Turkey’s paid military service bill will be ready next week

A long-awaited bill to exempt conscripts from military service in return for payment will be completed by next week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced yesterday.

The government is said to be planning to include men aged over 25 in the paid military law, while the General Staff reportedly favors an older age. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ
The government is said to be planning to include men aged over 25 in the paid military law, while the General Staff reportedly favors an older age. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

“We are about to conclude work [on the draft]. I believe we will finish it if not this then next week. We will move immediately and hopefully pass it through Parliament,” Erdoğan said.

The prime minister made the announcement shortly before he met with Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel for talks that focused on the details of the arrangement.

The government and military were reportedly at odds on the eligibility criteria for the beneficiaries of the bill. The government was said to be planning to include men aged over 25, while the General Staff was reportedly in favor of exempting only university graduates aged over 35 so that fewer conscripts could benefit.

The government is yet to disclose the amount of the payment that will be required and how the generated funds will be used.

In a related development yesterday, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said a planned legal arrangement to address the plight of conscientious objectors would not amount to abolishing the compulsory draft and a jail sentence for refusing the compulsory draft would stay on the books.

The minister had announced the previous day that work was under way on a legal amendment to address a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that condemned Turkey in 2006 over repeated prison terms given to anti-war activist Osman Murat Ülke, who refused to do his military service. The Council of Europe has urged Ankara to enact prompt measures to resolve the problem by December.

The ECHR “has not contested the fact that a jail sentence exists in Turkey for the refusal of compulsory military service. They have contested the fact that the punishment was given over and over again,” Ergin said yesterday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News

Super Cobra helicopter sale to Turkey cleared in US Congress

Congressional approval process for the sale of three AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters to Turkey has completed by Monday. 

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

The Obama administration formally notified the US Congress on Oct. 28 of an unusual proposal to take three AH-1W “Super Cobra” attack helicopters from the US Marine Corps inventory and sell them to Turkey.

According to US laws, the administration needs to notify the Congress over the sale of arms to other countries and seek its authorization. If an arms sale is to a NATO member country, the Congress has 15 days to reject or the sale will be automatically authorized.

Turkey has a long-standing request for Super Cobras helicopters. It has a shortage of these helicopters, required in its ongoing fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists, who have increased their violent attacks.

The Congressional approval process of the sale of the $111-million helicopters to Turkey completed as no motion that would block the sale was brought up to the agenda of the Congress.

The attack helicopters are believed to be delivered in couple months after technical screening.



15 November 2011, Tuesday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,

Gov’t expects $1.5 bln from military service exemption

Turkey is likely to earn some $1.5 billion when it allows approximately 100,000 male citizens to take advantage of a military service exemption scheme it plans to introduce by the new year, Ministry of Finance sources told Today’s Zaman. 

University graduates serve either for six months as a private or a year as a second lieutenant and those who do not have a four-year bachelor's degree are obliged to fulfill 15 months of military service in Turkey. (Photo: AA)
University graduates serve either for six months as a private or a year as a second lieutenant and those who do not have a four-year bachelor's degree are obliged to fulfill 15 months of military service in Turkey. (Photo: AA)

Speaking on condition of anonymity, ministry officials said the government is planning to charge each applicant $15,000 in lieu of performing compulsory military service, although the exact fee has yet to be decided. It is also unknown how much of the revenue government will earn from the planned scheme will be included in the central administration’s budget and how much of it will be directly transferred to other government bodies as part of what is called the “special fund” in Turkey.

The Turkish economy produced a budget surplus – albeit small — in the first nine months of this year, and the difference between the central government’s revenue and expenditures is expected to be equal to 1.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of this year, according to the government’s Medium-term Economic Program (OVP). The same program also foresees that Turkey’s budget deficit will decline to 1.5, 1.4 and 1 percent in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively. The calculation of the expected $1.5 billion in extra revenue is based on the assumption that the age limit for the planned military service exemption will be 35, the same officials said, adding that if that age limit is lowered to, say, 30 or even 25, as some observers are expecting, it goes without saying that the government’s revenue will increase substantially.

