Conscripts might serve in Afghan force

The Defense Ministry is making plans to include candidate officers and conscripts in the volunteer contingent for the international peace force in Afghanistan in case it cannot assemble the necessary number of troops from permanent force members. The Army General Staff sent a confidential note to all departments involved on December 20, to prepare for the mission and raising the possibility of including conscripts. The note calls for expressions of interest from officers (from the rank of Colonel to 2nd Lieutenant), warrant officers, candidate officers, non-commissioned officers (from the permanent force, long-term volunteer service and five-year-term service) as well as conscripted privates of all specialties. In case the necessary number of volunteers for the specialist positions is not found, the General Staff has provided all directorates with the right to propose non-volunteers who fulfill all the necessary conditions. The deadline for expressions of interest is December 31. However, staff officers believe that enough volunteers will be found to cover the needs of the Afghanistan force and believe that a strong incentive will be provided by the pay offered. There are proposals for the money to be more than that paid to Greek troops serving in peacekeeping missions in the Balkans. The first 50 Greek troops are scheduled to leave for Afghanistan by the end of January. The full contingent is expected to number under 200 people.