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Turkey: Conditions of Service
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Armed Forces > Conditions of Service


The average military academy graduate serves at least ten years in the three lowest officer grades in a combination of training and field assignments as a platoon or company commander. The pace of promotion is usually fairly steady through the rank of colonel or its equivalent, assuming satisfactory performance reports graded by three superior officers. A particularly high rating can advance a promotion by a year. In normal times, an army officer can expect at least two "eastern" assignments, once while a lieutenant or captain and once between the ranks of major and colonel or their equivalents. A post in eastern Turkey is considered undesirable because of its isolation, the severe weather, and the lack of medical and education facilities for families. Since the early 1990s, a much larger part of the army has been deployed in the east to deal with the Kurdish insurgency. Personal influence has little effect on where people in the military are posted.

Most career officers can expect to retire with the rank of colonel or the equivalent. With the number of generals and admirals ranging between 280 and 300, only forty-eight of the hundreds of colonels and navy captains are promoted to flag rank each year. People being considered for general officer rank are subjected to a minute review of their entire service record. General officers must not be involved in political activities and must show discretion and conservatism in social and domestic life. Treated with great deference in civilian society, general officers are entitled to full-time use of an official car and chauffeur, as well as the services of an adjutant and several orderlies. Protocol activities take up much of a general officer's time. A general serving as a field commander exercises authority and responsibility comparable to those of a provincial governor.

Except during periods of high inflation, the net salary of career officers is slightly more than the pay of civil servants of comparable standing, although the difference narrows at higher ranks. The living standards of career officers clearly surpass those of other government workers when special benefits are included. Quarters are provided for more than 70 percent of permanent military personnel. Rents, deducted directly from salaries, may be no more than one-eighth of equivalent civilian rents. Security and the maintenance of grounds and buildings, duties assigned to enlisted personnel, are of high quality.

Salaries of noncareer soldiers are very low and during the first half of the 1990s were eroded by inflation. As of January 1994, the monthly wage of a private was TL37,000, then equivalent to only US$2.25. A corporal earned TL57,000 and a sergeant, TL75,000. Pensions for families of soldiers who had died in service were minimal; compensation for the widow of a private came to about US$37 a month.

Military hospitals provide medical care to all active-duty and retired officers and enlisted personnel and their families. Reservists are eligible on a space-available basis. The quality of treatment and personnel at military hospitals is at least as good as at university hospitals, and superior to what is available in general hospitals.

There are officers' clubs in about forty of the provinces, most with excellent facilities for leisure and recreation, as well as temporary accommodations for officers and their families. The clubs are heavily patronized by retired officers as well. Prices are far lower than in comparable commercial establishments. NCO clubs traditionally were much more modest, but a program was initiated in the mid-1980s to bring them up to officers' club standards. Twenty-five rest camps enable service members and their families to enjoy two-week holidays at a fraction of the cost of commercial resorts. Accommodations are awarded on a point system ensuring an opening at least every four years.

An unusual feature of the national defense establishment is the existence of a semiautonomous foundation known as the Army Mutual Aid Association (Ordu Yardimlasma Kurumu -- OYAK), which is essentially a military social security organization. Career officers and warrant officers contribute 10 percent of their basic salaries to the association's fund. Reserve officers contribute 5 percent. OYAK's business activities, which include holdings in eight major companies, have an annual turnover of US$5 billion, and are tax exempt. Participants may obtain housing loans from OYAK and may purchase homes built by OYAK's own construction companies at prices well below commercial rates. Upon retirement, OYAK makes a lump sum payment to career (but not reserve) officers, based on the members' investment plus accrued interest and dividends. OYAK also operates post exchanges selling items at 15 percent below prices at civilian outlets and offering durable consumer goods on highly favorable credit terms.

Data as of January 1995

Last Updated: January 1995

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Turkey was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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