Compulsory military service has been a much-debated issue in Turkey, which has been fighting terrorism for decades. Military service is compulsory for all healthy men in Turkey, and the length of service depends on one’s level of education as well as the military’s needs. Currently, university graduates with a four-year degree serve either for six months as a private or a year as a second lieutenant, depending on what is needed, those who do not have a four-year bachelor’s degree are obliged to fulfill 15 months of military service.

Another contribution to the country’s economy of such a scheme will be on the reduction of military spending as there is a considerable cost involved in maintaining a soldier in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) on the part of the government. According to information one ministry official provided to Today’s Zaman, the monthly cost of a private — including food, uniforms, healthcare and heating expenses — to the government is TL 500. The cost of a second lieutenant, however, is over TL 2,000 per month to the government because they are also paid a monthly salary as opposed to privates, who are not paid a salary.

It is expected that of the TL 17 billion in the TSK’s budget this year TL 12 billion will be spent for non-defense purposes such as salaries and social security premiums as well as transportation, fuel, food and accommodation.

Turkey introduced the military service exemption option three times in the past. Whereas there were 18,433 applicants the first time it was put in place in 1987, 35,111 and 72,290 people took advantage of the offered schemes in 1992 and 1999, respectively. After the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power in 2002 the idea of introducing another military service exemption was shelved for six years; however, it was raised again to bring in extra revenue at the end of 2008 because of the difficulties created by the global financial crisis triggered by the US credit crunch.





13 November 2011, Sunday / ERCAN BAYSAL, ANKARA

US Congress approves gunship sale to Turkey

U.S. Congress formally approved the sale to the Turkish Army of three U.S.-made AH-1W attack helicopters from the U.S. Marine Corps inventory.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the Pentagon’s arms-selling body, on Oct. 28 notified Congress of its intention to sell three AH-1W Super Cobra gunships, made by the U.S. Bell Helicopter Textron, to Turkey, whose Army uses these gunships effectively against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a violent campaign in the country’s southeast.

In the event of no opposition from the Senate, Congress’ upper chamber, arms sales to NATO partners become automatic in 15 days. The deadline was Nov. 12 for the Super Cobra deal and it passed without a Senate veto.

Before notifying Congress officially, the DSCA makes informal pre-consultations in the Senate to see if any senators plan to veto an arms deal. It notifies Congress of a planned sale only after it becomes almost certain that the deal will face no obstacles.

Some members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congress’ lower chamber, have voiced opposition to the Turkish deal, but representatives do not have the veto power of senators.

The deal is worth $111 million and three helicopters are expected to be sent to Turkey in the next few months and be ready for combat before the summer, when the PKK usually launches its attacks.

Turkey had acquired 10 such helicopters in the 1990s, but only six remain operational.

In recent years Ankara has been asking Washington to transfer more AH-1Ws, but the United States rejected earlier Turkish requests, saying its Marine Corps was using all 170 AH-1Ws in the Afghanistan war.

But this time a positive U.S. response was prompted by Ankara’s decision last month to host an X-band radar on its soil as part of a planned NATO shield system to counter potential ballistic missile attacks from rogue states. The U.S. administration proposed the sale from its Marines’ present inventory.

Toward the end of next year, Italy’s AgustaWestland, which has a multibillion-dollar contract for joint production of 50 T-129 attack helicopters with Turkish Aerospace Industries, is expected to begin deliveries to the Turkish Army.

Sunday, November 13, 2011
Ümit Enginsoy
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News

Gunship offer hard to refuse for Seoul

Turkey’s TAI and Italy’s AgustaWestland have a good chance of winning a bid to jointly produce 30 helicopters for South Korea, an official tells the Daily News
This file photo shows an A-129 helicopter, manufactured by AgustaWestland. The Italian company and Turkey’s TAI offers the T-129, a version developed for the Turkish military, to South Korea. The T-129 has been shortlisted by the Asian party. Hürriyet photo
This file photo shows an A-129 helicopter, manufactured by AgustaWestland. The Italian company and Turkey’s TAI offers the T-129, a version developed for the Turkish military, to South Korea. The T-129 has been shortlisted by the Asian party. Hürriyet photo

A team of Turkish and Italian companies is seeking to win a South Korean contract for 30 attack helicopters worth $1 billion with the group’s T-129 gunship, a senior Turkish procurement official said Nov. 2.

