Written by Colonel S. Zadonsky, Candidate Military Sciences, Professor; Captain A. Kubansky; Originally appeared at Foreign Military Review 2020 #1, translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront
The Intelligence Community (IC) of the Republic of Turkey (RT) is represented by structures responsible for conducting political (National Intelligence Organisation, MIT) and military (Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, intelligence departments of the main staffs of the armed forces, units and divisions of military intelligence, MID GS) intelligence. The key body is the National Coordination Council for Intelligence, formed on the basis of presidential decrees No. 693 and 964 with direct subordination to the leader of the state.
The National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) was established in July 1965 (Law No. 644) and was subordinate to the Prime Minister. In January 1984, Law No. 2937 “On State Intelligence Services and National Intelligence Organisations” defined the principles of creation, tasks, and operation of the MIT. After the failed military coup in 2018, amendments to the laws were adopted and the MIT came under the direct authority of the Turkish President.
The main tasks of the reformed Turkish Special Services are:
- monitoring and countering external (military, political, economic, etc.) threats to the national security;
- counterintelligence support for intelligence operations;
- conducting economic and scientific and technical intelligence;
- comprehensive support for Turkish diplomacy;
- conducting intelligence on the national territory;
- collection, evaluation and analysis of open sources of information;
- assistance, coordination and implementation of defence construction plans;
- monitoring the implementation of international treaties and agreements;
- support for law enforcements agencies;
- waging an information war.
The MIT of Turkey consists of management, main and territorial divisions.
The management of the MIT includes:
- the head of the MIT (currently doctor of science H. Fidan);
- the deputy head – chief of foreign intelligence;
- the deputy head – chief of external and internal counterintelligence;
- the deputy head – chief of technical intelligence and counterintelligence;
- the deputy head – chief of information and analytical services;
- the deputy head – chief of staff (administration);
- head of the internal (private) security department;
- group of advisors;
- administrative management;
- administrative and technical departments;
- personnel department;
- training centre.
The main divisions are: the office of strategic analysis, office of counterintelligence, the office of external operations (the Directorate of Foreign Intelligence), the office of internal security, management of electronic and technical intelligence; intelligence in information-communication space (cyber intelligence), and psychological operations.
The territorial divisions are: internal (MIT offices in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, Adana, etc.) and external (official under the cover of public and private structures).
The Office of Strategic Analysis (OSA) develops short-, medium- and long-term forecasts for the country’s military and political leadership, analyses the development of the strategic and operational situation in individual regions and the world as a whole, and monitors the dynamics of social processes.
The OSA includes the following departments and services: evaluation of information received from foreign intelligence; evaluation of information received from units conducting intelligence from Turkey and counterintelligence; analysis of open sources of information; distribution of information; relations with counterintelligence units of the General Staff, Armed Forces, police and gendarmerie; archive services.
The Directorate of Counterintelligence (DCI) provides detection and suppression of intelligence activities directed against Turkey by foreign states, their special services, various departments and individuals. For this purpose, the Department interacts with public and private enterprises (organisations) that are objects of counterintelligence activities.
The DCI solves the following main tasks:
- counterintelligence activities among ethnic Turks temporarily residing abroad;
- development of foreign representative offices and their employees;
- conducting intelligence of neighboring states from the territory of the country.
The Department of External Operations (the department of foreign intelligence) performs tasks to protect the strategic (vital) interests of the republic together with other departments of the MIT operating both in the country and abroad.
The main objectives of the department are: obtaining (collecting) intelligence information about foreign countries, Turkish organisations and centres with external links; developing Kurdish, Armenian, Greek and other organisations capable of carrying out terrorist activities; establishing interaction with foreign (allied) intelligence services.
The Department of Internal Security is responsible for gathering intelligence and identifying internal threats aimed at undermining national sovereignty, primarily from terrorist organisations.
The Directorate of Radio-Electronic and Technical Intelligence controls Turkey’s radio-electronic space and the countries under investigation using geographic information networks, open and closed-circuit telecommunications, as well as conducts radio, radio engineering and other types of technical intelligence (television, optical-electronic, sound, electronic and computer).
The Department of Information Systems Intelligence (in the information and communication space (cyber intelligence) and psychological operations) is designed to protect state secrets, counter unauthorised penetration into telecommunications systems in Turkey and prevent intelligence, terrorist and separatist activities.
