No section of government activity is immune in the face of such malaise. Intelligence organization is hardly exempt. Ironically, the more Greece sinks into the morass of national debt and the EU/IMF "bailout" that has eviscerated the country, the more her needs for robust intelligence collection and analysis gain in urgency: all-round weakness has undoubtedly whetted the appetite of Greece's "friendly" neighbors -- with Turkey playing a leading role -- and burgeoning threats, like illegal immigration and imported serious crime, demand the highest level of intelligence preparedness, production, analysis, and dissemination.

Unfortunately, Greek intelligence performance even during better times left much to be desired. Intelligence capabilities and manpower did not escape the debilitating effects of bureaucratization, political party patronage, and political squabbling. But despite debacles like the 1999 Ocalan affair, little of substance was done to modernize, update, upgrade, and enhance Greek intelligence capabilities, a trend familiar within the rest of the public sector.

While any genuine reform effort must address significant many issues simultaneously, there is little doubt that professional training of intelligence personnel remains the core demand that must be addressed as a question of priority. Intelligence training should be streamlined and centralized around a service school that offers a structured program fit for all intelligence personnel ahead of their specialty training to follow (military intelligence forms a specific area that should remain separate from civilian agencies and subject to in-service rigorous training which is also lacking at present).

It is against this backdrop that the prospect of a national intelligence academy arises. Adopting such a "schooling model" will of course require changes in hiring practices, including the abandonment of hiring on the sole basis of a candidate's higher education or other specialist experience without the obligation of further, mandatory, structured training (in-house seminars, brainstorming sessions, and learn-as-you-go practices cannot be substitutes for intensive, focused schooling). 

Before any attempt to create a higher intelligence school though there must be a change of planning attitude toward the overall need for formalized in-service training; this school will operate under a core curriculum developed and conducted by regular teaching personnel, who will be appointed with the specific purpose of educating intelligence professionals slated to become regular intelligence officers.

The overarching task of any such academy would be to offer both theoretical and hands-on education in addition to developing methods for instilling an espritde corps to recruits and preparing them for team work and field operations under the ultimate guidance of national command authorities. In addition, the academy would put special emphasis on the integration of new technologies in meeting the mission and preparing the future officers to act both independently and as members of larger operational units.

Greece faces complicated and dangerous challenges as she tries to navigate muddy and unpredictable intelligence waters. And even under the enormous strain of her current predicament, she should be paying more attention to her diminishing capacities to be prepared for the unexpected. Simply put, and especially today, Greece does not possess the luxury of failure.

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