Turkey’s Military Doctrine – NECİP TORUMTAY

Shape Image One
Turkey’s Military Doctrine –  NECİP TORUMTAY

Turkey‘s Military Doctrine (*)



In order to make a major contribution to the building of security in the present environment of rapid change the military men should   first  evaluate the situation free of conventional approaches and prejudices, and then  analyse the ways and means for adding the concept of defense  more global dimensions. Turkey, on account of its responsibilities within the Alliance and also the Alliance’s defence strategy and the present circumstances in its periphery, allocated a reasonable level of manpower and funds in keeping with her defence oriented security policy.

          At the outset, I would like to express my conviction that this historic initiative, which brings together the highest military representatives of all CSCE countries, is a major step towards the establishment of continuous, tension-free and lasting peace in Europe.

The significance of this forum, at which 35 CSCE countries will discuss all aspects of their understanding of the concepts of defense and offensive action, is evident.

To bring this historic forum to a most successful conclusion for all the participants, as well as to understand and eliminate the differences regarding the existing concepts, intentions and capabilities, it is a prerequisite that the participants should adopt an open and earnest approach to remove the misperceptions of their counterparts.rather than trying to influence each other’s public opinions.

In order to make a major contribution to the building of security in the present environment of rapid change, what befalls upon us, the military men, is  first to evaluate the situation free of conventional approaches and prejudices, and then to analyse the ways and means for adding the concept of defense  more global dimensions in the future.

Lesson Drawn From History and Basic Principles:


The historical, geographical and political factors as well as the national objectives thereof are the basic determinants of any country’s policy.


Invariably, the lessons drawn from the developments in the period of Ottoman Empire’s disintegration, and from the events subsequent to the founding of the Republic, particularly the ones after the Second World War, have all played an important role in the formulation of Turkey’s current security policy. Most naturally, my country’s security policy is also inspired by future oriented considerations.

Moreover, geographically speaking, Turkey lies at the cross roads of three continents, borders a region with divergent political, economic, cultural and religious structures. It is a next door neighbour with one of the superpowers. Unavoidably, Turkey’s security policy is affected by all these particularities.

In the 20th century, Turkey has made its national choises in this context towards modernization, social and economic development and a democratic way of life.

Turkey has all along been aware of the fact that these objectives can be attained only by living in peace. It is this very approach which was embraced by all of the Turkish governments in the republican era and which has found its expression in the famous dictum “Peace at home, Peace in the world” laid down by Atatürk at the foundation of the Turkish Republic.

Following the First World War, Turkey has overcome the threat of disintegration thanks to the resolve of the Turkish people which initiated the national independence movement in May 1919 and carried it to the final victory in 1922. This victory was only possible through full dedication by all Turks.

The Lausanne Treaty of 1923, has established the balance in her region and consequently Turkey entered into the period of the longest lasting peace ever in her history.


In short, the foundation of the national state brought along radical changes also in Turkey’s security policy. Since then the primary objective has been the preservation and protection of the independence and the territorial and national integrity of the republic and all its rights emanating from international law and treaties.

Turkey strives to maintain its economic and social development in peace and freedom.

Realism, refraining from adventures and peace orientation are the basic principles to which Turkey firmly adheres. Nevertheless, Turkey regards the protection of her national borders as the primary duty. Also it does not covet any part of other country’s territories.

Turkey has all along attributed importance to the maintenance of sufficient military force to deter a potential aggression, and to inter­national cooperation for defensive arrangements, her membership in the Balkan and Sadabad Pacts of the interwar era attests to it.

In keeping with its wish to live in peace, respect to the principles of independence and territorial integrity, non-intervention in internal affairs, and cooperation based on mutual interest, Turkey aims at main­taining good relations with all countries and especially with the countries which have common borders with Turkey.

Yet, Soviet Union’s refusal to renew the Treaty of Friendship. Neutrality and Non-Aggression of 1925, the tension caused by demands on the Turkish Straits and territorial claims from Eastern Anatolia immediately after the W.W.II and the ensuing defense requirements impelled Turkey to look for new arrangements for its security apart from neutrality. This quest has ended in 1952 when Turkey joined NATO. This choice also reflects my country’s European vocation.

As the strategy of both Turkey and NATO is defense oriented, this cooperation is based on realistic foundations of common objectives, values and interests.


Turkey wishes that the international relations which are variable in long term be shaped as far as possible by dialogue and mutual consent of those concerned. She regards the principle of pacta sund servanda as essential. She wishes that the existing international problems be resolved through negotiation and in accordance with the principle of equity. Nevertheless, she is steadfast in considering as an inalienable duty to protect all of her rights emanating from international law and treaties.

