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Italian Army - Esercito Italiano EI - Organization

The process of updating and structurally modifying the Italian Army organization was launched to adapt the Army to the changes in the international and national scenarios (reduced number of draftees to be drawn from the conscript force, restated financial restrictions, establishment of a volunteer force, new enrolment of female personnel, etc.). This process follows the guidelines set by the new "Defense Model", and involves all Army components, from the top-level and Command organization to territorial, school and training, logistic and operational infrastructure, together with material selection, acquisition and delivery procedures.

This process was started after the end of the Cold War among uncertainties, hesitations and interruptions, typical of such deep and radical changes. In 1997 it was abruptly accelerated, to a point that this new organizational set-up now appears to have reached its final target. The extent of this reorganization effort may be appreciated when considering the new top-level structure.

Today the Chief of Staff of the Italian Army has no longer several cooperators under his direct command, as in the past, thus finding difficulties in the evaluation and detailed coordination of all Army strategies and decisions. He can now avail himself of a support body which may be defined, in corporate terms, as a "board of directors" made up of four generals only, responsible for the operational sector ( Commander of the Operational Land Forces), basic training (School Inspector), specialized training (Arms Inspector) and logistics (Logistic Inspector). The Chief of the Army General Staff also supervises three Military Region Commanders (NORTH - CENTER and SOUTH). In this way, he may perform his function of directing all Army activities in a more practical, effective and rational way, thanks to such a simplified and streamlined interface.

The main concept which has inspired the overhaul of the Army below the top-level organization (Army General Staff), is that of separating the operational and territorial components. The new missions and the reduced strength of the military require forces to be managed through a thorough concentration of resources.

In line with this principle, operational tasks have been completely transferred to the newly established Land Force Operational Command (COMFOTER) in Verona, in order to stage a unified effort in force preparation and deployment. The territorial organization, which has also been revised, is based on three "macroregions" (NORTH - CENTRE and SOUTH), and completes the chain of hierarchical subordination to the Chief of the Army General Staff.

Operational Land Force Command

The Army is engaged in planning and implementing a new organizational framework, capable of timely fulfilling all future requirements and reaching the effectiveness level necessary to carry out its assigned tasks. This reorganization will be carried out in line with the latest trends followed both in international and Nato environments.

The command function, being unified, has allowed the Army to harmonise its directives and training standards and establish a coherent and mutually reinforcing set of forces performing different functions and undergoing specific training cycles, besides the standard ones. As regards the Italian Army, the COMFOTER commander is a Lieutenant General holding a "double-hat", like the NATO Commander of the Joint Allied Command-South. To carry out his mission, the COMFOTER Commander avails himself of two separate Staffs, both in Verona, performing NATO and internal functions respectively.

Within the Army reorganization process, 3 levels of Command have been envisaged to exercise Command and Control over forces carrying out operational functions:

  1. Operational Land Force Command (COMFOTER), responsible for organizing operational tasks and providing modules and Staff elements to man national or multinational Commands, following the CJTF concept (Combined Joint Task Force);
  2. Intermediate Operational Commands (COINT) , exerting Command and Control over their immediately subordinated units, both organic or augmented, national or multinational. They may be tasked to operate in a wide range of operational theatres and scenarios and carry out different tasks.
  3. Brigade Commands

The Operational Land Force Command (COMFOTER) exerts its authority on all units and support elements carrying out the operational tasks previously performed by Corps Commands and Military Regions. This way a single chain of command has been established, to manage Italian Land Forces' training and operational activities in a unified way.

The COMFOTER Commander is directly subordinated to the Chief of the Army General Staffand is responsible for force preparation, training and employment. He extends his authority over subordinate units through demultiplier Commands:

  • Operational Land Force Support Command
  • 1st Defense Force Command
  • 2nd Defense Force Command
  • Alpine Troop Command
  • Army Information and Transmission Command
  • Army Aviation Command
  • NATO Rapid Deployable Corp - Italy (NRDC-ITA)

Operational Forces

The post-war period, until the collapse of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact, was mainly characterised by a system of opposing blocks and by a threat coming from a single direction. Therefore the mission of the Army was well-defined, as it was its organization and type of units, distributed on the territory following relatively simple and clear criteria. The need to defend the "Gorizia threshold" and the routes possibly employed by the enemy to penetrate the Po Valley and reach the heart of the nation has long led the military to concentrate the greatest number of their best-equipped land forces in the North-Western sector of Italy.

The several Brigades, established in 1975 after the disbandment of the Divisional Commands, and progressively downsized (from 25 in 1989 to 19 in 1991, and then to 13), were put, in peace time, under the operational command of the 5th Vittorio Veneto Army Corps (first line units), the 4th Bolzano Army Corps ( Alpine troops) and the 3rd Milan Army Corps (theatre replacement units). In the case of crisis or conflict, the mounting HQs would become the Command of the Allied Land Forces- Southern Europe in Verona (an agency, led by an Italian four-star general, which in peacetime, carries out planning tasks and exercises its authority over a single operational component, the Army Air Defense Artillery).

COMFOTER was built around the pre-existing FTASE command in Verona and is led by an Italian four-star General. It operates through four intermediate demultiplier commands and is responsible for the preparation of its subordinate commands and units, in compliance with the operational requirements of the "capability package" including these forces. The full implementation of the principle of a unified command at organizational level, embodied by the establishment of the COMFOTER, together with the adoption of dynamic investment plans, will increasingly lead the Army to reach the efficiency and specialization levels required by modern scenarios and by joint operations at multinational level.

