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Turkey Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Turkish Armed Forces (TAF; Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri, TSK): Turkish Land Forces (Turk Kara Kuvvetleri), Turkish Naval Forces (Turk Deniz Kuvvetleri; includes naval air and naval infantry), Turkish Air Forces (Turk Hava Kuvvetleri)

Ministry of Interior: Gendarmerie of the Turkish Republic (aka Gendarmerie General Command), Turkish Coast Guard Command, National Police (2023)

note: the Gendarmerie (Jandarma) is responsible for the maintenance of the public order in areas that fall outside the jurisdiction of police forces (generally in rural areas); in wartime, the Gendarmerie and Coast Guard would be placed under the operational control of the Land Forces and Naval Forces, respectively

Military expenditures

1.6% of GDP (2023 est.)
1.4% of GDP (2022)
1.6% of GDP (2021)
1.9% of GDP (2020)
1.9% of GDP (2019)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 450,000 active-duty personnel (350,000 Army; 50,000 Navy; 50,000 Air Force); approximately 150,000 Gendarmerie (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military's inventory is mostly comprised of a mix of domestically produced and Western weapons systems, although in recent years, Turkey has also acquired some Chinese, Russian, and South Korean equipment; over the past decade, Italy, Spain, and the US have been among the leading providers of armaments to Turkey; Turkey has a robust defense industry capable of producing a range of weapons systems for both export and internal use, including armored vehicles, naval vessels, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); Turkey's defense industry also partners with other countries for defense production (2023)

Military service age and obligation

mandatory military service for men at age 20; service can be delayed if in university or in certain professions (researchers, professionals, and athletic, or those with artistic talents have the right to postpone military service until the age of 35); 6-12 months service; women may volunteer (2023)

note 1: in 2019, a new law cut the men’s mandatory military service period in half, as well as making paid military service permanent; with the new system, the period of conscription was reduced from 12 months to 6 months for privates and non-commissioned soldiers (the service term for reserve officers chosen among university or college graduates remained 12 months); after completing 6 months of service, if a conscripted soldier wants to and is suitable for extending his military service, he may do so for an additional 6 months in return for a monthly salary; under the new law, all male Turkish citizens over the age of 20 are required to undergo a 1 month military training period, but they can obtain an exemption from the remaining 5 months of their mandatory service by paying a fee

note 2:
as of 2020, women made up about 0.3% of the military's full-time personnel

Military deployments

approximately 150 (Azerbaijan; monitoring cease-fire, clearing mines); 250 Bosnia-Herzegovina (EUFOR); approximately 30-35,000 Cyprus; up to 10,000 Iraq (numbers depend on military operations); 800 Kosovo (NATO/KFOR); 110 Lebanon (UNIFIL); estimated 500 Libya; up to 5,000 Qatar; approximately 200 Somalia (training mission); up to 10,000 Syria (numbers depend on military operations) (2023)

note 1: between 2016 and 2020, Turkey conducted four significant military ground campaigns in northern Syria with the stated purpose of securing its southern border; Turkey also has deployed troops into northern Iraq on numerous occasions to combat the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), including large operations involving thousands of troops in 2007, 2011, and 2018, and smaller-scale operations in 2021 and 2022; Turkey has also conducted numerous air strikes in both Iraq and Syria

Military - note

the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) have a range of responsibilities, including defending and deterring against external threats, participating in international peacekeeping operations, fulfilling Turkey’s military commitments to NATO, providing disaster/humanitarian relief and assistance to domestic law enforcement if requested by civil authorities, and supporting Turkey’s overall national security interests; the TAF also has overall responsibility for the security of Turkey’s borders; Turkey is active in international peacekeeping and other security operations under the EU, NATO, and the UN, as well as under bilateral agreements with some countries; Turkey has established expeditionary military bases in northern Cyprus, Qatar, Somalia, and Sudan

Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952 and hosts a considerable NATO and US military presence, including the headquarters for a NATO Land Command and a Rapid Deployment Corps, multiple airbases for NATO and US aircraft, NATO air/missile defense systems, and training centers; the TAF is the second-largest military in NATO behind the US and exercises regularly with NATO partners

the TAF is a large, well-equipped force comprised of a mix of professionals and conscripts; it has considerable operational experience; in addition to peacekeeping and military assistance operations in recent years in such places as Afghanistan (NATO), Bosnia and Herzegovina (EU), Kosovo (NATO), Lebanon (UN), and Somalia (bilateral), it has conducted combat missions of varying duration and scale in Iraq, Libya, and Syria; since the 1980s, the TAF has been involved in a protracted counterinsurgency campaign against the US-designated terrorist group the Kurdistan Worker’s Party or PKK, a Kurdish militant political organization and armed guerrilla movement, which historically operated throughout Kurdistan but is now primarily based in the mountainous Kurdish-majority regions of southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq; other key areas of concern for the TAF include tensions with fellow NATO member Greece over territorial disputes and Cyprus, tensions between neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan, threats from the terrorist groups al-Qa’ida and the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham, and the Russia-Ukraine war; under a long-range (2033) strategic plan, the TAF continues a considerable effort to modernize its equipment and force structure

the TAF is led by a General Staff headed by a Chief of the General Staff; the Land Forces are organized into four army- and eight corps-level commands; these include an army command for the Aegean and a corps command for northern Cyprus (“Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”); subordinate units include a few armored, mechanized infantry, or motorized infantry divisions, but most of the Land Force’s combat forces are formed into more than 30 armored, commando, light infantry, mechanized infantry, and motorized infantry brigades; the Land Forces also have an aviation command; the TAF has a Special Forces Command that is directly subordinate to the General Staff and independent of the other services

the Naval Forces’ role includes securing control of Turkey’s territorial waters and sea lines of communications; it is one of the largest maritime forces in the region and is seeking to develop greater blue water capabilities to protect Turkey’s broader regional interests with plans to acquire new frigates, submarines, and a light aircraft carrier in the next few years; the backbone of its warship inventory is a recently acquired large landing helicopter dock (LHD) amphibious assault ship, which is the fleet’s largest warship and serves as its flagship, and a sizeable force of frigates and attack-type submarines, which are supported by dozens of corvettes, fast-attack craft, and patrol vessels of varying sizes and capabilities

the Air Force is organized into commands for combat, training, and logistics, with the combat command further divided into two regional (east and west) tactical commands; it has about 200 US-made fighter and multirole fighter aircraft organized into squadrons; Air Force priorities include acquiring more advanced aircraft, boosting ground-based air defenses, and establishing a sustainable command and control system

Turkey’s military has a rich history that it traces back to 200 B.C., although the modern TAF was formed following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the conclusion of the Turkish War of Independence (1919-1923); the TAF has traditionally had a significant influence in the country as the “guardian” of Turkish politics, but its political role was largely lost after the failed 2016 coup attempt; the military has a substantial stake in Turkey's economy through a holding company that is involved in the automotive, energy, finance, and logistics sectors, as well as iron and steel production (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Turkey on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Turkey 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Turkey 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.