The Greek army is aging and shrinking, and the general staff is ringing the alarm bell on the need to effectively address the problem, at an exceptionally critical juncture for national issues.
Of late, there have been a number of public statements, mainly by retired officers, on the need for immediate measures, such as increasing the length of mandatory military service, to confront heightened Turkish provocations.
High-level Pentagon sources told the Ta Nea’s weekend edition that the problems of under-staffing and of the aging of military personnel in the army – which has been dramatically aggravated over the last years with the en masse retirement of officers, the ban on hiring tenured staff, and the youth brain drain – cannot be solved by merely increasing the time of military service.
“A three-month extension of army military service would increase personnel by just eight to 10 percent, and that would be in the long haul,” the same sources stress.
What is required, they say, is a comprehensive plan that would include, inter alia, making it mandatory to begin military service at age 18 (many now receive deferrals for university studies), the voluntary enlistment of women, and the hiring of professional soldiers, so as to renew and increase the number of military personnel.
At the moment, as Ta Nea has been told, the defence ministry has no plans to extend the length of military service or to hire professional military personnel, which has caused consternation among military brass.
Today, Turkey has an army of 510,000 (though about 30,000 are believed to have been purged after the abortive 2016 coup).
The Greek Army, according to military sources, numbers 133,000, of whom about 80,000 are tenured.
Greek Army land forces are estimated at 93,000 troops, compared to Turkey’s 400,000.
The Greek Navy and the Greek Air Force each have about 20,000 serving, compared to Turkey’s 50,000 and 60,000, respectively.