World

June 11, 2012

Cracks show in Turkey’s once dominant military

by Selcan Hacaoglu
Associated Press

These are unsettled times for the Turkish military, once the nation’s arbiter. The civilian government gutted its political power, hundreds of retired and active-duty officers are in jail on coup plot charges – and now military dissenters are lobbying on Facebook and Twitter for better pay and benefits.

The campaign on social media provides a rare glimpse of dissatisfaction within the armed forces of NATO’s biggest Muslim member, which battles Kurdish rebels and has troops in Afghanistan. Turkey has talked about setting up a buffer zone along the border with violence-torn Syria if border security deteriorates, and the military would be key.

Yet the concerns of hundreds of former and current noncommissioned officers, or NCOs, are closer to home. They want better compensation and an end to alleged discrimination by their superiors. It is the first such public protest since a group of noncommissioned officers marched with their spouses in the 1970s.

“NCOs who say enough is enough,” is their slogan on Facebook, where the group has 219,000 followers. Some 17,000 follow their Twitter campaign. Several people in the group declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press, citing military rules in a sign that they are not prepared to break ranks entirely.

In a separate Facebook campaign, another group of soldiers made similar demands, saying they “want to become humans.”

The military was already shaken by arrests of dozens of generals on charges of plotting to topple a government that they allegedly deemed to have an Islamist agenda. Dozens more active-duty and retired generals have been jailed in a separate case over their alleged role in the 1990s ousting of an Islamist prime minister. A botched airstrike in December, aimed at Kurdish rebels, instead killed 34 civilians and further besmirched the military’s reputation.

The noncommissioned officers are apparently emboldened by a visible “meltdown in the military’s chain of command,” said Nihat Ali Ozcan, a political analyst at the Economic Research Foundation of Turkey in Ankara.

“The rising voice of noncommissioned officers is proof that age-old values of absolute obedience are becoming eroded,” he said recently.

Noncommissioned officers rise through enlisted ranks and handle daily routines, including conscript training and the maintenance of weapons systems. Their highest-ranking is below a reserve officer, a civilian on obligatory military service. There are nearly 95,000 noncommissioned officers in Turkey’s 718,000-strong military.

The government responded to the campaign on social media by passing a law in Parliament last month that improves the salary scale for noncommissioned officers and shortens their obligatory service time within the military from 15 years to 10 years.

Ahmet Keser, president of Turkey’s Retired Noncommissioned Officers’ Association, said the amendment was “purely symbolic” because the salaries would only rise by a small amount. He said he was aware of a proposal by the military to increase noncommissioned officer salaries by 13 percent, but claimed that also falls short of needs.

“We feel betrayed,” Keser said. The servicemen grouped on Facebook and Twitter because they sought an end to discrimination and were not able to “raise their voices” through the chain of command, he said.

The military, which has no Facebook page or Twitter feed, has denied allegations of discrimination against the noncommissioned officers in a statement. It accused some NCOs of trying “to provoke active-duty personnel,” and assured that steps to improve their salaries and working conditions were on the way.

Apart from low pay, complaints include refusal to appoint noncommissioned officers who graduated from law schools as military prosecutors or judges, exclusion from military guesthouses as well as lodging in separate wards from regular officers.

“We want an end to discrimination against us,” Keser said June 6. “We’ve been alienated for years. We want justice.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines September 2, 2014

News: Debris yields clues that pilot never ejected - When investigators were finally able to safely enter the crash site of an F-15C “Eagle” fighter jet on the afternoon of Aug. 27, they made a grim discovery that concluded more than 30 hours of searching – the pilot never managed to eject from the aircraft.  ...
 
 

News Briefs September 2, 2014

Pentagon: Iraq operations cost $560 million so far U.S. military operations in Iraq, including airstrikes and surveillance flights, have cost about $560 million since mid-June, the Pentagon said Aug. 29. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the average daily cost has been $7.5 million. He said it began at a much lower...
 
 

Unmanned aircraft partnership reaches major milestone

A team of research students and staff from Warsaw University of Technology have successfully demonstrated the first phase of flight test and integration of unmanned aircraft platforms with an autonomous mission control system. The demonstration marks a significant milestone in a partnership between the university and Lockheed Martin that began earlier this year. This is...
 

 

Raytheon delivers first Block 2 Rolling Airframe Missiles to US Navy

Raytheon delivered the first Block 2 variant of its Rolling Airframe Missile system to the U.S. Navy as part of the company’s 2012 Low Rate Initial Production contract. RAM Block 2 is a significant performance upgrade featuring enhanced kinematics, an evolved radio frequency receiver, and an improved control system. “As today’s threats continue to evolve,...
 
 
Courtesy photograph

Two Vietnam War Soldiers, one from Civil War to receive Medal of Honor

U.S. Army graphic Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins and former Spc. 4 Donald P. Sloat will receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Vietnam. The White House announced Aug. 26 that Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. A...
 
 

Sparks fly as NASA pushes limits of 3-D printing technology

NASA has successfully tested the most complex rocket engine parts ever designed by the agency and printed with additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, on a test stand at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. NASA engineers pushed the limits of technology by designing a rocket engine injector – a highly complex part that...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>