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Personnel and Recruitment

According to The Military Balance, 1989-90, published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the National Guard had a complement of some 13,000 men on active duty in 1989. Scaled back from a peak of 35,000 in 1967, its size had remained fairly constant since the Turkish invasion in 1974. The bulk of its personnel were Greek Cypriot conscripts fulfilling twenty-six months of mandatory service.

The National Guard's officer corps had always consisted mainly of officers detailed to it from the Greek Army. In early 1990, an estimated 1,800 officers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs) from the Greek Army were serving in the National Guard, compared with approximately 800 Greek Cypriot officers and NCOs. Greek officers dominated in senior positions; as of 1990, the National Guard's commander, deputy commander, and chief of staff were all Greek nationals. The senior Greek Cypriot officer was a divisional commander with the rank of brigadier general. Efforts were under way to increase the number of Greek Cypriots in the force. In early 1990, parliament approved the appointment of Greek Cypriots to an additional sixty-five officer and fifty NCO positions.

Young Cypriots wishing to make a career of military service attended the Greek military academy. National Guard officers also obtained their advanced training at Greek military institutions, where a designated number of places were set aside for them. In addition, training was provided in France in the use of the new French equipment being introduced into the National Guard. Some conscripts could become reserve officers after successfully completing a six-month course, then serving as second lieutenants for ten months of active duty. Greek officers assumed the primary responsibility for National Guard training at all levels.

Soldiers completing their active duty continued to serve in the reserves until age fifty, and officers until age sixty-five. As of 1990, it was estimated that the National Guard could call upon 66,000 first-line reserves and more than 30,000 older second-line reserves. Selected reserve units were called up periodically without advance notice to test the mobilization system. A certain percentage of the reserves were mobilized annually to participate in a week of National Guard field exercises.

Uniforms, symbols of rank, and insignia of the National Guard were similar to those of the Greek Army. The color and cut of the uniforms was the same, although the design of the buttons, the device on caps, and the shield on epaulets incorporated an olive branch device corresponding to that found on the Cypriot flag and coat of arms. Fatigue uniforms were of camouflage cloth.

Few exemptions were granted from compulsory service. The issuance of exit permits from the island and the opportunity for higher education were not available until the service obligation was fulfilled. The annual call-up was in June, and discharges were granted in August to conform to the academic year. In spite of incentives, it had proven difficult to induce qualified individuals to remain in military service, especially at the NCO level. Young men with skilled or semiskilled occupations could easily obtain well-paying jobs on the thriving civilian economy.

Under the influence of an energetic commanding officer, the training regime was intensified in the late 1980s. The morale of the National Guard was considered high, as a result of the more rigorous training program and the introduction of modern weapons systems. Draftee wages were low--about US$15 a month in the late 1980s--and were generally supplemented by help from families to meet personal expenses. Conscripts were often able to arrange postings near their homes. Career personnel were paid on a higher scale of remuneration that appeared adequate, especially at the officer level.

As of 1990, the first women had been recruited as volunteers into the National Guard, following a decision to accept female applicants for noncombatant positions. The minister of defense said in 1989 that conscription of women was being studied and might be introduced selectively.

In March 1989, Minister of Defense Aloneftis announced that a home guard to provide local defense and protect rear areas would be formed of men from the second-line reserves (over age fifty) and other men who had been exempted from military service because of dependents. By late 1990 it was not clear what progress had been made in organizing the home guard, although about 3,000 men, including reservists, living in villages adjacent to the UN buffer zone had been recruited and trained to impede a Turkish attack. They were equipped with small arms and light antitank weapons.

Data as of January 1991

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