Republic of Turkey
The Republic of Turkey (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti) is a contiguous transcontinental parliamentary republic, with its smaller part in the Balkans region of Southeastern Europe and its larger part in Anatolia, in Western Asia. Turkey is bordered by seven nations: Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq and Syria; it also borders the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhvhivan to the east. The region has been inhabited since the paleolitic age, and was home to various ancient civilizations in Anatolia, including the Aeolian and Ioninan Greeks, Thracians, and Persians. Following Alexander the Great's conquest, the area was Hellenized; this continued during a period of Roman rule and transition into the Byzantine Empire. Seljuq (Seljuk) Turks began a period of migration into this region from Central Asia in the 11th century, bringing with them the Turko-Persian culture which thereafter began to achieve dominance. Following the Seljuk victory over the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, the process of Turkification became more prominent. The Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm ruled Anatolia until the Mongol invasion in 1243, upon which it disintegrated into several small Turkish beyliks.
Beginning in the late 13th century, the Ottoman (Oghuz) Turks united Anatolia and created an empire encompassing much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. This became a major power in Eurasia and Africa during the early modern period. The empire reached the peak of its power between the 15th and 17th centuries, particularly during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520–1566). After the second Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683 and the end of the Great Turkish War in 1699, the Ottoman Empire entered a long period of decline. The Tanzimat reforms of the 19th century, which aimed to modernize the Ottoman state, proved to be inadequate, and failed to reverse the dissolution of the empire.
The Ottoman Empire entered World War I (1914–1918) on the side of the Central Powers and was ultimately defeated. During the war, major atrocities were committed by the Ottoman government against the Armenians, Assyrians and Pontic Greeks, a fact that has continued to influence Turkish relations with these people into the modern era. Following the Great War, the Allied Powers (particularly Britain and France, but to a lesser extent Italy and Greece) divided up the territory that formerly comprised the Ottoman Empire. As a result a number of new states were created, many of which comprised rather arbitrary borders, and some of which actually created territorial dynasties whose power was based around a single family, clan or tribe. During the Turkish War of Independence (1919–1922), Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his colleagues were able to wrest control of Anatolia and part of the Balkans from the former Allied powers (by then both politically and militarily dissolved), which resulted in the establishment of the modern Republic of Turkey in 1923, with Atatürk as its first president.
Turkey today is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic with a diverse cultural heritage. The official language is Turkish, spoken natively by approximately 85% of the population. About 70-75% of the population are ethnic Turks and about 30-35% of the population consists of recognized (Armenians, Greeks, Jews) and unrecognized (Kurds, Circassians, Albanians, Georgians) minorities. Kurds make up the largest minority group.
Although considered a part of Asia by the United Nations, it should be noted that Turkey has a long-standing historical connection with Europe. The region of Eastern Thrace is in fact part of what is considered continental Europe. Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952, and the Eurocorps since 2002. The Turkish Gendarmerie has also been an observational member of the European Gendarmerie Force (EUGENDFOR) since 2009.
The Turkish Armed Forces (Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri) consist of the Land Forces (Türk Kara Kuvvetleri), Air Force (Türk Hava Kuvvetleri), and Navy (Türk Deniz Kuvvetleri), all falling under command of the Ministry of Defense. Additionally, the Ministry of the Interior operates the Gendarmerie General Command (Jandarma Genel Komutanlığı) and the Coast Guard (Sahil Güvenlik Komutanlığı). National law enforcement is under the control of the General Directorate of Security (Turkish: Emniyet Genel Müdürlüğü), which overseas regional units as well as a number specialized sub-units.
Virtually all historical Turkish military camouflage patterns have their origins in designs created by the United States. Although distinctive in their own right with regards to colorways, the drawings from which each pattern is printed do seem to have been borrowed from or at least influenced by earlier American patterns. With the growing popularity of pixelated designs this trend is now changing, with a number of camouflage designs adopted by Turkey being of indigenous design.
Turkish Camouflage Patterns
- One of the earliest camouflage patterns is a copy of the USA reversible M1942 spot pattern developed during the Second World War. This reversible design was printed on both sides of a lightweight canvas a shelter half, but privately produced helmet covers and even articles of clothing were also popular. Yet, the Turkish copy is not literal one, employing five colors on either side as opposed to the five/three colors of the US produced original. One version of the green pattern employs spots of mid-brown, pinkish-tan, light olive green & tan on a moss green field, while the reverse side has mid-brown, grey, tan & stone-colored spots on a yellowish-sand field. The printing is oftentimes crude, with dyes leaching through to the opposite side. A second version of the green pattern employs medium green, light grey, pinkish-tan, and sand-colored shapes on a pale green background, with the reverse side having light brown, pinkish-tan, medium pink-brown, and pale pink shapes on a sand-colored background. More versions are known to have existed, probably differentiated by poor quality control in the manufacturing process of the fabric. Some items such as ponchos were almost manufactured with the green spot side that reversed to solid white for personnel deployed in the mountains. This pattern was in use from the 1970s into the 1980s, and possibly later as a helmet cover.
