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Turkish guards provide sense of security to Butmir residents

By Sgt. Kerensa Hardy
First published in
SFOR Informer#106, February 7, 2001

Butmir - They are the first people you see upon entering Camp Butmir.
This peculiar group of soldiers who don a moon and star on their right shoulders are the Turkish guards. Members of the 1st Protection Company, Turkish Army, are Camp Butmir's first line of defense against any potential threat.
"The soldiers are broken up into teams and work 12-hour shifts to provide all-around perimeter security, gate control and identification card checks," said Capt. Yuksel Basaran, 1st Protection Coy commander.
These guards are responsible for monitoring and controlling all of the traffic that enters and exits Camp Butmir. Identification cards must be checked to ensure persons coming on base are authorized to be there. Before coming to Butmir, the guards are well trained in their own country. To qualify as guards, the soldiers go through an extensive six-month training program in Turkey. The program includes basic as well as mission-oriented training.
Once here, the soldiers undergo orientation training that lasts approximately four weeks. During this time the soldiers are familiarized with the local mission at Camp Butmir.
"They need to be oriented according to the weather and (other) conditions," Basaran said. "In Turkey they don't have a training area that's on the same security scale as they will be working at Camp Butmir."
Turkish guards deploy here on one-year rotations. Each rotation overlaps so that the mission is never hindered and the rotations go smoothly.
"This is a good experience because (the soldiers) are not in their hometown," Basaran said. He added that the soldiers are happy to be here to implement such a mission.
Pvt. Kursat Kumral said although his job is demanding, he is happy to be here. When he is on duty, he is the first person with whom people come in contact because he is the person who grants them permission to enter the camp.
Kumral said he enjoys the chance to communicate with so many different people. He also said he has learned about soldiers from different countries and cultures, which has broadened his mind.
Another Turkish guard said he is very proud to be here representing his country. "This is a really good feeling for me," said Pvt. Ahmet Ozbey, who has been here for nine months.
With so many different soldiers, there are sure to be a variety of memories and lessons each one will take back to Turkey with him.
Ozbey said what he will remember most about his yearlong tour at Camp Butmir is teaching his new American friend many Turkish words in one day. "That was what was most enjoyable for me."

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Turkey
SFOR at Work