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07/17/2023

Hostility towards Türkiye in NATO exercises

Hostility towards Türkiye in NATO exercises

By Turhan Özlü

Türkiye has been a NATO member since 71 years. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that our country suffered the most among NATO member countries.

NATO claims to be a defense alliance, but its hostile actions against us have revealed its aggressive nature. Coups, attempted coups, assassinations targeting patriotic intellectuals, incitement of civil war and massacres for this purpose and support for reactionary and ethnic separatism.

In addition to these unforgettable incidents, we have also experienced attacks disguised as “accidents” during joint military exercises. Sometimes even not disguised.

On October 2, 1992, during the NATO’s “Exercise Display Determination 1992”, our esteemed the TCG Muavenet, frigate of the Turkish Navy, was struck by two Sea Sparrow missiles launched from the American aircraft carrier USS Saratoga.[1]

The TCG Muavenet’s young commander Lieutenant Colonel Levent Kudret Güngör along with five sailors martyred and 22 soldiers were wounded. The ship was rendered unusable and later dismantled as scrap.

The ship was struck during a period of rest with approximately 300 personnel on board. The missiles fired from the American aircraft carrier USS Saratoga, located 3 miles away, hit the bridge and the combat operations center of TCG Muavenet.

The TCG Muavenet had participated in the Cyprus Peace Operation. It had the capability to launch torpedoes and was equipped with strong sonar and radar systems.

The first and only example as naval target

The captain of the USS Saratoga stated that the attack was a “mistake.” The incident was attributed to lack of training and discipline, and it was resolved through administrative proceedings. Eight U.S. military personnel, including the commander of the aircraft carrier, were subjected to various military disciplinary actions and the case was closed. However, many questions remained:

– The USS Saratoga was supposed to be 50 miles away from TCG Muavenet in the exercise scenario. Why did it get so close?

– Real weapons were not supposed to be used in the NATO exercise. Why were the guided Sea Sparrow missiles fired?

– Why were Sea Sparrow missiles, designed for air targets, used for a naval target? TCG Muavenet became the first and only example as naval target.

The possibility of a mistake is one in a million

The late admiral Soner Polat, former deputy chairman of the Vatan Party said the following:

“Throughout my entire career, I have served on ships carrying these missiles at every level. As both a technical and tactical expert, I can confidently say that the possibility of this missile being fired accidentally is one in a million. Even if it were fired accidentally, the missile cannot find its target unless the radar persistently tracks it on the ship until it reaches its destination. Therefore, the US ship kept our TCG Muavenet on its radar for a long time and maintained that until the missile hit its target.”[2]

Why did US do that?

The first suggestion is that it is related to Türkiye’s fight against terrorism. TCG Muavenet was struck on October 2nd. Ten days later, on October 12th, a cross-border operation was initiated under the command of General Eşref Bitlis against the PKK in northern Iraq.

The second suggestion focuses on an incident where a US helicopter in southeastern Türkiye allegedly provided assistance to PKK terrorists and that helicopter shot down by Turkish military. (No official documents or statements regarding this incident have been reported in the media).

Revenge for Muavenet-i Milliye?

A third thesis points out the war in the Gallipoli in 1915. Following the increased attacks by British-French warships on the night of May 12-13, our torpedo boat, the Muavenet-i Milliye, under the command of Captain Ahmet Bey, cornered the British dreadnought the HMS Goliath in Morto Bay outside the Dardanelles. The Goliath sank within minutes with the hitting of three torpedoes fired by Muavenet-i Milliye, resulting in the loss of 570 out of its 700 crew members.

Upon the news of Goliath’s sinking reaching London, the British cabinet meeting was abruptly interrupted. Admiral Fisher, the Commander of the British Navy, resigned after intense debates. Two days later (May 17th), First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill also resigned.

Exercise Millennium Challenge 2002

In 2002, the US conducted a major military exercise called “Millennium Challenge 2002” in the Nevada deserts, which targeted Türkiye. The preparation for the exercise began two years in advance.

The exercise’s start date July 24th (the signing date of the Treaty of Lausanne which marks the birth of Turkish Republic after the War of Independence), its duration of 22 days (the duration of the Battle of Sakarya in the War of Independence), and its scenario envisioning the occupation of the target country within 96 hours (the needed time for Turkish Army’s mobilization), among other factors, indicated that Türkiye was the intended target.[3]

The exercise’s highlighted geographical and political symbols are alike: The target country is located in the Middle East and controls sea routes (Mediterranean). It has minority issues (Kurdish issue). The country’s military has staged a coup and has surrounded an island nation (Cyprus) from the sea. The United Nations, through US initiatives, has imposed sanctions on the target country.

On July 18, 2002, the Associated Press (AP) reported on the exercise and wrote that the targeted country is Türkiye.

Türkiye learned about this exercise from Doğu Perinçek, the leader of the Vatan Party.

