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21 July, 2024
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Defence minister rolls out reforms

Military told to spend more wisely, reservists to waste fewer hours during training


Exam grades will no longer be a factor in promoting military commissioned officers, while reservists will have more flexibility to show up for training according to upcoming changes.

Defence Minister Savvas Angelides has introduced a number of reforms in the military, with some of the measures going into effect next year.

Starting from 1 January 2019, reservists will no longer be required to attend training for long hours. While mandatory training will continue, reservists will be allowed to select the time of the day they wish to attend according to their own schedule, thus limiting the waste of time typically experienced by men who need to take off work an entire day.

The new reform measures also include an ongoing study of a new evaluation system for commissioned officers, aiming to promote the best among the best.

Currently, officers who are up for promotion rely heavily on their exam grades, based on a decades-old system that proved to be inefficient according to proponents of the new plan. But the ministry says promotions should not be based on grades that young cadets managed to get 20 or even 30 years ago.

New building in Strovolos

Other reforms include downsizing a number of administrative functions by merging departments and offices that are redundant. A new building, which will house the defence ministry, is also expected to assist in the effort of cutting down on redundancies as both ministry and National Guard headquarters will be under one roof in Strovolos, Nicosia.

A number of specialist positions will also be given out to professional experts. According to daily Phileleftheros, 18 positions have been identified under this measure, expected to free up time for officers who currently carry a dual burden.

Other reforms include downsizing a number of administrative functions by merging departments and offices that are redundant

The defence budget has also got a €45 million increase for defence systems during the year 2019, bringing the total budget for defence to €122 million. Close to €52 million has been earmarked for the purchase and maintenance of defence weapon systems.

But the budget also comes with a caveat, as retired state auditor recently spoke of money waste.

Former senior state auditor Andreas Hasapopoulos had warned that the prices alone of Augusta helicopters were inflated by €6 million, suggesting wrongdoing and kickbacks were involved in the overall deal.

Hasapopoulos alleged that former Auditor General Chrystalla Georghadji, who is today the Governor of the Central Bank, withheld details from the House defence committee and did not disclose pertinent information that could have affected the approval of the purchase.

Back in the summer, the retired auditor had written on Facebook that the ministry was moving ahead with a €17 million purchase of a specific weapons system, saying the amount would included €5 million in kickbacks.

The minsitry has denied the allegations, saying a probe showed that everything was done legally. 

Angelides said the ministry and the leadership of the National Guard are working together and systematically towards reforms which include a defence weapons programme based on a restructuring plan to be implemented on a 15-year timeline.

Cyprus  |  defence  |  minister  |  Angelides  |  reservist  |  reform  |  budget  |  national guard  |  weapons

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