- Another Turkish variant of the M1942 spot design dating to the same period uses a completely different color scheme. Often nicknamed the "Aegean spot" for its bright blue-green tones reminiscent of the Aegean's waters, in practice this pattern was only issued to elite units of the Turkish Armed Forces such as the Commandos, Paratroops, and Marines. Although there is some variability to the colors of this pattern, it generally employs dark green, blue green, light brown & sea green spots on a greyish-tan background. The Turks continued to wear this pattern until the early 1990s.
- A color variation of the above pattern has also been documented, although it is not apparent to what degree this version may have appeared in supply channels. Although retaining the precise drawings of the more common turquoise-dominant spot pattern, this version incorporates distinctly green and light brown shapes on a sandy background.
- The second major influence on Turkish military camouflage design was the American M1948 ERDL pattern. Appearing in the late 1980s, Turkish "leaf" patterns based on the same or very similar drawings utilize different colorways and were also limited in use to Turkish elite units. The version illustrated below to the left, employs black, mid-brown & grass green leaf shapes on a khaki background; notable are the darker outlines around the brown and khaki areas. The second example (to the right) is much different, having black, chocolate brown & olive green leaf shapes on a pale green background, and lacking the outlines. This second pattern may have been specific to Marine & Navy Commando units. These camouflage designs saw service well into the 1990s, and possibly later.
- The US m81 woodland pattern has also been heavily copied by Turkey, and was the standard issue camouflage pattern of the Army until approximately 2008. The original version, introduced in 1989, incorporates black, chocolate brown & bright green woodland shapes on a tan or pinkish-tan background; hence it is often nicknamed "pink woodland" by collectors. This woodland pattern remained in service until the early 2000s.
- Another variation of the leaf or ERDL pattern entered the Turkish supply system in the mid-1990s. Often called "elongated leaf" or "squashed leaf" the pattern gives the impression that original ERDL drawings were stretched out horizontally (which may or may not be the case). The coloration of this pattern is relatively consistent, having black, dark brown & moss green shapes on pale green field. In service with the Turkish Army and the Gendarmerie through the 1990s, the pattern has also seen service with Azerbaijan and early formations of the Afghan National Army.
- Modern Turkish copies of the US m81 woodland pattern are nearly literal, lacking the broad color variations common to earlier versions (which is likely a product of improvements in the technology available to their textile industry). This remained in general service with the Turkish Army and the Marines until the late 2000s.
- The Turkish Air Force adopted a woodland variant pattern with a blue colorway in the early 2000s, incorporating black, blue-grey & blue-brown woodland shapes on a light blue background.
- Another interesting variation of the m81 woodland pattern is worn by the Polis Özel Harekât (Police Special Action) unit or PÖH of the General Directorate of Security. This unit specializes in counter-terrorism operations. Nicknamed "black woodland" the design features prominent black & brown shapes with olive green & greyish-green background.
- Circa 2008, Turkey introduced a brand new camouflage pattern using an arid/desert colorway for issue to some of its personnel. This has since become the standard combat pattern of the Turkish Armed Forces, although some branches and non-combat units continue to use older designs. The pattern incorporates olive green & reddish brown horizontal masses on a khaki background, and was developed by TÜBİTAK (Türkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Araştırma Kurumu) the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey. Uniforms and fabric were designed by noted fashion stylist Arzu Kaprol.  This camouflage design is worn by all personnel, including non-combatants.
- A variation of the above "arid" pattern utilizing much darker colors, is now being fielded by Ground Defense personnel of the Turkish Air Force (Türk Hava Kuvvetleri). Interestingly enough, uniforms in this design have also ended up in the hands of the Free Syrian Army circa 2012-13.
- Another variation of the standard pixelated pattern is seen here, for snow-covered or arctic environments. This pattern is primarily issued to special operations troops (mountain units, special forces, et al).
- Since approximately 2013, the commercially-produced Multicam design has been adopted by the Navy's Amfibi Komando and Su Altı Taarruz (SAT - the Navy Special Warfare unit). There appears to be some variation in the colorways of certain productions of this pattern, some having a more green coloration.
- Members of the Polis Özel Harekât Dairesi or Police Special Operations Department responding to the 2016 terrorist attack at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul deployed in a new camouflage design that bears some resemblance to both the Italian Marines design and the commercial A-TACS camouflage pattern. It is presumed this pattern has replaced the previously issued "black woodland" pattern.