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 June 29, 2015

News: SpaceX Falcon 9 explodes moments after launch – A SpaceX rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station blew up June 28 shortly after liftoff.   Business: How serious a setback is SpaceX rocket explosion? – Elon Musk had never come face to face with that rule before — at least not in space travel —...
 
 

News Briefs June 29, 2015

Iraqi pilot in Arizona plane crash found dead Officials say the body of an Iraqi pilot who had been training in the United States and crashed in southern Arizona has been located. Iraq’s Defense Ministry said June 26 that search teams found the body of Brig. Gen. Rasid Mohammed Sadeeq at the crash site five...
 
 
Huntington Ingalls Industries photograph

PCU John Warner delivered to Navy

Huntington Ingalls Industries photograph A dolphin jumps in front of the Virginia-class attack submarine Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John Warner (SSN 785) as the boat conducts sea trials in the Atlantic Ocean. The U.S. Navy ac...
 

 
navair-helo

HX-21 completes first flight with developmental electronic warfare pod

On June 8, 2015, a UH-1Y from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 completed the first test flight with a developmental electronic warfare pod.  The pod would represent a new tactical capability for U.S. Marine Corps rotar...
 
 

Northrop, Navy celebrate legacy of EA-6B Prowler

Northrop Grumman photograph by Edgar Mills The U.S. Navy’s last operational EA-6B Prowler, designed and built by Northrop Grumman, lifts off from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. in a ceremonial fly-away June 27 from its long time operational base. The Navy is retiring the Prowler after nearly 45 years of service.   The U.S....
 
 
Air Force photograph by Capt. Tania Bryan

NORTHERN EDGE provides environment for testing new capabilities

Air Force photograph by Capt. Tania Bryan Aircraft from test and evaluation squadrons across the Air Force line up on the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson flightline. Northern Edge is Alaska’s premier joint training exercise d...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>