Streamlining the military

The crash of the two F-16 fighter jets and the death of the four pilots was the latest tragedy in a long chain of accidents that have plagued Greece’s armed forces in the past few months. A state of laxity, inadequate training, and equipment shortcomings – flight simulators in this case – are some of the reasons for the poor shape of the armed forces. It is no coincidence that the first parliamentary committee set up by the ruling party will investigate the arms procurements conducted during the tenures of Akis Tsochadzopoulos and Yiannos Papantoniou, both former defense ministers with the Socialist party. We should rule out any attempt to cover up any wrongdoing in the name of the national interest. However, given that the effectiveness of the armed forces depends, above all, on the morale of its officers and staff, any steps to restore transparency and impose sanctions on any wrongdoers should be accompanied by systematic, morale-boosting moves. The miserable 1967-74 dictatorship eroded the status of the military and in the post-1974 period further blows were dealt to the institution in a bid to «democratize» the armed forces. The gradual elimination, as it were, of military threats – and of late, much of the threat posed by Turkey – is increasingly making the military redundant to the public’s way of thinking. Accidents will always take place – and they will mostly be caused by human error. However, apart from mourning the dead, our political leaders have a duty to streamline the armed forces by building professionalism, boosting morale, and promoting engagement in specific military operations that should not be confined to contributing troops to peacemaking missions across the globe.