Forces: November 26, 2004

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ARMED FORCES OF THE WORLD: Mighty Greece

In the Balkans go, Greece is primary military power in the region. Greece currently has one of the most well-trained professional armies in Europe. The primary secrets to its outstanding defense infrastructure are an extremely well-developed NCO and commissioned officer corps. In terms of training, Greece is significantly ahead of Turkey, its primary potential adversary in any future conflict. The Greek Army, formally known as the Hellenic Armed Forces, is composed of approximately 116,000 men in peacetime, but can grow to the size of 357,000 in wartime, after reserve troops are mobilized. The majority of military manpower is obtained through  conscription and voluntary enlistment for both men and women. Conscript  service is 18 months. Volunteers serve five years. Career professionals are 24 percent of the Army. the rest are conscripts. The army has an excellent leadership cadre and has established three schools to instruct officers and NCOs on their tasks and duties. The Hellenic Army War College is very similar to the US Army War College, where officers go to learn advanced strategy and tactics as well as leadership skills beyond those taught at the military academy or their branchs specialty school. The Hellenic Army Academy is the basic academy tasked with providing commissioned officers for the Regular Army. After completion of the four-year course, which includes both Academic and Military Studies, graduates are then commissioned as Second Lieutenants. From there, they go on to their chosen branchs specialty school. The  the Military School of Non-Commissioned Officers is the most important school of all, as the NCO is essentially the backbone of any professional army. The NCO School provides NCOs with the instruction they to aid their commanding officers and execute their duties, which are many and varied and include maintaining discipline, being responsible for the training of enlisted personnel and conscripts, and the maintenance of equipment. In this regard, the Greek Army is very much similar to the British and US armies, where NCOs are given positions of great responsibility and authority. Almost all of the men in the Hellenic Army are loyal and patriotic and there is little to no anti-conscription sentiment. This may be due in part to Greeces  military heritage of defeating superior forces in the face of certain defeat, dating back to the battles against the Persian Empire. 

The Greek Army is very well-trained and a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, at least for infantry forces, a major problem seems to be lack of advanced equipment in certain areas. Infantry forces are equipped with, obsolete FAGOT anti-tank missiles, 90mm recoilless rifles, obsolete ZSU-23 antiaircraft guns, M79 grenade launchers, G3A4 assault rifles (which Heckler & Koch no longer produces), and older Colt 1911s .45 caliber pistols. It is, however, equipped with TOW 2 anti-tank missile systems, which are among the most advanced in the world and has signed a contract with United States to acquire 12 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. Germany is providing 170 Leopard 2 HEL  tanks, to be delivered between 2006 and 2009. Thus, the Greek Army is remarkably in a similar situation as the Israeli Defense Forces when war broke out 1973, as the Israeli infantry was armed with a mixture of modern and obsolete weaponry, including outdated bazookas and rocket launchers. In terms of training, Greece is well-prepared to take on any potential enemy in a future battle. Greeces major weapons holdings include Leopard I and M60 main battles tanks with AMX-30s in reserve. APCs for mechanized infantry include BMP-1s and M113s. The Hellenic Air Force, comprised of about 23,000 personnel, has some 450 combat aircraft (F-16s, F-4s, F-5s, and Mirage 2000s.) 

The Hellenic Armed Forces are a mixture of old and new with some equipment, especially in the Army, being somewhat older and even outdated, while others, particularly in the Air Force, are of state-of-the-art technology. Greeces primary enemy is Turkey, with whom they still have a long, unresolved rivalry, despite both countries being in NATO. Because of this, at least three to four divisions are still dug in along the border with Turkey. The Navy is particularly powerful and employs a number of different types of ships, including frigates, fast attack missile craft, fast attack torpedo craft, submarines, gunboats, and minesweepers. The Navy seems to be fairly modern, but it appears that most of its ships are in serious need of upgrades. The Navy consists of 4 Meko-200HN Class Frigates, 9 Standard Class Frigates, 9 Fast Attack Missile Craft FACM Class La Combattante III, 6 FACM IIa, 4 Jaguar Fast Attack Torpedo Craft, 3 Thetis Class Gunboats, 2 Class 55 Osprey Gunboats, 2 Class HSY-55 Osprey Gunboats, and 2 Ashville Class Gunboats. The Navy also has about 9 Coastal Minesweeper Craft. This is a very substantial and fairly modern naval force, but most of the ships are certainly in need of major upgrades, especially to their sensory equipment, among other things. The Hellenic Air Force seems to be the best equipped of the armed services, or soon will be. The Air Force recently ordered 60 Block 52 F-16, deliveries of which began in April of 2003. Greece is further upgrading ten of its Mirage 2000s and acquiring 15 Mirage 2000-5 Mk 2s.

 


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