In today’s complex and dynamic threat environment, military leaders must effectively employ limited resources to execute their country’s national security strategy. Proceedings asked sea-service commanders around the world: It is often said that a nation’s national defense decisions are ultimately derived from its own sovereign interests. Given this presumption, what are the global trends that most influence your national security decision making and how does your navy use its operating policies, alliances, and partnerships to address these trends?
Vice Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis
In principle, our operational posture is dictated by our main mission statement, that of defending the territorial integrity, sovereign rights, and national interests of the Hellenic Republic. Even though our operational commitments have multiplied, we have successfully maintained our core naval capabilities by seeking innovative ways to achieve our mission with fewer resources.
In addition, Greece, along with the international community, faces challenges, risks, and threats in the maritime domain such as piracy, terrorism, illegal immigration, human trafficking, and environmental disasters. These challenges are inter-connected and should be jointly confronted. Moreover, security concerns regarding hydrocarbon deposits in the eastern Mediterranean seabed have highlighted the added value of navies in supporting maritime security on the high seas. The prospect of Greece joining the community of oil- or natural-gas producing states is now possible. This development, paired with the final decisions on the Trans Adriatic Pipeline earlier this summer, may change the security parameters and call for a more intense presence of the Hellenic Navy in our area of strategic interest.
In an era of significant geopolitical developments and economic austerity, we are implementing all the required organizational changes to adapt to these new conditions. For example, we are moving toward a new flexible, leaner, and more affordable command structure, focusing on better command-and-control capabilities at the operational level. My goal is a Hellenic Navy where quality prevails over quantity, while taking “critical mass” and “sufficient reserves” into consideration in the national defence planning process. Additionally, turning our human resources into a credible force multiplier remains one of our highest priorities.
The new maritime-security environment calls for better maritime situational awareness. Wide-scale maritime surveillance cannot be achieved if credible multilateral networks are not developed and new intelligence-sharing protocols are not enforced. In that context, Greece supports the development of all relevant EU initiatives—like the Common Information Sharing Environment and Maritime Surveillance—and the introduction of a new C2 structure in NATO, within the framework of the organization’s “Smart Defence” initiative.
Furthermore, the fragmentation of maritime regimes calls for a holistic approach; the development of synergies between military, law enforcement, and civilian institutions; and above all the joint effort of allies and partners. In that context, we look forward to enhancing our cooperation with navies that may offer added value to security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond.
The Hellenic Navy senses the current and future needs, respects its traditional role, and makes the necessary adaptations, ensuring that it remains a credible maritime actor, preserving security and stability in the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean.