ARMING FOR ASYMMETRIC WARFARE: TURKEY’S ARMS INDUSTRY IN THE 21ST CENTURY
AZG Armenian Daily
Located at the strategic crossroads of Europe, Asia, the Caucasus
and the Middle East,Turkey still maintains a vast conscript army of
over one million men, the second-largestin NATO and the largest in
Europe. Major reforms to the military are underway whichwill reduce
its overall size by 20-30 percent while increasing its professionalism,
trainingand technological capabilities.
Turkey’s drive for self-sufficiency in arms has brought about
administrative,financial, political and military reforms designed to
enable Turkey to remain aregional power capable of independent action
outside its borders if it feels itsnational integrity is threatened.
Turkey is the world’s fourth-largest importer of arms and the world’s
28th largestarms exporter. Turkey is aggressively seeking to increase
its market share,expecting to increase its annual exports to $1.5
billion in the next three years.Turkey is also seeking to increase
its share of domestically produced militaryequipment from the current
25 percent to 50 percent and its share of NATOprojects from 4 percent
to 20 percent by 2011.
Turkey’s arms program is designed to address the armed forces’
requirements intwo main areas: Conventional warfare in cooperation
with its strategic allies inNATO and the new challenges posed by
asymmetrical warfare (insurgencies,terrorism, guerrilla warfare, etc.).
Turkey faces internal security threats from right-wing, left-wing,
religious andethno-nationalist extremists. These groups include the
Kurdistan Workers’ Party(PKK), al-Qaeda, Turkish Hizbullah and the
Great Eastern Islamic Raiders’ Front(IBDA-C).
Turkey’s arms sector continues to be tightly controlled by the
state, thoughprocurement is jointly handled by civil and military
authorities. Institutions likethe Undersecretariat for Defense
Industries (SSM) and the Turkish Armed ForcesFoundation (TSKGV)
have recourse to financing outside the state budget in theirefforts
to coordinate the activities of Turkish defense industries with
Turkishmilitary requirements and encourage the development of new
Licensed production and joint projects are seen as stepping
stones to eventualTurkish independence and self-sufficiency in arms
production. To this end,technology transfer plays a critical part in
the awarding of foreign arms andequipment contracts.
Foreign debate on issues like the alleged Armenian genocide of World
War I andTurkish methods in repressing militant Kurdish separatism
have come toinfluence the award of arms contracts. Turkey has begun to
look further afield fornations that are willing to meet its military
needs without feeling the need tobecome involved in internal political
or historical issues.
Intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and information management
areviewed as the keys to military success in the 21st century,
especially in meetingthe challenge of asymmetrical threats.
The Turkish defense establishment is pushing the Turkish arms
industry in thedirection of independent production of high-tech
weapons. Mastering thesetechnologies will allow Turkey to expand its
export market, which will in turnhelp finance arms production for
Turkey’s internal needs.