THE TURKISH ARMY AS A TURKISH INSTITUTION
The early Turkish states were based on two basic institutions. One of them was the family, and the other was the army. The army constituted both the basis of the Turkish states and their power source. It was the strong army of various the Turkish states that made it possible to establish their rule over long periods of time and over various people in Asia and later in Europe and Africa.
The Turks did not regard the military as a specific occupation. All were trained as soldiers and almost all Turks were warriors. In other words, the people were the army and the army was the people, as all the people would become an army during the wartime. The army was formed to a great extent by the cavalrymen, sometimes divided into four groups (east, west, south and north on the battle field) by the color of their horses. The head commander of the army was the khagan. The members of the ruling dynasty and the heads of the kin tribes formed the command council of the army. The Turkish army was formed by troops in various sizes. The biggest troop size was 10,000 men and this was called "tumen". The tumens were divided into troops of thousands, hundreds, and tens with commanders called tumenbasi, binbasi, yuzbasi, and onbasi respectively. This organizational structure has survived over 22 centuries since the time of great Hun ruler Mao-Tun, son of Ulu Hatun (209-174BC). His army, when he engaged the Chinese army at Peteng, had 400,000 cavalrymen with 100,000 each of black horsemen in the north, white horsemen in the west, dark red horsemen in the south and gray horsemen in the east.
The Turkish warrior of the future would begin his training during childhood. Children of 3-4 years old had special saddles to be able to ride horses. Later they would sharpen skills of shooting arrows while riding. The bow was carried by hanging it on the shoulder just like the sacks. Also some of the close fighting weapons found in the old Turkish graves were as follows; the short sword (mech), the spear (kargi, sungug), the short spear (kachut), the knife and the dagger (bugde/bugte), the ball (gurz/topuz), the whip (berge) and the lasso (ukruk). Of these sword was the most commonly used. The sword would not be worn in the plain view but within a pack called "kin". The pack was hung from the belt with a ring on the left side of the warrior. There were also some defensive weapons made from leather, wood and iron. Among them were the shield (tura), the armor (yarik), and the helmet (tulga/yasuk/asuk).
The Turkish system of war was based on action and speed, due to their strong horsemanship skills. The troops would often separate and unite with complete freedom of movement during the battle. They would scream during the attack to intimidate, fake a withdrawal and conclude with trapping and total destruction of the enemy.
Reference: "The State Tradition and Organization among Ancient Turks", Prof.Dr.Salim Koca, The Turks, Vol.1, 2002.