Turkish military leadership problems and Operation Spring Shield

On March 2nd, Lieutenant General Sinan Yayla was assigned as commander of the Turkish Operation Spring Shield in Idlib.

The operation began on March 1st, following the death of 34 Turkish soldiers, who were embedded with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.

Lieutenant General Sinan Yayla is the 2nd Army Commander.

Coordination of all operational units involved in operations will be managed from the operations center, which is headed by him.

Sinan Yayla, 57, was born in Görele, Giresun in 1962.
Brigade General Sinan Yayla, who served as the 55th Mechanized Infantry Brigade Commander, was promoted from Brigade General to Major General with the YAŞ decision on August 30th, 2014. He was appointed as the Land Forces Logistics Commander on August 9th, 2016.

Despite being in the rank of Major General, he was appointed as the Corps Commander to the 7th Corps Command in the center of Diyarbakır, the staff rank of which is “lieutenant general” with the decision of YAŞ from August 30th, 2017.

Pursuant to the decision taken at the YAŞ meeting held on August 2nd, 2018, Yayla, who was promoted to lieutenant general, effective as of August 2nd, 2018, was appointed as the 2nd Army Command with the final YAŞ decision.

The rapid growth in ranks and responsibility is primarily due to the fact that after the failed coup in 2016, many, if not most of the experienced officers in the Turkish army were cleansed. Mostly they were sent to prison.

Tens of thousands have been arrested in relation to the failed coup, in all spheres of the country.

Nearly 290 coup-linked court cases have been launched, 261 of which ended with 3,239 defendants convicted, according to justice ministry figures.

Most recently, in June 2019, a court sentenced 151 people to life in prison, including General Akın Öztürk, former commander of Turkish Air Force, and the most senior officer involved in the coup. 128 people received “aggravated life” sentences, which indicates harsh conditions without parole, for their role in the coup, with another 23 receiving standard life sentences.

The failed coup resulted in mass arrests, with at least 40,000 detained. Arrested were also least 10,000 soldiers and, for reasons that remain unclear, 2,745 judges.

According to Fethullah Gülen, who is designated as a terrorist by Turkey, more than 77,000 people have been arrested and over 160,000 fired from their jobs.

As a result of primarily the arrests in the Turkish armed forces, there are understandable issues with appointing officer personnel.

There are reports that a batch of Turkish officers is being released from prison in attempt to improve the situation, how that will transpire is yet to be seen.

But, to remind a historical lesson, back in World War II times, the Soviet Union (by many, such as Poland considered much worse than even Nazi Germany) did the same in order to improve the situation in the frontline.

The primary difference is that releasing repressed officers when their entire country and the lives of their compatriots and loved ones are at stake may act as very effective motivation to perform well in commanding the troops.

It is unclear how supported Turkey’s operation in Idlib is, as it has currently provided fragmented evidence of success, but has ramped up quite a loss of life, and there’s very little to show for it.

It is, furthermore, showing that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wishes for a ceasefire in Idlib and is walking back on his claims that the entire area to the Turkish observation posts should be cleared of Syrian Arab Army presence, meaning that even “The Great Mustache” doubts Ankara could win this war.