Hellenic Army
The Hellenic Army formed in 1828, is the land force
An army An army An army (from Latin arma "arms, weapons" via Old French armée, "armed" (feminine), in the broadest sense, is the land-based military of a nation or state. It may also include other branches of the military such as the air force via means of aviation corps...

 of Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....


The motto of the Hellenic Army is (Eleútheron tò Eúpsychon), "Freedom Stems from Valor", from Thucydides
Thucydides was a Greek historian and author from Alimos. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC...

's History of the Peloponnesian War
History of the Peloponnesian War
The History of the Peloponnesian War is an account of the Peloponnesian War in Ancient Greece, fought between the Peloponnesian League and the Delian League . It was written by Thucydides, an Athenian general who served in the war. It is widely considered a classic and regarded as one of the...

(2.43.4). The Hellenic Army Emblem is the two-headed eagle with a Greek Cross
A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two lines or bars perpendicular to each other, dividing one or two of the lines in half. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally; if they run obliquely, the design is technically termed a saltire, although the arms of a saltire need not meet...

 escutcheon in the centre, representing the links between modern Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, the Greek Orthodox Church
Greek Orthodox Church
The Greek Orthodox Church is the body of several churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity sharing a common cultural tradition whose liturgy is also traditionally conducted in Koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament...

, and the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...



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.

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. This tactical army would replace the irregular military bands of the capetanei (καπεταναίοι - commanders) who had led the revolt against Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 in 1821. The new formations were formed firstly in Troizina and were organized according to the ones of the French Army
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

. First commander was appointed the French general Charles Nicolas Fabvier
Charles Nicolas Fabvier
Charles Nicolas Fabvier was an ambassador, general and French member of parliament who played a distinguished role in the Greek War of Independence.- Career under Napoleon :...

. In addition to the creation of tactical infantry units, Capodistrias proceeded in the establishment of various other auxiliary corps, such as the Hellenic Military Academy
Hellenic Military Academy
The Evelpidon Military Academy is the oldest tertiary level educational institution in Greece. It was founded in 1828 in Nafplio by Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first Governor of the modern Greek State....

, 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
Megara is an ancient city in Attica, Greece. It lies in the northern section of the Isthmus of Corinth opposite the island of Salamis, which belonged to Megara in archaic times, before being taken by Athens. Megara was one of the four districts of Attica, embodied in the four mythic sons of King...


The Hellenic Army has taken part in the following engagements:
  • Greek War of Independence
    Greek War of Independence
    The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries between...

  • Greco-Turkish War of 1897
    Greco-Turkish War (1897)
    The Greco-Turkish War of 1897, also called the Thirty Days' War and known as the Black '97 in Greece, was a war fought between the Kingdom of Greece and Ottoman Empire. Its immediate cause was the question over the status of the Ottoman province of Crete, whose Greek majority long desired union...

  • First Balkan War
    First Balkan War
    The First Balkan War, which lasted from October 1912 to May 1913, pitted the Balkan League against the Ottoman Empire. The combined armies of the Balkan states overcame the numerically inferior and strategically disadvantaged Ottoman armies and achieved rapid success...

  • Second Balkan War
    Second Balkan War
    The Second Balkan War was a conflict which broke out when Bulgaria, dissatisfied with its share of the spoils of the First Balkan War, attacked its former allies, Serbia and Greece, on 29 June 1913. Bulgaria had a prewar agreement about the division of region of Macedonia...

  • Macedonian Front of World War I
    Macedonian front (World War I)
    The Macedonian Front resulted from an attempt by the Allied Powers to aid Serbia, in the autumn of 1915, against the combined attack of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria. The expedition came too late and in insufficient force to prevent the fall of Serbia, and was complicated by the internal...

  • Allied Expedition to the Ukraine (1919)
  • Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922
    Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922)
    The Greco–Turkish War of 1919–1922, known as the Western Front of the Turkish War of Independence in Turkey and the Asia Minor Campaign or the Asia Minor Catastrophe in Greece, was a series of military events occurring during the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire after World War I between May...

  • Second World War
    • Greco-Italian War
      Greco-Italian War
      The Greco-Italian War was a conflict between Italy and Greece which lasted from 28 October 1940 to 23 April 1941. It marked the beginning of the Balkans Campaign of World War II...

    • German invasion
      Battle of Greece
      The Battle of Greece is the common name for the invasion and conquest of Greece by Nazi Germany in April 1941. Greece was supported by British Commonwealth forces, while the Germans' Axis allies Italy and Bulgaria played secondary roles...

       and Battle of Crete
      Battle of Crete
      The Battle of Crete was a battle during World War II on the Greek island of Crete. It began on the morning of 20 May 1941, when Nazi Germany launched an airborne invasion of Crete under the code-name Unternehmen Merkur...

    • North African Campaign
      North African campaign
      During the Second World War, the North African Campaign took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria and Tunisia .The campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had...

    • Italian Campaign
      Italian Campaign (World War II)
      The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters AFHQ was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre, and it planned and commanded the...