The military doctrine of such a policy shaped by these principles and objectives could only be defensive.

The lessons drawn from history, her geographical position and her choice of democratic regime as well as future oriented considera­tions add up to the formulation of Turkey’s security policy along the following lines:

The first objective is to preserve and protect the independence and the unity of the nation, the indivisibility of the country and the republic. The second objective is to contribute to the lessening of international tension, and to just and lasting peace and in freedom. The third aim is to prevent with credible deterrence the threat to use or use of force. Last, but not the least, to benefit from collective security systems.

Factors Affecting Turkey’s Security Policy:

In the collective security system to which she belongs Turkey is a flank country that does not enjoy uninterrupted geographic link with Central Europe.

Turkey controls the crucial Turkish straits which form the sole passageway between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The defense of the Straits are vital for Turkey.


Turkey borders two Warsaw Pact countries, namely, Bulgaria to the west and the Soviet Union to the east. Turkey is geographically positioned as a forward area; in case of an armed conflict two separate theaters of war in the East and in the West would be formed.

The Turkish Straits are under the potential threat of land forces through the Thrace, the amphibious forces from the Black Sea, as well as of airborne operations. The defence of the Straits lacks strategic depth.

The Soviet Union is a superpower and the Warsaw Pact still holds its superiority in conventional forces vis-a-vis NATO.

Adjacent to a politically volatile and unstable region in the South and in the East, Turkey is exposed to the spill-over effects of the regional conflicts. It has to take into account also the military strengths and capabilities of non-participating countries in the region.

Turkey’s infrastructure is not suitable for rapid force deploy­ments or transfers from one region to another:

In view of the factors I have just enumerated, Turkey could not sustain her security all by herself under the existing conditions in a general war. Thus NATO has become an integral part of Turkey’s security policy.

Turkey’s defence oriented security policy is in full harmony with the NATO Alliance’s defence oriented collective security policy. The common objective is to preserve peace in freedom. In order to attain this objective, we are always in favor of utilizing the available political means. In this regard, we believe that sufficient military strength and ability needs to be maintained to prevent war and to provide for effective defence.

We support the Alliance’s strategy of deterrence to prevent the threat or use of force. We are also in favor of comprehensive and constructive dialogue including arms control and disarmament efforts.


In the event of an armed attack, Turkey will defend to the end her interests, restore territorial integrity and do its utmost to terminate the war as soon as possible.

As a front line country, Turkey is also within the reach of the mass destruction arms of neighbouring Warsaw Pact countries. She contributes to the maintenance of NATO’s credible deterrence, and has adopted its strategy of forward defence and flexible response.

Turkey aims to set up and maintain a force level and structure, based on mobilisation, with enough capability to enforce the aforemen­tioned policy and strategy within a collective security policy.

What Turkey aims to have and maintain, taking into account also the reinforcements from the Alliance, is minimum force for credible deterrence and asssured defence. Such a force will have peacetime and wartime capabilities. In peace, it will contribute to the deterrence by the Alliance.

In war, it will have the capability to defend the territory and to stop the aggressor at the frontier, reinforcing its peacetime forces for mobilization. It will also gain the capability of counter attack and re-establishing the territorial integrity with the reinforcements from the Alliance.

In the formation of the force structure, maximum efficiency with minimum force is taken as the basic criterion.

The existing force structure and strength of Turkey, when com­pared with the Warsaw Pact forces in he region, fall far behind, either in quantitative or in qualitative terms or both in certain cases. Our aim is to reach parity at lower levels.

Turkey has deployed her in-place forces at three separate fronts, namely, the Thrace and the Straits front, the Eastern Anatolia front and the South-Eastern Anatolia front.


The defence of the Turkish Straits is vital for both Turkey and the Alliance. Therefore, given the lack of strategic depth, Turkey has to maintain in Thrace a level of force which would be able to defend the region against attacks coming from land, amphibious and airborne units far superior in strength and structure.

Separate armies are earmarked for the defence of Eastern Anatolia and Southeastern Anatolia.

The forces at all three fronts are of a strength and structure, based on mobilization, to defend their respective fronts and hold the aggressor for a limited period of time. Even after having mobilized all of her forces, Turkey would still need in all three fronts the Alliance’s land, naval, and air force requirements for consistent defence and reinstitution of territorial integrity.

Depending on the duration of the war, Turkey’s need for resupply would gradually increase.