“South Korea’s competition is a major one for at least 30 gunships and the T-129 has been shortlisted among a very small number of candidates. It has very good chances to become the winner,” said an Ankara-based defense analyst.

The partnership is between Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and Italy’s AgustaWestland, which presently is co-producing 59 T-129s, a Turkish version of the Italian company’s A-129 Mangusta International, for the Turkish Army.

A senior TAI team went to Seoul last month to discuss a possible deal for the attack helicopters, the procurement official said.

AgustaWestland won a Turkish contract in 2008 worth billions of dollars to jointly build with TAI 50 T-129s for the Turkish Army.

Following intensified attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) against Turkish targets in the summer of 2010, Ankara signed another contract with AgustaWestland for the production of nine additional T-129s for the Army. Those nine attack helicopters are planned to be delivered to Turkey by the end of next year.

Turkey and Italy said the T-129 would be exported to allied and friendly countries. South Korea is the first known third country interested in buying this chopper.

Separately, the arms-selling body of the Pentagon on Oct. 28 notified the U.S. Congress that it intends to sell three AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters to Turkey, whose Army uses these gunships effectively against the PKK. These choppers are due to arrive from the inventory of the U.S. Marine Corps. If no congressional opposition comes by Nov. 13, the sale will automatically be approved.

Turkey earlier this year signed a multibillion-dollar contract with the U.S. Sikorsky Aircraft for joint production with TAI of more than 100 T-70 military and civilian utility helicopters, a Turkish version of the U.S. company’s S-70i Black Hawk International.

TAI also plans to produce a light utility helicopter, weighing less than 5,500 kgs, with an international partner to be selected next year.

Turkey also signed a $400 million contract with the U.S. Boeing to buy six CH-47 heavy lift helicopters, the first in the inventory.

Turkey and South Korea are major political allies since Korean War in the early 1950s and have boosted defense cooperation over the past 10 years. Turkey is manufacturing howitzers under South Korean license.

They also are jointly building a basic trainer aircraft for the Turkish Air Force. A South Korean company is providing Turkey with technology transfer and know-how for the manufacture of Turkey’s first national battle tank. TAI and South Korea are discussing possible cooperation for the construction of a joint fighter aircraft in the 2020s.

But a team from Turkey’s procurement office and the German HDW shipyards are competing with South Korea’s Daewoo to win a $1 billion Indonesian contract for at least 2 Class-209 submarines.

Friday, November 4, 2011
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News

Minister: Hunt for PKK in Kazan Valley is over

Turkish military ends its major operation against the militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party in the Kazan valley on the Iraqi border. ‘The operation in Kazan, launched following the Çukurca attack, has come to an end. But our routine struggle against terrorism is continuing,’ says Defense Minister Yılmaz.
The Turkish Army launched operations in eight different spots, including the Kazan Valley, after a deadly PKK attack on Oct 19.
The Turkish Army launched operations in eight different spots, including the Kazan Valley, after a deadly PKK attack on Oct 19.

The Turkish military has wrapped up a cross-border operation in northern Iraq to hunt down outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz said yesterday.

“The operation in the Kazan Valley [in northern Iraq], launched following the Çukurca attack, has come to an end. But our routine struggle against terrorism is continuing,” Yılmaz told reporters.

Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, who rushed to the border district of Çukurca after the PKK killed 24 soldiers in eight simultaneous attacks on Oct. 19, has returned to Ankara, Yılmaz added.

Meanwhile, an ANKA drone, the large locally developed unmanned surveillance aircraft which has been haunted by technical hitches, will become operational in the second half of 2012, the minister said.

Yılmaz spoke shortly before the National Security Council (MGK) met to discuss measures to curb escalating violence in the southeast under President Abdullah Gül’s chairmanship.

A total of about 10,000 elite troops were involved in a massive offensive launched in the wake of the Çukurca attacks. The military has said the offensive included cross-border operations at locations across the border.

