On a global scale, it is the second biggest force in NATO. The Turkish Army is also one of the most powerful institutions at home.
Seen as the guardian of the secular republic founded by Ataturk 86 years ago the army has a long tradition of meddling in politics.
President Abdullah Gul has already had a taste of it. General Yasar Buyukanit boycotted his swearing-in ceremony in 2007.
During the course of 1980’s coup d’etat, the military rewrote the constitution. Their aim – according to the head of state at the time – was to safeguard their democracy.
The military was always going to be on a crash course with the Islamist-rooted AK party, when the latter entered the government.
Unhappy that Abdullah Gul’s wife wore the veil, which is prohibited in state institutions in Turkey, in 2007 the military tried without success to prevent him being elected President.
Undeterred, in 2008 the Army tacitly supported the Procurer General’s efforts to get the AK party banned. But the Constitutional Court decided otherwise, deciding against the ban by only one vote.
In power, the AK Party worked to defend its position. It reformed the National Security Council, transforming it from an executive body overseen by the military into a purely consultative one.
But it is the emergence of Ergenekon – the shadowy far-right group aiming to overthrow the government – which has really tainted the Army’s reputation.
Military officials, as well as academics and journalists, are among the 200 people facing judgement.
Last January, Army Chief of Staff Major Ilker Basbug denounced what he described as a smear campaing against the army, and said the era of military coups was returning.