Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has been full of surprises in the past 24 hours. Not content with announcing a referendum on the European Union's bailout package, he has also replaced the chiefs of staff of the army, navy, air force and general staff.
The decision was taken on Nov. 1 at an extraordinary meeting of the Government Council of Foreign Affairs and Defense (Kysea), which comprises the prime minister and other key cabinet members.
• General Ioannis Giagkos, chief of the Greek National Defence General Staff, will be replaced by Lieutenant General Michalis Kostarakos (until now commander of the 3rd army corps);
• Lieutenant General Fragkos Fragkoulis, chief of the Greek Army General Staff, will be replaced by Lieutenant General Konstantinos Zazias (until now commander of the 4th army corps);
• Lieutenant General Vasilios Klokozas, chief of the Greek Air Force, will be replaced by Air Marshal Antonis Tsantirakis (until now commander of the Tactical Air Force);
• Vice-Admiral Dimitrios Elefsiniotis, chief of the Greek Navy General Staff, will be replaced by Rear-Admiral Kosmas Christidis (until now chief of Staff of the Fleet Command of the Hellenic Navy).
In addition, a dozen commissioned officers were also relieved of their duties.
According to Greek media commentators, the changes took many members of the government and the armed forces by surprise. Some have accused Papandreou of appointing men he will be sure he can control should the government collapse. The 7-year military dictatorship in Greece ended in July 1974, so is fresh in Papandreou's mind as well as in those of many of his fellow countrymen.