In a related development, a U.S delegation, led by Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow, held talks in Ankara yesterday with officials from the foreign and defense ministries, as well as the military, to discuss measures against the PKK and the impact on regional security from the looming U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq.

Turkey’s main request from the United States is the deployment of a fleet of Predator drones to the İncirlik base in southern Anatolia, a continuation of their surveillance along the Iraqi-Turkish border to trace PKK militants and the relocation of some high-technology devices that Turkey could use against the militant group.

“The U.S. has announced it will pull its troops out of Iraq at the end of this year. We have so many legitimate questions and demands from them, like the reallocation of some of their military equipment,” a senior Turkish diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News on Oct. 26. “We will therefore discuss these issues to the greatest extent possible.”

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the U.S.

Thursday, October 27, 2011
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News

Domestic unmanned aerial vehicle to spot PKK in Turkey

The Anka UAVs are expected to be delivered to the TSK in 2012, which is earlier than originally scheduled.

The first national unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the Anka (Phoenix), is expected to enter service with the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) shortly in operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as part of its test program.

Following a Heron UAV crisis with Israel, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has stepped up its efforts to deliver the domestic UAV as soon as possible.

The Anka UAVs are expected to be delivered to the TSK in 2012, which is earlier than originally scheduled.

The Ankas have already carried out several successful test flights. The TSK will be using Anka UAVs in operations against the PKK in trying to localize PKK militants.

The UAVs are important in Turkey’s intensified fight against the PKK, which has stepped up its PKK attacks against Turkish security forces, civilians and businesses in southeastern Turkey.

Turkey’s existing Heron UAVs are deployed in the southeastern province of Batman; however, the five Herons that Turkey had purchased from Israel have engine-related problems. Two of them are not in service and three have been returned to Israel for maintenance. It is unclear when they will be returned.

The project for Turkish-made UAVs, launched in 2004, became a major priority for the Ministry of Defense following a diplomatic crisis with Israel after an Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, which resulted in the killing of nine Turkish activists. Officials from the ministry have stressed that the testing process is going well for the Anka UAVs.

The Anka UAV is able to fly for 24 hours at a time. Turkish engineers have said they are confident the Anka will become part of the country’s arsenal. Forty-three countries have now developed UAVs, which have proven to be extremely effective in gathering intelligence.

With a 56-foot wingspan, the ability to fly at a speed of 75 knots per hour and being capable of reaching an altitude of 30,000 feet (9,144 meters), the drone is expected to spy mostly on PKK militants who enter Turkey from bases in northern Iraq.


25 October 2011 Tuesday



Turkey’s army chief says up to 270 PKK terrorists killed

Turkey’s Chief of General Staff has said the number of terrorists killed by the Turkish military in a massive offensive launched against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) since August has reached about 270 with Turkish troops killing 15 more terrorists in the Kazan Valley region near the town of Çukurca in Hakkari province on Monday.

Turkish security forces killed total of 115 PKK terrorists in the past week in offensives carried out in Çukurca’s Kazan Valley region, which borders Iraq.
Turkish security forces killed total of 115 PKK terrorists in the past week in offensives carried out in Çukurca’s Kazan Valley region, which borders Iraq.

Soldiers earlier killed 100 terrorists in the same region in military operations that began hours after 24 soldiers were killed in Çukurca by the PKK in simultaneous attacks last Wednesday, marking the highest death toll of a single attack on the military since the 1990s. Sources say 15 more terrorists were killed in the Kazan Valley on Monday and that the military had seized 11 Kalashnikov rifles as well as a rocket launcher and several hand grenades.

Chief of General Staff Necdet Özel told NTV television in a written interview that Turkish military continues to intensively shell and bomb PKK targets in Iraq by fighter jets since Aug. 17 and up to 270 PKK terrorists were killed during the offensive and more than 210 terrorists injured.

Özel said huge infrastructure that belongs to the terrorists were largely destroyed and terrorists have started to take shelter in more safe areas. He said numbers of terrorists fleeing the PKK camps seriously increased after the air bombing on PKK targets.

