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DEFENCE & MILITARY

HELLENIC ARMED FORCES

NATOs New Command Structure:


Are there any benefits for Greece?
Brig. General (ret.) Polychronis Nalmpantis, MPhil

he debate over NATOs New Command Structure evolved for almost two to three years, as an effort of the
Alliance to adapt its role and position to
the new global security/defense context
and contemporary challenges.
Furthermore, the wars in Afghanistan
and Libya (recently concluded with the
death of the Muammar Muhammad Abu
Minyar al-Gaddafi) and the current global economic crisis accelerated the decision and imposed the logic of a New Command Structure, leaner than before, that
will save resources and funds and simultaneously expand the operational capabilities across the full spectrum and especially in cyber security (the new frontier!), inducing flexibility, rapid response
and enhanced effectiveness.

Hellenic Defense Policy objectives


and NATOs New Command Structure
At the end of the two-days Defense Ministers meeting, [June 8-9, 2011], NATO
revealed plans for a New Command Structure through which it will reduce personnel by 30 percent and save tens of millions
of dollars over the next few years budgets.
NATO General Secretary Anders Fogh
Rasmussen pointed out that, the changes
are meant to "make the Alliance leaner and
more efficient" during a time when many
member countries are facing tight or dwindling defense budgets. During the discussions, the unwillingness of many Allies
to continue their contribution financially
for the maintaining of an extended struc-

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ture became apparent. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates applauded the effort of
the New Command Structure, which has
been a top priority of his for the Alliance
for the last three years. However, he urged
NATOs members to invest the savings in
new capabilities, rather than pocketing the
money. The pressure on Germany, Poland,
Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands came as
the Alliance continued with intensified
airstrikes on Libya's capital, Tripoli. So, the
New Command Structure became leaner,
more efficient, more deployable and affordable, and adapted the Strategic Concept adopted by NATO leaders at their Lisbon summit, in November 2010.
For Greece, one of the most significant
changes being introduced by the New
Command Structure is the elimination of
the Izmir CC Air and its replacement by a
Land HQ [headquarters] which is being
transferred from Spain. Also, the unique
Air HQ [CC-Air] will be based in Germany
[Ramstein], and the Navy HQ [CC-MAR]
will be based in the United Kingdom
[Northwood].
Regarding the air structure, only two
CAOCs [Combined Air Operations Centers]
- out of the seven currently in operation will remain, those of Germany [Uedem]
and Spain [Torrejn], while the Deployable CAOC is being transferred from Holland [Millingen] to Italy [Poggio Renatico].
In addition to the integrated NATO Command Structure entities, the entities of the
Force Structure are included in NATOs unified military command in which Greece

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participates with Larissas CAOC-7, the


NATO Deployable Corps Greece (NDCGR) [C Army Corps Thessaloniki] and the
NATO Maritime Interdiction Operation
Training Center - NMIOTC [Chania]. It is
noted here that Larissas CAOC will be operating under permanent Greek command
and not under an alternate Greek and Turkish Commander, as it has been agreed to by
Greece in early 2009.
Therefore, the Alliances Defence Ministers have decided the geographical determination of the HQ and other executive
entities of NATOs New Command Structure, in the framework of Lisbons Summit
decisions, last November 2010. The above
strategy is the result of long and arduous
negotiations lasting from the end of the
Lisbon Summit until today.
Greece was actively involved in this negotiation with the then Minister of National Defence, Evangelos Venizelos, being
in constant contact with NATOs Secretary
General Rasmussen. Bilateral consultations
also took place in numerous occasions.
The Hellenic Ministry of National Defences (HMoND) press release pointed out
that Greeces strategic goal was to avoid
unnecessary provocations in its region,
provocations that create artificial or technical problems and, therefore, variations in
relation to what is the norm in other Alliance regions. This statement "images" the
aspect that regulations that exclude e.g.,
the Greek islands by NATOs operational
planning, should be removed.
The abolition of Izmirs CC Air has been
reviewed by, Evangelos Venizelos as one of
the main goals of his defence policy since
taking office - mainly because of the con-

stant and dangerous problems caused in


the airspace between Greece and Turkey.
The Hellenic Ministry of National Defense
assesses it as the most important advantage
for the New Command Structure, namely
Turkey's divestiture of a "tool" view of her
positions in the operational control over
the Aegean. Therefore, the result after
many months and hard bargaining within
the Alliance, which has a greater importance for the Greek side, is the abrogation
of Izmirs CC Air, through which Turkey is
promoting its demands for the operational
control of the Aegean Seas theater of operations within NATO.
So far, Ankara has utilized the CC Air presence in its territory in order to promote
the standing claims on the Aegean theater
of operation against Greeces legitimate sovereign rights. In this context, as indicated
by excellent knowledge on inter-Allie side
procedures and with the tolerance of the
American Commanders of Izmirs CC Air,
Turkey attempted to "gray" many areas in
the Aegean Sea and to cancel NATO military exercises such as the regular exercise
Noble Archer in the Aghios Efstratios Island. For this reason, the abolition of
Izmirs CC Air was a central goal of Greek
foreign and defence policy. Now the air activity in the Aegean would be subject of
control, which will be performed by the
Ramstein Air HQ, in Germany.
Following the loss of the Air Headquarters in Izmir, Turkeys aim was to undertake the Naval Headquarters jurisdiction,
but ultimately is being given the Land
Command Headquarters which will be situated in Izmir and will essentially deal or
try to gather all the land competency that

