Brief History of the National Guard
The Articles 129 to 132 of the 1960 Democratic Constitution of Cyprus, foresaw the formation of an army force for the Republic, consisting of 2,000 men, from whom, 60% were of Greek-Cypriot nationality, and 40% of Turkish-Cypriot nationality. Shortly after the declaration of independence of the Republic of Cyprus, upon the Zurich agreement, the formation of the Cyprus Army began. Military service was not obligatory, and conscription could only be imposed via a mutual agreement between the Greek-Cypriot President and the Turkish-Cypriot Vice-President.
During an outbreak of inter communal disturbances in December of 1963-64, the Turkish-Cypriots stopped enlisting in the constitutional army, in the midst of their rebellion against the state. At the same time, in response to the Turkish threats regarding the adoption of military measures against Cyprus, a Greek Division was deployed to Cyprus, and the Supreme Military Defense Command of Cyprus (SMDC) was established. SMDC was operating until the end of 1967, when the Greek Division re-deployed from Cyprus, after the events at Kofinou.
Concurrently with the attempted formation of the Cypriot Army, the Special Mixed Cyprus Staff (SMCS) was founded, which in 1964 was renamed to the National Guard. The Cypriot Parliament adopted in June 1964 the “National Guard” law, through which the obligatory military service was ratified, hence initiating the establishment of the Army of the Republic of Cyprus. The military service was determined to last up to 18 months.
The National Guard was manned with Greek officers, who, alongside their Cypriot colleagues that were serving in the Cypriot Army and various volunteers, undertook the commitment to organize and train its staff.
In August 1964, the National Guard confronted, among other challenges, the first Turkish military intervention, which was executed through air attacks in both the Tilliria and Xeros gulf vicinity; while in 1967, National Guard forces intervened in a crisis in the vicinity of Kofinou.
In July 1974, National Guard units were utilized by the Athens military regime in a coup d’état against President Archbishop Makarios III. The collision between the National Guard and pro President Archbishop Makarios III forces, as well as with the majority of the Greek-Cypriot public, weakened the Guard to such an extent which made the Force incapable to confront efficiently the invasion of the Turkish regiments, on July 20th 1974. The invasion itself was conducted with the excuse that an action against the dissolution of the constitutional order was necessary and that the Turkish Cypriot residents had to be protected.
During the two phases of the Turkish invasion (July 20-22nd and August 14-16th 1974), the National Guard faced for its first time the utmost duty of defending the independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus. Amidst divisive conditions, the National Guard showed staunch resistance and fought extraordinary struggles, inflicting serious casualties to the intruder and shooting down a substantial amount of enemy aircraft.
Since then the National Guard has been in a controversial state with Turkish invading forces.
From 1974 until today, the National Guard has and continues to execute a pivotal feat. By adopting modern technology and being consistently manned with expertly trained members, who are dispatched to Greek and other foreign military academies for training, the National Guard has established itself as a reliable deterring force, with high-level capabilities.
Following the accession of the Republic of Cyprus in the European Union in 2004, the National Guard plays an active role towards the implementation of the Mutual Defense and Security Policy based on its capabilities.
In addition to its purely military mission, the National Guard participates in multiple other activities and performs noteworthy social contributions, such as participation in the confrontations of severe fires and other natural disasters. Additionally it provides voluntary blood donations, while educating and conforming the character of its youth.