Training of specialists for NIO structures is carried out in the following educational institutions: Ankara University Faculty of Law, Bilkent private university, Middle East Technical University, Bosphorus University and the Turkish Foreign Policy Institute.
Military intelligence occupies one of the leading positions in the state security system, which is due not only to the legislation in force in the country, which defines its central role among all other national intelligence services, but also to the significant volume of tasks to be solved. It has a well-developed infrastructure, sufficient funding and extensive technical capabilities.
Military intelligence is conducted in order to determine the plans and military preparations of potential enemy countries (their coalitions), study the theater of operations, as well as obtain information about their military and economic potential, armed forces, composition and possible nature of actions of groups of troops.
Scope, purpose and objectives of the Turkish Armed Forces is divided into strategic, operational and tactical, according to the methods of reference and source of information on the agent, special, radio and radio-technical, radiation, chemical, etc., and depending on the scope and engage forces on ground, air and naval exploration.
Military intelligence includes: the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (MID GS), intelligence departments of the headquarters of the Armed Forces, as well as units and divisions of military intelligence.
The settlement of strategic intelligence tasks is the responsibility of the MID GS.
Intelligence departments of the main staffs of the Armed Forces conduct intelligence at the operational and strategic level, and military intelligence units – at the operational and tactical level.
The MID GS is assigned:
- development of principles and activities of military intelligence in peacetime and wartime;
- informing the military and political leadership of the country and the command of the Armed Forces on military-political and military issues;
- organisation of planned work of intelligence and information analysis agencies of the Armed Forces;
- organisation of interaction with the intelligence agencies of the Armed Forces of NATO countries and friendly (allied) states;
- planning and coordination of intelligence activities;
- planning and practical implementation of external and internal counterintelligence activities;
- study of the internal political situation and conduct operational activities in the country in order to identify sources of threats to the existing government;
- the solution to intelligence tasks abroad using the apparatus of the military attaché;
- assessment of the state of the military potential of countries in Turkey’s zone of interests.
The MID GS comprises the following main divisions:
- two intelligence agencies operating abroad;
- counter-intelligence management;
- office of intelligence planning and coordination;
- office of military attachés;
- separate educational intelligence brigade (specialised secondary educational institution – intelligence school);
- intelligence officer school;
- school of foreign languages;
- department of special electronic systems (radio-electronic support command);
- information and analytical centre.
Intelligence agencies perform the following tasks:
- collection, processing and evaluation of military, political, economic scientific and technical intelligence information on the territory of foreign countries;
- creation of agent networks in cooperation with the MIT;
- providing the military and political leadership of the Armed Forces and the command of the country with all the necessary information to develop solutions in the interests of ensuring the security of the country and its allies.
The Counterintelligence Department carries out a set of measures to protect military and state secrets, as well as to prevent information leaks.
The basic tasks of the management:
- countering foreign intelligence on the territory of Turkey;
- organisation of planned work of subordinate units and divisions;
- organisation of interaction with other national counterintelligence agencies, as well as with related services of foreign countries and their armed forces;
- carrying out measures to combat terrorist and subversive activities of separatist, Islamist, fundamentalist and extremist movements, as well as other illegal organisations in the country;
- ensuring the security of the command of the Armed Forces, members of foreign military delegations and missions in Turkey;
- control of secret records management in the Armed Forces;
- the study of public opinion, public attitudes, as well as taking measures to counter the propaganda campaigns of foreign psychological warfare agencies.
The priority areas of the office’s current activities are: identification of facts of external assistance and support for terrorist activities in Turkey; exposure of agent networks of foreign intelligence services; protection of information and computer systems, communication lines (wired, wireless, satellite, etc.) of the Armed Forces from the intelligence of other states; countering the forces of internal reaction in the country. The intelligence planning and coordination Department performs long-term planning of information and operational activities of the MID GS, and is responsible for setting, distributing, and performing tasks by subordinate operational units. In accordance with the needs of the country’s military and political leadership and the command of the Armed Forces for information, it determines the main, private and general intelligence tasks, directly directs operational activities, directly directs operational activities abroad and organises interactions between MID units, develop a combat training programme for military intelligence units, plans and organises command-staff and military exercises.
The Office of Military Attachés is responsible for the selection of personnel and staffing of military attachés of the RT abroad, organises representative activities and ensures correspondence between the general staff and representatives of the military and political leadership of foreign states.
