Akar was born in 1952 in Kayseri, Turkey. He graduated from the Turkish Military Academy in 1972 and the Turkish Infantry School in 1973. In 1975 he attended Queen's University Belfast for postgraduate studies in International Diplomacy.
Akar served as a company commander, section chief and branch chief at various units and headquarters including the Turkish General Staff. He also served as an instructor at the Army Command and Staff College and was posted abroad as a staff officer in the intelligence division in HQ AFSOUTH / Naples, ltaly between 1990 and 1993. From 1993 until 1994, he was the Military Assistant to the Land Forces Commander, also served as the Chief Public Information Officer. Later on, he continued this assignment for the Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces between the years of 1994-1997. He was subsequently posted as the Commander of the Turkish Brigade - Zenica/Bosnia from 1997 until 1998.
Upon his promotion to brigadier general in 1998, he commanded the Internal Security Brigade for two years, and then served as the Chief of Plans and Policy in Headquarters AFSOUTH / Naples, Italy between 2000 and 2002. Following his promotion to major general in 2002, he assumed the command of the Military Academy for three years and was subsequently the Commander of the Army Command and Staff College for two years until 2007.
After his promotion to lieutenant general, he was the commander of Land Forces Logistics and then the Commander of NRDC-T and the 3rd Corps between 2009 and 2011. Subsequent to his promotion to the rank of general in 2011, he served as the Deputy Chief of the Turkish General Staff from 2011 until 2013, and the Commander of the Turkish Land Forces from 2013 until 2015.
On 2 August 2015, General Akar was appointed as the 29th Chief of the General Staff and took up the position on 18 August 2015.
Akar was taken hostage on 15 July 2016 during the Turkish Armed Forces' 2016 attempted coup d'état against the Turkish government, by those responsible for leading the attempted coup. According to The Economist, Akar "was told by his aides to sign a declaration of martial law. When he refused, they tightened a belt around his neck, but he would not yield." He was held hostage at Akıncı Air Base in Ankara before pro-government forces retook control of the air base and rescued him in the early hours of 16 July 2016.
The rescue was announced at 02:45 EEST on 16 July 2016 by Anadolu Agency, although CNN Türk placed the time of rescue attempt around 07:45 EEST. First Army commander General Ümit Dündar served as Acting Chief of General Staff during Akar's capture. After his release he testified that one of his captors offered to put him on the phone with alleged coup figurehead Fethullah Gülen.
Akar has led the Turkish military intervention in Syria since 2016.
TAF Medal of Honor, TAF Medal of Distinguished Courage and Self-Sacrifice, TAF Medal of Distinguished Service, Legion of Merit, Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Order of National Security Merit of South Korea, Azerbaijan Distinguished Service in Military Cooperation.
General Hulusi Akar is married to Şule Akar, with whom he has two children. He speaks English.