Greek defense doctrine rolls with punches

A lot has changed in terms of Greece’s defense doctrine since 1996, when its naval forces and Turkey’s had gathered around the two islets of Imia in the eastern Aegean.

The concept that the incident gave birth to was the so-called crisis point doctrine, meaning that a conflict between the two countries would be limited to a certain geographic spot. However, this has now given way to the triptych of “tension/crisis/generalized conflict.”

In short, at the highest staff level, it is now considered that a crisis with Turkey will not remain confined to a certain geographical point (island, islet, rock), but will spread across the entire front of the Greek-Turkish borderline, from Evros to Kastellorizo.

For almost two decades, the crisis point concept has been based on two main assumptions: firstly on an immediate reaction by the US and secondly Ankara’s intention to push in a certain direction, which is the promotion of the “gray zone” theory. 

The hope – false, as it turned out – that Turkey would become an enlightened Eastern but Westernized democracy helped to perpetuate the assumption that a Greek-Turkish crisis, even if it were to occur again, would not be extended.

The abandonment of the crisis point doctrine had long been decided at the staff level. It was also communicated to the general public through a discussion that Chief of the General Staff Konstantinos Floros had in June 2020 with journalists, who he told at the time, “It is not possible for something to happen in Kastellorizo and not spread everywhere.”

Moreover, the new doctrine is not monolithic and factors in Turkey’s aggressive rhetoric (casus belli), the weaponization of migration, cyberattacks, its use of drones and UAVs to saturate air defenses, and more widespread hybrid threats, such as possible attacks on the country’s infrastructure (electricity, water supply etc).