Map at NATO Defense College depicting divided Türkiye

15th September 2006, American colonel Ralph Peters presented a briefing at the NATO Defense College in Rome regarding developments in the Middle East. During his presentation, he used a map depicting 18 Turkish provinces within the borders of “Kurdistan”. Turkish officers protested and left the meeting.

The incident caused strong reactions in Türkiye. Chief of General Staff at that time, Yaşar Büyükanıt, called his American counterpart and expressed Türkiye’s protest.

The same map had been published in the Armed Forces Journal, an American military publication, and had received harsh response from Türkiye. The responses from US officials were as follows: “The map is not our business. A retired colonel drew it. These kind of things can happen within the scope of academic studies and we understand Türkiye’s reaction.”

The fact that the same map emerged a few months later in the meeting in Rome proved that it was not a mistake or accident but rather an intentional act.

During the early hours of the 15th July  2016 coup attempt by Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), Colonel Ralph Peters described the coup plotters as “good guys” wish “God help them”.[4]

The map drawn by US Colonel Ralph Peters

Enemy countryin the exercise in Norway

NATO’s Trident Javelin-2017 took place in Norway in 8-17 November.

In the exercise scenario, Türkiye was defined as “a country making significant progress towards acquiring the S-400 missile system despite NATO’s objections and getting closer to the country that produces the S-400.” In the exercise, Türkiye was named as the “Skolken Country”.

The exercise even used a photo of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of Türkiye, as the dictator leader of the enemy country. President Erdoğan was depicted through a fake account as someone who collaborates with the leaders of the enemy country.

Turkish officers participating in the exercise brought the scandal to light.

President Erdoğan made the following statement: “We don’t accept such an alliance. Only villains, not fools, commit such mistakes.” (November 18, 2017)

Following President Erdoğan’s instruction, Türkiye withdrew its 41 officers from the exercise. The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office initiated an investigation into the perpetrators of insults against Musfata Kemal Atatürk and President Erdoğan.

Doğu Perinçek, the leader of the Vatan Party, made the following statement:

“For years, the Vatan Party has been telling Turkish public that US is not our ally. It has been ingrained in us that ‘NATO is an organization that protects us.’ NATO it destroys our independence. NATO wants to divide our homeland and destroy our economy. Therefore, the solution is for Türkiye to break free from this imposition.”

Doğu Perinçek also stated that the US is projecting war games to implement its Greater Middle East Project and warned: ”You can split the atom, not Türkiye.” (November 18, 2017)

Anoher scandal in Norway

In November 2018, a similar scandal happened during NATO’s Trident Juncture exercise.[5]

In this Norway-based exercise, during a briefing on media coverage a photo from the May 2018 cover of Time magazine was used. The photo featured Erdoğan and Putin, along with Philippines President Duterte and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, under the title “Rise of the Strongman.”

Putin is the leader of Russia that NATO designates as its number one rival and target. Imperialist Atlantic authorities due to his pursuit of national policies also target President Erdoğan. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is known for expelling the CIA-backed George Soros from his country. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte referred to former US President Obama as a “son of a whore” over allegations of extrajudicial killings in the fight against drugs in the Philippines.

Stoltenbergs hypocrisy

Another despicable attack targeting President Erdoğan and Türkiye took place in Norway in 2022. Unfortunately, not a single Turkish government official gave NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg the reaction he deserved.

Stoltenberg served as the leader of the Norwegian Labor Party and was Prime Minister for eight years from 2005 to 2013. His audacity and lack of responsibility in the face of these attacks in his own country is clear evidence for his hypocrisy and dishonesty.

Stoltenberg was appointed as NATO Secretary General in October 2014, a period when Türkiye was at odds with the US and NATO. There is no doubt that his appointment was directly related to the plans of the US and NATO regarding Türkiye. His task was to bring Türkiye back into the chains of NATO, and he fulfilled it.

It is well known that Scandinavian countries, like many other European states, are involved in NATO’s dirty business. Social democratic parties are among the eager supporters of NATO in the West.

Out of NATO’s 13 secretary-generals in its 71-year history, only three were from the United Kingdom. There are two each from the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany, and one each from Denmark, Norway, Italy, and Spain. Türkiye, which has the second-largest army within NATO, has never taken that seat.

Isn’t it meaningful that there has never been an American secretary general? That is because the US is already the “boss”.


[1] https://www.savunmasanayi.org/tam-28-yil-once-tcg-muaveneti-vurdular/

[2] Ulusalkanal.com.tr / 25 Ekim 2014

[3] Doğu Perinçek, Türk Ordusu Kuşatmayı Nasıl Yaracak, 3. basım, Kaynak Yayınları, İstanbul, Ocak 2012, s.143.

[4] Doğu Perinçek, FETÖ DARBESİ, Kaynak Yayınları 1.Basım, Kasım 2016, s. 90.

[5] Exercise Trident Juncture 2018 is a major NATO-led exercise involving approximately 50,000 military personnel from 30 countries, 250 aircraft, 65 ships and nearly 10,000 vehicles.

United World International

Independent analytical center where political scientists and experts in international relations from various countries exchange their opinions and views.

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