Uludağ, or the "great mountain," in northwestern Turkey, the highest peak in the region, has been hosting gendarmerie forces from across the country in recent days for a training camp. On the snow-covered slopes in Bursa province, soldiers learn how to handle utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) and other machinery deployed in counterterrorism, search and rescue and other operations.
The mountain, home to one of the most popular ski resorts in the country, is one of the locations where gendarmerie forces undergo winter training. At an altitude of 2,000 meters (6,000 feet), just below the peak, personnel from various branches of the General Command of Gendarmerie, including its Search and Rescue (JAK) and Special Operations (JÖH) units, are taught how to safely drive on uneven terrain and in harsh climates. A military school that trains members of the gendarmerie's traffic branch supervises the training. The exercises are crucial for gendarmerie forces, which serve as the main security apparatus in rural parts of Turkey, including at ski resorts like Uludağ. In addition to security, the gendarmerie plays a role in search and rescue operations in emergencies in remote areas like mountains. Elsewhere, the JÖH and other branches of the gendarmerie play a critical role in the counterterrorism operations being carried out in the mountainous regions of southeastern and eastern Turkey, where the PKK terrorist organization remains active.
After the two-week training, the gendarmerie personnel will be prepared to adapt to harsh environments they encounter on the field. In Thursday's training, 16 JAK members tested their driving skills aboard UTVs in temperatures below minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit). They also learned about maintenance of the vehicles and received first aid training. The forces were also taught how to effectively evacuate patients and stranded people who have suffered injuries in mountainous areas.