More active involvement of military sought to strengthen civil protection

More active involvement of military sought to strengthen civil protection

The Hellenic Armed Forces’ more direct and active involvement in civil protection and institutional changes are on the horizon, as part of the government’s effort to strengthen response capabilities in the event of catastrophic weather events like storm Daniel. 

Kathimerini understands that discussions have been taking place between the PM’s office and the ministries of National Defense and Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, in order to come up with the best solution.

Specifically, with regard to the quick response of the state machinery, a plan is currently under discussion that would shift a significant portion of civil protection to the Ministry of National Defense to deal with extreme weather conditions such as floods and fires.

However, there are detractors both inside and outside of the military who oppose the assumption of civil protection duties since it would divert resources from its primary mission. 

In practice, it is envisioned that the military will conduct search and rescue operations as soon as a threat is determined, either through the National Coordination Center for Operations and Crisis Management, where the military is de facto involved, or at the local level.

If it is established that there is a problem caused by bad weather in any part of the country, then the armed forces will be able to operate without having to wait for an earlier request, which until now has come from the Ministry of Climate Crisis. In other words, a helicopter would be able to take off immediately, and other vehicles or ships that the armed forces have on daily standby can be made available.

The aim is to avoid predicaments like the one in January 2022 when drivers were stranded for many hours in their vehicles on Attiki Odos, and which saw the armed forces responding after a lengthy delay. This was a telling incident for decision-makers as it took place in a central part of the the country and not in a rural area where it would be more difficult to have a clear picture of the situation in the first few hours of the crisis. 

The immediate involvement of the armed forces will also require institutional changes that will allow the Ministry of National Defense to take the necessary steps. However, some sources told Kathimerini that the mobilization of the armed forces at this stage may be temporary until the Ministry of Climate Change has the necessary capabilities.

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