Cyprus Table of Contents
In 1990 the dominant military force in the Turkish-administered northern sector of the island remained, as it had been since the Turkish invasion of 1974, the 28th and 39th infantry divisions of the Turkish Army, backed by an independent armored brigade and some artillery support. The 28th division was headquartered at Asha (Pasaköy) to the northeast of Nicasia, and the 39th division near Morphou (Güzelyurt). The corps reserve was at Kythrea (Degirmenlik) to the northeast of Nicasia. The Turkish contingent was referred to officially as the Cyprus Turkish Peace Force. The original force of 40,000 troops was reduced shortly after the 1974 invasion. In early 1990, Turkish defense authorities claimed that the Cyprus contingent amounted to only 17,500, whereas Greek Cypriot authorities placed its strength at 35,000. Independent sources believed that the force numbered about 30,000.
The Turkish detachments on Cyprus were part of the Turkish Aegean Army command structure, with headquarters at zmir on the Turkish mainland. However, the commander of the Turkish troops reported directly to the Turkish General Staff in the capital, Ankara. The commander on Cyprus as of late 1989 was Lieutenant General Sabahattin Akinci. Although responsible for all security questions, Akinci was not directly involved in political matters of northern Cyprus. The principal missions of the Turkish Army contingent were to maintain the security of the Turkish Cypriot community, defend the borders established in 1974, protect against any Greek Cypriot guerrilla attacks or other cross-border actions, and assist in the training of members of the Turkish Cypriot armed force.
Details on the arms and equipment of the Turkish Army forces were not available, although they were known to include M-47 and M-48 tanks and M-113 APCs of United States origin, as well as 105mm, 155mm, and 203mm guns and howitzers. The forces were supplied with 40mm antiaircraft guns and, according to Greek sources, the Milan antitank missile. Turkey had supplemented its armored inventory in the late 1980s with M-48A5 tanks that had been upgraded and mounted with 105mm guns as part of a major modernization program throughout the Turkish Army. As of 1990, the Turkish forces on Cyprus were believed to have more than 200 converted M-48s and 100 of the original M-48s and M-47s. The Turkish forces were also equipped with light aircraft and Bell UH-1D helicopters, operating from a newly constructed airfield at Lefkoniko (Geçitkale). Small groups of combat jet aircraft of the Turkish Air Force occasionally appeared at the new field, but none was based there.
Even before independence, the Turkish Cypriot community had maintained its own paramilitary force (the TMT), trained and equipped by the Turkish Army contingent on the island. In 1967 this force was renamed the Mücahit (fighter), and in 1975 the Mücahit was renamed the Turkish Cypriot Security Force. As of 1989, the strength of this force was believed to be about 4,000. It was organized into seven infantry battalions armed with light weapons plus some artillery units equipped with mortars.
The Turkish Cypriot Security Force was commanded in 1989 by an officer of the Turkish Army, Brigadier General Bilgi Buyukunal, who had both operational and administrative responsibilities, as well as control over the police force. The commander was responsible to the prime minister of the self-proclaimed "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" ("TRNC") through the minister of foreign affairs and defense, Kenan Atakol. A unified military-civilian defense staff of the ministry was responsible for defense policy and strategy. Although legally separate from the Turkish Army on the island, the Turkish Cypriot Security Force was believed to remain under the de facto operational control of the Turkish forces. It also depended on Turkey for training and equipment. Most of its officers were regular Turkish Army officers on secondment. Its announced budget for 1990 was US$3.9 million, an unusually small amount, representing only 1.5 percent of the total government budget. Observers believed that many of its expenses were absorbed by the Turkish Army.
Turkish Cypriot males were liable to conscription at age eighteen for a twenty-four-month period of service. Discharged soldiers served in the reserves until the age of fifty. The number of first-line and second-line reserves was estimated at 5,000 and 10,000, respectively, as of 1989.
Data as of January 1991
Cyprus Table of Contents