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27/02/2018 22:56:21

Address of the Minister of National Defence at the Hellenic Armed Forces Officers’ Club on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Special Forces

      

     
    The Minister of National Defence, Panos Kammenos, accompanied by the Chief of HNDGS, Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis HN, the Chief of HAGS Lieutenant General Alkiviadis Stefanis and the Chief of HNGS Vice Admiral Nikolaos Tsounis HN, attended the celebration event for the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Special Forces that was held at the Hellenic Armed Forces Officers’ Club.

    The Minister of National Defence, in his address, stated amongst others the following:

    “First of all, at today’s event for the 70th anniversary of the establishment of our Special Forces, we should all – and the Minister more than anyone – pay tribute to our heroes – fighters in the Sacred Band, commandos, mountain rangers, men and women of the Special Forces, who fell for God and the country, giving their last breath to the country.

    I would like to bow before the Battle Flag and the banners of the Special Forces and express the great pride that I feel. During the last almost three and a half years that I have the political responsibility for the Ministry of National Defence, either during exercises or international meetings, or even private conversations with Ministers of Defence of friendly and allied countries, but also with Chiefs and Officers, I have always had the great honor to take credit for our Special Forces.

    And the high point was when about a month ago during a joint exercise with Israel, we were told that “they have been exercised together with large and organized armies, but today’s exercise proved that the Hellenic Armed Forces are the ones described by our ancestors, when they were recounting the exploits of Greek Commandos and Fighters in the Sacred Band during the World War II.

    Some moments in the history of the people, symbolisms and commemoration days assume particular significance, since they make the greatest contribution to the national capital of honor, mark the present and determine the future of this place.

    Today’s event is intended to contribute to the effort to keep alive the memory of commandos, who fought and fell for God and the country. They fought in the nation’s battles during the last century, starting from the Fighters in the Sacred Band in Middle East until the Greek Cyprus, and did not cower before death, honoring “those laying obedient to their laws”.

    Their glorious forms, as presented by General Fotopoulos, are marching today before us with men and women of today’s Armed Forces.

    Officers who shield our Country’s defence with their high moral principles and constitute the jewel in the crown of Armed Forces, through the excellent performance of any mission assigned, being determined to anything, at any point and any time.

    The Armed Forces of our Country and in particular, the Special Forces, maintaining the tradition of the Sacred Band, rely on their exceptional and elite personnel, its excellent and realistic training, its bravery and boldness, but also its broad acceptance by the community.

    Such acceptance is evident in the parades during the last three years, when we invited the Militiamen, but also the Reserve Commandos, to participate in the official parades in Athens and Thessaloniki.

    This elite branch of the Armed Forces is ready to honor anytime the history of commandos for maintaining national independence and safeguarding our territorial integrity.

    The presence of Special Forces both in Greece and abroad evidences their readiness to eliminate any threat against our Country.

    And this is a message to all. A message both to our allies and partners and also to our adversaries. A message of credibility, stability, but mainly a message of deterrence.

    Particularly at the present time, we should and we ensure you that we will rise to such challenges.

    Today, our Country moves towards the exit from a serious economic crisis, but also a crisis in institutions and values.

    And it will emerge within 2018, thanks to the sacrifice of the Greek people and the capability over time, the creativity and fighting spirit of the Hellenes.

    In this struggle for many years, we had to adapt accordingly to an environment of wider geopolitical upheavals, emergence of new threats and increased challenges.

    We had and still have to deal with the provocative stance of our neighbors, the policy of increased questioning and claims on the part of Turkey.

    Incidents that do not allow us to relax. Facts that only give us one choice: to be united.

    2018 will be a year in which we will be required to deal from a geopolitical point of view with the Greek national waters and soon, our Country will advance into a new era. An era to which we have to adapt and face new facts. We will not back down. Very soon, Greece will become a natural gas and oil producer.

    This means that we will no longer talk about the country’s territorial waters only, but about the economic zone that extends several miles beyond what we have hitherto known and the needs and requirements of Armed Forces and all Arms to respond change in this new era.

    It is an era that we see Greece accepting challenges from Turkey at all levels, both at a national and at an operational level.

    The message is that Greece is a peaceful country. We wish peace and will do anything for peace, but we are not willing to back down not an inch given that our national sovereignty and our territorial integrity have been threatened.

    The Greek Armed Forces will defend the Country, as the Officers, who currently serve and those who left and remain reservists, have been taught at the Military Academies. We will fight just like Greek soldiers do, to the last drop of our blood.

    And if some think that it is a provocation to visit the Greek national waters, the Greek land area and the Greek airspace, the answer is one: this isn’t an attempt to provoke; it is the duty of the political and military leadership to stand on the Greek territory, to pay tribute to heroes and remain there until the end.

    On the part of political leadership, I would like to assure you that we will use our best efforts to endow the Special Forces with state-of-the-art equipment, such as for instance modern speedboats, so that they would fulfill the high level task and fully meet the contemporary operational requirements.

    The Hellenic Army General Staff and the Hellenic National Defence General Staff, in cooperation with the Hellenic Air Force General Staff and the Hellenic Navy General Staff, have already announced the establishment of the Special War Command, which will lead in practice to the success of a holistic approach and the qualitative upgrading of personnel and Units, the harmonization with contemporary allied standards and the development of capabilities to deal with contemporary security challenges, asymmetric – hybrid threats and in order to be able to perform successfully all operational works resulting from their mission.

    In other words, we are building up a Special Forces Joint Command, which will be followed by the new role that the Higher Military Command of Interior and Islands will play in the Archipelago and the complete restructuring of our marines.

    As soon as the final decisions are made by the Joint Chiefs of the General Staff Council and the first pilot operations take place, we will proceed to announcements.

    I would like to point out once again that we pushed forward the issue of redressing injustices in connection with the hazard pay suffered by the officers of the Special Forces and I would like to apologize to the officers who have suffered this enormous injustice during all those years of crisis to the detriment of their income.

    Dear Commandos,

    We all draw strength from your example, from the way you perform your duty. You succeeded in inculcating the apostolic perception of your duty to all of us.

    The Greek people is aware and comprehends that the Country’s defense and security is protected by you in the best possible way.

    Concluding, I would like to repeat the words of the ever memorable General Kallinski, the officer of the Sacred Band and establisher of the Mountain Raiding Company, with which this event was opened:

    “And if they or anyone else ever dares to hurt our Greece again, speak now, cry it out everywhere.

    Enemies and friends should know it! We will fight! We will fight loyally and stubbornly and fanatically!

    We will fight at any place; on the mountains and on the plains, in towns and villages and on the seashore! And we will be victorious!”.

    Thank you very much”.















         

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