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DEFENCE & MILITARY

is available in NATO for command-andcontrol of land operations essentially.


Thereby, the potential control of aeronautical activity in the Aegean was reducing Greeces sovereign rights. Also, Turkey
will suffer not only the economic cost as
host nation but also the political cost in the
Arab world, from a potential military engagement/development in the broad region. Of course, Turkey is consistent in her
revisional policy and will continue to raise
issues such as the status of Limnos Island,
the Aegean islands alleged militarization
and the gray zones in the Aegean Sea.
Finally, Greek military sources estimate
that the New Command Structure will
weaken Turkeys role in NATO, because it
planned to obtain the Air or Naval Headquarters but it did not achieve it, and on the
other hand the Land Forces Headquarter directs Turkeys orientation to the East, in
Afghanistan, where Land operations are
predominant.
Also, Greek analysts note that the placing
of Greek officers at the Ramstein air command and the naval command in Northwood, England, is important for securing
Greek interests.
On the other hand, in the domain of the
Greek domestic policy, the New Democracy Party Deputy Shadow Defence Minister,
Stephanos Ghikas told to Athens News that
Greece is the only NATO member in the alliances southern flank that remains without a NATO military facility in the new
command structure, and he also stressed
that Turkeys tough bargaining resulted in
the placement of the powerful NATO Land
Forces Command, with a staff of 350 personnel, in Izmir.

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NATOs operation in Libya and the


Hellenic Logistic Support
On March 27, 2011 NATO Allies decided
to take on the whole military operation in
Libya under United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 1973. The purpose of
Operation Unified Protector is to protect
civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack by Qaddafis regime to
its own people. NATO is implementing all
military aspects of the UN Resolution.
The crisis in Libya and the consequent necessity for the Alliance to use the available
infrastructure in the region, has functioned
subserviently on the Greek positions, as it
found in practice the obstacles that can occur from the constant disputes. It is worth
noting that NATO's decision to launch operations against Libya resulted in the obligation of all aircraft entering in the Athens
FIR to submit flight plans in order to check
any entry attempt by hostile aircraft. This
practice was adapted by Turkey. On the
first days of operation Turkey submitted a
daily flight plan, considering that it covers
all aircraft flights per day and later it began
to submit regularly operational plans for
all flights.
Moreover, the naval base at Souda has
proven to be a hub of transport and logistics in the theater of war in the Middle
East. Former U.S. Ambassador to Athens,
Daniel Speckhard, stresses the importance
of the base, "as the most important strategic location for the U.S. Navy and Air
Force in the Eastern Mediterranean" and
notes that now, there is no restriction on
use from the Greek political side.
The Hellenic Governmental Council on
Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) by

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the decision of March 18th, 2011 approved the conditional provision of facilities in NATO's coalition forces, friendly
and allied countries in support and combat
operations under the UN Security Council
Resolution 1973/2011 from the countrys
airports, including the 115th Combat Wing
(based at Souda Air Force Base).
Greece has declared to NATO and in its
own plans the availability of the following:
a.The Naval and Air Base of Souda and
additional air bases in Aktion and Andravida,
b.One Frigate with its organic helicopter, and one Combat Search and Rescue
 Table 1

(CSAR) helicopter, in the sea area between Crete and Libya.


c.One airborne early warning and control
aircraft (EMB-145H Erieye AEW&C).
Greece was also ready at any moment
and if necessary, to deploy one additional helicopter for CSAR missions.
Also, initially it was planned to allocate four F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter
aircraft already allocated to the NATO
Response Force (NRF), but eventually
it decided not to do so, due to domestic political reasons and reactions.
d.Also, the Athens Multinational Sealift
Coordination Center (AMSLCC) de-

OPERATION UNIFIED PROTECTOR ALLIED AIR-ASSETS OPERATING FROM GREECE

Unit / Facility

Country

Greece

RC-135 River Joint


KC-135 Stratotanker
C-130 Hercules
DH-8C
E-3TF
E-8
CN-235
P-3 Orion
F-16C/D MLU
Mirage 2000
C-160 Transall
C-130H/-H-30 Hercules
Atlantique 2
Mirage F1
Mirage 2000-5
C-17 Globmaster III
AW139 4
EMB-145H Erieye AEW&C

