NEWS

Military law needs changes

What structural changes do you think would make the armed forces more effective? The philosophy under which the armed forces are organized and operate according to Law 2292 of 1995 needs a thorough overhaul. Changes should not improve the present setup. On the basis of experience and of international practice, I believe that revision of law should tackle the following: First, the improvement and unification of the crisis-management system on a national level; second, bringing chiefs of staff under the Defense Ministry; and third, setting fixed terms of service for chiefs of staff. What improvements does the crisis-management system need? The crisis-management system functions well and is capable of dealing with potential situations, but I am referring to an improved, broadened system to cover all aspects of state activity. This system would be activated automatically by a warning system and lead to the taking of all the necessary political, diplomatic, economic, humanitarian and military steps to deal with any crisis. The relations of the national defense general staff chief and the general staff chiefs are governed by an unprecedented format where the former has operational but not administrative responsibility. Isn’t it irrational and dangerous and shouldn’t it change? How can the joint chief impose his decisions? The handing over of operational administration to the national defense general staff chief is a significant step forward, though I would say it is incomplete because it is not possible to plan and carry out operations successfully if there is no access to the forces’ organization, structure, staffing, equipment and support. To deal with that, I think the chiefs of staff should be brought under the leadership of national defense minister via the national defense general staff chief. Careful re-examination, definition and a balancing-out of the duties of all chiefs of staff will certainly have better results for national defense. Why should chiefs of staff have fixed terms of office? With a specific time limit ahead, they would be able to envision and determine goals and plan their implementation. This is not possible under the present system and chiefs of staff can understandably get drawn into actions that are not well planned and may in the long term prove mistaken or have negative consequences. Moreover, an indefinite term makes them vulnerable to interference and can lead them to act opportunistically in order to retain their position. There is much talk of bringing back retired officers and the leveling effects of the seniority system of promotion. Normal staff career development is a basic factor in making the armed forces effective. With the professionalization of the armed forces, it is essential to examine and redefine the limits to their promotion. You can’t just hand out promotions or recall retired officers if there is no serious need. Rank must be awarded for the performance of specific duties and not just for financial or other reasons. As for professional soldiers, I want to make it clear that we employ them to perform the duties of soldiers. We want fighters, not officers, and that is not derogatory, far from it. Besides, a small percentage of them will become non-commissioned officers under certain, strict and clearly defined circumstances. Finally, the great challenge is to replenish the professional infantry. We do not want widespread permanency to lead to an aging army with a public service mentality. That would be disastrous for the armed forces. As I said, we need fighters and the legislation must be designed to ensure that. What about military service? Human resources are directly related to compulsory military service, its duration and professional soldiers. Military service in Greece is related to the demographic problem. I think it needs to be subjected to close study on the basis of national and international security challenges. Such a study may consider conscription for women.