 50-thousandth grouping to the border, but it was also formed from “neighboring” parts and all the same instances of tank equipment, suitable only for the museum in Kubinka. In the 1994 year, when the rapid victories of the Armenians in and around Karabakh led to the collapse of the Azerbaijani army and the road to Baku was practically open, Turkey was also close to intervening. But in the end, the field army only imitated an offensive on the border of Armenia, which was defended by Russian border guards, and did not receive any reinforcement from Western Anatolia. If for the sluggish hunting of outdated equipment and recruits of the Kurds, if not always, but enough, clashes with the frontier troops of the Russian Federation were a problem from a purely military point of view, and not only from a political one. Politics, by the way, has never stopped the Turks. In the same 1998, only the collective promise of several Arab states (including Libya and Lebanon) to support Damascus kept Ankara from active hostilities.
In 2015, the Turks successfully relocated from the 1 th field army in Eastern Thrace (European Ankara possessions) to the 2 Army in the Syrian border around 1000 armored vehicles, which looked dangerous - the Syrian army is smaller than the Turkish one times. But in fact all this was “auto junk”, only in number and capable of striking the imagination. Of course, for a region where only Israel has modern weapons, this can be considered a serious force. But only in the event that we forget about the rapid rearmament of Syria and Iran with modern Russian means, including anti-tank.
The only successful use of military force by Turkey in recent times - the Cyprus operation of 1974 - is now being presented in propaganda as a vivid example of a successful landing operation and the clear victory of Turkish weapons. In reality, the Turkish landing crushed the Cypriots and the few Greek units in quantity, demonstrating phenomenal errors. What is the only "sea battle" at Paphos, when the Turkish aviation sunk the Turkish naval squadron.
The Greeks, knowing that Turkish intelligence was listening to Cypriot broadcast, launched a disinformation about the arrival of reinforcements from Rhodes to the island. Ankara raised almost 50 planes to drive off the mythical Greek fleet, but they found at Paphos three of their own destroyers - “Adatepe”, “Kojatepe” and “Tinaztepe”, attacking them, despite the Turkish flags and other identification marks. Turkish aircraft did not have radar recognition systems, and destroyers were indistinguishable from the same height from the Greek type, and no one began to check targets in the heat of the moment. The Turkish pilot, who was shot down a little earlier over Cyprus, who was trying to dissuade his colleagues from the earth from the ground by walkie-talkie, did not save the situation. They only laughed at him - “Greek speaks Turkish well” - and they carried the then pride of their own fleet with ottoman enthusiasm. Two destroyers were heavily damaged and barely reached the shore, and the Kojatepe, which had its first bomb demolished a fighting post (the main superstructure with which the ship is being controlled), could not resist (the others fired and even shot down one F-104 American production) and eventually went to the bottom with the captain and 78 sailors. The survivors were picked up by an Israeli boat. Turkish newspapers trumpeted for a couple of days about the triumphant “destruction of the Greek fleet,” until the Israelis brought the survivors from the Kojatepe to Haifa. After that, all references to the “naval battle of Paphos” disappeared forever from the pages of the Turkish press.
The landing on the island also suffered heavy losses, and only a numerical advantage then allowed the Turks to keep a bridgehead in 300 meters. They were able to go on the offensive only after the landing of the second echelon, but the losses (especially in armored vehicles) were still increasing. At some point, the Turks had a ten-fold advantage in tanks, and the Cypriots fought back with one captured Patton М48 (in service with the Turkish army such, we repeat, still stand) and three more ancient Thirty-Fours. The Greek artillery batteries, however, were destroyed by the Turks in the best traditions of the Ottoman Middle Ages — a sudden sneak attack after the proclamation of an armistice.
The Turkish command forever remembered this lesson, which, however, decided to interpret in its favor. From that moment on, Ankara followed the path of a quantitative increase in the size of the army, raising the prestige of military service, but not particularly investing in weapons. In some parts, rifles from the times of the First World War were seriously used, and this state of affairs did not change until the beginning of the 90s.
The main reformer of the Turkish army was a woman. A descendant of Georgians Lazov Tansu Penbe Chiller accepted Islamism took the post of Prime Minister in 1993, in 1996 – 1997 she was Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister at the same time, but she was removed by the revived army during the coup, not having time to take the position of head of government again.
Chiller fought the war against the Kurds and the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia with all the methods available to her, including the place of terror and military operations. At first, she gave preference to terror, openly encouraging the activities of the Gray Wolves and other extreme right and creating a system of cooperation between the authorities and the so-called Depth State - a network of politicized organized crime and secret neofascist organizations. The terror unleashed by the “Deep State” was accompanied by massacres of opponents of the government, Kurds, Armenians, and Iranian smugglers. The whole system came to light by accident - in the city of Susurluk a car crashed into the tractor, in which the leader of the Gray Wolves, Abdulla Chatla, his girlfriend Goncha Us drove (she’s the “beauty queen” and the hit woman of the Turkish mafia ”), deputy police chief of Istanbul Hussein Kodjada and the head of the pro-Turkish Kurdish militia, Sejat Budjak. Thus, all layers of the activity of the Gray Wolves began to open up, which drew a lot of conspiracy theories, one more terrible and exciting. And, most interestingly, most of them turned out to be true, including the participation of Chatly in drug trafficking, the attempted assassination of the Pope of Rome, and the “Bahchelius Evler slaughter” - the massacre of left-wing students.
