Most effective operations in decades
The most comprehensive operation in years was launched in late November 2016 in Aliboğazı, an area near the brigade. The military used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), new technology equipment and ground forces in the operation as well as F-16 fighter jets. In the operation, eight terrorists were killed and a number of caves believed to have been used by terrorist groups were destroyed.
As I sat down with commanders to talk about the counter-terrorism operations in the Tunceli region, they were visibly proud of the results. They all asserted that terrorist groups in 2016 received the biggest blow in recent history.
According to information provided by the military, at least 80 terrorists, including high-ranking ones, were killed. Also, the Landmine and Handmade Explosive Detection and Disposal team (METİ) has proven a backbone for the brigade. As the terrorist groups opt for handmade explosives and roadside bombs to deal a blow to the military, the METİ plays a crucial role.
In the past two years, the METİ thwarted eight attacks in the area by detecting and destroying handmade explosives. In addition, dozens of booby-trapped explosives set up by terrorists were destroyed in the Aliboğazı area.
Morale high among soldiers ın operations
A small military junta, instructed by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) within the TSK, attempted to stage a coup on July 15, 2016. Even though the Turkish people took to the streets and defied the putschist soldiers, shots were fired against citizens with rifles, tanks and helicopters. However, the coup attempt failed that night. All the soldiers, military officers and generals involved in the vicious attempt were discharged from the army. In spite of the coup attempt, the people of Turkey have stood by the Turkish military. As the army wages separate wars both at home and abroad against different terrorist groups, the people's support keeps morale among the soldiers high.
When asked about the coup attempt, soldiers and commanders expressed their frustration and anger. However, I am assured that nothing has put an obstacle in the way of counterterrorism since then.
Commanders also rebuffed speculations that the Turkish military is too weak to be a part of NATO. The military's advanced technology equipment and capabilities on the ground were stressed multiple times during my stay at the brigade.
One cannot foretell whether we will soon witness the death of the last terrorist in the region or the final end of terrorist groups, but the bravery and sacrifice of Turkish soldiers on snowy mountains in the harshest winter conditions is worth more than our appreciation.