Belgium

F-16C/-D MLU

USA

115th Combat Wing,


Souda Air Base

Norway

France

Qatar

116th Combat Wing,


Araxos Air Base
120th Air Training
Wing, Kalamata
Air Base

Type

USA

HC-130P/-N Combat King


HH-60G Pavehawk

Number

Sorties

1
1
1
1
2
1
1
1
6
12
1
1
2
4
4
1

644

610

2.362

407
156
589

2
3

Non available
Non available

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DEFENCE & MILITARY

 Table 2

Port

Souda Bay,
Crete

OPERATION UNIFIED PROTECTOR ALLIED NAVAL ASSETS OPERATING FROM GREECE


Country

Type

Greece

Frigate
Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR)
Mine-warfare Ship
Frigate
Corvette
Frigate
Frigate
Mine-warfare Ship
Frigate
Submarine
Frigate

Belgium
Bulgaria
France
United Kingdom
Spain
Canada

signed and executed the evacuation


over of 22,000 people [mostly Chinese
citizens] from Libya to Crete in humanitarian rescue operations.
It should be emphasized that Souda Air
and Naval Base, which for once more validated its great geo-strategic value, hosted
many allied air (please see attached Table
1) and naval (please see attached Table 2)
assets that participated in the Operation
Unified Protector:
In addition to the aforementioned allied
assets, Souda Naval Base hosted and supported a great variety of allied surface
ships and submarines. Included among
them were many United States Navy surface combatants (one to two nuclearpowered aircraft carriers (CVN), one amphibious operations ship, two to three destroyers with anti-ballistic missile systems
and two to three combat support and supply ships) and submarines (two to three
nuclear-powered attack / cruise missile
submarines [SSN SSGN]). Also, the
French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle
was re-supplied.

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Number

Visits

Days

4
1
1
1
1
1
2
1
1
1
2

10
2
1
3
1
16
1
1
1
1
3

34
7
5
7
4
6
15
4
5
4
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Worth noting is that the total cost to the


national defence budget for the participation of the Hellenic Armed Forces in Operation Unified Protector amounted, according to the latest estimates in about
EUR 20 million so far.
Furthermore, NATOs Defence Ministers
Summit decided to extend for another 90
days the Alliances operation in Libya. As
the Greek Minister of National Defence, Evangelos Venizelos pointed out during the
NATO Summit, having learned [its lessons]
from the absence of an entry strategy in
the Libyan crisis, it must immediately
process an overall exit strategy, through a
viable political solution within the framework of the relevant UN Security Council
Resolutions, in close cooperation with the
Arab League and the African Union. In this
context, also he repeated the Greek proposal that Crete be designated as the hub
for the humanitarian operation that must
be deployed in the aftermath of military
operations under the UN aegis, with the
participation of the EU and with NATO
providing a merely supporting role.

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Epilogue
The abolition of Izmirs CC Air was a core
aim for the Greek foreign and defence policy. Now, the air activity in the Aegean
would be subject of control, which will be
performed by the Ramstein Air HQ in Germany. Turkey won a Land Headquarters
in its territory, strength 350 personnel,
with expertise in land operations.
The degradation of Turkey, in conjunction
with a balanced improvement of Greece, is
due to the active Hellenic strategy - during
months of negotiations that preceded it and the Hellenic Government's willingness
to claim - at least the continuance of the
CAOC-7 in Larissa. Of course, the movement of the air and naval HQ from the
South Wing of NATO to north, would not
affect Turkey's demands strategy against
Greek sovereign rights in the inert alliance context.
Especially for Greece, the new Command
Structure adds credibility to the Hellenic
defence and security. However, if Greece
should be a dependable member of the Alliance, this calls for/demands active participation in NATOs operations by combat
and support forces. If Greece wants NATOs creative intervention in resolving bi-

lateral disputes with Turkey and to ensure


a subscription for de-escalation of the tensions in the Aegean Sea, then it has to fight
together with the Alliances combat forces
and to undertake the command of such operational echelons.
To conclude, Libyas war was an opportunity for Greece to demonstrate its credibility as a stable member at the principles
of NATO and of course effective domestic
policy and energetic participation in NATOs operations must be the political-military aims for any Hellenic government towards the Alliance while the phenomena
of neutral decision must be left in the past.

SOURCES
-www.nato.int/cps/en/SID-390B1D2B-57211046/natolive/71679.htm
-www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/opinions_75353.htm?selectedLocale=en
-www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/news_75280.htm?mode=pressrelease
-www.mod.mil.gr/en/news-section/press-releases/4404-sunodos-upourgon-amunas-nato-stis-vrikselles.html
-www.i-sda.eu/isda/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=378&Itemid=41,
Working Paper No. 24: NATOs New Command Structure, a review from a Greek point of view, issued on June 9th, 2011.

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