But Ms. Chiller was not disappointed with the terrorists. She sympathized with the brutal gangsters with romantic biographies, at the funeral of which delivered a heartfelt speech. Moreover, it did not prevent her from achieving the signing of a protocol on integration with the EU (there are more questions to Europe, since open praise of gangsters and terrorists did not fit well even with Europeans ’old ideas about beauty, not to mention modern ideas). And in parallel, to start a massive rearmament of a backward, but very large Turkish army, periodically testing the new "mobile" tactics of warfare in difficult terrain on the Kurds.
It was under Chiller that the relatively modern German Leopard tanks appeared in the Turkish army - the fruit of cooperation with the European Union. But so far Leopards are a minority, and there are only two full-fledged mechanized brigades in the staffing table (one of them, 28, in Ankara), and the tank brigades are not fully staffed, if we forget about the 14 brigade in Cyprus. At the same time, attempts began to create a military program not only for rearmament, but also for the formation of its own military-industrial complex. It came to practical results only under Erdogan, who, however, was unable to concentrate on one thing and sprayed resources and means of almost all types and types of troops. As usually happens in such cases, nothing good happened. The Milli Gem program (“People’s Ship”) degenerated into the construction of two 511 project corners “Heybeliada” and “Buyukada” (2011 and 2013 respectively, although Heybeldiad was planned to be launched back in 2008). All the power of the Turkish shipyards was thrown at the modernization of old American frigates such as "Oliver H. Perry" and submarines to the level of 4 +.
It is considered that Turkey has almost total superiority on the Black Sea due to the large number of its grouping and 13 submarines of different degrees of preservation. In reality, the Turkish fleet is generally not intended to conduct any active operations on the Black Sea, but is completely sharpened under the protection of the straits and operations in the Aegean Sea against Greece. The experience of the Cyprus war convinced Ankara that the outcome of the confrontation with the Greeks will depend on who quickly transfers reserves. As a result, Turkey has been building up the physical strength of ships for decades, in order to destroy the Greek troops at sea at a critical moment. Under the same operation, an underwater connection was formed so impressive by the standards of two pools - the Black and Aegean Seas. In the military concept itself, finally written at the beginning of the zero years, it is indicated that the entire armada should be used to attack the forces of the naval landing of the enemy almost at the stage of its loading and going out to sea. Under the same task, special forces and marines were formed in Izmir.
The Greeks responded in a different way. They began to build up not a sea invasion, but an air force. In general, the arms race between the two countries resembles a war through the looking glass. The Greek army, for example, practically copies the Turkish in character and form of organization, even the composition of armored forces is identical (all the same "Vietnamese veterans" in the mass and some "Leopards"), and although recently the Greeks have been inclined to partially retool on the basis of Russian armored vehicles, they interfere with the notorious standards of NATO. In turn, Turkey willingly buys Russian armored personnel carriers, but they are used only in the gendarmerie - there is no need to follow the NATO schedule.
When Athens decided to change over to the tactics of airborne assault and air suppression of the enemy, Ankara suddenly realized that it had practically no modern air defense. Now the air defense is the weakest link in the Turkish army, if we talk only about technological equipment. Everything that really looks like modern equipment belongs to NATO structures and is also subordinate to them, including the radar station on Mount Charshak. The Turks began to hastily copy overseas developments, primarily cheap Chinese ones, but, again, ambitious plans to create an air defense system did not lead to a significant result.
The same applies to the aircraft itself. All Turkish Air Forces are various F-16 modifications, upgraded by local craftsmen and licensed at local factories. They are adjacent to even older copies, and plans to transfer to the newest American F-35 are still plans. By the way, this plane is too much praised, there are many claims to it in the USA themselves, and all the stories about its total superiority over the rest of the world are based on pure PR. It may work against Greece, Syria and Iran, but now there is no longer against Armenia with its Russian “air umbrella”.
In general, since 2003, all the widely announced plans to re-equip the army “according to Erdogan” have resulted either in strange spending or in pure public relations. A classic example is the notorious Altai tank, suspiciously reminiscent of the South Korean counterpart and hardly able to withstand the Russian models (not even Armata), as well as modern anti-tank weapons.
One of the main problems of the Turkish army remains the "lack of play" of the armed forces, since it has not been involved in conflicts since 1974, which would require coordination of ground forces and rocket artillery. Only now we are talking about equipping some kind of RZSO batteries, but no one has yet taught the Turkish officers to coordinate their work with large artillery units. And no one will teach, because in the notorious "NATO standards" this form of fire support is also not provided, as it is recognized as "obsolete."
And after the war around Turkey are very different from the exciting pursuit of the volatile Kurdish troops in the mountains. The same Syrian army has successfully learned to use Russian missile systems and to support the ground forces, and as an independent fire unit capable of destroying in a few minutes the whole battalions of enemy.
SAU units of caliber above 100 millimeters in the Turkish army are not as phenomena, they are only going to form in the course of the reform, but it is not clear from what. The available cannon field artillery and RZSO is the last century. There is not even a modern self-propelled mortar, and regular anti-tank companies of brigades (one per brigade) again, only now it is planned to supply obsolete American TOW-2 on the basis of the BTR. About this kind of troops, like medium-range missiles, can only dream of.
Again: all this machine, according to military doctrine, must keep fighting on several fronts and mobile move in space with difficult terrain. Last particularly touching because so far not established the technical company and only plan to establish its own production of self-propelled ferry, bridge machine.
All this, of course, is not a reason to write off the sixth-largest army from the accounts, especially since the neighbors are doing no better, and only the Iran can compete with the mobilization potential and fighting spirit. In addition, the political leadership of Turkey tends to spit on international obligations even within NATO and change the rules of the game within the bloc at its discretion. By and large, Ankara has no coordination plans with the alliance with the participation of its military in any local conflict on its own initiative. And in this situation the Turkish army is going to take a number and pressure. At the local level, this can work.