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Ministry of Defense

In conformity with the decisions taken by government, during the Cold War the Ministry of Defense actuated policy and worked for world distension. At the same time, Italy continues to give wholehearted support to the Atlantic Alliance, which has now reached the stage where it needs a new structure. In other words, the Italian military structure is mainly concerned with defense of the country, the safe-guarding of Italian interests in the Mediterranean, and the organization of a defensive structure adequate to domestic needs and to the role this country plays in the western alliance. Such policy was continued in the 1960s in spite of certain strategic changes made necessary by such events as the expansion in Soviet naval units in the Mediterranean and the transfer of large contingents of land forces of the Warsaw Pact to Czechoslovakia.

Defense was based on "flexible counter-attack," which represented acceptance of the theory that any eventual aggression would not take the form of general hostilities, but rather that of limited and local fighting. Furthermore, the employment of a wide range of potential military might, ranging from conventional to nuclear weapons, represents a powerful argument against aggression and, at the same time, provides an opportunity of suiting the defense policy to the importance of the attack, should one occur.

The process of reorganization of central administration at the Ministry of Defense continued throughout the 1960s. From a technical and bureaucratic viewpoint, the goal was uniform planning and execution as a means of obtaining maximum results. The same principle was employed in technical-military fields, particularly in the case of the General Staffs. An important move was made with the institution of a Joint Chiefs of Staff Commitee and the appointment of a Secretary General for Defense to act as a consultant to the department. The step was taken for the purpose of modernizing the military structure, starting at the top of the military hierarchy, and is something quite new to the Italian Armed Forces. It was intended to guarantee uniform decisions, now of the utmost importance because of close operational cooperation between the Army, Navy, and Air Force and the need for more complete and accurate analysis of the many factors involved. Limited ideas and impulsive thinking no longer have any possible role in military strategy, which calls for joint handling of a highly complicated machine.

General, technical, and scientific training is yet another aspect which received close attention. Such training is the direct responsibility of the Defense Staff, when it concerns exercises on a domestic scale with NATO allies, bilateral exercises with individual allies, or the employment of Italian contingents as part of the mobile forces of the Allied Command in Europe, at the head of which was an Italian general. The training of senior officers took three forms: interforce colleges and training schools, courses of a scientific nature, and combined training with allied nations. The first included the Senior College of Military Education, which provides annual courses for high ranking officers and civil servants, and trained them in joint analysis of problems concerning national defense. The Interforce staff College was also of paramount importance, since it trained staff officers of the three services to study and answer common problems. The N.B.C. Defense College (Nuclear, Biology and Chemistry), the school of Air Cooperaticn and the School of Telecommunications were also run on an interforce basis and provide specialized training in their respective fields for all ranks and branches of the Armed Forces. No less important, in the interests of cooperation between the three services, was the opening of the Interforce Medical College for future medical and veterinary officers of the Army, Navy and Air Force. Those who are accepted as entrants were required to undergo university training, obtain a degree and be registered in their respective professions. An ade- quate allowance is made to them during training and all expenses are paid by the Ministry of Defense.

Training provided in Italy for serving members of allied forces is yet another form of the training cooperation program introduced by NATO and it has been extended to other nations. About twenty-five countries send their representatives to schools and centers belonging to the Italian Armed Forces, chief among them being the states of Latin America and many African nations. Special mention must be made of the technological developments that the three services had achieved for the country, and their contribution to scientific research. Indeed, they have been of great assistance in the planning and application of new technical methods. In order to train highly qualified personnel for the many scientific branches of the military structure, the Technical and Scientific Defense Council or- ganizes a vast number of annual courses, all of them of post-graduate level, and these are open to officers of the Army, Navy and Air Force and to civilians.

Government assistance in technical and scientific research is obviously related to the fact that every new discovery is sooner or later employed for military purposes. This means that the Ministry of Defense has to be directly responsible for research and give encouragement to others engaged in similar work. This task is directed and coordinated by the Technical and Scientific Defense Council, a highly qualified body that cooperates closely with the National Research Council. Constant and faster technological progress causes precocious obsolescence of equipment and installations used by the Armed Forces and this explains the urgent need for uninterrupted research on a domestic and international level.

Civil and military joint interests concerned jet propulsion, electronics, chemistry, biology, automation, operative research, and nuclear and space research. Outstanding in these fields was the San Marco space project, the first Italian nuclear-powered ship [nuclear submarine project named "Guglielmo Marconi", or the logistic ship named "Enrico Fermi", neither of which was realized], and the experiments being carried out by the European Space Research Organization (ESRO) at the Interforce Experimental and Training Station at Salto di Quirra in Sardinia. National and international cooperation has begun in such fields as telecommunications and electronics. As a result of the excellent work completed recently, the next few years should witness some very interesting projects, including new data processing systems applied to many fields, and the NATO satellite communications system connecting the fifteen member states of the Atlantic Alliance. Of no less importance is the coordination policy followed by the Defense Staff. This includes the study of foreign languages and their application, while an English language proficiency test has been completed and is currently undergoing trials. Italy is also a member of the International Bureau of Language Coordination and is studying the possibility of creating modern schools of translation for all service commands.

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Page last modified: 30-01-2019 19:16:15 ZULU