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In 1989, the National Guard was commanded by Greek Lieutenant General Panayotis Markopoulos. He was responsible to the minister of defense and ultimately to President George Vassiliou. According to The Military Balance, the National Guard was organized into an army headquarters, two divisional headquarters, and two brigade headquarters that would be filled out with combat units upon mobilization. Its largest active units consisted of two mechanized battalions, one armored battalion, an artillery battalion, and a commando battalion. Reserves were organized into six infantry brigades, each with three infantry battalions, one light artillery battalion, and one armored reconnaissance squadron. These units were maintained only at cadre strength. Greek Army forces were organized into one infantry battalion, one commando battalion, and a support element.
Foreign military observers considered the Greek Cypriot and Greek forces on the southern part of the island to be seriously deficient relative to the Turkish Army contingent in the north, notably with respect to armored strength. They also had little protection against aircraft based on the nearby Turkish mainland. During the 1974 fighting, the 200 Turkish tanks ferried to the island had proven the determining factor in the collapse of the Greek Cypriot defenses. The acquisition of armored equipment, antitank weapons, and antiaircraft systems by the National Guard in the late 1980s addressed the most conspicuous weaknesses in the National Guard's defensive armaments, but still fell short of matching the Turkish forces in the north.
The National Guard's armor, which had previously consisted of a few Soviet T-34 tanks of World War II vintage and a small number of armored personnel carriers (APCs) and obsolete armored cars, was significantly augmented beginning in 1987, with the delivery of French AMX-30 B-2 tanks mounted with 105mm guns. The total order of fifty-four tanks was due to be in service by the early 1990s. A total of 127 French wheeled APCs had also been acquired; 27 were fitted with 20mm cannons and the rest with turret-mounted machineguns. Also on order were 120 EE-9 Cascavel six-wheeled armored vehicles from Brazil, equipped with 90mm guns, of which 40 had been delivered as of 1989. The EE-11 Urutu, a Brazilian APC, had been purchased and twenty-eight armored reconnaissance vehicles, the EE-3 Jararaca, also manufactured in Brazil, were on order. It was also reported that 500 vehicles, presumably unarmored, would be supplied by Greece as aid in 1990, as part of a longer term plan to modernize 2,000 vehicles in the National Guard inventory (see table 23).
The National Guard's artillery units were equipped with 75mm to 105mm guns and howitzers and truck-mounted 128mm multiple rocket launchers of Yugoslav manufacture. Antitank defenses had been stiffened by the purchase of Milan and HOT (high-subsonic, optically tracked) wire-guided missile systems from France. Some of the HOT missiles were fitted to armored vehicles and to six Gazelle helicopters acquired from France in 1988.
The air defense capability was strengthened in the late 1980s by the acquisition of triple 20mm cannons from Yugoslavia and twin 35mm towed antiaircraft guns from Switzerland, which were to be used in conjunction with the Contraves Skyguard fire-control radar system. The older 40mm and 94mm antiaircraft guns still in the inventory were considered virtually useless against modern fighter aircraft. The National Guard had also acquired from Syria a small number of Soviet SA-7 shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.
The National Guard air element as of 1989 included Gazelle helicopters and one Pilatus Maritime Defender suitable for coastal patrol and light transport duties. In mid-1989, the first of two Swiss Pilatus PC-9 turboprop aircraft was delivered. These planes were intended for advanced training but could be modified for combat missions. The National Guard Naval Command, with 330 personnel in 1989, had one coastal patrol craft of 95 tons mounting a 40mm gun.
According to press reports in spring 1990, the Greek Cypriot government had placed orders for additional Gazelle helicopters mounted with HOT missiles, more antiaircraft guns, medium-range antiaircraft missiles, and Leonidas armored vehicles from Greece.
Data as of January 1991
Cyprus Table of Contents