  • Greek Civil War
    Greek Civil War
    The Greek Civil War was fought from 1946 to 1949 between the Greek governmental army, backed by the United Kingdom and United States, and the Democratic Army of Greece , the military branch of the Greek Communist Party , backed by Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania...

  • Korean War
    Korean War
    The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

  • Turkish Invasion of Cyprus
    Military operations during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus
    In 1974, Turkey invaded the northern portion of the Republic of Cyprus in response to a military coup taking place on the island, in attempt to annex the island to Greece. Turkey claimed that their intervention is in accordance to Treaty of Guarantee. The invasion consisted of two major Turkish...

  • Kosovo (1999-present)
  • War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
  • War on Terrorism
    War on Terrorism
    The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...



General Staff

  • Hellenic National Defense General Staff
    Hellenic National Defense General Staff
    The Hellenic National Defence General Staff is the senior staff of the Hellenic Armed Forces. It was established in 1950, when the separate armed services ministries were consolidated into the Ministry of National Defence...

    • Hellenic Army General Staff
      Hellenic Army General Staff
      The Hellenic Army General Staff is the general staff of the Hellenic Army, the terrestrial component of the Greek Armed Forces. It was established in 1906 as the Army Staff Service . Since 1950, the HAGS is subordinated to the Hellenic National Defense 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

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
Hellenic Army General Staff
The Hellenic Army General Staff is the general staff of the Hellenic Army, the terrestrial component of the Greek Armed Forces. It was established in 1906 as the Army Staff Service . Since 1950, the HAGS is subordinated to the Hellenic National Defense General Staff...


There are four major military commands which supervise all army units,
  • The 1st Army
    First Army (Greece)
    The Greek First Army is the highest formation of the Hellenic Army and its only extant field army.The First Army was created in March 1947, during the Greek Civil War. It controlled the II and III Corps, with Volos as its headquarters. It was abolished on 10 February 1948, and re-established in...

    , based at Larissa
    Larissa is the capital and biggest city of the Thessaly region of Greece and capital of the Larissa regional unit. It is a principal agricultural centre and a national transportation hub, linked by road and rail with the port of Volos, the city of Thessaloniki and Athens...

    , that includes the I and IV Army Corps, responsible for the defense of the northern and eastern borders.
  • The II Army Corps, based at Veroia, which groups all the rapid reaction forces of the army
  • The Supreme Military Command of the Interior and Islands, based at Athens
    Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

     with the mission to provide cover for the islands in the Aegean Sea
    Aegean Sea
    The Aegean Sea[p] is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the southern Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus...

  • The Supreme Military Support Command undertaking various logistics and organizational tasks.

Although divisions
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

 still exist, having the role of forward commands, the Army is mainly organized in brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

s, that follow the typical NATO standards consisting of five battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

s, 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.


There are three classes of personnel in the Hellenic Army, namely professional, volunteer and conscript
Conscription in Greece
As of 2009, Greece has mandatory military service of 9 months for men between the ages of 18 and 45. Citizens discharged from active service are normally placed in the Reserve and are subject to periodic recall of 1–10 days at irregular intervals.-Duration:Universal conscription was introduced in...

. Conscript enlisted men and non-commissioned officers wear special rank insignia to differentiate them from volunteers. There are currently 90,000 personnel on active duty. Mobilization strength is 200,000 more.

Most professional officers graduate from the Evelpidon Military Academy
Hellenic Military Academy
The Evelpidon Military Academy is the oldest tertiary level educational institution in Greece. It was founded in 1828 in Nafplio by Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first Governor of the modern Greek State....

 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
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 and Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

 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.

During war, the Hellenic army battalions are commanded by either a ranking officer major general or if in a combat mission by another state which in agreement with the Greek state will be commanded by a ranking General of their own.


The heavy equipment and weaponry of the Hellenic Army is mostly of foreign manufacture, from German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n suppliers. A notable exception is the native-built Leonidas armored personnel carrier 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
Ranks and insignia of NATO
Ranks and insignia of NATO are combined military insignia used by the member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.The rank scale is used for specifying posts within NATO.-Definitions:...

. The rank of Stratarchis (Στρατάρχης, equivalent to Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 or General of the Army
General of the Army
General of the Army is a military rank used in some countries to denote a senior military leader, usually a General in command of a nation's Army. It may also be the title given to a General who commands an Army in the field....

) though, has been historically used, but is no longer extant. It was first awarded to King Constantine I
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 for his leadership in the Balkan Wars
Balkan Wars
The Balkan Wars were two conflicts that took place in the Balkans in south-eastern Europe in 1912 and 1913.By the early 20th century, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia, the countries of the Balkan League, had achieved their independence from the Ottoman Empire, but large parts of their ethnic...

. 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
Alexander Papagos
Field Marshal Alexander Papagos , was a Greek General who led the Greek Army in the Greco-Italian War and the later stages of the Greek Civil War and became the country's Prime Minister...

on 28 October 1949.

Other sources

  • Michalopoulos, Dimitris. "The Evolution of the Greek Army (1828-68)". War and Society in East Central Europe, Vol. XIV, Brooklyn College Press, 1984, pp. 317–330, ISBN 0880330430.

External links

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