Tuesday, November 3, 2009

For a New Greek Strategy of Deterrence: Doctrine





Translated from Strategy-Geopolitics. This is Part II. Part I can be found here.

The year is 2014. It has been a week since the moderate Islamic government in Turkey was overthrown. There is much tension in the Greek National Operations Centre, 24 hours after intense dogfights resulted in the loss of a Turkish fighter in the Aegean. The operational government in Ankara which is completely controlled by the Kemalist military establishment is desperately trying to find a way out of the crisis. Satellite communications show a worrying movement of units of the Turkish 4th Army Corps to areas where they can board landing craft. The Greek Air Force’s radars are showing movements of Turkish fighters to its western airfields, while information from Cyprus reveals the arrival of more Turkish tanks and multiple rocket launchers. The Turkish media, which have now adopted a strong anti Greek stance, attribute the loss of the Turkish fighter to hostile fire from the Greek side and report that a large scale exercise is about to take place in the Aegean, thereby paving the way for the Turkish fleet to exit their ports of Aksaz and Golcuk. The attempts of the Greek Commander of the Armed Forces to raise his Turkish counterpart on the “hotline” are cut short when he receives a message from the Higher Military Command for the Interior and Islands revealing that Turkish air mobile operations have begun against ...

The following questions are raised from the above hypothetical scenario:
1. Will the Greek Forces move to eliminate the Turkish foothold as a result of their airmobile operation?
2. Will the Greek Forces eliminate the Turkish foothold and answer with similar operations against Turkish soil?
3. Can the Greek Forces embark on a first strike before a Turkish attack takes place?

The answers to these questions constitute doctrine.

The development of defensive or offensive military capabilities as well as the development of the corresponding military doctrine, amongst others, is related to:
1) The form of the threat, meaning the political and military aspirations of the attacker.
2) The structure and deployment of the opponent’s military forces.
3) The opponent’s military doctrine.
4) The military needs in the event goals outside of national borders have been achieved.
5) The technological abilities of both sides.
6) The quality and quantity of weapon systems in the whole spectrum of the conflict.



The late P. Kondilis remains current and nothing more can be added to what he wrote in his “Theory of War”:

A. The Question of Loss and Gain of Ground

“In Thrace, or more specifically Evros, the dense concentration of forces from both sides means that he who can first break the opponents lines will have the ability to immediately cut off large enemy units with an encircling move. But this is not the only reason for which Greek Forces will have to a priori aim to break the enemy front at all costs (the dense concentration will likely lead to serious losses) and not simply engage in a passive defensive posture. A quick advance of armoured units in eastern Thrace, which is aided by the terrain and limited distances, could give Greece the most important counterweight against territorial losses in other areas. In reality Greece has no other area in which it could gain meaningful ground on its opponent, and no matter how small this chance of success is it must be utilised to the fullest as it is the only one. In the Aegean theatre there is no sense in trying to establish bridgeheads on the Anatolian Coast, even if these could be held for a while. The only place where ground could be gained outside Thrace could be the Turkish islands of Imbros and Tenedos, under the proviso that the Navy could provide cover (air cover/superiority is considered a must and a self explanatory need in both a landing on islands as well as an advance in Thrace...).”


B. Concentration of Forces

“The geographic fragmentation of Greece generates a temptation to fragment military forces in a similar way in order to gain as great as possible cover. This temptation could prove deadly and anyhow this attempt would be utopian. The numerical superiority of the Turkish side and the abundance of possible targets creates the option of conducting deceptive attacks to force Greece into the temptation to further fragment its forces. The Greek side will have to be fully aware of the fact that not all its areas and people can have the same degree of protection. Also, due to the lack of numbers on the Greek side and the absolute need for air superiority of all crucial operational locations, the general defence of cities and the civilian population will have to become secondary issues. Forces will have to be assigned not to the defence of such areas but to tackling the main body of enemy forces in the areas where these will operate before they manage to deploy fully. To fulfil this goal the weaker Greek forces may have to risk losing territory and possibly conduct operations without sufficiently protected flanks, something which must be offset with superior flexibility and speed. But in the end the result will depend based on what happens on the level which defines the essence of warfare. War primarily is the aim to defeat the enemy forces and from this everything else depends. If this is achieved then sooner or later all else falls into place, sacrificing what it takes to concentrate forces at the right time in the right place.”


C. Firepower

“The Greek side cannot compensate its geographical disadvantages against Turkey if it does not cover the entire Turkish territory with sufficient firepower and not simply the theatres of operation with their limited depth. This is simple. The small depth of Greek territory gives Turkey the ability to hit any point of this territory with smaller range weapons, as well as with aircraft with smaller operational radii than their Greek counterparts. The opposite can also happen, the large depth of Turkish territory allows longer range weapons to be withdrawn to Turkey’s interior, well outside of the range of Greek firepower. The same is true for Turkish combat aircraft with large operational ranges. It must be noted that Turkish combat aircraft can take off from airfields which are furthest away from Greece and be refuelled while still over Turkish territory. Subsequently they can attack targets in Greek territory as if they had taken off from airfield on the Anatolian Coast. This means that even if the Greek side would want to surprise her enemy with a first strike option it is not certain that the enemy aircraft would be caught on the ground at airfields nearest Greece. This crucial problem can only be solved with the use of missile systems with sufficient range and by refuelling Greek aircraft in the air (for example between Crete and Cyprus).”


D. Overwhelming First Strike

“If the Greek side sees a defensive doctrine as one where she fears the reactions of the international community and her allies and has decided in the event of a general war to leave the initiative and advantage of a first strike option to her enemy then she has possibly condemned herself. Given the Turkish numerical advantage and her general geopolitical superiority a massive first strike by Turkey would technically and psychologically paralyse the Greek side. In older wars, fought on land, it was sometimes possible to leave the offensive initiative to the enemy until the point that the enemy had spent its forces. But this dictated the need for the defender to have defensive fortified positions which allowed him to keep his own forces relatively intact until a counterattack could be mounted. Today, the power and range of fire from each direction to each direction and the shifting of importance to air dominance means this option is no longer available. There are no longer hiding places for military forces and a massive first strike is targeted at disabling an opponent’s ability to counter attack on a large scale. These technical parameters mean that time is a deciding factor, in other words the beginning phase of a war is of crucial importance. Whatever is not won or is lost in this phase is difficult to win or replenish later. This is why the first strike, which is the decisive start to a war, must be as massive as possible. “

E. Defensive Strategy

“But for those, willingly or not, who adopt a defensive strategy on a historical and political level are not bound to adopt a defensive strategy on a military level. The two levels should not be confused in any way. Defence for historic-political purposes is different to defence as a military means. There is a difference between the defensive nature of a war and defensive conduct in a war. Anyhow, from a military perspective, the purely defensive conduct in a war has no meaning and is practically impossible. If we took this option seriously it would mean allowing the attacker to do what he wants unpunished while only risking finding himself in the position prior to attack, thereby allowing him to prepare once more and try again.”

F. Conclusions*

1. Greece should expect to be continually threatened with the use of force which aim to coerce her into concessions.

2. The adversary will only be deterred if the cost of an attack is greater than its possible benefit.

3. A passive stance and continuous concessions without any gain ultimately lead to cumulative gains by the other side which are equal to a great victory without war.

*P. Ifaistos & A. Platias, “Greek Deterrent Strategy”/"Ελληνική Αποτρεπτική Στρατηγική", 1992

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