Defence Q&A Turkish armed forces doctrine and technical manuals


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I am curious to know if Turkish ministry of defense/Armed forces publishes its doctrines and technical manuals.
If so, can anybody give me a link? @Sanchez @dBSPL and others.


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I am curious to know if Turkish ministry of defense/Armed forces publishes its doctrines and technical manuals.
If so, can anybody give me a link? @Sanchez @dBSPL and others.
Your want Red Book actually... More precisely, the answer starts from there. Because the state's security approaches and threat definitions are formalized at the NSC. They are documented here and strategies and approaches are adopted in line with these decisions.

The National Security Policy of the State is defined in Article 2/b of the Law No. 2945 on the National Security Council and the General Secretariat of the National Security Council. There is a document prepared by the NSC, known as the RED BOOK, which asserts that national activities must be planned and carried out according to defined principles for the continuation of the state. At the same time, its content, which is classified, is said to contain issues directly related to defense and security, threat perceptions and a body of principles, and is not unconstitutional. It can be seen as the top of the pyramid in terms of characterizing Turkiye's threat perception, and all doctrinal designs and related sub-work topics are the lower legs of this structure.

As a result of the export-oriented development of the defense industry, even if it seems to be very intertwined with social media, in fact, the number of open documents on strategic planning and doctrines is very limited and the scope of the existing ones is very narrow. As far as I know, the TAF 2033 vision document has not been fully included in open sources. More specifically, issues such as the military organization of certain classes of troops and the active inventory of certain classes of troops require very careful scans. For some unit types, you will not find any information at all.

If you are asking on the basis of technical capacity and troop/unit organization: The best inventory work in open sources is in Sanchez üstad's trmilitary forum. The trmilitary forum is already a sacred source of information for us with its archive, you can find great things in the depths of that forum. Regarding vision documents, strategic plans, road maps and future projections, the situation is a bit messy, you cannot get this information ready-made as a pill. You should be familiar with the topics and know exactly what you are looking at.


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I am curious about how Turkish military culture and doctrine is viewed from outside. I'll copy-paste some from things I was able to find from reddit's r/warcollege. Keep in mind these are opinions of people who use pseudonyms.

Regarding use of tanks:
"...Turkey’s aggressive use of tanks is unusual and non-conforming with most of NATO, but it’s not necessarily wrong. Turkey is deficient when compared to Russia or the U.S. in APCs and artillery, but has probably the most tanks per soldier in the world (counting only those actively in service, not the ones Russia left to rot in parking lots). We’re talking 2-3 times more than the US or Russia. This oversupply of tanks means the Turks are naturally going to use them more recklessly and aggressively to achieve their ends. When you only have a hammer…"

Comparing TAF with Europeans with regards to competency in general:
"Training wise? Yes, because most NATO infantry aren't well trained. In every NATO army there are minorities of infantry (special forces, "armies within armies" like the US marines) who excel at basic infantry skills and marksmanship. The vast majority of NATO troops, however, receive very little range time, aren't very good marksman, and learn on the job if deployed. This isn't exclusive to NATO, it's a worldwide phenomenon: ammunition and exercises cost money, and it's far cheaper to dress a man up, give him a rifle, and tell him what to do than to let him practice it.

Turks are no different. Most who rotate through the TAF are conscripts. Basic training is three weeks, dealing with how to move, crawl, sneak, dig, shoot, clean your weapon, and execute basic tactics (in this case, bounding overwatch and the L shaped ambush). Conscripts then go on to train mostly professional and technical skills for the rest of their service, especially if they're deployed to the Aegean ("vacation deployment"), while professionals have a lot of range time. You can compare Turkish conscripts and Turkish professionals to the US army vs. the US marines - they are totally different forces with different cultures: the conscripts, like the US army, are a very career focused force (since almost everyone will leave the army and have to be useful as a civilian) while the professionals have a hardcore culture and are virtually obsessed with marksmanship.

There's quite a lot of combat footage of Turkish professionals. Their skills as infantrymen are good, as you can see from these videos. Their approach, room clearing, and deployment as they fire are all correct (one guy in this video spends very little time looking right when he enters a room, but that's because he could see from the window there was no one in that corner). Interestingly they seem to have done a 30% decent job of training their Syrian auxiliaries in that video as well - they make a lot of mistakes but seem far better and more disciplined than other Syrian rebels and certainly ANA and ISF. Most of the professional troops rotate through the southeast (the forever warzone), so their average level of combat experience is higher than the troops of basically every other NATO country.

