Turkish army conceals its losses at all costs

The Turkish army has turned the manipulation of its own casualty figures into an art. False causes of death are spread to conceal losses in battle and deaths from cruel disciplinary punishments.

Over the past few days, reports of dead Turkish soldiers have come out of the blue. Soldiers of the occupying forces are dying every day as a result of effective guerrilla actions. Concealing its own losses has become a special method of warfare for the Turkish state. Due to the high number of casualties, however, the Turkish state seems to be in ever greater need of explanation. The latest reports about soldiers show a new attempt at concealment. In recent days, there have been an increasing number of reports of soldiers who have been "struck by lightning", "got lost on the way to the mosque", "fell into an abyss" and, most importantly, committed "suicide". These were usually people who had been killed in the war in South Kurdistan.

If the balance sheets of the HPG (People's Defence Forces) headquarters are placed side by side, the losses of the Turkish army become clear: 861 soldiers were killed and 128 wounded in 2021. In 2022, a total of 2,942 soldiers, including four agents, 12 counter-guerrillas and 26 high-ranking military officers, were killed and 408 soldiers were wounded. In 2023, a total of 919 soldiers, two counter-guerrillas and seven high-ranking military officers were killed and 128 wounded by guerrillas. In the first quarter of 2024, more than 100 Turkish soldiers were killed in revolutionary operations and guerrilla actions. How many of them were announced by the army with their real cause of death? The answer is obvious.

In the last month, dozens of deaths of soldiers have been reported in the state media under false causes of death. But who is investigating the true causes of death of the soldiers? Nobody, of course, except the families of a few soldiers. The strange thing is that most of the dead soldiers are professional soldiers, i.e. mercenaries. Among them are commanders in the ranks from non-commissioned officer to major. The practice of declaring a major who has died in battle as having died of a heart attack probably only exists in the Turkish army.

The causes of suicide of soldiers

Let's move on to suicides. The problem of soldier suicides and the reasons for them must be analysed on the right basis. In times of war, states use all possible means of force and coercion to keep their armies functioning and to prevent fractures and disunity within the military. These methods of maintaining discipline take place in private within the army and are concealed and protected by the state. The soldiers who die due to these disciplinary measures are kept secret from society. If they are people who have no family or no one to look after them, this makes it easier for the commanders, but most soldiers have families. When soldiers die in military service, whether on the battlefield or at the front, their parents ask about them. And that's how it should be. Under the AKP government, however, this situation has been reversed. Under the guise of discipline, there is widespread arbitrary behaviour.

The army was quickly converted to the increased use of professional soldiers rather than contract soldiers. This rapid process, coupled with the arbitrary style of the superiors in military training, resulted in the worst practices towards the soldiers. This is because the commanders see the professional soldiers, who are paid for their actions, as paid objects with which the state can do as it pleases. They are seen as labour and not, as is repeatedly claimed, as people entrusted to their care. Recently, statements by some discharged contract soldiers have also become known on this subject. As part of their training, they were treated like animals. They had to starve, were forced to perform extreme labour and were used as servants by their commanders. How much of society is aware of this situation or questions it? The deaths of soldiers disguised as training accidents and suicides show how much the country and the army are sinking into the reality created by the AKP and how it is becoming increasingly difficult to get out of this quagmire.

In the last three years alone, there have been hundreds of such deaths of soldiers. Of course, suicides in society as a whole have also increased significantly under the AKP regime. The latest statistics on suicide rates in Turkey, unfortunately, do not show how many of the cases were soldiers or law enforcement officers. The reason for this is that the Erdoğan regime is trying to hide these facts. In reality, these are not suicides either, but suspicious deaths of soldiers. The reasons for suicides in society are well known. But the reasons for the suicides of soldiers differ from those of society. The psychological exhaustion is greatest in war. From this point of view, it would be useful to analyse the psychological effects from two main perspectives, namely from the point of view of the soldiers on the battlefield and from the point of view of the soldiers in the rear.

The Turkish army assumes that the attacking side has the initiative on the battlefield and tries to mobilise its soldiers accordingly. This leads to the soldiers being driven into ever new attacks on the guerrilla areas. The feeling of emptiness, silence, isolation and the inability to relate to others is an unbearable emotional state for most people. While the Turkish army is trying to isolate the guerrilla areas from each other with its invasion campaign in order to install a permanent occupation, it is falling into this trap itself. It is becoming a target for the guerrillas in many places. This means that the army's focus on the guerrillas has self-destructive consequences. The isolation and traumatic situations experienced by the soldiers in these areas are, of course, sufficient to illustrate the wide range of long-term consequences.

