Italian Army - 1960s Esercito Italiano EI
A number of steps were taken in the 1960s with regard to strategy, training and modernization of equipment. The Army was also engaged in research into future trends in military thinking, in view of the.constant evolution in technology and science. As a means of testing the theories elaborated, training was mainly devoted to tactical maneuvers concerning attack and defense by day and night.
In order to obtain an accurate picture of the composition of the Army in the 1960s, something must be said about its structure. There were two chief components - an Expeditionary Force and a Defense Force. Both consisted of highly mobile motorized and mechanized divisions, which can operate quite independently for long periods over any type of terrain. They included all the various branches, infantry, cavalry, artillery, engineers and communications, and general services. To these must be added the armored divisions, heavily armed, very mobile and able to operate against an enemy using nuclear or conventional weapons. Some modifications were made to their structure in recent years in order to facilitate command and movement. There were also some special units, such as the Alpine regiments, parachutists and missile groups, which are employed according to strategic needs.
The complicated weapons and equipment now used by the Army increased the need for highly specialized technicians. Training schools and centers are responsible for the training of permanent officers, N.C.O.'s, and other personnel undergoing compulsory military service. Educational and training organizaticn was given special care, for it was realized that the grade of efficiency necessary called for thorough basic instruction. Because of their immense value to the labor market, some mention must be made of the schools responsible for training technical personnel in permanent service and those who were undergoing compulsory military service. By means of these schools, the Army is able to give technical instruction to a large number of recruits; about 64,000 men were trained annually and given a diploma which will enable them to find employment in industry when leaving the Army. The training of short-term personnel also included courses in civic affairs and special courses are organized for illiterates and semi-literates.
It has been found that short-term personnel profited considerably from sport and physical training and this was provided for everyone. Those who are successful in meetings and competitions of national importance are able to continue athletic training in special companies stationed in Rome, Naples and Bologna. The School of Physical Education in Orvieto was responsible for training instructors, and units are thus assured of staff with considerable experience and competence. The evolution in technical media and procedure was such that the Italian Army was constantly faced with the problem of modernizing and strengthening units. This was generally done by planning and production on a national level and through supplies of materials and equipment produced under agreements with NATO.
A general plan covering replacement of weapons and equipment was started in 1962. It was approved because of the need to guarantee units thole factors necessary to modern operations, particularly fire power, maneuverability and defense. There had been several changes in personal weapons and mortars for the infantry, new tanks have been issued to armored units, engineers and communications branches had received new equipment, logistics have been revised for she purpose of improving the personal equipment and living conditions of troops, and drastic changes have been made in the medical branch. All units had reached a high grade of mobility.
The efforts made by the Army were continuing, and planning had become much more flexible. Changes and additions were made annually, thus enabling officers, NCOs and other ranks to keep pace with technical progress. A large part of the expenditure involved covered orders placed with national industry and this had undoubtedly economic, social (creation of new jobs, higher wages, amortization of expenditure for new plant), technical and scientific benefits (training of skilled tradesmen, technological progress, etc.). Research relative to modernization of equipment and materials was intense, because of the recognized need for operational efficiency and the faster pace of technological development.
In spite of the fact that allocations are not large, various important research projects were successfully concluded, and several new ones were initiated. Undoubtedly, many benefits have derived from international cooperation within the sphere of the Atlantic Alliance. This cooperation had fully demonstrated its value (joint research, co-production, exchange of information), and those nations which were less prosperous and less technologically advanced are able to play a profitable role in research, with beneficial results in many fields. Research covered all branches and, as a result of closer collaboration with industry and scientific bodies, had been highly productive. Industry was encouraged to specialize even more and to achieve higher technical levels.
The contributions which the Army made toward the social and economic progress of Italy include matters which are the direct responsibility of civil authorities. The Army was always asked to help local populations during natural calamities and when public utilities were threatened because of strikes. The following examples give some idea of what has been done. When certain regions of Sicily were heavily damaged by earthquake, about 3,500 troops, 560 motor vehicles and special equipment were sent immediately to the stricken zones. During the floods in Piedmont, the Army sent 4,000 troops, 700 motor vehicles, 15 helicopters, bridges and other equipment, food, medicines and shelters. About 32,000 troops and 1,300 motor vehicles of various kinds were employed throughout the year for a variety of reasons (postal services, road, rail and tram services, supplies of gas and electricity, medical services, fire fighting, supplies of waiter to isolated localities, etc,, ). Also, 50,000 troops were on duty at polling stations during the general elections.
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