Doctrinally, the Turks are far more reckless than the rest of NATO. In every other NATO army it's taken for granted that "tanks cause casualties around the tank" - infantry have to "support" them and clear ATGM nests. Turks altogether refuse to believe that slow, unprotected leg infantry should be "protecting" hardened, fast metal boxes and use their tanks far more aggressively. They typically pulse and probe against targets in squadrons, not unlike the light cavalry of old. In this regard, their tank tactics are old fashioned, and that goes for their infantry tactics as well. Turkey places far less stock in air support than the rest of NATO. In exercises calling for fire support isn't an option and infantry officers are supposed to win through old school fixing and flanking. At all levels, Turkish ground forces also have a borderline contempt for reconnaissance. Reconnaissance to them means reconnaissance in force.

Underlying this is the culture of the TAF, which is the least loss averse of all NATO armies. Part of this is influenced by doctrinal and historical factors - the TAF inherited the legacy of the German-trained late Ottoman Army, which, like most German students, oversimplified German doctrine into a bullheaded parody. A lot of it is cultural. Turks fancy themselves a warrior nation and the dominant force in Turkish military doctrine is bravado. The ethos of the TAF is as follows: softness by officers is a sign of weakness which soldiers will take advantage of, a good soldier is one who can disassemble his rifle and hit a small target at long ranges, snap inspections and exercises are the road to readiness, any commander who isn't taking losses isn't doing his job, a soldier's job is to shoot and a unit should be shooting all the time, rules are for chumps, the most important job of an officer is to set an example in combat, and asking for help means you have failed.

How this has played out historically is that Turkish soldiers are professional, but their officers are aggressive amateurs - the kind that fate looks out for. In Cyprus in 1973, Turkish airborne troops dropped in widely dispersed zones that could easily have been encircled and destroyed if the Greeks were even marginally aggressive. In Syria, the TAF ran into constant traps and ambushes and left wide gaps in their lines. However, all these operations obtained a generally good result. Turkish operations were confused and disjointed, but there was a method to their madness: because they could count on the bullheaded aggression of their junior officers, every unit would be keeping the enemy busy and creating tactical opportunities for others. Even tactical defeats contributed to operational victory.

As for how I'd rate the average Turkish infantry platoon, definitely top 5 NATO (behind US, UK, France, just ahead of Poland), with the caveat that the bar is very low. Every country outside those five either has a government that doesn't care all that much about the military, or suffers from institutional and cultural problems stemming from Soviet times. Turkish discipline is the harshest in NATO, the average Turkish professional soldier gets more range time than any of his NATO counterparts, and is the most likely to have combat experience. NATO officers who've worked directly with them have had the same assessment.

The big picture is a different story. TAF is in the process of modernizing. Its tanks are mostly outdated M48s and it has too much towed artillery and too little SPA (but you could argue there's no difference in mountains). Aircraft inventory was good a few years ago but now is miserable because TAF is cut off from the F-35 program. They're not likely to get a 5th generation fighter for a decade and have shifted to airborne killbots. There aren't enough attack helicopters for their main potential conflicts and TB2s don't have the firepower to be a replacement. Air defense is miserable (though that's not a uniquely Turkish problem in NATO).

This question was about competence and not inventory, but the two are intertwined because of doctrinal adjustment. While "good troops", Turks are entirely unprepared to fight one of the two conflicts they prepare for - war against Russia in the Caucasus. Turkish troops show aggression in combat, but their training still revolves around "old school" infantry fire and flanking tactics, typically at long ranges. They have no "Scandinavian defense" concept to respond to an enemy with superior firepower (withdrawing from each successfully defended position to the next line). This is again not just a Turkish problem in NATO. Overall, they are one of the better forces in NATO but not perfect and certainly not up to the level of the US."

I know for a fact that some things this guy says are pure conjecture, but his overall assessment seems interesting.

Overall assessment of TAF's performance in past and present times:
"Historically good, recently great. The Turkish armed forces entered their first conflict after the war of independence when they conducted a naval landing in Cyprus in 1973. At the time, Turkey was not only one of the poorest countries in Europe, but even in the Middle East with a GDP per capita far below that of Iraq, and there were many doubts that they could pull off a landing. “Operation Attila” was a resounding success and the Turks inflicted disproportionate casualties on the defenders, capturing around a third of the mountainous island in four weeks of fighting interrupted by a ceasefire.

In recent conflicts, the Turkish army has continued to impress, though one could argue this also comes down to the weakness of their recent enemies. Their greatest accomplishment was dismantling Haftar’s “state of the art” Russian air defense system with minimal effort, though many analysts have argued this latest Russian embarrassment says more about the weakness of Pantsir than the strength of the TAF. The Turks managed extremely lopsided losses in all their incursions into Syria, but this can be expected when they’re fighting poorly armed Syrian and Kurdish brigades with less firepower than Turkish battalions (plus the Turks have brought their losses down by using armed Syrians as human shields). It’s undoubtably from their recent showings, however, that the Turks deserve the title of a competent force, even if their successes would not have been as extreme against a better enemy.