The intelligence school trains personnel for the MID, intelligence specialists for the ground forces, naval and air forces, and gendarmerie.
The intelligence officer school trains intelligence officers of the middle (on the course of the higher combined-arms school) and junior level. Along with this, the school conducts scientific research in the field of military intelligence theory, studies the experience of foreign intelligence services and develops new forms and methods of intelligence activities for the MID GS on this basis.
The School of Foreign Languages trains intelligence officers and non-commissioned officers with knowledge of two, three and one foreign language, respectively.
The Directorate of Special Electronic Systems (radio-electronic support command) plans and organises electronic warfare, as well as radio and radio-technical intelligence.
The Information-Analytical Centre performs tasks on computer processing of reconnaissance data and information.
The intelligence agencies of the Armed Forces, being an important part of Turkish military intelligence, solve the corresponding tasks at the operational and strategic level. According to the views of Turkish military experts, intelligence at this level is conducted in order to obtain comprehensive information about the likely enemy (the number and combat strength, weapons of enemy forces, etc.), as well as in the interests of a detailed study of terrain areas, the airspace above them and sea areas (operational zones).
The operational and strategic intelligence agencies of the Turkish Armed Forces include the intelligence departments of the staffs of the Armed Forces. At the operational and tactical level, intelligence is conducted by the forces and means of intelligence units of associations, formations and units.
The Intelligence Department of the Ground Forces headquarters consists of three departments: intelligence, counterintelligence and planning.
The intelligence division of the staff has been conducting exploration in the interests of the formations and units of the field artillery and superior staff, has direct interaction with intelligence agency staff of the ground forces, and intelligence agencies of other field armies and staffs of the Armed Forces.
The intelligence department is subordinate to the army group of military intelligence, which includes an operation company (deep intelligence).
The ground forces are based on separate brigades and regiments of commandos, which are part of the army corps and operate to a depth of 150 km. Divisions and individual brigades have units trained to perform reconnaissance tasks behind enemy lines in a 15-30 km band to a depth of 20 km.
In addition, the forces and means of reconnaissance of the ground forces include six EW battalions (two of them conduct reconnaissance for the benefit of the General staff of the ground forces, four – for the benefit of field armies).
The intelligence department of the Air Forces headquarters consists of three departments: intelligence, counterintelligence and planning.
The intelligence department is directly subordinate to two EW battalions, the intelligence agencies of the air combat command and eight air bases, and operationally – two reconnaissance aviation squadrons.
During the period of threat, the deployment of two more squadrons is considered, and the number of reconnaissance aircraft can be increased to 96 units (to the detriment of the Air Force reserve).
A detachment (three CN-235 aircraft) conducts radio-technical reconnaissance of the enemy’s air defence system for the benefit of the Air Force.
The aircraft are equipped with a set of equipment that allows the conduct of aerial reconnaissance at any time of the day. In addition, tactical air force aircraft are equipped with American ELINT stations and electronic jamming stations.
For aerial reconnaissance can involve all the crews of combat tactical aircraft.
The intelligence department of the naval headquarters includes the following departments: intelligence, counterintelligence and planning.
The intelligence department is responsible for: an EW battalion, an EW-equipped reconnaissance ship (the Tekirdag base minesweeper); CN-235MP base patrol aircraft with EW equipment, and naval zone intelligence agencies.
In addition, naval combat surface ships (frigates and destroyers) are equipped with radio intelligence and electronic suppression stations of American and British production. This allows them to conduct reconnaissance of ship and aircraft radars, perform active jamming of radar homing missiles and ship radars for detecting targets and aiming weapons.
The onboard equipment of submarines includes radar warning stations (manufactured in Great Britain and France).
The exchange of intelligence information between the main headquarters of the Armed Forces is carried out in accordance with the unified reporting system, which provides for the simultaneous sending of reports to several recipients. This practice ensures high efficiency of information transmission and the possibility of timely coordination of actions of intelligence agencies (divisions) of various links.
Thus, in the current military and political situation, the leadership of the Republic of Turkey, in the interests of ensuring national security, attaches particular importance to the organisation of effective political and military intelligence, which carries out its activities in close cooperation with the NATO intelligence agencies. According to experts of the Alliance, in the near future, the high level of training of personnel, as well as the availability of modern technical means, may allow the Turkish intelligence community to take a worthy place next to the leading regional intelligence services of Israel and Iran.