A commander is not only a person who administers and commands an army at war. A commander is also a model person for the unit or army he commands with his stance, ideas and behavior. The rank insignia one wears does not make one a commander.
A commander is supposed to have the courage and insight needed at the moment of decision, accepting all the consequences of his actions. It is easy to command a military unit when everything is favorable, but a commander must be ready for hard times. Being bold or reckless is not sufficient for being a commander -- he must also have wisdom and vision.
It is not an easy job to resist when almost all of your generals press you to issue a memorandum. Memduh Tağmaç, the chief of general staff of the March 12, 1971 era, admitted that he could not resist the demands from his inferiors. Tağmaç is certainly a commander who can admit this, but there were many commanders who refused to admit it. In the history of the military coups in Turkey, no chief of general staff has ever had such courage and insight.
Hilmi Özkök acted as a commander for the army he headed and became a model for the next generation of officers. As a person heading a military which is prone to overthrow governments, he ended the era of military coups in Turkey. "Turkey's priority is democracy," he said.
By saying that the era of military coups has ended, I want to draw attention to the level of development of the armed forces. In economically and socially developed countries, such things are not seen. The armed forces of Turkey have developed in terms of economic power and education.
The Turkish military and Turkish democracy are indebted to Hilmi Pasha. It is a great shame to criticize him when in fact we should be thanking him. One of the criticisms hurled at Özkök is this: If he knew about the coup plans, why had he not acted against them?
This is cruel!
We are not talking about something as mechanical as the title deed register.
First, our chiefs of general staff should be ridden of their coup mentality, and only then can we expect them to litigate pro-coup officers.
Özkök's resistance to the officers demanding a memorandum has also made things easier for the next chiefs of general staff. In this way, the commander has not only saved the day, but also the future.
The Turkish army should be proud of having a true commander like Özkök who can read the world correctly and analyze the country's situation. Özkök should be regarded as the sign of a new generation of military officers who take democracy to heart after the long tradition of military coups.