After years fraught with disputes and skepticism, the Greek government has decided to establish a new Joint Special Operations Command (ΔΔΕΠ).
The new Hellenic JSOC will answer directly to the Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) and will most likely be comprised of two components: a “Tier 1” and “Tier 2” component (these designations are informal). The first, more elite component will contain the Greek military’s top units, which contain only professionals (Greece has a national service, and although one could serve in a SOF unit during his time, some units are staffed only by full-time personnel):
- The Hellenic Army’s Z Amphibious Raiding Squadron (Z’MAK), an amphibious commando unit that specializes in recapturing small islands, among other SOF tasks
- The Special Parachute Section (ΕΤΑ), the Army’s “Tier 1” unit that specializes in special reconnaissance (SR) and direct action (DA) missions
- The Hellenic Navy’s Underwater Demolition Teams/Navy SEALs (ΜΥΚ)
- The Hellenic Air Force’s 31st Special Operations Squadron (ΜΕΕΔ)
The second component will contain the rest of the SOF units of the Hellenic military:
- The 32nd Marine Brigade, which contains three infantry battalions (505th, 521st, and 575th), one cavalry squadron (32nd), and one artillery battalion (32nd).
- The 1st Airborne/Commando Brigade, which will contain the Mountain Raider Squadrons (Β; Δ; Ε; and 35, which is deployed in Cyprus), the Maritime Raider Squadrons (Α, Γ, Η, Θ, and I), and the Paratrooper Squadrons (1st and 2nd).
The establishment of the new command has been long in the making. In 2013, the Greek Joint Chiefs of Staff established the Joint Special Forces Command (ΔΔΕΕ). Although this was a great step toward a more efficient and coordinated SOF command, politics and interagency rivalries limited the new command’s utility and effectiveness.
With general elections looming (they are scheduled for early July), the far-left SYRIZA government decided to do something that had been postponed for far too long: create a full-fledged Joint Special Operations Command independent of the bureaucratic tentacles of the conventional military.
But it wasn’t just the pressure of the elections that rallied SYRIZA to action. Under pressure by NATO and the European Union’s Permanent Structure Cooperation (PESCO) initiative, Greece has to establish a Special Operations Component Command of Small Joint Operations (SOCC-SJO) by 2024. The initiative, moreover, dictates that the Greek military should also establish three separate SOF commands, one for each branch: a Special Operations Land Task Group-SOLTG, a Special Operations Maritime Task Group-SOMTG, and a Special Operations Air Task Group-SOATG by 2025. All of these commands would operate under NATO and the EU, and would be separate from the new domestic Hellenic JSOC.