Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Military Service Debate

An upcoming meeting between Prime Minister Erdogan and Chief of General Staff Ilker Basbug could produce new measures that would allow more Turkish men to pay to significantly reduce their military service. At the moment, college graduates are required to serve six months in the armed forces while other men are required to serve 18 months. Turkish citizens who have worked outside the country for at least three years can do complete their military servide with only 21 days of basic training. To read more on past provisions that have allowed some Turkish men to shorten their military service, as well as some insight into the debate, see this story from Hurriyet Daily News' Isil Egrikavuk. Such measures have been implemented throughout the Turkish Republic, including after the 1999 Iamit earhtquake as a means of raising state revenue. However, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has argued that allowing some to shorten their term is implausible given a purported 2/3 shortage of men currently in service and the political/morale problems that could result given the TSK's operations against the PKK.

UPDATE I (4/25) -- Friday's meeting between Erdogan and Basbug resulted in no compromise agreement to allow for paid military service. From Hurriyet Daily News:

No deal was reached on the issue, as the written statement released after the meeting said the circumstances were not suitable for shortened military service by payment. At the same time, however, they did agree that the period of military service could be shortened in general.

Başbuğ and Erdoğan discussed new structural changes to fix the duration of military service to a period of 12 months and professionalize the forces to make the fight against terrorism more effective, according to Sunday media reports.

Professionalizing the military has been a Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, objective since 2007.

There are three different types of military service under the current system; non-university graduates over the age of 20 complete 15 months of service as ordinary soldiers while university graduates join the forces for 12 months as higher-ranking reserve officers or six months as ordinary soldiers.

The planned amendments anticipate 12 months of military service for all male citizens.

UPDATE II (5/1) -- A recent survey of college students conducted by MetroPOLL found that "45 percent of university students said they did not want to see a change in compulsory military service, while 40.4 percent expressed a desire for the establishment of a professional army, which would allow them to avoid service in the military. Also of interest are Hurriyet Daily News columnist Joost Lagendijk's comments from his column of a few days ago.

1 comment:

Stranger said...

Here's my plan to save the world. Well, not really, but improve the military service issue-- I'm just putting it out into the ether to see what happens:

It seems to me part of the point of military service is to pick up where education leaves off. It's a way of continuing the nationalistic education and patriot training (I'm avoiding the word "indoctrination" on purpose here), while giving men a chance to see places and meet people they wouldn't have a chance to otherwise, especially poor men. In a way, it makes people more a part of their country, and gives them more investment.

So then it occurs to me that women are excluded from this, and there's a piece of the culture they don't get to share. Too many women are poorly educated enough as it is. Denying them the chance to explore their country just marginalizes them further.

So, here's my solution: Compulsory national service for men and women both. Not just military service, but national service, like where people go and work in hospitals and build schools and work on other various NGO projects. Keep the military service, but let people choose if they want to join the military or do national service. Since the military is no fun at all, give it some perks, like you go for one year paid as opposed to 2 years unpaid for national service.

Seems to me it's win-win all around, though I expect the military wouldn't agree...