Turkey Military

Turkey is a country located in the Middle East and is known for its strong military and defense. The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) is the military branch of the country and consists of four branches: Army, Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard. The total active personnel stands at around 410,000 with an additional reserve force of around 200,000 personnel. Turkey has a higher defense budget compared to its GDP as it spends about 4.2% of its GDP on defense. The country also imports weapons from countries such as the United States, Germany, China, and France. Turkey also has strong ties with other countries in the region such as Israel which allows them to cooperate militarily when needed. As a result of this strong military presence in the region Turkey has become an important regional player in security issues and is able to maintain peace and stability within the Middle East effectively. See naturegnosis to learn more about the country of Turkey.


The defense is based on NATO membership. After the fall of the Wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, Turkey has undertaken a comprehensive reorganization aimed, in part, to bring all the forces into NATO’s new structure and to deal with the strategic problems in Turkey and its vicinity. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that TUR stands for Turkey.

Turkey Army

The defense has a general military duty with an initial service of 18 months and (2006) comprises 515,000 men. The army comprises 402,000 men, 660,000 fully staffed, and is transformed into a brigade structure with, among other things, 32 mechanized brigades with modern tanks (Leopard I). The navy comprises about 48,000 men, 103,000 fully manned, and disposes of 11 submarines, 24 larger and 55 smaller battleships, 8 landing craft, 1 naval infantry regiment and 15 armed helicopters. The Air Force comprises 29,000 men, 125,000 fully manned, with 445 fighter aircraft, of which 225 are US F-16s and 135 F-4s. The equipment is modern. The armed opposition, including PKK, disposes of 4,000-5,000 men. Armistice has existed since 2004. Since 1974, Turkey has 36,000 people stationed in Cyprus. Defense spending nationally in 1985-2006 fell from 4.5 to 3% of GDP.

The United States has aviation associations and marine support resources based in Turkey, which since 1996 also lends air bases to Israel for training. Turkey participates in the UN peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan (ISAF), Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR), Georgia, Montenegro, Serbia (KFOR) and Sudan.

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Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952. The country has been conscripted with first-time service for 12 months. The total number of armed forces of Turkey is 355,200 active personnel, with a reserve of 378,700 personnel (2018, IISS). The semi-military gendarmerie has a strength of 152 100 personnel.

The United States has aircraft, drones, radar and personnel stationed in the country. In 2013, the US, the Netherlands and Germany deployed Patriot batteries in Turkey in 2013 (Active Fence) due to the war in Syria, in 2018 Italy and Spain had air defense batteries in Turkey. Saudi Arabia had six fighter aircraft deployed in Turkey (Inherent Resolve) in 2018.

In 2018, Turkey had a strength of about 33,800 personnel in Cyprus.


The army has a personnel force of about 260,200 active personnel, including conscripts. Heavy materials include 2379 tanks (316 Leopard 2, 397 Leopard 1, 916 M60 and 750 M48), 645 storm tanks and 4336 armored personnel vehicles. In addition, the Army has 330 helicopters, of which 77 combat helicopters (39 Cobra and 38 T129), five reconnaissance aircraft, 57 light aircraft and lightweight, medium and heavy drones.

Air Force

The Air Force has a personnel force of about 50,000 active personnel. Materials include 27 fighters of a F-5 FreedomFighter, 281 combat aircraft (20 F-4 Phantom II, 260 F-16 and one F-35 Lightning II), five reconnaissance aircraft, seven tanker of a KC-135 Stratotanker, 88 transport aircraft, 49 light aircraft, 168 training aircraft, 35 helicopters and 29 medium and heavy drones.

The Navy

The Navy has a combined personnel force of about 45,000 active personnel, including conscripts (including 3,000 Marines). The fleet includes 12 tactical submarines, 19 frigates, six corvettes, 46 patrol vessels, 15 minesweepers, 30 landings and 35 logistics and auxiliary vessels. The Navy also has six patrol aircraft, seven light aircraft and 29 helicopters.


The Coast Guard has a force of 4700 personnel, 104 patrol boats, three martime patrol aircraft and eight helicopters.

International operations

In 2018, Turkey participated in NATO operations in Afghanistan (Operation Resolute Support) with 506 personnel, in the Mediterranean with a frigate (SNMG2), in the Black Sea with a mine sweeper (SNMCMG2) and in Kosovo (KFOR) with 291 personnel.

In addition, Turkey participated in the UN operation in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with 86 personnel, and in the EU operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR) with 249 personnel.

