It’s time to wake up and put aside concerns about the accursed political cost if we want to get serious about the country’s defense. It’s been 23 years since the Imia crisis and we’re still debating the obvious. We have been suddenly awakened from our deep slumber by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s behavior and our TV screens are now chock-full of retired army generals and other assorted non-experts as well as wannabe pundits on international affairs.
This is good in a sense because Greek society needs to become aware of the challenges it is facing and to develop a sharper a sense of reasonable and healthy patriotism.
That said, we must not lose ourselves in pursuit of imaginary saviors and magic solutions, because they simply don’t exist and searching for them will inevitably lead to national disappointments. But let’s move back to our subject. The Hellenic Armed Forces must change radically and they must change now. The plans are ready and the decisions have already been made.
One example is the need to integrate the special forces that will be called upon to act in the event of a “hot incident.” A key lesson from the Imia crisis is that the forces must be placed under a joint command and need to be based close to Athens so that they can be instantly deployed.
However, we see that a decision to transfer a marines brigade from Volos in central Greece so as to reduce transport times led to protests by local MPs of all parties. The decision was canceled as a result. Similarly, plans to scrap unnecessary brigades in northern Greece in order to build combat-ready units with high availability have sparked protests among local communities and MPs. The plans have been indefinitely postponed.
We must finally get past all that and move on. The country needs a government and a leadership that will take the bull by the horns and explain to the public the need for immediate and unpopular decisions and implement them by the end of 2020. Most importantly, our political class needs to realize that the national interest must come before narrow partisan and political interests.