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Our View: Audit office report might shake army top brass into action

THE DEFENCE ministry was not very happy about the publishing of the audit office report, which highlighted the chaotic situation in the National Guard’s system for calling up reservists. In a statement issued on Thursday, while acknowledging the report as a valuable tool, the ministry said the report should not have been published because “it contains sensitive military information that could be taken advantage of by adversaries including the Turkish troops.”

The defence ministry felt that the report should have remained confidential to avoid it “impacting the sensitive area of defence, security and operational capabilities of the National Guard.” It was not only worried about the report exposing defence information to the foe but it could also “shake the public’s confidence in the personnel of the armed forces.” The latter was a very bad argument, even if it was motivated by a desire of the ministry to be open about the issue.

In effect, what the ministry was saying was that it was preferable to fool people about the situation in the army so as not the shake their confidence. For the ministry it was advisable for the people not to know about the level of disorganisation of the army and to remain under the illusion that everything was fine and that everyone dealing with defence was doing their job well. It did not matter that the taxpayers would be fooled into thinking their money was being put to good use, when quite clearly it was not.

Only 46 per cent of those who did their service between 1990 and 2010 and were eligible for reservist service were included in the National Guard’s registers and called up for training. Some 11,000 that were eligible for reservist duty escaped call-up because they were still listed as studying abroad (many at the age of 40) or they had pulled a few strings. However according to the defence ministry people should not be informed that the reservist strength the National Guard could call on is 50 per cent lower than it should be; it is deprived of about 12,000 men, because leaderships of the defence ministry and National Guard are either indifferent to the problem or incapable of dealing with it. It might involve some actual work.

We should thank the audit service of exposing this level incompetence in the people in charge of defence, who are perfectly happy for the operational strength of an army that depends on reservists to be deprived of 12,000 available men. Perhaps now that the situation has been exposed by the audit service and the unjustified confidence in the army shaken, the mandarins of the defence ministry and the top brass of the National Guard will try to get their act together.

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