One area where the Turks have consistently failed (largely due to political problems) is COIN. Tactically, the Turks have fared well against the 40-year Kurdish insurgency, but the goal of COIN is to end uprisings and Turkey in this category has completely failed. Unlike most armies performing COIN, Turkish forces do not observe any semblance of strict ROE and their campaigns in Kurdistan have been characterized by nonstop PR blunders. Because of this the Kurdish war has followed a never ending pattern of Kurdish uprising, Turkish suppression, Kurdish withdrawal across borders or ceasefire, and a resumption of the conflict once PKK licks its wounds. The “hearts and minds” of the Turkish Kurds are nowhere close to won, nor do the Turks have any level of “population control” - in the last phase of the war, several Turkish towns even fell to the insurgents and were the sites of conventional battles. It’s yet to be seen if the Turkish strategy of “buffer zone” in Syria will produce results.

Turkish competence (especially when contrasts with neighbors) should not be surprising. Unlike most Arab states, Turkey was never successfully conquered, and as a result its military was never retrained for auxiliary and internal security roles. The TAF descends directly from the Ottoman army, which by 1915-16 definitely deserved the title of a capable force, though not an excellent one.

The reason the Turks have managed not only to perform acceptably by developing world standards but defy doubts is their doctrine and military culture is well suited to modern war, especially low intensity wars. The Germans were the dominant military influence in the later Ottoman Empire, instilling a tradition of mission command and competent staff work in the Turkish army. Decentralized command only works with aggression, and Turkish officers have this in spades - a rather prescient 2006 report called “Volunteering for Risk” unpacked Turkish military culture and predicted with great accuracy how future conflicts involving the TAF would look. It concluded that there was “very little risk aversion” throughout all ranks of the TAF, owing partly to Turkish culture’s emphasis on heroism, partly to high command’s tolerance for losses, and partly to the culture of the TAF which prizes tenacity over intellect.

The TAF are not just competent. Qualitatively they are the best military at their level of GDP per capita. That’s not to say they don’t have problems (the biggest being a lot of outdated equipment), but that comes with the territory of being a developing country."

Some self described "apoist" PKK supporter has his own take on the Turkish military (This was written 5 years ago):

As a apoist, I must admit Turkish army is the second most capable army in the Middle East.

Since TAF is a armed force involved in Afrin, I studied it so as to better understand its nature.

Since it's not a official academic essay, the following article mainly use the data on Internet and personal comment is included. Sorry for any mistake.


Talking about army, it is certainly the second largest army in NATO. Here is what I have previously written on TAF army:


Turkey is the 2nd largest army in NATO and it kept a large amount of armoured unit. Her Army consists of 402,000 servicemen (325,000 conscripts) which is even larger than the Russia army today.

[2. Structure of overall TAF]

Turkey adopted Army-Corps system which is similar to Army Group-Army system. There are total of four Army 1st~4th in Turkey commanding 9Army Corps. 1st army (Istanbulis) and 4th army (Cyprus) responsible for confrontation with Greece, 2nd army for Iraq-Syria and 3th army act as reserves in central. Each Corps consists of armoured/mechanised/infantry units with 3~5 units.

There are a totals of 9 Army Corps including 1 Infantry Division, 2 Mechanized Infantry Divisions, 1 Armored Division, 1 Training Division in division level. At the same time, the Corps also consists of different brigades. There are 11 Infantry / Motorized Infantry Brigades, 16 Mechanized Infantry Brigades, 9 Armored Brigades, 5 Para-Commando Brigades, 1 Army Aviation Brigade, 2 Artillery Brigades, 5 Training Brigades and one Humanitarian Aid Brigade in Turkey. Unlike most of the army in Asia. In terms of mechanised ratio, Turkey is relatively high (about 60%) compare to its surroundings.

[3. The heavy weapons in TAF]

Turkey armoured strength is relatively strong which have 3,000 tanks strength in paper. Yet, 1,200 of them are completely outdated American M48, these machines are mainly deposited or withdrawn are used in training centers and not enlisted.

"The most modern 3rd Gen-tanks at the disposal of the land forces of Turkey is the German Leopard 2A4 . The less modern one are 392 German Leopard 1 tanks of various modifications and nearly 1,200 more old American M60 tanks of various modifications.

The fleet of armored vehicles of the Turkish army is quite diverse and is represented by tracked and wheeled armored personnel carriers and tracked infantry fighting vehicles, as well as various machines based on them. Their total number exceeds 4,500 units. Of these the most part - is a technique of Turkish origin with the exception of older American M113 and M59.

Portable anti-tank weapons are represented and we carry anti-tank RPG, self-propelled anti-tank systems (48 ATGM FNSS ACV-300 TOW anti-tank systems and 156 M113 TOW). Number of PU Ammunition capacity and portable anti-tank systems in the Turkish army exceeds 2,400 (Otokar Cobra, Eryx, TOW, Milan, Cornet, contest). In addition, armed Turkish troops have more than 5000 RPG-7 and more than 40 thousand M72A2.

