Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides said on Monday he was confident that the recent changes to the National Guard had boosted morale and reduced incidents of favouritism and draft-dodging.
Speaking during a visit to the Larnaca reception centre where hundreds of young men were being processed for their stint in the National Guard, Fokaides said that both himself and National Guard Chief George Basiakouli “saw with satisfaction not only the organisational in terms of management but also the high morale and clean look that distinguishes our new recruits today.
“The reduction of national service to 14 months has reinforced the loyalty of national guardsmen to the institution and incidents of draft-dodging have begun to recede.”
Favouritism and string pulling by parents, relatives and politicians on behalf of new conscripts regarding where they will serve should now be a thing of the past according to the minister.
“Placements of new recruits are now being made using computers equipped with special software to avoid any outside intervention,” he said.
He said that this year’s induction was different from all previous ones as the National Guard was changing on many levels.
“We are currently in the process of implementing an historic reform, the largest that has been done since establishing the National Guard, a reform that will make the country’s armed forces more powerful, more combat effective, more modern and with more operational capabilities to meet even more new challenges adequately and effectively. ”
Monday marked the first call-up of conscripts of this year’s summer draft, who will serve a shorter term, the first batch of which were received at training centres in Larnaca, Paphos and Limassol.
The 2016 B (summer) draft, which will run until July 8, will include, apart from those from previous years with deferrals, all males born in 1998.
The recruits are the first to be inducted in the summer to serve for 14 months following a recent government decision to cut military service from 24 months.
Greek Cypriot youths used to serve up to 26 months in the National Guard, this being reduced over the years to 24, then 18 months for those enlisted last year.
The government is also recruiting 3,000 professional soldiers to plug the gap that will be created by its decision to cut military service and help with the high unemployment rate.