Special Forces Command
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|Special Forces Command|
Logo of the Special Forces Command
|Branch||Turkish Armed Forces|
|Motto||Death is honorable. Fear and failure are not.|
The Special Forces Command (Turkish: Özel Kuvvetler Komutanlığı), nicknamed Maroon Berets (Turkish: Bordo Bereliler) because of their distinctive service headgear, are the special operations unit of the Turkish Armed Forces. The Special Forces Command is not aligned to any of the three Turkish branches of TAF, receiving its orders directly from the General Staff of the Republic of Turkey. Its forerunner was the Special Warfare Department (Turkish: Özel Harp Dairesi)
Although the Special Forces Command is considered a division-level formation, this includes non-combatant units and administrative duties personnel as well. The combatant size of the OKK is not greater than 500. The OKK may be considered as the Turkish counterpart of the U.S. Army Special Forces. Sariibrahimoglu wrote in JDW in 2004 that the command hoped to reach a strength of 6,000.
Volunteers initially face a pass/fail written exam as well as physical tests. Those who pass the exams become special forces candidates. Adequate linguistic skills in at least one foreign language is a plus for admission. The candidates then have to complete a challenging training period which lasts around 3.5 years. Many drop out during this intense training period. Training encompasses fitness, obstacle, Martial Arts, close quarters combat (CQC), biological/chemical/nuclear warfare, parachuting, diving, sniping, demolition, counter-terrorism, search and rescue, stealth seek and destroy, reconnaissance and survival. Learning foreign languages is a part of the training. During the training, candidates are pushed by their instructors to their limits, both physically and mentally. Training schedule includes all aspects of a modern day regular and psychological warfare. 100 kilometer terrain-walking with a 40 kg. load is just an example of what the candidates have to go through during training.
The Trust Shot (in Turkish "Gūven Atışı") is a part of the MB's training program. It is exercised on the last month of the training and is to ensure that the soldiers can trust each other with their lives. The Trust Shot consists of two members of a squad standing next to paper target boards, while another member fires on the targets with a handgun while walking towards them from 15 meters (49 feet) away. During the exercise the men standing next to the targets are not allowed to move or wear body armor. They are one of the few special operations teams in the world to perform the trust shot.
OKK and MAK perform a variety of duties such as:
- Surveillance on enemy structures, facilities, defense systems or strategically relevant buildings.
- Covert sabotage against enemy units and structures.
- Hostage/POW/downed pilot rescue.
- Counter-terrorism missions.
- Close Quarter Combat.
- Organization and training of friendly civilians against the enemy.
Within the OKK, there is a more specialized unit with only 100 members. Although the name of the unit is Combat Search and Rescue (Muharebe Arama Kurtarma – M.A.K.), its duties focus more on unconventional warfare and military intelligence. No further information is available on MAK except for the fact that it is thought to be established and organized like its US counterpart Delta Force. It also differs from the OKK in that its members are selected not only from the Army, but also from the other two main forces, Navy and Air Force. It should not be difficult to conclude that the MAK members are the best of the best within the Turkish Armed Forces.
OKK and MAK both took part in the accomplishment of several missions. Capture of Abdullah Ocalan, the Chief of the terrorist PKK organization, in Kenya and of Semdin Sakik, PKK’s second chief in charge were carried out by the OKK. The OKK gained vast amount of experience in search and destroy type missions, especially in rural areas and caves in South-East Turkey during its years long campaign against the PKK. The OKK has also been undertaking missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania, Afghanistan and North Iraq. A few OKK teams were sent to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom and trained the new recruits of the newly established regular Afghan Army.
In 2012 a parliamentary report said that the Special Forces Command, along with its predecessors, had trained hundreds of thousands of civilians and equipped them with weapons, which they used to commit murders of Kurdish civilians as part of the Kurdish-Turkish conflict in the 1990s. The report said that the Special Forces Command's archives at its headquarters, nicknamed the "cosmic room", held "the secret history of Turkey".
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Grenade & Rocket Launchers
- Uslu, Emrullah (July 10, 2008). [tt_news=5045 "Tackling the PKK: New Directions for Turkey's Special Forces"]. TerrorismMonitor (Jamestown Foundation) VI (14): 9–11.
- "Ozel Kuvvetler Komutanligi (OKK)". Shadow Spear. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
- Today's Zaman, 26 November 2012, ‘Special War Dept. trained hundreds of thousands of civilians responsible for unsolved murders'
- Lale Sariibrahimoglu, 'Live-fire exercises shine spotlight on Turkey's special forces,' Jane's Defence Weekly, 7 January 2004