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Education and Training

The sole source of regular commissioned officers is the army academy at Harbiye, near Istanbul; the naval academy at Tuzla, on the Sea of Marmara near Istanbul; and the air force academy at Istanbul. Cadets who complete officer training receive commissions as second lieutenants or naval ensigns. The three services also operate five military high schools, from which half or more of the cadets are recruited. The selection process is highly selective, based on school grades, especially in the sciences, an oral interview in which appearance and demeanor are appraised, graded fitness tests, and a confidential investigation of the political background of the applicant and his or her family.

The military high schools have superior facilities, and classes are as little as one-third the size of those in civilian high schools. Scholastic performance is closely monitored. A summer camp is devoted to sports and military instruction.

The selection process for the military academies is even more rigorous than for the military high schools. Only about one in seven applicants is successful. A further weeding out occurs after an initial one-month adaptation course. The academies offer the opportunity of a free higher education under conditions of instruction that cannot be matched at civilian universities. Classroom and laboratory equipment is much superior, and sports facilities are unequaled elsewhere.

Candidates for the academies must be high-school graduates under twenty years of age and must have studied the sciences and a foreign language. Candidates must also score well in the regular university entrance examinations. An academy appointment is not offered until test scores are available. Applicants who score high enough for a place at a leading university often shift to a civilian career path. Each of the service academies must accept at least one cadet from each of Turkey's seventy-six provinces.

Founded on Prussian principles of military education, the service academies since the 1950s have been strongly influenced by the United States approach to officer training. The emphasis of the curriculum has been modified from time to time, often to ensure an acceptable ideological outlook among students. Since the late 1970s, the curriculum has been 56 percent military, including sports, and 44 percent academic. The political and economic areas have been strengthened and managerial training added. Foreign languages are stressed; some classes are taught in English. It is estimated that 20 percent of the curriculum is devoted, directly or indirectly, to study of the principles and reforms of Atatürk. Much attention is given to appearance, social polish, and a proper public deportment. Available books and periodicals have an orthodox outlook; left-wing and religious publications are forbidden. To limit exposure of cadets to political theories inconsistent with the Atatürk model, the academies permit conservative guest lecturers only. Many cadets are expelled for ideological reasons, primarily if they are suspected of leftist sympathies, given that graduates of Islamic high schools are not admitted in the first place. The role played by the army academy in the 1960 coup and in the abortive coup of 1962 led to the expulsion of 1,400 cadets, as a result of which there were no army graduating classes in 1963 and 1964.

The most prestigious training assignment for career officers is to one of the staff academies, which usually occurs after about six years of service, at the rank of captain or the equivalent. There are separate land, air, and naval staff academies, but they share a location in an Istanbul suburb. The staff academies constitute a self-sufficient town with modern accommodations for all officers, day care for the children of officers whose spouses have jobs, and complete sports facilities.

Only 120 to 130 officers are accepted into the staff academies each year for the two-year program. About 60 percent of the curriculum is devoted to military subjects--the principles of war, strategy, and weapons technology--and the remainder to administrative and management skills and general cultural subjects at a postgraduate level. An officer completing the course is credited with an extra three years of seniority, receives a higher salary, progresses faster, and is more likely to be offered a coveted foreign posting. About 75 percent of those reaching the rank of general are staff officers.

Within ten years of commissioning, staff officers who have attained the rank of major or lieutenant colonel or their equivalents are expected to attend the Armed Forces Academy. This academy has a program twice a year for about seventy-five staff officers in subjects such as joint operations, campaign planning, strategy, global conflict, and new concepts and doctrines.

A five-month course is presented once a year at the National Security Academy to twenty civilians and ten officers, usually colonels and sometimes brigadier generals or the equivalent. The civilians typically include high-level civil servants, ambassadors, provincial governors, and subgovernors. Presented in seminar form, the program deals with international political, economic, and military trends, joint planning, and national security problems. Like the staff academies, the Armed Forces Academy and the National Security Academy are located outside Istanbul.

Conditions of Service

The average military academy graduate serves at least ten years in the three lowest officer grades in a combination of training and field assignments as a platoon or company commander. The pace of promotion is usually fairly steady through the rank of colonel or its equivalent, assuming satisfactory performance reports graded by three superior officers. A particularly high rating can advance a promotion by a year. In normal times, an army officer can expect at least two "eastern" assignments, once while a lieutenant or captain and once between the ranks of major and colonel or their equivalents. A post in eastern Turkey is considered undesirable because of its isolation, the severe weather, and the lack of medical and education facilities for families. Since the early 1990s, a much larger part of the army has been deployed in the east to deal with the Kurdish insurgency. Personal influence has little effect on where people in the military are posted.

Most career officers can expect to retire with the rank of colonel or the equivalent. With the number of generals and admirals ranging between 280 and 300, only forty-eight of the hundreds of colonels and navy captains are promoted to flag rank each year. People being considered for general officer rank are subjected to a minute review of their entire service record. General officers must not be involved in political activities and must show discretion and conservatism in social and domestic life. Treated with great deference in civilian society, general officers are entitled to full-time use of an official car and chauffeur, as well as the services of an adjutant and several orderlies. Protocol activities take up much of a general officer's time. A general serving as a field commander exercises authority and responsibility comparable to those of a provincial governor.

Except during periods of high inflation, the net salary of career officers is slightly more than the pay of civil servants of comparable standing, although the difference narrows at higher ranks. The living standards of career officers clearly surpass those of other government workers when special benefits are included. Quarters are provided for more than 70 percent of permanent military personnel. Rents, deducted directly from salaries, may be no more than one-eighth of equivalent civilian rents. Security and the maintenance of grounds and buildings, duties assigned to enlisted personnel, are of high quality.

Salaries of noncareer soldiers are very low and during the first half of the 1990s were eroded by inflation. As of January 1994, the monthly wage of a private was TL37,000, then equivalent to only US$2.25. A corporal earned TL57,000 and a sergeant, TL75,000. Pensions for families of soldiers who had died in service were minimal; compensation for the widow of a private came to about US$37 a month.

Military hospitals provide medical care to all active-duty and retired officers and enlisted personnel and their families. Reservists are eligible on a space-available basis. The quality of treatment and personnel at military hospitals is at least as good as at university hospitals, and superior to what is available in general hospitals.

There are officers' clubs in about forty of the provinces, most with excellent facilities for leisure and recreation, as well as temporary accommodations for officers and their families. The clubs are heavily patronized by retired officers as well. Prices are far lower than in comparable commercial establishments. NCO clubs traditionally were much more modest, but a program was initiated in the mid-1980s to bring them up to officers' club standards. Twenty-five rest camps enable service members and their families to enjoy two-week holidays at a fraction of the cost of commercial resorts. Accommodations are awarded on a point system ensuring an opening at least every four years.

An unusual feature of the national defense establishment is the existence of a semiautonomous foundation known as the Army Mutual Aid Association (Ordu Yardimlasma Kurumu--OYAK), which is essentially a military social security organization. Career officers and warrant officers contribute 10 percent of their basic salaries to the association's fund. Reserve officers contribute 5 percent. OYAK's business activities, which include holdings in eight major companies, have an annual turnover of US$5 billion, and are tax exempt. Participants may obtain housing loans from OYAK and may purchase homes built by OYAK's own construction companies at prices well below commercial rates. Upon retirement, OYAK makes a lump sum payment to career (but not reserve) officers, based on the members' investment plus accrued interest and dividends. OYAK also operates post exchanges selling items at 15 percent below prices at civilian outlets and offering durable consumer goods on highly favorable credit terms.

Data as of January 1995

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