OPINION

Conventional weapons, unconventional threats

Conventional weapons, unconventional threats

The landscape of international relations is radically changing. The sooner we realize that, the better. The foreign policy and defense tools that we used to have at our disposal are no more, although this may not yet be fully clear to us. 

To start with the simple things, the way in which wars are carried out has changed. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), commonly known as drones, cyberattacks, hybrid warfare and information attacks are new elements that can determine the outcome of a conflict. States of greater and smaller power are both interested in these new factors as they upset conventional equilibria that we used to take for granted. They are a security headache even for countries with great know-how and solid defense industries.

Greece is finally taking some significant steps to upgrade its defense. The gap created in recent years is being addressed drastically. Chronic and incredible problems, such as the supply of torpedoes for our modern submarines, have been resolved. 

However, we must grab the bull by the horns and provide answers to the new threats. This is not only a question for the military leadership and the Ministry of Defense. What is called for is an immediate mobilization and collaboration with the private sector, universities, the team of Kyriakos Pierrakakis at the Ministry of Digital Governance, and the Greek diaspora.

US President Joe Biden recently appointed former New York City mayor and billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg as chair of the Defense Innovation Board, a panel designed to provide Pentagon leaders with recommendations on emerging tech and innovative approaches to development. People with vast experience, such as Bloomberg, will obviously ask questions that the Pentagon bureaucracy is reluctant to answer and bridge the efforts made by the state, the academia and the private sector in the area of defense. 

We have wasted too much precious time in this country. We reduced our defense industry to a public utility service while demonizing any form of partnership between university institutions and the armed forces. The taboos have finally been broken, which is certainly welcome. But we cannot waste a single second in making the necessary leaps forward. 

Greece is significantly strengthening its capability in terms of conventional weapons. However, it must also bolster its defenses against the unconventional threats that are increasingly manifesting themselves in 21st century warfare.