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27-Sep-2017 15:28

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As such, deep cuts to the military could actually conflict with the interests of Greece's largest creditors.

"There is an element of hypocrisy when Germany and, to a lesser degree, France blame Greece for being spendthrift without acknowledging at the same time that a lot of money that Greece spent ended up in German and French pockets for the purchase of consumer goods and weapon systems", says Thanos Dokos, head of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP).

Athens, though, has refrained from tackling the primary problem: too many soldiers and too many military bases.

The Hellenic Army IV Corps is headquartered in Xanthi, a city in north-eastern Greece, close to the Turkish border.

The country needs to show clear progress on budget cuts, and the military would seem to be a good place to make them.

Costly armament purchases are, of course, part of the equation.

Since additional hiring, however, is not something the troika is interested in, the Defense Minister has come up with another solution: that of extending required military service by three months to a full year.

Guard Duty and Chores There are currently more than 500 military bases scattered across the country and no fewer than 17 training centers for new recruits.

Some bases seem to serve no military or strategic purpose and many of them are understaffed.

That leads to such phenomena as pilots flying multi-million euro fighter planes while earning just €1,300 per month.

But expensive weaponry and previously inflated salaries are not the main problem.

According to one officer who has worked in the Greek Defense Ministry, in some units "it is easier to find a major than a private." And the country doesn't just have an excess of bases.