On Tuesday, 20 November 2018, the Alternate Minister of National Defence Panagiotis Rigas visited the 120 Air Training Wing in Kalamata, accompanied by the Chief of Hellenic Air Force General Staff Lieutenant General Christos Christodoulou. During the visit, he had a tour in the air base facilities and addressed the personnel.
In his address, he pointed out:
“It is a great pleasure to be in Kalamata today, in the 120 Air Training Wing, in the context of visits to our Armed Forces’ units. It is an important visit, since this Wing is the basic training centre of our Air Force; it is the place where the Aviation Cadets and Second Lieutenants are trained. It is also an opportunity for me, to communicate with you, the Unit’s personnel, in my capacity as Alternate Minister of National Defence.
First, I would like to start by stating once more that we are a peaceful country. Our goal is to achieve peace and stability in the wider area. Please keep in mind that this does not constitute a weakness. I make clear that we allow no one and by no means to question our sovereign rights and possessions.
I will point out three basic characteristics, which, in my capacity as a teacher, I know they play an important role in training: the Quality, the High Level of the provided training and Realism. During my today’s visit in the Air Training Wing, I realised that these characteristics not only apply here, but they are the determining factor of the provided Training.
This is not only acknowledged by me. Our allies also recognise it; they trust their personnel to be trained by us and they also actively show their interest in participating in the International Air Training Centre; they have already actively participated with personnel from the Italian Air Force.
The establishment of the International Air Training Centre confirms that when there is will, we can achieve our goals and all the more so, in the best and most appropriate way. This centre contributes to the upgrade of our Air Force’s personnel provided training and at the same time it contributes to the conditions’ improvement for the local society, as well as for the wider area of Kalamata.
Your work is important, as are your mission’s fulfillment and the high level and systematic training maintenance, regarding Air Force Aviation Cadets and Second Lieutenants. I realised, in this context, that both the Aviation Officers and the Technical Corps personnel work with selfless devotion, achieving the goals that have been set. On one hand, the requirement that the trainees must always try hard is recognised, and on the other hand, that there are risks, with regard to both trainers and trainees, for the achievement of the high training goals.
At this point, I would like to mention and pay tribute to the aviators who fell in action. The recent event and sacrifice of Major (AF) Nikolaos Vassiliou during an instruction flight confirms that our Air Force “fights”, even under training conditions.
This Wing and your sacrifices present an opportunity, regarding the effective undertaking and the successful air operations’ conduct in the future, whenever and wherever requested. Your professionalism, operational capability, the comprehensive scientific knowledge and mostly your devotion allow us to exercise politics. In any case, the Hellenic State acknowledges your sacrifices. Due to the financial crisis, all Greek society and you, as its integral part, suffered severe cuts.
We feel your agony and as the Prime Minister himself stated recently in the Air Force Celebration: Recovery of injustices is under way. I assure you that the Ministry of National Defence’s Political Leadership, in close cooperation with the Military Leadership, supports your work and it will continue to contribute with any means possible, with regard to the improvement of your every day military routine.
Finally, I would like to thank you once more for your professionalism and the high morale that you demonstrate during your duties’ performance. On the occasion of our Armed Forces’ celebration day tomorrow, the day that the Greek society honours all personnel who fight daily, I wish for health for you and your families and to succeed in a professional and personal level”.