More Than an Army: The Turkish Armed Forces as a Core Pillar of National Identity
As the Turkish Republic celebrates its centennial this year, one institution that has stood the test of time and continues to be the bastion of defense and guardian of the nation is the Turkish Armed Forces. With a history that spans the Ottoman Empire through to the Republic, this military force safeguards national security interests and upholds NATO objectives through its Atlanticist doctrine. In addition to its defense role, the Turkish Armed Forces have also been a beacon of hope during natural disasters, including the recent earthquake in the country’s Southeast.
The modern Turkish Armed Forces form its identity with the foundation of the Republic, protecting the tenents of the Founding Father, Atatürk, who enshrined a constitution that is still today one of the most advanced legislative examples of governance, spanning Secularism, National Unity, and the very existence of the nation-state itself. These principles upheld as both a virtue and a right, function in unison with the Imperial legacy of the nation, encapsulated via Fatih The Conqueror who upon his victory at Constantinople (subsequently renamed Istanbul) placed Kayser-I-Rum otherwise translated as Caesar of Rome as one of his main honorifics, enabling the bestowment of respect for the responsibility to also protect citizens who are descendants of those that once lived within Ottoman borders as displayed in operations spanning Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, Syria across the decades and continuing to this very day.
The Turkish Armed Forces play a crucial role in curbing Russian influence in nations like Syria and Libya and stopping the efforts of the People’s Republic of China to gain inroads in the Aegean. Turkey is one of the few NATO nations with active personnel directly countering the Russian Federation, notably in Libya and Syria. At the same time, Turkish Bayraktar drones and newly allocated Turkish naval corvettes support the valiant Ukrainian forces leading their campaign to reclaim their homeland.
The integration of the Turkish Republic and the Turkish Armed Forces into the region’s supreme power has resulted in further integration into NATO and the emergence of a pan-continental power. The introduction of the TCG Anadolu aircraft carrier and the use of F-35s and Eurofighter jets will underscore the security of the grain export agreement and ensure Turkish military and state prowess in the Black Sea and by defacto the Caucasus. The renewal of military alliances, such as the US-Turkish Mechanism and the military alliance between the United Kingdom and the Turkish Republic, highlights the importance of protecting the Eastern and Southern Flanks of NATO. In the coming period, Turkey will integrate hypersonic missiles into its arsenal of strength, in tandem with the US commitment to modernize existing tactical nuclear capabilities already held in the country.
The recent earthquake that has impacted historical cities such as Gaziantep and Adana, where the Incirlik Airbase is located, has once again turned the populace and leadership of the country to the Turkish Armed Forces. The TAF has taken full operational control over the fallout of the seismic damage, displaying their leadership, operational prowess, and sense of duty beyond purely being the Armed Forces of the Turkish nation. As Turkey approaches its centennial anniversary, the Turkish Armed Forces remain the beacon of the homeland and its guardian, providing hope and affection to citizens who have lost their homes and loved ones due to the quakes.
Alp Sevimlisoy is an internationally published geopolitical strategist & national security expert on NATO’s role within the Mediterranean, focusing on regional unionism, development of national unity doctrines & Defense Policy and a Millennium Fellow at the Atlantic Council headquartered in Washington, DC. Alp Sevimlisoy’s opinion-editorials have been regularly published in The Hill, The National Interest, South China Morning Post and Israel Hayom. Alp Sevimlisoy has been featured by Newsweek, The Daily Mail, The Daily Express, Politico, the National Journal, Benzinga, Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and the Centre for the National Interest (CFTNI). He has also published extensively on the role for a unified Mediterranean Command Structure within NATO. Alp Sevimlisoy is also the CEO of his flagship private asset management corporation & hedge-fund headquartered in Istanbul. He has served as an advisory board member at Bayes Business School (formerly Cass Business School).