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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hellenic Army
Hellenic Army General Staff flag
Hellenic Army Seal
Active 1821 (de facto)
1828 (official)
Country  Greece
Allegiance Pres-greece-flag.PNG The Hellenic Republic
Type Land Forces
Role National Defense
Size standard numbers in peacetime:
over 100,000 personnel
mobilization capability in wartime:
over 1,500,000 troops
Part of Hellenic Armed Forces
Formations Formations of the Hellenic Army
Patron Saint George
Motto Freedom Stems from Valor
Equipment Equipment of the Hellenic Army
Engagements Greek War of Independence
Greco-Turkish War of 1897
First Balkan War
Second Balkan War
World War I
Allied Expedition to the Ukraine
Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922
World War II
Greek Civil War
Korean War
Gulf War
War in Afghanistan
War on Terrorism
Chief of Staff Lt. General Frangoulis Frangos
Inspector General Lt. General Stylianos Nasis
King Constantine I, Gen. Panagiotis Danglis, Fld. Marshal Alexander Papagos, Gen. Nikolaos Plastiras
Identification marking ΕΣ
Regimental War Flag Hellenic Army War Flag.svg

The Hellenic Army (Greek: Ελληνικός Στρατός) is the land force of Greece, and was formed in 1828.

The motto of the Hellenic Army is "Freedom Stems from Valor" (Greek: "Ελεύθερον το Εύψυχον" - Eleftheron To Efpsihon) from Thucydides's History B, 43. The Hellenic Army Emblem is the two-headed eagle with a Greek Cross escutcheon in the centre, representing the links between modern Greece, the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Byzantine Empire.



The sortie of Messolonghi, during the Greek War of Independence. Oil painting by Theodoros Vryzakis.

The main mission of the Hellenic Army is the defence of the state’s independence and integrity, the safeguarding of national territory, as well as the decisive contribution to the achievement of the country’s policy objectives.[1]

During peacetime, the Army has the following main objectives:

  • The maintenance of high operational readiness for the prevention and effective confrontation of dangers and threats, as well as the ensuring of rapid response capability.
  • The contribution to international security and peace.
  • The contribution to activities of social aid and the support of state services for the confrontation of emergency situations.


The modern Hellenic Army was formed shortly after the creation of the State in 1828. The first out of eight tactical army regiments was established in February, 1828 after the respective order was given by the first head of state of the independent Greece, Ioannis Capodistrias.[2] This tactical army would replace the irregular military bands of the capetanei (καπεταναίοι - commanders) who had led the revolt against Ottoman Empire in 1821. The new formations were formed firstly in Troizina and were organized according to the ones of the French Army. First commander was appointed the French general Charles Nicolas Fabvier. In addition to the creation of tactical infantry units, Capodistrias proceded in the establishment of various other auxiliary corps, such as the Hellenic Military Academy, the first Artillery and Cavalry battalions, the Mechanics Corps and a unit of logistical support, the Army Commissariat. The first combined arms drills were executed in October, 1829 at Megara.

The Hellenic Army has taken part in the following engagements:

Note: During World War II, the Army's equipment included the French Rifle Lebel M1886, the French Machinegun St. Etienne M1907, the French machinegun Hotchkiss M1914, the Belgian Rifle Mauser M1930 the Austrian Machinegun Schwarzlose M1907/12, the French machinegun Hotchkiss M1928, the Austrian Infantry Rifle Mannlicher-Schönauer M1903, and the French Machinegun Chauchat M1915.[3]


Alexander Ypsilantis crosses the Pruth, during the Greek War of Independence. Painting by Peter von Hess.
Greek Army Marines during a NATO exercise in 2000.
Greek Army IFOR deployment during the Bosnian elections.

General Staff

  • Hellenic National Defense General Staff
    • Hellenic Army General Staff
      Γενικό Επιτελείο Στρατού (ΓΕΣ)
      • Chief-of-Staff of the Army
        Αρχηγός ΓΕΣ
      • Inspector General of the Army
        Γενικός Επιθεωρητής Στρατού / Διοικητής ΔΙΔΟΕΕ
      • 1st Deputy Chief-of-Staff of the Army
        A' Υπαρχηγός ΓΕΣ
      • 2nd Deputy Chief-of-Staff of the Army
        Β' Υπαρχηγός ΓΕΣ

Combat and Support Arms

  • Most combat arms are called "Arm" (Όπλον). This term denotes army elements that, more or less, have direct participation in combat.
  • Most support branches are called "Corps" (Σώμα), with some exceptions.

Army Units and Formations

Greek Army Aviation AH-64A+ Apache Longbow attack helicopter.
Greek Army Aviation CH-47D Chinook transport helicopter.

After a major reorganization which occurred in the last decade, which included the transformation of most Infantry formations into Mechanized Brigades and a parallel reduction of personnel, Hellenic Army's higher command is the Hellenic Army General Staff..[4]

There are four major military commands which supervise all army units,

Although divisions still exist, having the role of forward commands, the Army is mainly organized in brigades, that follow the typical NATO standards consisting of five battalions, three maneuver, one artillery, one support and some other company sized formations. According to the latest developments, up to 2015 , all active divisions will dissolve, but all brigades will acquire one more maneuver battalion, largely eliminating the distinction between mechanized and armored formations, thus creating a new type brigade, which will be named Strike Brigade.[5]


The Hellenic Army Presidential Guards Unit (Evzones) parading.
The various uniforms of the Presidential Guard.
Left to right: Islander, Macedonian, traditional mainland, modernized mainland & Pontic.

There are three classes of personnel in the Hellenic Army, namely professional, volunteer and conscript. Conscript enlisted men and non-commissioned officers wear special rank insignia to differentiate them from volunteers. There are currently 109,266 personnel on active duty. Mobilization strength is 575,000 more.

Most professional officers graduate from the Evelpidon Military Academy in Athens (Στρατιωτική Σχολή Ευελπίδων) and the Corps Officers Military Academy in Thessaloniki (Στρατιωτική Σχολή Αξιωματικών Σωμάτων), while the rest graduate from various Military Schools according to their specialization.

In the chain of command, graduates of the two Military Academies in Athens and Thessaloniki are considered higher in seniority compared to professional officers of the same rank who graduate from specialized Military Schools. The latter officers are followed in seniority by volunteer and finally conscript staff.


The heavy equipment and weaponry of the Hellenic Army is mostly of foreign manufacture, from German, French, American, British and Russian suppliers. A notable exception is the native-built Leonidas armored fighting vehicle by the Hellenic Vehicles Manufacturer Industry (ELBO).

Equipment runs the gamut from state-of-the art to obsolescent Cold War inventories; the latter are gradually being retired.

Uniforms and Ranks

The structure of Hellenic Army ranks has its roots in British military traditions and follows NATO standard rank scale. The rank of Stratarchis (Στρατάρχης, equivalent to Field Marshal or General of the Army) though, has been historically used, but is no longer extant. It was first awarded to King Constantine I for his leadership in the Balkan Wars. The rank was subsequently assumed by his successors upon accession, until the abolition of the monarchy. The only regular officer to have been awarded the rank was General Alexander Papagos on 28 October 1949.

Photo gallery

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ 28 OCTOBER 1940 - Greece says "NO" to AXIS! - Military Photos
  4. ^
  5. ^

Sources and bibliography

  • Dimitris Michalopoulos, "The evolution of the Greek Army (1828-68)", in War and Society in East Central Europe, vol. XIV, Brooklyn College Press, 1984, pp. 317-330. ISBN 0-88033-043-0.

External links


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