Turkish plans to restructure its armed forces are aimed at eliminating any chances of another coup attempt. The changes brought about by the military overhaul will be in line with the structure and spirit of the NATO alliance, Turkey’s defense minister said on Friday.
President Tayyip Erdogan had issued two decrees dismissing around 3,000 members of NATO’s second-biggest armed forces since a July 15 abortive coup attempt, including more than 40 percent of generals. He has shut down military high schools and brought force commanders under tighter government control.
The failed coup, in which rogue soldiers commandeered fighter jets, tanks and helicopters in their bid to seize power, killed more than 230 people and raised concern about Turkey’s ability to protect itself against the threat from ISIS in neighboring Syria and a Kurdish insurgency in its southeast.
“The restructuring aims to abolish the mechanism that has staged six small and large coups in the last 60 years. The steps we are carrying out … perfectly suit NATO’s structure and spirit,” Defense Minister Fikri Isik told Reuters.
As part of the reconstruction, commanders of the air, land and naval forces will report directly to Isik himself.
“The steps have three basic principles. The first is compliance with democracy. Second, they are the product of global experience. Lastly, the steps ensure nobody will attempt a coup in Turkey again,” Isik said in an interview in Ankara.
He said 288 soldiers, including 9 generals, were still at large after the failed coup. He rejected concerns that the events had weakened Turkey’s fight against ISIS or against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants.
Members of the U.S.-led coalition were continuing to strike ISIS targets in Syria from the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, he said, after the base was used by rogue soldiers during the failed coup.
He also said Turkey aimed to boost the role of private companies and small business in its defense industry and it restructures the security sector.