Turkey has forces in Iraq (2000 personnel) and in Syria (about 5000 personnel). At the beginning of June 2016, the German parliament, by overwhelming majority, approved the genocide of the Ottoman Empire at 2 million. Armenians in 2015-16 were indeed a genocide. The decision triggered a diplomatic crisis between the two countries and Turkey withdrew its ambassador. At the same time, Turkey announced that German politicians were no longer welcome in Turkey. They had routinely visited German soldiers posted to NATO on rocket bases in Turkey. In response, Germany declared it would withdraw its Patriot missiles and the soldiers serving them home from the bases in Turkey.

Military coup attempt? Islamist AKP coup!

This spring, the AKP government announced further purges within the officer corps in August. In one last desperate attempt to avoid purges, a minor part of the military tried in July to carry out military coups, but the coup attempt was amateurish. The military took control of the state TV station, Istanbul airport and the Bosphorus bridge, but failed to take control of the digital communication. The dictator Erdogan could therefore, via Twitter, urge his followers to walk on the streets to prevent the coup. Right from the start of the coup, the prime minister and dictator placed responsibility for the coup on the fugitive Fethullah Gülen. However, a statement that contradicted the declared intentions of the coup makers to defend Turkey as a secular state. The statement in turn indicated, that the dictator intended to use the coup attempt to exterminate many more of his political opponents and tighten his power over the country. The purges were started already on the day the coup was struck. Over 2,800 officers were arrested and all of the country’s 2,700 judges were fired, while arrest warrants were issued for 180 staff and high court judges. (Turkey was already undergoing a slow-motion coup – by Erdoğan, not the army, Guardian 16/7 2016; Aftermath of Turkey coup attempt will be bloody and repressive, Guardian 16/7 2016).

Erdogan then demanded Fethullah Gülen extradited from the US where he was in exile, and to emphasize the claim, Turkey immediately terminated the US right to use the Incirlik airbase in southeastern Turkey. The base played the key role in the US’s attack on IS in Iraq and Syria, causing these attacks to stop. The United States did not have any aircraft carriers in the area that could be used for IS attacks, and Erdogan’s Islamic State also allowed the military and economically needed IS a much needed respite.

The post-coup assessment was that Erdogan would study the polls to conduct parliamentary elections when and if the Kurdish HDP got below 10% of the vote, thus securing power in parliament to arbitrarily change the constitution. He had already removed their parliamentary immunity in order to bring them to trial.

Erdogan’s Islamist coup continued in the days after the military coup attempt had fallen apart. After 5 days, the number of arrested officers was up to 7,000. There were far more people than had participated in the coup attempt and the impression that Erdogan was conducting the final settlement with the military. Five days after the military coup attempt, the president began to focus his Islamist coup on public servants. Initially, 24,000 public servants were fired. The Ministry of Education fired 15,200 teachers, the Interior Ministry fired 8,777 and the Council of Higher Education fired 1,577 university teachers. Not even the prime minister’s office passed by. Here 257 employees were fired. At the same time, the AKP’s thugs continued to house in the streets. The president urged them to stay on the streets in order to intimidate the opposition. (After Turkey’s failed coup, Erdoğan’s brutal clampdown, Guardian 18/7 2016; Turkey sacks 15,000 education workers in purge, Guardian 19/7 2016).

A few days into the Islamist coup, Erdogan put the country into a 3-month state of emergency and at the same time suspended the country’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights. The right to life, to freedom of expression, to work and to housing were thus put into effect. Parliament was run out on a sideline and Erdogan began to rule through decrees. At the same time, AKP gangs continued to ravage Turkey’s cities. And not just in Turkey. Erdogan also urged the AKP gangs to walk in the streets of European cities. In Vienna, the gangs attacked, among other things. Kurdish restaurants, which led to the Turkish ambassador being summoned to ski ball in the Austrian Foreign Ministry. Meanwhile, Erdogan continued purges within the military and public administration.

At the end of July, Erdogan ordered 1,043 private schools, 1,229 associations, 35 medical institutions, 19 unions and 15 universities closed. The closed associations and institutions got their property and funds confiscated by the Turkish state. He also ordered 42 journalists fired. The most prominent of these was Nazli Ilicak, who was fired for the first time in 2013 from the rich metro daily Sabah after he wrote about the ministers’ involvement in a corruption scandal. (Turkey’s president orders closure of 1,000 private schools linked to Gülen, Guardian 23/7 2016), (Turkey targets media in new crackdown after coup, Daily Star 25/7 2016).