Greek Armed Forces – How National Defense is influenced by the financial crisis

It might be considered just a profession. Some would call it a service and for others its looks more like a duty: yet, being a career soldier is not easily classifiable.

Lots of articles have been written about the Greek Armed Forces and the Greek soldier. This material does not prevent me from seeking more info on the issue or making my own thoughts on the subject. Today’s article on the AF is neither about coups d’ etat nor about power upheavals. It’s –what else?- about the dire financial condition under which most professional military personnel suffers along all other professionals, irrespective of work, specialty, years of service and the like.Pursuing a career in the military presents a series of challenges, presupposes special skills, physical training, and psychological profiles and implies a good deal of mobility and readiness for action.  There may be several other professions with similar characteristics, to name but a few, those of pilots, fire squads or doctors, but unlike these, being a military does also carry a legacy of defending nearly 4000 years of History – not an easy or self-evident duty.

Operational readiness in question

The financial crisis which turned into a debt crisis in Greece has not left the AF immune, neither the payroll of military personnel. The problem is not simply an issue of salaries, but implies a growing sense of injustice which in turn stems from the lack of proportion:  the government (irrespectively of which party is currently in office), being the political authority of the AF, having earned herself a bad score of performance due to mismanagement, corruption, and lack of transparency, is now freezing or cutting salaries in the most indiscriminate and savage manner.

Where should I begin? I have fished the following info, which gives a good picture of the situation:

‘’the Greek government in an effort to save funds is about to massively resell arms for the procurement of which it had spent considerable amounts of money.”

Or:

“putting defense and national security at stake, the government examines the possibility of selling submarines and military helicopters…. If these plans come to fruition, Greece will be left with only two state-of-the art submarines of Papanikolis type, (one to be delivered in the next few months)’’.

Silly question:  if this happened, how and under what operational terms would our navy defend our sea, our islands and our natural gas reserves from potentially aggressive neighbors?  Even the Turkish Press is making the day or its readership with ironic headlines, such as these:

‘’Greeks have changed their mind about the Aegean, they now sell off their submarines’’ and ‘’bankrupt Greece who was allegedly selling its islands seems now poised to sell its military submarines”.

The truth is that the government is jeopardizing our navy’s deterring capabilities the very moment that Turkey has commissioned 6 Papanikolis-type submarines herself in Germany!

I will skip mentioning the more and more irregular and thin presence of our AF in joint projects and military synergies in the European Union (European Defense Agency) and/or NATO.

It seems that the AF are left to their own devices, if they are not at the mercy of a gang of quislings……

Salarial cuts of military personnel

This is the state of play under which our soldiers and officers are expected to live their lives and look to the needs of their families:

·         massive and repetitive salary cuts (an aggregate 40% in the last 3 yrs and another 15% last yr) have made the AF live on 45% of what they earned in 2010,

·         a series of cuts in allowances,

·         the increase from 35 to 40 years of real service before one can retire

·         a slow-down of promotions to fewer ranks (in other words more years on the same rank on the average)

and various other panicky measures which fail to address the main debt crisis while they create a series of other major problems in the AF have brought the latter to a state of a casi-nervous breakdown.

There is a growing sense of discomfort, frustration and anger, while more and more voices of protest, eponymous and anonymous are heard in all three Forces.

The Army is not just a bunch of GI’s but a Force full of scientists, technicians, and personnel specialized in modern warfare, state-of the art cyber-war and everything.  Last, but not least, the AF are not there ‘’idling’’ till war breaks out.

Social role of the AF

The Army, by definition well trained, disciplined and ever ready for action, experienced and seasoned in the toughest of situations, has always been at the front line of help and assistance to victims of natural catastrophes  be they earthquakes, flooding, or snow-stricken remote villages. Our pilots and soldiers have always been there in extinguishing ravaging summer fires (more accurately: forest arsons) which have caused a dramatic toll in the last few years.  Let’s not forget either that it was the technical and engineering units of the Army that helped the civil administration develop and carry out infrastructure projects throughout the country after WWII.

These blind and purposeless cuts both in the funds/budget of the AF as well as in the salaries of career military personnel,  decided and executed by politicians notorious for fund mismanagement, “under the table” gifts, transactions of dubious transparency with business partners, of ill repute, be they national or international, makes more and more military feel and suspect that they are under the political command of traitors and the military command of chiefs-of-staff arbitrarily promoted by such politicians on the basis of their aligned interests.

I have no doubt whatsoever that our men and women of the AF will never lose their faith in and commitment to defending and protecting the Nation, at war and in peace alike.

But there may be a day, soon, when they may lose their patience with such ludicrous a state of affairs,  whether the excuse be purely salarial, or operational or national….

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  1. Ο/Η Dr Deepa λέει:

    True and well said 🙂

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