The history of the Turkish nation, molded and developed together with political and military order as of its foundations, dates back to five thousand years. This history deeply rooted in Central Asia spread all over the continents owing to the tribal migrations. Turkish nation made her début into the world history with the foundations of the Hun, Göktürk, Uighur states in the east, and with the foundation of the first Oghuz Turkish State, the Seljuk State, in 1040, in the west.
Turks ruled over numerous tribes of Central Asia and over other tribes living around a vast geography only with their powerful armies. Turks, who devoted themselves to the military, proved the world that they were an army-nation. Turks had never considered military to be a special profession because each Turkish man was thought to be born as a valiant warrior since the time of Turkish nations in Central Asia. As it was inscribed in the Göktürk monuments, the idea that military mission was bestowed by God became the very principle of the Turkish nation.
The first organized army formed by the Emperor of the Asia Huns, Mete, in 209 B.C., has been accepted as the foundation of the Turkish Army and of the Turkish Land Forces. The first permanent Turkish Army established by Mete Han was based on the decimal organizational system. In this organization, the number of soldiers in the biggest unit was 10.000 and it was called "division". The divisions were divided into gradually decreasing troops of 1000, 100 and 10 soldiers. This organization has continued its existence with minor changes in all Turkish states.
Upon entering through the gates of Anatolia opened at the Malazgirt Victory in 1071, Turks founded the Anatolian Seljuk State. The history of the Turkish Navy starts with the Anatolian Seljuk State. In the first decade following the Malazgirt Victory, Turkish vanguards reached the shores of the Mediterranean Archipelago and Marmara. Çaka Bey, the first person to introduce the Turkish people to open seas, launched the first Turkish fleet in 1081. Naval victory he achieved against the Byzantine fleet ashore Koyun Adası (Spalmatori Island) on May 19, 1090, marked the foundation of the Turkish Navy.
Anatolian Seljuk State, having enjoyed a glorious life, was replaced by Anatolian principalities; and the ever-existing Turkish determination to live and exist emerged once again in history with the principalities. Among all the principalities Osmanli Principality proved its might rapidly, and his army played an important role in his progression to an empire. The transformation of the principality army composed of ghazis into a standing army composed of janissaries and sipahis marked a milestone in the history of Ottoman Empire. Turkish army's perseverance and strength in war, following the new war technologies and the principle of fair state government enabled the Ottoman Empire to rule over three continents - extending from Hungary on the west to Caucasus on the east, from Crimea on the north to Mesopotamia and Arabia on the southeast, Egypt, and Mediterranean islands on the south.
Navy, along with the land forces, played a significant role in Osmanli Principality's progression towards an "Empire." Upon the completion of the Gelibolu [Gallipoli] Naval Base in 1401, the rank of "Kaptan-ı Derya / Kaptan Paşa" [Admiral] was introduced into the Ottoman Navy. Saruca Pasha was the first person who attained the rank of Kaptan-ı Derya in the Turkish Navy in history. The golden age of Ottoman Navy was the reign of Kanunî Sultan Süleyman [Suleiman the Magnificent]. The experiences of Barbaros Hayrettin, Turgut Reis, and other prominent seamen gained Ottoman Empire supremacy around the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
Following the foundation of "Airplane Commission" on June 1, 1911, aviation organization was introduced into the Ottoman Empire. The commission was annulled upon the Empire's entering the Balkan War; nevertheless, reforms were initiated once again after the war. The founding date of the commission is, today, celebrated as the founding date of the Turkish Air Force.
Ottoman Empire, weakening due to the geopolitical and geo-strategic state of affairs, was compelled to take part in the First World War during its hardest time; however, this opened new and heroic pages for the Turkish Military History. The Çanakkale Battles that played a crucial role in the world geography and political order became the symbol of the resurrection of the Turkish nation. The defeat of its allies brought the fall of the Ottoman Empire, consequently the country was occupied, and the army was dismissed.
