By Kyriacos Kyriacou-Nicosia
For every Cypriot National Guardsman there are 3.4 Turkish soldiers in the occupied (since the 1974 Turkish invasion) North areas of the island, according to the annual report issued by the Cyprus Center for Strategic Studies under the title: “The military forces in Cyprus 1974 – 2014.” In the case of tanks for each tank of the National Guard (NG), the Turks have 2.1 tanks.
In terms of military personnel the NG numbers 12,500 and 50,000 reservists which means that the entire human military force on the side of the Republic of Cyprus including the Greek contingency ELDYK (950) is calculated to be 63,450.
On the other hand the strength of the Turkish troops in Cyprus is about 43,000. Added 3,500 Turkish Cypriot under arms and 26,000 reservists, the total number of this force stands at 72,500.
Thus, for everyone Cypriot National Guardsman there are 3.4 Turkish soldiers. Also, given the total number of forces on both sides, the numerical proportions are almost one Guardsman for every 1.1 Turkish soldiers.
As it concerns main battle tanks the report indicates that following the withdrawal of obsolete and operationally inadequate AMX-30, the National Guard currently has 164 tanks, compared to 179 in 2011. The corresponding Turkish main battle tanks are also reduced by 101, and the total number reaches 348 compared to 449 it had during the last twelve years.
Thus, for each tank of the National Guard, the Turks have 2.1 tanks, compared to 1:2.8 in 2012, 1:5.7 in 1994 and 1:15 in 1974.
Taking into account the 61 M-48 possessed by ELDYK, the ratio decreases slightly to the benefit of the Republic, thus for every NG tank there are 1.5 Turkish.
Regarding APCs, the NG has a total of 395 APCs whilst the Turkish forces have 627, meaning that for each APC of the National Guard there are 1.4 Turkish.
As it concerns navy and air force, according to the report “there remains still unanswered and critical threat and challenges the country is facing by the Turkish Air Force and Navy in the air and the sea”.
As noted from 2002 – 2014, with the exclusion of the purchase of a small number of tanks and two search and rescue helicopters by the National Guard in 2011, no other changes in the arsenal of the two sides has been recorded.
Especially in recent years, due to the economic crisis, defence budgets have shrunk significantly affecting the already limited armament programs of the Republic as well as the processes of maintenance and the availability of spare parts.
The report notes that this pressure is expected to continue in the foreseeable future, so it is very unlikely that there will be any substantial reinforcement of NG, either in terms of military personnel or in advance weapon systems and technology, which is expected to “have a negative impact not only on the effectiveness of the force but on the issue of the length of the national service too”.