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Our maxim: “understanding before action”
Our purpose is to encourage the knowledge and the debate of issues connected with art and military science. Selection of articles attempts to reflect different opinions. Beyond any ideological ascription. In order to impulse critical thought amongst our readers.

martes, 20 de mayo de 2014

Turquía moderniza sus fuerzas armadas.



Turkey Tries to Modernize Its Military.



Ankara has set a number of national goals to commemorate the Turkish republic's centennial in 2023, among them an update of the country's military. Though these modernization plans are not necessarily new, they have a renewed sense of urgency behind them due to the instability in nearby Iraq and Syria and the tensions between Russia and NATO over Ukraine. Still, fraught civil-military relations in the country and economic stresses may prevent Turkey from acquiring the so-called "ultra-modern" military it is seeking anytime soon.


At least on paper, Turkey already boasts a very modern and capable military by regional standards. Its navy is second to none in the Middle East, and its overall military is the second largest in NATO and well-equipped. The state is planning to boost investment in the domestic defense industry, and several significant weapons are being procured, ranging from fifth-generation fighter planes, new submarines and main battle tanks to improved logistics and electronic warfare systems. A number of foreign procurement deals come with significant technology transfer provisions, and the overall procurement process is increasingly under the direct purview of the civilian government.
However, two major issues continue to constrain Turkish military modernization. First, the Turkish military continues to be undermined by a morale crisis related to civil-military tensions and the prosecution of a large number of general officers by the ruling Justice and Development Party, better known by its initials AKP. Turkey has made considerable progress toward bringing the armed forces firmly under civilian control and ending the pattern of military coups, a development that has led to dissatisfaction within the military, especially the officer corps. Indeed, resignations and prosecutions have left the military with a shortage of general officers and in some cases qualified personnel.  
Second, the Turkish military is having a difficult time finding the funding for Ankara's ambitious procurement goals. While the past decade as a whole has been a good one for the Turkish economy, there are strong signs that a slowdown is on the horizon. Turkey's growth slowed to just above 2 percent in 2013 (though early 2014 projections show growth may be closer to 4.5 percent this year) and the inflation rate hovered at around 7.4 percent, significantly higher than the 5 percent target. With some $70 billion-worth of procurement and modernization planned through 2023, it is not clear how Turkey plans to fund all these projects. Turkey is already spending about $3.5 billion annually on modernization and procurement, but if Ankara were to fund all its anticipated procurement goals going forward, it would require nearly $7 billion annually at a time when Turkey is already strained by hefty energy import bills.

Turkey is making notable strides toward addressing these issues. For example, the Turkish military is considering a major restructuring effort that will go some way toward addressing some key deficiencies. According to the daily newspaper Hurriyet's sources, a joint command will be established under the general staff to better coordinate decisions between the armed services branches, while the numbered armies of the land forces will be combined to form one western army and one eastern one, potentially eliminating some overhead.
In an attempt to bolster its officer ranks and improve general morale, Turkey is reportedly planning to lower generals' and admirals' four-year periods for promotion to three years and lower colonels' promotion periods from five to four years. Stratfor sources indicate that the proposal on a shorter promotion period is being received well by young military officers. A more rapid change in the officer corps may also help reduce civil-military tensions as a new class of ideological officer rises to the top, a class that is perhaps less alarmed by an Islamist-oriented civilian leadership than previous generations of officers were. In addition, the release of jailed General Staff Chief Ilker Basbug in March, which followed the AKP's abolition of the special courts used to prosecute alleged coup plotters, could send a message to the military that the government is satisfied with its progress aimed at keeping the military out of politics and that no further punitive measures are forthcoming.
In terms of the funding constraints, Turkey will likely have to make difficult decisions and postpone or even cancel some of its procurement goals. However, that does not mean that Turkey will not still be able to modernize substantially and acquire new, modern systems. For instance, Turkey continues to allocate increased funding for its military, with its 2014 budget registering a 6.7 percent increase to $14.2 billion from a total of $13.3 billion in 2013. Turkish procurement officials are also quick to point out that long-term payment plans and loans will also be used to help finance the military deals.
The more recent phenomenon of domestic strife also represents a significant threat to the overall stability of the nation, stability that is necessary for the military to modernize. But as long as the Turkish economy does not collapse and a major rift does not occur between the civilian leadership and the military, the Turkish armed forces and defense industry are well-positioned for continued modernization and reform going forward.

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