I’ve been doing some more thinking about Turkey’s odd status of having the largest standing army (8 infantry) of all the neutrals. The closest competitors are Spain and Sweden (with 6 infantry each). Turkey’s standing army of 8 infantry puts it in a category by itself among the neutrals, and I’ve been wondering to what extent this is perhaps meant to reflect the importance that a German conquest of Turkey might have had if it had actually happened in WWII.
If the Global 1940 map was accurate, the territory directly south of Bulgaria would be the European part of Turkey (not part of Greece, as the map shows). A German invasion of European Turkey starting from Bulgaria (and from Greece too, if it took place after the spring 1941 German occupation of Greece and Yugoslavia), resulting in the eventual occupation of the Asian part of Turkey by German forces, could have had several potentially major strategic consequences in WWII:
It would have enabled the German army to strike southwest into the Levant and eventually capture the Suez Canal, thus cutting off Britain’s shortest sea route to India and the Far East. The German army could then have struck further westward into Egypt, catching the British forces there in a vice between this westward-striking element and Rommel’s Afrika Korps, which was already positioned on the other side of the British, perhaps even eliminating the UK’s presence in North Africa altogether.
The occupation of Turkey would also have enabled the German army to strike to the south and southeast into Iraq and Iran, thus securing valuable supplies of oil which Germany needed badly. This would also have positioned the Germans on the southern flank of the Soviet Union, on either side of the Caspian Sea, as potential jumping-off points for German attacks into the Caucasus (whose oil fields Germany wanted) and Turkmenistan. It would also have placed the Germans west of India (in southeast Iraq), in a counterpart to Japan’s campaign of 1941-1942 which placed the Japanese east of India (in Burma), and perhaps would even have created an opportunity – though probably just a remote one – for the two Axis powers to attack into India simultaneously from opposite sides and link up.
If we combined these real-world considerations with the OOB rules, then I’d say that the OOB rules which dissuade players from attacking strict neutrals in general (all of them gang up on the attacker) and which dissuade them from attacking Turkey in particular (due to its large standing army) actually favour the Allies (rather than favouring the Axis, or favouring neither side) because Germany is the country which would, in an unrestricted environment, have the most to gain from capturing Turkey. That argument, however, does have a major flaw: it assumes that the real-world considerations of logistics are modeled in the A&A rules, which isn’t actually the case. Under the OOB rules, closing the Suez Canal to the British or having the Middle East fall into German hands wouldn’t be as consequential as in real life because British sea trade and German oil supply needs aren’t explicitly built into the game mechanism. So to come all the way back to the subject I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Turkey’s uniquely large standing army is a bit perplexing under the OOB rules.