70,000 Turkish conscripts demobilised early following changes in law.
02 January 2014

Over 70,000 conscript soldiers in the Turkish Army have been demobilised on 1 January, after changes in the law on compulsory military service which has reduced the time to be served in the military from twelve to fifteen months. Turkey has the largest conscript army in NATO and military service has traditionally been seen as an important process of national cohesion.

All young males are expected to serve in the military, although those with university degrees normally serve for only six months. This has remained unchanged.

The move to reduce military service is highly popular among young people, as well as their families.

The number of conscripts has been increasing significantly from year to year due to increases in the Turkish population. The move is therefore not likely to impact Turkey's military strength.

There are some who have been supporting a move from a conscript army to a professional force, but many see conscription, in a country that is increasingly divided by political, social and ethnic views, as a means through which young people imbibe patriotism and national values. It is therefore unlikely that conscription will end soon, regardless of military expediency.