The need to upgrade the force prevails over
austerity measures typical of other nations.
Turkey is pursuing a military modernization effort that runs unabated in the face of the global economic crisis. The NATO nation that sits astride Europe, Asia and the Middle East views internal and external threats as a greater danger than fiscal challenges, and it is continuing several programs that will introduce major new platforms built by Turkish industry.
Turkey’s annual national defense budget is about $15 billion. However, that is augmented by another $8 billion from the country’s Defense Industry Support Fund. Its military force, which is largely conscript, will shrink in numerical size but increase in professionalism and power through materiel upgrades.
Maj. Gen. Armağan Kuloğlu, TUA (Ret.), is a senior adviser to the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies in Ankara. An army veteran who also served as a deputy undersecretary in the Ministry of Defense, Gen. Kuloğlu explains that Turkey’s military mission is to be able to react to security problems and crises that may arise, particularly in the face of growing uncertainties. These include both internal and external security concerns, he points out.
External concerns are highlighted by Turkey’s strategic location. Its waterfront borders are the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Aegean Sea to the west and the Black Sea to the north. Its southern and southeastern land borders abut Syria, Iraq and Iran. Just last month, the violence afflicting Syria spilled over into Turkey as Syrian forces lobbed artillery shells into a Turkish village, killing several people and prompting retaliation from Turkey.