Officials played down Kosaner's warning that the military would fight
those who threaten secularism. They pointed out that his prececessor,
Basbug, was also known as a fierce secularist but who quickly learned to
work with the Islamist government. On Aug. 30, Basbug formally retired, Middle East Newsline reported.
"I don't think there will be a conflict with the government," [Ret.]
Gen. Necati Ozgen said. "He's [Kosaner] a democrat and he will try to
protect the armed forces through democratic means."
On Sept. 12, Turkey was scheduled to hold a referendum on constitutional
reforms that would severely limit the military. Under the
government-proposed reforms, military officers accused of crimes against the
government would be tried in civilian courts.
Kosaner was expected to face the greatest challenge to Turkey's
military, which toppled four governments over the last 50 years. More than
100 officers, including generals, have been indicted on charges of seeking
to overthrow the Erdogan-led government in 2003. In August, several senior
commanders were blocked for promotion by Erdogan because of their links to
the alleged plot.
The military has also come under severe criticism for its failure to
stop the Kurdish revolt in Turkey. The casualty rate in 2010 from attacks by
the Kurdish Workers Party was said to be the highest in nearly a decade.
Kosaner has pledged to continue efforts to restructure the military,
including the formation of at least five brigades comprised of professional
soldiers. The new chief of staff has also sought to expand the draft to
include university students and graduates. University graduates have been
given the choice of either six months of regular service or one year of
The military has also been planning to increase training to fight the
PKK. Kosaner said all soldiers would undergo a 45-day course that would
range from basic skills to counter-insurgency training.