History has proved that Greece must always be a strong naval power. Geography and geopolitics make it a strategic necessity for the country to have a navy that can, at the same time, defend every island and islet in the Aegean and have a presence in the Eastern, Mediterranean.
Even if we make optimal use of our diplomacy, the time inevitably comes when the fleet commander must take stock of his forces, know exactly what is available and play the game with what he has. Greece did this, successfully, last summer, with the crisis provoked by the presence of the Turkish Oruc Reis research vessel – at an enormous cost to the personnel and ships themselves, which operated at the limit of their capabilities for weeks on end.
But our navy is lagging behind, by a lot. Our ships are aging and even our strongest cards, such as our submarines, are in dire need of upgrades in weapons and systems. The time has come for brave decisions concerning the entire gamut of the navy’s needs and not only the much-discussed acquisition of frigates. There are no magic solutions and it would be ludicrous to look for them.
Like everything in our times, proper management of material and human resources is what is needed. We are lucky to have a strong and determined leadership in the navy, as shown in the latest crisis with Turkey. The prime minister has shown great interest about the navy’s needs and has a deep knowledge of the problems.
The decision on the acquisition of frigates will be made at some point. Everyone hopes that it will be based on the opinions of those who directly know what the country needs, who experience the situation in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean day to day.
Geopolitical concerns and the resulting poker game are all good. However, history has proven that no one has bought, along with the weapons procurement, any “life insurance” for the case of a clash with Turkey. Now, if we could find someone who can provide both, that is, at least implicit security guarantees, along with an operationally reliable product, then our goal will have indeed been met.
It is important, in any case, that the country’s political leadership be in possession of all facts before making its final decision. We are at a crossroads: Greece must close the gap in naval power with Turkey, with no time to waste. Because we may be enjoying a “quiet summer,” but no one can guarantee a quiet autumn or winter. No one. That’s why we must always depend both on our capable diplomacy and our deterrence capability.