As the Greek armed forces look to the future, wars fought on terms that are largely unfavourable to the Greek military are very likely to be the norm, especially at the beginning. The chaotic experience of the Ukraine invasion and the chaotic planning and execution of the Greek citizens’ evacuation from Sudan by the French and Italian military, are not just unfortunate exceptions to the prevailing Greek way of war but powerfully revealing glimpses into the future.
In both mentioned operations, the almost insurmountable constraints of time, information, troop numbers, and political sensitivity suddenly placed the armies involved in a perilous position fraught with uncharted dangers. In both operations, those involved were unable to control the initial conditions on the ground or quickly shift the momentum in their favor.
The wars of the future are much more likely to resemble the invasion of Ukraine and the evacuation of civilians from Sudan than the battles of the past. They will offer many unexpected setbacks and defeats, uncertainty and random chances, surprise and repeated shocks on the battlefield. Highly capable adversaries will initiate many of these conflicts on their own terms, thus requiring the Greek armed forces to fight from deeply disadvantaged positions under sometimes disastrous conditions. Agencies need to invest in the ability to adapt and build the organizational, material and psychological resilience needed in the event of brutal shocks.
The military must maintain the ability to fight effectively when communications are disrupted, plans fail, deception changes the facts, and wartime conflicts spiral out of control. And it will have to deal with the parameters of wartime that we have ostensibly been trying since peacetime to eliminate—such as the utter insufficiency of time, the lack of critical capabilities and resources, and the immutable tyranny of geography and distance when most or all of the advantages they will belong to the enemy. Chaos, uncertainty and lack of control over the conditions of war are what will theoretically and practically prevail. Compressed timelines and a lack of resources are exactly what war can look like in practice. However, despite the warnings, the military’s response to the evacuation in Sudan suggests that this message has not been fully received or internalized. Unexpectedly, the civilian evacuation from Sudan has taught us that today’s military forces may not fully understand how different future wars will be from their experiences in recent ones.