23 December 2013 14:07

Without necessary re-organisation, the National Guard cannot afford to reduce conscript service for now, Defence Minister Fotis Fotiou said yesterday.
Final touches are being put to a restructuring plan and will be submitted to parliament and political parties in due course, he added.
The structural changes, Fotiou noted, are essential if “the National Guard is to maintain high level operational capacity in the face of almost daily Turkish provocations and sovereignty challenges in the EEZ”.
The reduction of the conscript service does remain on the cards for the near future as part of a series of far reaching changes, to be included in relevant bills aiming towards creating “circumstances that can lead towards a credible fighting force, responding to its national mission”. The minister did not provide any timeframes.
The need to fill up the holes in the financial adjustment programme has led to cuts in defence ministry spending but Fotis Fotiou assured that this will not happen at the expense of quality in National Guard security. One of the areas of particular concern is maintaining armament programmes, with the Defence Ministry making clear that it will manage Troika reductions in such a manner that weapons programmes will not be affected at a greater extent that they already are.
Of significance is also the ability to maintain existing arms systems in excellent condition, as any slip ups might endanger the safety of National Guard personnel.
Fotiou is convinced that in following a prudent but efficient strategy, defence spending can be adjusted to the difficult financial conditions without affecting operational levels to a great extent.


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