The virtual media are a reflection of this reality

The forces of the Turkish army are spread over a large, rugged area. As a result, the soldiers, who are conditioned to superior participation, also find themselves in a hopeless situation psychologically. Because wherever they try to set up positions and settle, they are in the permanent range of the guerrillas and are constantly being hit. The feeling of permanent mortal danger and the associated psychological consequences for soldiers are nothing new. But this scale not only breaks the soldiers' will to fight in the Medya Defence Zones, but also makes it difficult for the survivors to overcome this trauma.

To come back to the topic: when a military post is stormed, the soldiers quickly realise that no one will come to help and even if they do, it will be too late. This is when the first ruptures occur. Discipline erodes and the unit becomes demoralised. This is exacerbated by the fact that the command echelon treats the soldiers like animals. In such a situation, the soldier will either be killed by the guerrillas or he will kill himself or be murdered by his superiors because he does not do what he is told for fear of death. In other words, this soldier will die in any case. This is exactly the situation of the Turkish occupation army as it is currently trying to control the Medya Defence Zones.

One also needs to look at the situation of the soldiers in the rear, in the barracks. Those who come back from the front in a wounded state often express what they have experienced there, their traumas cannot be hidden. Even before a soldier leaves for the battlefield, he realises what awaits him there. He now knows for sure that he is no different from a sheep being driven into a wolf enclosure. At this moment, he begins to experience difficulties integrating into barracks life, and breakdowns occur in his relationships and communication. The commanders do not shy away for a moment from resorting to the harshest disciplinary methods to keep the situation under control. These range from forced labour and sanctions to executions. Countless testimonies and documents have come to light in recent years about such procedures. While suicides and "training accidents" officially represent the main losses of the Turkish army, the war losses surpass all others. These are barely recognised or questioned by society. However, the spread of virtual media is making it increasingly difficult to conceal these losses in the Middle East.

Virtual media are the channels through which soldiers can contact their families and friends and escape from the situation they find themselves in. The messages shared by soldiers clearly reflect reality. Through these channels, soldiers express the conditions in which they live, especially in combat zones, how they are treated and how their commanders treat them. Of course, the strongest expression is how they are left to die on the battlefield. As a reminder, in 2020, a soldier was charged and tried for insubordination simply because he posted something on virtual media. The Supreme Court overturned this case, and the soldier was not sentenced. However, it is not known what happened to this soldier afterwards. Because justice in Turkey is just a theatre.

Control over soldiers' communication

Only recently, in 2023, the Turkish General Staff issued a directive banning all soldiers, especially those on the front line, from using virtual media on the grounds that it would allegedly pass on information and reveal soldiers' positions during deployment. Of course, the soldiers did not comply. The guerrillas have no need to use such data, as they have the capacity and equipment to control the area despite the difficult conditions. We can see this clearly in the successful operations of recent years, months and weeks. First and foremost, it is about bringing the degenerate reality of this army to light and making society aware of it.

Whether they are socially orientated regimes or despotic regimes like Erdoğan's, governments always want to control the right to information and society's access to the truth. Freedom of information, which is one of the most basic human rights, is minimised by the AKP regime. Serious influence is exerted on society through virtual media.

The role of the media in wars has increased, especially in the 20th century, and they have permeated the daily life of society. Erdoğan intervenes in the army, as well as in society as a whole. Therefore, one should know that any death of a soldier that is not announced as killed in action is dubious and suspicious.

Executions in the army must be scrutinised by society and accountability must be demanded. However, the Erdoğan regime has a fascist grip on society. Anyone who speaks out on this issue is labelled a slanderer of the army and thus a traitor and lynched by society. The ruling media play the biggest role in the implementation of this policy. The agenda of society is determined by Erdoğan and forced upon it by his dirty media cartel. As long as no one questions why no death notices arrive at the villas of the rich or politicians, Erdoğan will be able to continue.

Things that could not happen in any other country by any means continue to be forced upon society in Turkey as if they were destiny. The current political atmosphere in Turkey is so caught up in racism that social opinion can be manipulated with very simple methods. Social discourses are moulded at will.

The entire society is condemned to live in ignorance of the occupation operations and their consequences, and thus suffers more and more losses, losses of people, of freedom and also in the economic sense. All these are the damage that the irregular war of the Erdoğan regime is inflicting on the peoples of Turkey. Erdoğan does not shy away from pursuing a Hitler-like policy in which he claims the sublimity of his own cause and implements it with all brutality. Although this policy is mainly directed against the Kurdish people, he also applies it against all others who do not submit to his power or who oppose it. If society in Turkey wants to see the truth, it should look at the transparency of the Kurdish freedom movement and see the truth. The Kurdish Freedom Movement has put moral and political principles at the centre and publishes the facts about the war in all its aspects and documents them so that society understands what is happening. There should be no doubt about this.