How much time should it take to monitor Greek outposts on the Evros, near Turkish airports, the islands of Kos and Pserimos, as well as the British bases on Cyprus and the Persian Gulf where international forces are preparing for a war on Iraq? As of the beginning of this week, it takes no time at all for Greece’s armed forces, who are the fifth in the world – after the USA, Britain, France and Germany – to implement the C4I electronic communications system which operates across the country’s various military centers. This system allows the commander-in-chief of the Greek armed forces and the various chiefs of staff to receive a comprehensive and immediate overview of whatever is happening across the country which has military significance. So the key military centers – which communicate with each other via a network of code-protected channels – not only have instant access to the sum total of qualitative and quantitative information (as the system is linked to Jane’s defense library and can therefore access data on individual military units), but they can also operate securely; military chiefs can communicate to discuss actions, issue orders and then follow up the execution of these orders, step by step. Moreover, the system is also ready to be connected to surveillance aircraft which are currently under order. The official presentation of the C4I was made on Monday by Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Major General Gerokostopoulos – who is in charge of developing the system – before an audience of top-ranking military chiefs and staff officers. Even the section of the system’s capabilities which was demonstrated – the system in its entirety is top secret – was impressive. Even more impressive, however, was the fact the system was examined, designed, created and made ready for implementation in less than a year following final approval by military chiefs in March 2002. Also interesting is the fact that the system’s software was designed by Defense Ministry staff – including conscripts with specialist knowledge of software – and that the software is available for sale to other countries. It is also worth noting that efforts to develop such a comprehensive surveillance system had been made as early as 1985 but had yielded no results. According to armed forces sources, Turkey has attempted to acquire a similar system in the past – using software the Americans left behind after the Gulf War – but will not be able to develop one for at least five years. The system is to be submitted to its first extensive trial during the inaugural national «Nearchos 2003» exercise, which is to be held between February 17 and 21.