The two main institutions responsible for the defense of the country are the Ministry of National Defense and the General Staff. Functioning under the General Staff, the Commands of the Land, Naval and Air Forces, and the General Command of the Gendarmerie form the main commands responsible for national defense and the protection of territorial integrity. The primary and most important defender of Turkey's independence are the Armed Forces. In today's Turkey, the primary missions of the Turkish Armed Forces are the defense and protection of the nation and the Republic, and the fulfillment of its international treaties.
The section of the Turkish constitution on national defense has various provisions pertaining to the office of the Commander in Chief and the General Staff. Article 117 of the Constitution stipulates that the office of the Commander in Chief is inseparable from the Turkish Grand National Assembly and that it is held by the President of the Republic. According to the same article of the Constitution, the Council of Ministers is responsible to the Turkish Grand National Assembly for national security and for the preparation of the Armed Forces for the defense of the country. The article says, “The Chief of the General Staff is the commander of the Armed Forces, and, in time of war, exercises the duties of the Commander-in-Chief on behalf of the President of the Republic.”
The National Security Council is a body which submits to the Council of Ministers its views on the formulation, establishment and implementation of the national security policy of the State and on ensuring coordination to this end.
With the purpose of maintaining her national existence, of strengthening her defenses and keeping pace with technological progress, Turkey allocates adequate funds to the budget of the Ministry of National Defense within existing possibilities. The Turkish Armed Forces have also started producing armaments for their own use and which are necessary for the defense of the country.
The activities of the military are not only confined to the defense of the country but are also oriented towards making social, economic and educational contributions to society as a whole.
Education and training offered by the Turkish Armed Forces to the youth of Turkey, who come from different backgrounds, unites them around a common aim and help them acquire a social conscience that keeps Turkish history and culture alive. On the other hand, technological training given during military service turns conscripts into qualified personnel able to contribute to the development of the country.
Furthermore, the organization of literacy courses, the production of medical drugs in the military pharmaceuticals plant, the treatment of civilians in military hospitals, mapping services offered to the public sector, and research and development activities can be cited as other contributions of the Turkish Armed Forces to the Turkish social and economic lives.
The mission of the Turkish Armed Forces is to defend and protect the Turkish land and the Turkish Republic, the characteristics of which are defined by the Constitution, against internal and external threats. The timely and correct identification of threats against the unity of the country and the nation or against the basic principles of the Constitution, the formation of adequate forces to counter these threats, the maintenance of a state of readiness and the elimination of actual threats within the framework of the responsibilities defined by the Constitution and the law form the basic elements of this mission.
According to the Constitution, military service is the right and duty of every male Turkish citizen. The manner in which this service shall be performed, or regarded as performed, either in the Armed Forces or in public service, is regulated by law. For this duty to be performed, all males who are Turkish citizens and qualified, are enlisted. The military service period commences on the first day of the year in which they reach the age of 20.
In order to be enlisted as reserve officers, one has to be a graduate of a faculty or higher educational institution whose courses of study last at least 4 years.
The Interior Ministry, responsible for the maintenance of internal security as well as for the protection of public order in Turkey, fulfills this function through the General Command of the Gendarmerie, the Directorate of National Security and the Coast Guard Command.
June 14, 1839, the date of the approval of the “Law for the Gendarmerie Troops”, ratified after the proclamation of the Tanzimat, saw the foundation of the Gendarmerie Organization. After 1839, new arrangements were made by five laws and a Council of Ministers decision in force of law. The Organization was revised by various laws later and with the March 10, 1983 law numbered 2803, “Gendarmerie Organization, Duties and Authority Law”, it was reorganized according to the needs of the time.
To preserve peace and security and to protect public order, the General Command of the Gendarmerie was set up in 1923 in its present-day form.
The Gendarmerie General Command, which is a part of the Turkish armed forces, fulfills its armed forces-related missions under the General Staff in terms of its training and educational aspects, and as missions related to public peace and order under the Ministry of the Interior. The Gendarmerie Commander is responsible to the Interior Minister.
The first police organization in the country was established in Istanbul on April 10, 1845, and the first Police Regulations, published on the same date, defined the tasks of this new organization. The security organization had many structural changes by the laws legislated after 1845, and finally law 3201 dated June 4, 1937, defined and regulated the duties, responsibilities, powers and personnel details of the national police.
Consequently, although affiliated to the Ministry of the Interior, the Directorate General of Security became an agency administered under its own law.
The Coast Guard (CG) was established in 1859, during the Ottoman period and was called Rusumet Emaneti Teskilati. With its affiliated organization Muhafaza Memurlugu or Guarding Administration it controlled the coasts and it fought smuggling. Today, the Coast Guard is a part of the Turkish Armed Forces and during peace time it is affiliated to the Interior Ministry. However, during emergencies and during war it is placed under the command of the Naval Forces.
Its headquarter is in Ankara and there are four CG Sea Command units stationed in Izmir, Istanbul and Mersin and two CG Group Command units in Antalya and Marmaris
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