Under these circumstances, the following three elements are important for Turkey’s defence in a general war:

l.Reception facilities for the reinforcements and the related infrastructure,

2.Timely arrival of the reinforcements to their designated deployment areas,

3.Uninterrupted flow of supply.

Therefore keeping safe and open the sea lines of communication is vitally important for continuous flow of reinforcements, logistical support and resupplies.

Let me summarize our views as follows:

  • The NATO Alliance constitutes an integral factor of our

security policy.

  • Our main objective is the preservation of peace in freedom and prevention of war.
  • Deterrence is the main element for prevention of war.
  • The continuing importance of nuclear weapons in maintain­ing deterrence cannot be denied.
  • Turkey will not be the first to attack.
  • Turkey will protect her rights emanating from international law and treaties.
  • In case of an aggression, the territory will be defended and in case of loss of territory, territorial integrity will be restituted.

Turkey has adopted NATO’s strategy of forward defence and flexible response:

Turkey, taking also into account the Alliance’s contribution, aims for a force posture based on mobilization sufficient for credible deter­rence and assured defence.

Turkey relies on the reinforcements and the logistical support of the Alliance.

The present forces will have the strength and the structure to defend the territory and hold the aggressor for a certain period of time, and at the same time, the capability to launch a counter offensive to recover lost territory and to reinsure territorial integrity with the support of allied reinforcement.

It is imperative that the sea lines or communication are kept safe and open.

Turkey’s limited economic and industrial capacity and her limited resources render it necessary that the internal and external resources be utilized in the most rational manner.


Turkey wishes and makes every effort to develop with all of her neighbours good relations based on mutual benefits. Considerable developments have been achieved in good neighbourly relations with the Soviet Union and other East European countries in all fields and economic domain.

Turkey, on account of its responsibilities within the Alliance and also the Alliance’s defence strategy and the present circumstances in its periphery, allocated a reasonable level of manpower and funds in keeping with her defence oriented security policy.

It is evident that there is a close relationship between the defence effort and economic and technological development level. The negative effect of economic constraints are felt in Turkey more than in many other countries. If we have to make comparisons, the most reliable indicators can be derived from the percentage of GNP devoted to and the per capita expenditure allocated for defence as well as the size of a country, population, fronts to be defended, the civilian infrastructure and the like. Related data would reveal that my country’s defence effort is readily comparable to that of her neighbours. Although our experts will expand on this point together with other technical issues, under relevant agenda items, I would like to say that 1989 defence expenditures of Turkey were 3.8% of the GNP when compared with her neighbours, this percentage is the lowest in the region.

Turkey believes that the enhancement of mutual security and confidence in Europe depends on decreasing the probability of confron­tation and increasing stability. The CSCE process with all its aspects and the new European order it forsees, in our view, constitutes the main driving power of such an endeavour. Consequently, she wholeheartedly supports the arms control and disarmament negotiations. Bringing the Warsaw Pact’s conventional forces in certain categories down to parity with NATO forces will be the first indication of increased stability in Europe. Turkey considers this verifiability of the result of the CFE Treaty to be the most important factor in increasing stability in Europe.Turkey believes that increased security through lower force levels aimed at the CFE negotiations can only be realized with a viable verification regime.

Increasing security and stability in Europe depends as much on confidence and security building measures as it does on arms reductions. Transparency has become the key factor in increasing security and stability both in the CFE and CSBM negotiations.

Another important factor in increasing security and stability in Europe is the political intentions.

No matter how peace-oriented the political intentions may be, it will not be possible to talk about a lasting environment of security and stability in Europe as long as these intentions are not reflected on military posture and structure. If we are to adopt a defensive military doctrine, our political intentions should be transposed on military pos­tures and structure. However, we must not accept as stabilising an idea whereby countries with inferior defence capabilities are left as they are while the superiority of others is consolidated.


When the points I have just mentioned will be realized, Turkey,parallel with the confidence and stability in her region and in line with the new threat assessment, plans to reduce her armed forces and to make necessary changes in her force structure.

We believe that the ongoing CFE and the CSBM negotiations in Vienna will contribute to security and stability, and that these negotia­tions will bear fruit in 1990 with the conclusion of a CFE Treaty.


(*)Statement by General Necip Torumtay at the CBSM MilitaryDoctrine Seminar, Vienna, 19 January 1990

Published in the fpi Quarterly “Foreign Policy”, Vol 15, Nos. 1-2


Bir cevap yazın

E-posta hesabınız yayımlanmayacak.