As of next year, when obligatory military service for Greek men is reduced to 12 months, conscripts will have to serve less time in front-line, border units, while more hirings of professional soldiers could further reduce national service in the future, the government said yesterday. Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said conscripts would be expected to serve six months in border units in Thrace, the eastern Aegean and the Dodecanese after their basic training, down from nine months. They will then be posted to military installations closer to their homes. As a result of the new postings system, Papantoniou said, border units would come to be manned mostly by professional soldiers. «It is mainly there that we need them,» he said. Papantoniou added that some 5,700 men – double the number of professional soldiers initially envisaged – will be hired by the end of this year due to the high number of applications. By 2005, he added, and provided demand remains high, there could be some 25,000 professional soldiers under arms, which in turn could lead to further cuts in national service.