Turkey’s top commanders, Özel, and four force commanders who rushed to Hakkari in the aftermath of Wednesday’s PKK attacks are still in the region to oversee the anti-PKK offensive and have no plans to return to Ankara until the offensive is successfully completed. Özel is personally commanding the air-backed ground offensive that was launched against the PKK along the border and in northern Iraq.

The military also said operations include commandos, Special Forces and paramilitary Special Forces. They are being reinforced by F-16 and F-4 warplanes, Super Cobra helicopter gunships and surveillance drones.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said over the weekend that the top commanders “pledged not to return home before accomplishing the anti-PKK operation.” Clashes with the PKK have killed tens of thousands of people since the PKK took up arms to fight for autonomy in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast in 1984.





Turkey moves into Iraq near PKK camp

Turkish tanks and armored vehicles crossed into northern Iraq headed in the direction of a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) camp, Turkish security sources said on Monday.

The incursion came as cross-border operations continued in the wake of last week’s attack by PKK terrorists that killed 24 Turkish soldiers.

The armored column, with hundreds of troops, was moving towards a PKK camp at Haftanin, around 20 km (12 miles) from the Habur border post and near the Iraqi city of Zakho, the sources said.

Several hundred PKK terrorists were believed to be based at Haftanin, the sources said. Warplanes took off earlier from bases in Diyarbakır and Malatya to launch airstrikes on the camp as the latest phase of operations began on Monday afternoon.

The remoteness of the camp’s location and the difficult terrain made it difficult to assess how close the Turkish force had moved toward Haftanin.

Residents of the village of Dashtatakh in Dahuk province, about 10 km east of Haftanin, reported that 200 Turkish soliders entered Iraqi territory on Monday afternoon but left about an hour later. Tanks could be seen in the distance but did not enter, according to one.

“I saw this afternoon around 200 Turkish soldiers entering a site near our village. They were on foot and equipped with light weapons,” said Dashtatakh resident Said Hanna Younan.

“It seems that they were looking for PKK fighters, and they didn’t find what they were looking for. They left after one hour,” he said, adding that the tanks had stayed on the Turkish side of the river.

Separately, the head of Turkey’s armed forces, General Necdet Özel, offered a review of recent military operations for NTV news channel.

“The cross border operation that started on October 20 continues in a number of regions, within the framework of a determined stuggle against terrorism,” Özel said in written answers to questions from NTV and posted on its website.

Turkish air strikes have killed 250 to 270 PKK terrorists, wounded 210 and destroyed many arms stores in northern Iraq since Aug. 17, Özel said in the text.

Turkish warplanes launched air strikes against PKK members in northern Iraq in mid-August in retaliation for a string of PKK attacks in southeast Turkey.

The military launched fresh air-backed ground operations against the terrorists last week on both sides of the mountainous Turkey-Iraq border after simultaneous PKK attacks killed 24 Turkish soldiers in Hakkari province on the Iraqi border.

On Saturday, the military said it had killed 49 terrorists during two days of fighting in a valley on the Turkish side of the frontier.

Ankara’s reaction to one of the deadliest attacks on its security forces in a conflict that began three decades ago had fuelled speculation that Turkey could move to a full-blown incursion to clear out PKK camps deeper inside northern Iraq.

More than 40,000 people have been killed since the conflict began in 1984. The United States, the European Union and Turkey designate the PKK as a terrorist organisation.






24 October 2011, Monday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM WITH REUTERS,

Three Turkish soldiers dead, six injured in clash with PKK, blast

Three Turkish soldiers were killed while six others injured in clashes with terrorists from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and a land mine blast in Turkey’s southeastern province of Hakkari bordering Iraq.

Hakkari Governor Muammer Türker told the state-run Anatolia news agency that one Turkish soldier was killed in clashes with the PKK members in Kazan valley in Hakkari’s Çukurca district and six other soldiers injured.

He said two soldiers were also killed when Turkish soldiers were passing by a hand-made land mine in Tekeli neighborhood of Şemdinli district.

Türker said military operations in the region continue.



23 October 2011, Sunday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM ,