Ankara – Heads of three Turkish military branches were replaced by other top members of the military, during a meeting of the Supreme Military Council in Ankara chaired by Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
Under the latest changes, commander of the Turkish land forces Salih Zeki Colak, was replaced by Yasar Guler. Naval commander Bulent Bostanoglu was replaced by vice-admiral Adnan Ozbal. Air Force commander Abidin Unal was replaced by former commander of Turkish Warfare Air Force Hasan Kucukakyuz.
The decisions were ratified by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after meeting members of the council. He then hosted a dinner for the officials at the presidential complex in Ankara.
The Ministry of Defense issued a statement following the Supreme Military Council meeting, stating that the term of office of eight generals has been extended one year and 61 colonels were promoted to brigadier generals and rear admirals. The term of office of 168 colonels was extended for two years.
The Supreme Military Council usually meets only once a year in August to discuss appointments and retirements of high-ranking staff officers and generals, as well as the removal of military personnel, but this is the third meeting since the failed coup.
Since the coup, the government upped the civilian component of the council, giving more place to government ministers than military figures. Previously, the president, prime minister and defense minister were the only civilian representatives in the council.
Usually, such meetings were held in secrecy at military headquarters, but are now hosted by the premier.
Along with Yildirim and Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and other senior army commanders were present.
Commenting on the security situation, Yildirim said that Turkey is currently fighting three terror groups: the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Fethullahist Terrorist Organization and ISIS.
“Last year we decided in the beginning of August to lead the struggle and to work in full coordination with the Turkish Armed Forces and other security units. The struggle against the PKK has reached significant levels,” the PM said.
He added that the government had accelerated measures against the infiltration of terrorists from the country’s southern border as a result of the integrated border security program.
He did however state that the southern region is the main source of the security problem in the country. He also pointed out the importance of fighting the Fethullah movement and its US-based exiled leader Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of organizing a failed coup in July 2016, a claim he denies.