At the armed ground forces there are more than 1,200 self-propelled guns and towed guns in 1900, almost 10 thousand mortars. The vast majority of US-made artillery systems, many seriously outdated (M110, M107, M44T, etc.). The most advanced artillery systems are 155-mm self-propelled guns T-155 Firtina, representing licensed copy SAU South Korean K9 Thunder (240 in service, an order for 350 self-propelled guns), and 155-mm towed howitzers T-155 Pantera (about 225 units).

Considerable attention is paid Turkish military multiple rocket launchers. On arms of the Turkish army has 12 US MLRS MLRS (227 mm), 80 MLRS T-300 "Kasigra" (modern Chinese MLRS WS-1 caliber 302 mm), 130 T-122 "Sakarya" (Soviet BM-21 "Grad" on Turkish automotive chassis), MRL more than 100 T-107 (old Chinese Toure 63, 107 mm) and 24 of its own towed RA7040 MLRS caliber of 70 mm.

Army air defense presented antiaircraft artillery and self-propelled MANPADS MANPADS. Small-caliber guns antiaircraft artillery there are more than 2800 units. Man-portable air defense systems (Stinger, Igla, Red Eye), more than 1.9 million units. In addition, there are 150 air defense missile system "Altygan" (8 "Stinger" on M113) and 88 "Zipkin" (4 "Stinger" on the basis of the car "Land Rover").

The basis of the striking power of the army aviation helicopter gunships were American AH-1 "Cobra" (39 cars), as well as 6 new Turkish T-129 (created on the basis of the Italian A-129 helicopter, planned to build 60 cars). In addition, the disposal of military transport and 400 multipurpose helicopters (S-70 Black Hawk, UH-1, AS.532, AB-204/206) and 100 light aircraft. The gendarmes used 18 Mi-17 helicopters of the Russian manufacture.

An interesting detail is the fact that in recent years Turkey has become the second (after Bulgaria) NATO country in Europe, which are armed with tactical missiles. It is about 72 US ATACMS (launcher for them are MLRS MLRS) and at least 100 of its own tactical missiles J-600T, which have been copied from the Chinese B-611."

[4. Details organisation of armoured units]

Turkey focus on tank units as tank units are considered to be the key to defend Soviet "steel flood" in CW era.

Turkey tank brigades included three tank battalions while in the mechanised brigades just 1 tank battalion. Each tank battalion consists of 41 tanks. The staff and management team consists of 2 tanks, 39 armored rest distributed to 3 tank Wrotham. Each tank company consists of 13 tanks (1 tank company commander and platoon 4 to 3 tanks).

Since the showing the TO&E of all armoured units should be too long, the following will only present some "Ace armoured unit".

[5. Weakness of TAF armoured units]

But there are big weaknesses in TAF army but honestly it is not bad compared to the worse NATO allies.

Firstly, the equipment in TAF made in various nation is a problem. None enlisted tanks are homemade which Germany product services together with US and Germany. This problem completely reflected in the recent events that Germany stopped providing parts and new Leopard 2 tanks. Also, the new MBT Altay faced difficulties on engines due to German's embargo. The artillery in TAF is also a problem as the self-propelled guns are NATO standard but rocket come from Russia and China. The ammunition can't capable.

Secondly there are too much outdated weapons. M48 have a low-survivable chance in modern warfare. For support fire, M110, M44T, BM21 etc. and towed field gun is vulnerable and being too heavy. It can only give militants such as YPG a lesson as they got no anti-artillery radar.

But mostly importantly is that the IFV should be updated. M113 and its various upgrades can't even match with the old Soviet's era BMPs. Only IFV can act as spearheaded with tanks and it provides unreliable armour protection.

Level of combined arms level in TAF army also need to be improve. The combined arms level only existed at bridge level. Aviation scouts unit and more anti-air units should be considered. Also, the aviation force is highly centralised, no aviation units is attached to the Army and Corp. lastly, the SAM/AA units is being ignored, these units can only provide short range air defence and make TAF vulnerable in modern combat.

B.Air Force

The plunge after the coup is a disaster to TAF. The strongest evidence is in ES, the Air Force don't even show up in ES in large-scale. Yet, after one year, it restored its ability and capable to launch large scale air strike which is even comparable with RuAF.

In the first day of OB, the strikes on the Syrian-Kurdish YPG militia hit some 108 targets (RuAF recorded 121 flight and hit 424 target in 28-29 Dec. 2015) .Yet, unlike RuAF widely using unguided bomb,the use of JDAM and other precision-guided weapon is confirmed in TAF. Also, if we talking about the OBB involved, Turkish Air Force is even larger."

I wonder how people with better information on the subject would comment on these writings.

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