Brief History of Mobilization

Until 1897, all mobilizations took place without any systematic planning. On 15 February 1897, due to a war threat by Turkey, Greece proclaimed a mobilization, Reservists were called to arms and new Units were formed. The total force of the Hellenic Army amounted to 73,142 men, out of whom 1,742 were Officers.

The first attempt for a systematic regulation of the Army’s preparation, in case a state of mobilization was declared in the Country, was made in 1904. A Royal Decree published on the 25th of October of the same year specified the respective duties of Formations, Units and Recruiting Stations, and provided for the drafting of a Mobilization Plan by the General Staff, for the publication of administrative guidelines, as well as the construction of depots for the mobilization material.

A law published on 11 February 1910 defined that a reserve Division comprised of mobilized personnel should be established in every region. It also defined the manner of transition to the war time establishment, it was decided that the National Guard may participate in the warring force and that the reserve may be employed to ensure the security in the interior of the Country. The following year, a detailed Mobilization Plan was drafted, anticipating the Country’s capabilities of mobilizing population, commandeering animals, vehicles and various materials. A law also defined that in every territorial district a reserve Regiment must be set up in a period of mobilization, as well.

During the 1st Balkan War, the situation had been clearly improved, due to the experience gained in the previous war and the mobilization was completed without delay. The Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos signed the mobilization decree on 17 September 1912. The mobilization was conducted in an orderly and exemplary manner and with a real enthusiasm by all Greeks who responded massively and spontaneously, having faith to the cause of the Struggle. We must point out the voluntary participation of Greeks from Crete, volunteers from Epirus, Macedonia, Cyprus, Egypt, as well as many Greeks from the Diaspora of distant America.

On 10 September 1915 Greece proclaimed mobilization, mainly for preventive reasons, because Bulgaria had declared a mobilization earlier. The Army  remained under arms for nine (9) months and its demobilization was implemented gradually. In April 1916, all the mobilization material was distinguished into Army, Artillery, Engineering, Vehicles, Medical material, as well as general purpose material. In November of the same year, the manner of storage, distribution, classification, management, availability, dispatch and delivery of mobilization materials to the competent management agents was specified permanently, while the supply system in use until then was abolished.

In August 1917, a new mobilization of the Hellenic Army started to take place section by section, which was very successful, despite the hardships faced in its early stages. The mobilization continued section by section until 1922, when the Hellenic Army’s campaign in Asia Minor came to an end. The total force of the Army during the peak of mobilization, in the summer of 1921, surpassed 300,000 men.

The Mobilization Plan applied on 28 October 1940 was the one drafted in September 1939 and was accompanied by many partial plans of requisitions, transports, dispersal, etc, aiming at a gradual and quiet transition of the Army, at first, into partial and, later, into total mobilization. The partial secret mobilization started in August 1940, after Elli’s destruction by torpedo. Personal calls of reserve Officers were dispatched allegedly for refresher training, as well as personal calls of untrained soldiers. The 8th Division, responsible for Epirus Section, the 9th Division and the 4th Brigade, responsible for Western Macedonia, as well as the Pindos Detachment were completed almost in their war time establishment. In September of the same year, the Archipelago Division was formed in the region of Alexandroupolis, whose Regiments derived from the Aegean islands. On 28 October 1940, the war machine of the country started to operate only upon a single brief order phone from the General Staff transmitted by phone. The completeness of the Plan was proved by its application, when within fifteen (15) days, the mobilization and advancement of 300,000 men and 125,000 animals, to border lines of Albania and Bulgaria was achieved. It was a well-planned mobilization mechanism, with very strong foundations and an outstanding flexibility. Here, we must point out the willingness, understanding and national unity of the people, as well as the discipline of the mobilized during their course in the front.

Under a Law, on 18 August 1945, the war state was declared finished, while in March 1946 the total mobilization, which was in force in the country since 28 October 1940, also came to an end. The Armed Forces were finally under partial mobilization. However, since 30 October 1948, the whole state was declared in a siege state, due to the civil war and the unsettled situation of the countryside. In June 1951, the first post-war mobilization plan was drafted, which, three years later, in 1954, was adapted to NATO’s readiness requirements.

In July 1974, due to the Turkish invasion in Cyprus, a mobilization was effected and the Army’s force increased, amounting to 200,000 men. In 2002, the status of prolonged mobilization, which had been declared in Greece after the Turkish invasion in Cyprus, was lifted.

During the first months of 1987, Turkey successively sends the oceanographic research vessels Piri Reis and Sismik in the Aegean, making it clear that it will not respect the continental shelf of the Greek islands. As tension was escalating, diplomatic efforts were not all successful, and, as a result, the Army was put under a state of alert, while on 27 March 1987 at 20:00 a Partial Mobilization was ordered. In this context, all the cells and reservists of automatic incorporation and locally all ordinary reservists with critical specialties (antitank personnel-medical orderly) were called, while no commandeering of vehicles-assets took place. The mechanism of mobilizing the reserve personnel functioned in a satisfactory level.

The last mobilization of the reserve manpower of the country took place on 30 and 31 January 1996. The cause was the “heated” incident which started with Turkey’s offensive actions to question Greece’s sovereignty over Imia islets, located 2.5 nautical miles to the east of Kalolimnos. The price of this crisis was the loss of 3 officers of the Hellenic Navy, helicopter crew of “NAVARINO” frigate, which crashed under obscure conditions, in the cold waters of the Aegean Sea that morning. On 30 January 1996 at 23:55, the Army ordered a Partial Mobilization of the local reserve in the region of Thrace and the Aegean islands. In this context, all the cells, the reservists of automatic incorporation, local residents and the alternate reservists were called, while no commandeering of vehicles-assets and members’ movements took place, who served in the mainland, in Units near the borders. The mechanism of mobilizing the reserve manpower functioned flawlessly, despite the adverse weather conditions (snowfall in Thrace and rainfall in the Aegean islands), the reservists’ attendance was impressively rapid and their demobilization took place on the same day until noon.