The council's four-day meeting concluded on Aug. 4 and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accompanied by other YAŞ members, met with President Abdullah Gül on the same day to hand over to him the decisions of the council for approval. Gül approved the decisions on Saturday, and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) then made them public on their website.
According to the decisions, a total of 55 generals and admirals were forced to retire due to a “lack of vacant seats in their positions.” In addition, one general was forced to retire due to his age. Among the retiring generals and admirals are 40 suspects in coup plotting and terrorism-related cases, including those related to the Ergenekon terrorist network and the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plot.
The 40 generals and admirals were incarcerated in the Hasdal Military Prison. Now that they are retired, they are set to be transferred to Silivri Prison on Sept. 1.
Currently there are 68 active duty generals under arrest. Twenty-one of them, whose service was extended in 2010 and 2011, have already hit the four-year limit for extension of their tenure, and they needed to be asked to retire, according to military custom. The tenure of the remaining 19 officers might have been extended but the council refused to do so. New sources suggested that the remaining 28 suspects will also be asked to retire at next year's YAŞ meeting.
Among the generals and admirals forced to retire on Saturday were Lt. Gens. İsmail Hakkı Pekin, Nejat Bek, Korkut Özarslan, Mehmet Eröz and Tevfik Özkılıç; Maj. Gens. Ahmet Yavuz, Salim Bektaş, Abdullah Dalay and İhsan Balabanlı; Brig. Gens. Mehmet Ali Yıldırım, Kasım Erdem, Lokman Ekinci and Gökhan Gökay; Vice Adms. Mehmet Otuzbiroğlu and Kadir Sağdıç; and Rear Adms. Mücahit Şişlioğlu, Cem Gürdeniz, Fikret Güneş, Ahmet Türkmen and İsmail Taylan.
According to the YAŞ decisions, 47 colonels have been promoted as generals and admirals. With the forced retirements and promotions, the number of active duty generals and admirals in the TSK dropped from 362 to 353.
In addition, the tenures of 33 generals and admirals were extended for another year in this year's meeting. One such general is Brig. Gen. Zeki Es, known for ordering the placement of land mines that killed seven soldiers in Çukurca, a district of eastern Hakkari province, in 2009. Es was initially arrested, and then released pending trial. The tenure of Brig. Gen. Ünal Karaosmanoğlu was also extended. Karaosmanoğlu was placed under investigation recently after 13 soldiers were killed in Silvan, Diyarbakır province, last year when their unit, which was conducting a rescue operation to save several civilians taken hostage by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), was attacked.
Yörük appointed EDOK head
The TSK also announced that 2nd Army Corps Commander Gen. Servet Yörük was appointed head of the Education and Doctrine Command (EDOK). His predecessor, Gen. Nusret Taşdeler, was appointed YAŞ member. Taşdeler is a suspect in the investigation into an Internet campaign to discredit the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and is currently receiving treatment at the Gülhane Military Academy of Medicine (GATA).
Lt. Gen. Galip Mendi replaced Yörük and became the new commander of the 2nd Army Corps. Mendi came into prominence in 2008 when he paid a visit to two suspects in the Ergenekon terrorist network, retired Gens. Şener Eruygur and Hurşit Tolon, in a Kocaeli prison.
Contrary to expectations, Air Forces Commander Gen. Mehmet Erten was not asked to retire at this year's YAŞ meeting. There was speculation that Erten could be asked to retire due to his poor management of the situation that arose from the military's killing of 34 citizens in Uludere in December 2011 after mistaking them for members of the PKK, and the downing of a Turkish F-4 warplane by Syrian forces on June 22.
The tenure of Lt. Gen. Abidin Ünal, who is the most experienced general at the First Air Forces Command in Eskişehir, was extended for one year, leading to rumors that he will become the top Air Forces commander next year if Erten retires.
The current chief of General Staff, Gen. Necdet Özel, will remain in office until 2015. This year's forced retirements and promotions suggest that Gen. Bekir Kalyoncu, who is the gendarmerie commander now, will become the commander of the Land Forces next year, and will replace Özel in 2015. An İstanbul high criminal court demanded earlier this year that Kalyoncu testify as part of the Sledgehammer coup plot probe.