Gendarmerie General Command
Jandarma Genel Komutanlığı

As a part of Turkish Armed Forces The General Command of The Gendarmerie is subordinated to The General Staff in matters relating to training and education in connection with the Armed Forces, and to the Ministry of Interior in matters relating to the performance of the safety and public order duties. However, The General Commander of Gendarmerie is responsible to Ministry of Interior. To make things more confusing: Gendarmerie commando and aviation units are not under control of Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The Gendarmerie of the Republic of Turkey, which is responsible for the maintenance of safety and public order as well as carrying out other duties assigned by laws and regulations, is an armed security and law enforcement force, having military nature. As a part of Turkish Armed Forces, the General Command of the Gendarmerie is subordinated to the General Staff in matters related to training and education in connection with the Armed Forces and to the Ministry of Interior in matters related to the performance of the safety and public order duties. However, the General Commander of Gendarmerie is responsible to the Ministry of Interior.

In general, the duty and responsibility area of the Gendarmerie is outside the Police duty zone. These are the places outside the municipal boundaries of the provinces and districts and having no police organizations. The Gendarmerie is responsible for the performance of the safety and public order in above mentioned zones. 92 % of Turkey's area is under the responsibility of the Gendarmerie.

In accordance with Act No 2803 on "The Organization, Duties and Powers of the Gendarmerie", the duties of the Gendarmerie fall in four main headings as administrative, judicial, military and other duties. Administrative duties cover the activities preventing crime in order to perform the protection, watching, public order and security. Prevention of smuggling, its pursuit and investigations, and the external guarding of the Departments of Corrections are under the responsibility of the Gendarmerie. Following any committed crime, revealing the crime and criminals, arresting them and transferring the offender/s with their offence evidences to the judicial bodies.

The military duties cover duties which are derived from the military laws and regulations and are assigned by the General Staff. The duties apart from the administrative, judicial and military duties that are assigned by the laws and regulations and government acts.

The Organization of the General Command of the Gendarmerie is composed of:

  • Its Headquarters and Subordinated Units,

  • Internal Security Units,

    • The Gendarmerie Units which are not subordinated to administrative organization ;

      • The Gendarmerie Commando Units

      • The Gendarmerie Aviation Units

    • The Gendarmerie Units which are subordinated to administrative organization ;

      • Gendarmerie Regional Commands

      • Provincial Gendarmerie Commands (at regiment level)

      • Provincial Central and District Gendarmerie Commands

      • Gendarmerie Station Commands

      • Gendarmerie Guard Commands

      • Gendarmerie Public Order Commando Units

  • Border Units,

  • Training Units,

  • Gendarmerie Schools,

  • Administrative and Logistics Support Units,

And other units to be established depending on features of the duties.

Primarily a rural police force, the gendarmerie maintains public order outside the municipal boundaries of cities and provincial towns and guards Turkey's land borders against illegal entry and smuggling. It has jurisdiction over 90 percent of the territory of Turkey and 50 percent of the population. The gendarmerie's recruits are supplied through the military conscription system, and its officers and NCOs are transferred from the army. New career junior officers are obtained by quotas from the graduating classes of the Turkish army academy.

In late 1994, the gendarmerie's headquarters in Ankara was commanded by Aydin Ilter, a four-star general. Subordinate to the commanding general's chief of staff, a two-star general, are typical military staff sections for personnel, intelligence, operations, and logistics, as well as the headquarters commandant. The major operational category consists of the internal security units, divided into stationary forces and mobile infantry brigades. These forces may be supplemented by air units and commando units equipped with Russian APCs and towed artillery weapons. In 1994 Turkey announced the purchase of nineteen Russian helicopters to assist in operations against the PKK. Elite fighting formations that distinguished themselves in Cyprus in 1974, the commando units execute many of the operations against the PKK in the southeast. The gendarmerie also includes headquarters and border forces, administrative control and logistical support units, and training staff.

The total number of gendarmes was estimated at 70,000 active members and 50,000 reserves in late 1994. They are organized into thirteen regional commands encompassing the seventy-six provinces. In each province, the principal gendarmerie commander, a colonel or lieutenant colonel, advises the governor on matters of security and maintains direct charge of the district gendarmerie commands, usually headed by captains. Below the district commanders are commanders of the administrative subdistricts, each of whom controls the fixed posts in his area. There are some 3,600 posts, exclusive of border posts, usually located at intervals along the main roads and staffed by a sergeant and six or more gendarmes. To foster detachment from local groups and their interests and quarrels, gendarmes are usually assigned away from their home areas.

The administrative functions of the gendarmerie correspond roughly to those of the National Police but include such distinctive requirements as enforcing hunting and fishing laws, fighting forest fires, and patrolling borders. The gendarmes' judicial tasks include guarding prisons and assisting in investigations and preparations for trial. They also have military duties: serving as adjuncts to the army in emergencies, enforcing conscription, apprehending military deserters, and working in military courts.

Gendarmerie officers are chosen from cadets during the second year of training at the military academy, an aptitude for law being a prime factor in the selection. After completing their academy training, officers attend the infantry school for six months and the commando school for four months. Further professional training follows at the Gendarmerie Schools Command. NCOs are selected by examination from army personnel who have already served at least one year. They are then trained at the Gendarmerie Schools Command for five months. Basic military training is given to conscripts by the Gendarmerie Schools Command, followed by specialized training in various areas.

Writing in the late 1980s, the noted political journalist Mehmet Ali Birand commented that the gendarmerie had had an unfavorable reputation since its founding in 1839 and its later reorganization on the pattern of the French gendarmerie. It began as the agent of brute force for the government, putting down civil conflicts, pursuing criminals, and collecting taxes. From the early days of the republic, the gendarmerie was the only body available to subdue unrest, enforce the principles of Atatürk, suppress opposition, and collect levies.

The gendarmerie had relatively few officers and NCOs; the main burden of the service falls on ordinary conscripts who predominate in the force of 70,000 [as of 1994]. The conscripts are poorly trained in matters of law and regulations and in the manner of enforcing them, contributing to the harsh image of the gendarmerie. As Birand notes, in contrast to Turkish gendarmerie operations, operations of the French, Belgian, and Italian gendarmeries are carried out primarily by officers and NCOs, privates being assigned sentry duty and other tasks that will not bring them into contact with the public.

The commander of the gendarmerie said in 1993 that efforts were being made to tailor the personnel structure to enable the force to perform its missions more effectively. Specialized sergeants were being recruited instead of conscripts. No longer standardized, unit training was being tailored to conditions in various regions and particular types of missions. New equipment had been introduced to improve air transportation and surface movement, and to provide mobile command, control, communications, and intelligence capabilities.

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