Defence Minister says Turkish military to recruit over 9,700 officers in 2018

The Turkish military will recruit more than 9,700 military officers in 2018 “to meet the urgent need”, Turkish Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Monday. Speaking at a news conference in capital Ankara, Canikli said 3,761 military officers and 5,992 non-commissioned officers were expected to be recruited in 2018.

Canikli has also claimed the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016  had devastated the military’s recruitment system. He has also claimed that the military’s exams for officers held under the Gülen movement’s supervision had enabled it to infiltrate the army before the coup bid.

Following the coup, the Turkish government established the National Defense University on July 31, 2016, to place the military’s undergraduate and graduate studies under one institution and all military high schools were shut down. In the redesigned format, only the university can accept applications from those who want to be part of the army at any level.

“Last year, more than 230,000 young people applied to enter our military schools. This is a record number,” said Canikli. He added that schools today were giving training to about 6,900 young people, including to over 600 foreign guest students.

It was previously reported that Turkish government has put the plan into the practice to transform the Turkish Armed Forces ideologically by dismissing 8,565 personnel, including more than 150 generals, 4,630 officers, 2,167 non-commissioned officers, 1,210 specialized sergeants and contracted soldiers, and 411 civil servants; and hiring nearly 43,000 new personnel during 2018.

According to a report by state-run Anadolu news agency on January 2, 2018, Turkish Armed Forces will hire nearly 43,000 new personnel during 2018. According to information given an anonymous military source the new recruits will include 3,755 officers and 5,375 non-commissioned officers. The forces will also hire 13,213 specialized sergeants and 20,595 contracted rank and file. It was claimed that the Turkish National Defense Ministry continues to work to recruit qualified, educated, and nationally sensitive personnel.

The same source has also said that a total of 8,565 personnel, including 150 generals, 4,630 officers, 2,167 non-commissioned officers, 1,210 specialized sergeants and contracted soldiers, and 411 civil servants and workers, have been expelled from the Turkish military over their alleged links to the Gülen movement in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

To overcome the staff shortages after theses ideological expulsions, the ministry has already hired a total of 15,850 personnel, including 1,763 officers, 4,135 non-commissioned officers, 3,698 specialized sergeants, 6,162 contracted rank and file, and 92 civil servants.

The government has been at the center of criticism for turning the Turkish forces into a political Islamist military in line with the wishes of Islamist autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

In February 2017, former Defense Minister Fikri Işık said 30,000 new recruits would be enlisted in the Turkish military. A month later Işık declared that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government had dismissed a total of 22,920 military personnel (6,511 officers and 16,409 cadets) after the coup attempt although the Turkish military stated on July 27 that only 8,651 military members including cadets and conscripts took part in the failed coup.

The Cumhuriyet daily reported in March that the government planned to investigate 90,000 more military personnel over links to the Gülen movement.

“If it was a coup perpetrated by the Gülen movement and 22,920 military personnel were dismissed for their connections to the movement as Erdoğan and the government assert, why did only 8,651 military members participate in the coup?” is a question being asked by critics.

Some find the Turkish government’s efforts to Islamicize the Turkish army alarming and warn that NATO risks having a member army filled with extremists. In February Henri Barkey, director of the Middle East Program at the Washington-based Wilson Center, said that many generals purged by the Turkish government are pro-NATO and pro-American, saying this could create a shift in Turkey-NATO relations.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempton July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Interior Minister had announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, on December 13, 2017, The Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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