A new sun rising over the territory of this deep-rooted empire that vanished after the First World War dawned upon the foundations of the eternal Turkish Republic. The sun that dispersed the dark clouds was Mustafa Kemal ATATÜRK, the great military leader and statesman of the 20th century. The fight he started on May 19, 1919, relying solely upon the Turkish nation, was crowned with victory as a result of the army-nation solidarity; and this victory led to the founding of the Turkish Republic. Being a true military reformist, ATATÜRK proved his genius to the whole world by taking the state he founded further. The Turkish territory now embraces a new Republic whose borders were drawn with blood.
Due to the changes occurring in the world politics after the Second World War, Turkey took part in the Korean War where the Turkish contingent changed the course after being assigned in the most critical areas of the war. The determination and heroism the Turkish contingent displayed at the war, Turkish soldiers were shown as an example to the armies of the world.
Turkish Republic, becoming a member of the NATO on February 18, 1952, launched modernization efforts in her Armed Forces. With its ever-increasing power of deterrence, the Turkish Army proved its power and capabilities once more during the Cyprus Peace Operation in 1974. Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) entered a restructuring process in the late 1980s. TAF has been effectively restructuring itself with the aim of being able to deal with the risks and threats ranging from terrorism to conventional warfare, as well as maintaining its deterrence power.
Currently, located in a region where thoroughly different political regimes, religions, economic systems, and military powers confront each other, Turkey, with her prevailing position over the Black Sea, Mediterranean Archipelago, Mediterranean, Balkans, and the Middle East, constitutes a focal point of the strategic interests extending from the Gibraltar, being the intersection point of land and maritime lines of communications among three continents, to Middle East and further to Central Asia. Turkiye with her straits has the power to control the Suez Canal and hence the maritime transportation in the region.
Turkey's strategic importance has considerably increased due to her closeness to the Middle Eastern, Caucasian, and Caspian energy resources and her position as an energy hub. Great challenges accompany the process of radical changes taking place in such a strategically important region where Turkiye is located. However, Turkey maintains her position as an element of confidence notwithstanding the still remaining uncertainties due to the changes in the region.
In this environment of ambiguity the threats directed at the security of Turkey are not solely the military powers in the regional countries as in the past; but they include political, economic, and social instabilities, border conflicts, sovereignty rights and power struggles, and terrorism.
TAF must be ready to respond to regional crises as well as those crises threatening world peace under political decisions.
The Armed Forces of the Turkish Republic, strictly devoted to great leader ATATÜRK's "Peace at Home, Peace in the World" principle, does not pursue any antagonistic objectives; however, it would not hesitate to exercise their power within the framework of the common ideals of international organizations of which Turkey is a member, when its independence, country, nation, or honor is under threat.
Turkish Republic, being a member of the NATO Defense Pact increased her defense assurance and also contributed to the safeguarding of the global balance. Turkey, making defense and economic cooperation with the U.S., which has remained as the sole super power due to the changing balances, supports the initiatives of disarmament and arms control, and advocates that disarmament should continue under careful and effective supervision in a manner that no prejudice would arise to the security of any nation.
In a region where infinite intimidations and risks prevail, Turkiye, starting from peacetime, is compelled to keep her national means of security intact, and render her armed forces capable and strong against any possible coercion.
The main elements of Turkish Defense Politics are determination for and commitment to national defense, NATO solidarity and the Turkish Armed Forces.
After the end of the Cold War, TAF has undertaken and is still undertaking peacekeeping and other operations under the aegis of the UN and NATO in order to settle the crises in the Balkans, Caucasus, Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Armed Forces of the Turkish Republic, whose geopolitical and geo-strategic importance is ever increasing, is composed of the Land Forces, Air Forces and Navy that are directly affiliated to the Turkish General Staff. The General Command of the Gendarmerie and the Coast Guard Command serving as elements of inland security during peacetime take their due positions under Land Forces and Navy in wartime.
The Chief of General Staff is the Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces. During wartime, he acts as the Commander-in-Chief on behalf of the President of Turkish Republic. Commanding the Armed Forces, and determining principles and programs for personnel, intelligence, operation, organization, training and education, and logistics departments to prepare the Armed Forces to war are all under the responsibility of the Turkish General Staff.
Turkish General Staff does also supervise the mutual military relations of the Turkish Armed Forces with NATO and other countries.