The Commander of the Operational Land Forces, (wearing a "double hat", national and NATO, as he joins in his hands both his new and previous assignment as Commander of the Allied Land Forces -Southern Europe), is subordinated to the Chief of the Army general Staff. He resides in Verona and exerts his authority in the field of force preparation, training and employment through four intermediate operational commands plus a Support Command.

The Intermediate Commands, partly built around the previously reconfigured Army Corps Commands ( Milan, Bolzano and Vittorio Veneto) and partly newly established (Naples), gather under their authority Brigade-level units (plus a limited number of support assets), which have been selected following homogeneous criteria, taking into account well-defined " capability packages".

The Projection Force Command established in Milan become a "planning" command and lost its previously assigned forces ("Garibaldi", "Folgore" and "Friuli"), which have been put under the authority of the 1st and 2nd Defense Force Commands. The FOP Command has already experimented a first out-of-area projection on the occasion of the Operation "ALBA" (Albania), in line with its envisaged type of employment.

Territorial Organization

Another key objective which has inspired the new design of the territorial infrastructure was that of streamlining a somewhat redundant structure, by ruling out all overlapping or opposing functions and at the same time implementing the necessary economy of human and material resources. The Military Regions passed from the previous seven to the present three (Northern with HQs in Padua, Central with HQs Florence and Southern with HQs in Naples), extend their authority over the Autonomous Commands: the Southern Region over Sicily, the Cental Region over Sardinia and the Capital's Command). They carry out territorial tasks and manage military infrastructure and properties, supervise draft, recruitment and mobilization activities and perform some administrative and medical tasks (the latter to be further unified at joint level).

The Military Regions are not assigned operational tasks, close support operations included (the Army General Staff or COMFOTER may derogate from this rule only exceptionally). However, they keep under their authority the Hospitals and the Military Districts, the latter subordinated to the Draft Recruitment and Mobilization Commands. of their respective regions. The District network has long been subject to a major reorganization which, also thanks to the increasing employment of the Information Technology, has allowed the military to trim the number of agencies from the previous 65 and more to the present 24, generally placed in Region chief towns. The Public Information Centers NIP, operate in Province chief towns. They provide all necessary information to young recruits and issue the required certificates.

As in the operational sector, where the tasks previously performed by the Military Regions were handed over to COMFOTER, also in the territorial support area new responsibilities will be subsumed under the Logistic Inspectorate. In fact, it will coordinate the management of all plants, warehouses, logistic units and agencies within the so-called "general support area". The reorganization of this sector is a slow-moving and complex process, as a wide range of political, trade-union and local problems, together with legislative provisions, must be taken into account. The above-mentioned difficulties, however, will not affect the Army's main goal of streamlining, updating and rationalizing one of its core functions.


The strategic framework which followed the post cold-war period highlighted both the requirement of staging rapidly deployable forces, ready to operate in an international scenario, and the growing importance of logistics. In fact, the latter has been called upon to play a primary role in preparing and supporting missions, which are increasingly carried out in out-of-area locations far from the homeland. In low intensity/low risk conflict scenarios, mainly requiring humanitarian rescue operations and sometimes with no definite opponents, logistics may even play primary role, while the operational component may be "limited" to provide a security framework to those operations mainly based on the management of personnel,means and material flows ( aid to the civilian population included).

The logistic function supervises and manages transport and movements and also carries out the fundamental task of supporting combat forces. This function is performed by servicing equipment and weapon systems and delivering the necessary supplies (fuels, food, munitions) to the theatre of operations.Following the evolution of the logistics doctrine developed by NATO, logistics must comply with the new concepts of "close support" ( logistic activities carried out by elements incorporated into operational units) and "general support" (support infrastructure generally based on the home territory), where logistic agencies carry out all maintenance, supply and transport operations which cannot be performed by the logistic elements incorporated into the operational units.

To speed up the implementation of this doctrine and adopt a new mind set, which is the necessary precondition for this change, the General Staff has launched a robust reorganization in this sector, encompassing both the top-level and the territorial structures. In April 1997 a new Logistics Inspectorate was first established. This new agency was designed to act as the body responsible for the management and maintenance af all Army resources (means and materials), and also as the advisory body in the modernisation process of the military instrument.

The Logistic Inspectorate's central organization is based on three sector-specialised Departments (Trasport and Materials; Administration and Quartermaster; Medical and Veterinary Services); its territorial organization comprises two Area Commands, based in Padua and Naples, which will progressively take up all the tasks previously performed by the Military Region Commands,in the transport, materials and Quartermaster sectors.

The Trasport and Materials Department includes three components: the Combat Supplies division, the Mobility division and the Air Cavalry Supplies division. The first manages weapon systems and related equipment (radar, NBC protective items etc.), establishing maintenance policies and issuing rules and directives, to be followed by the territorial agencies subordinated to the Area Commands; it also governs the several activities to be shared between military plants and external contractors, to be carried out based on stringent cost-effectiveness evaluations. The Mobility and Counter-mobility division and the Air Cavalry division perform the same functions in the motorization, Engineers and Air Cavalry sectors.

The Logistic Inspectorate also includes The National Agency for Military Land Transportation, tasked which managing those strategic material stocks (containers and related handling systems) necessary to ensure the full autonomy of out-of-area operations, when required. It also supervises all land transportation means, both military and civilian (which are generally employed in domestic and, when possible, in out-of-area operations as well), together with keeping up to date and developing the overall strategic know-how in the transportation field.

The Administration and Quartermaster Department has joined the functions previously performed by two separate Logistic Agencies of the Army. This progressive integration process will enhance and unify the professional skills of two Army logistic components, carrying out similar and sometimes overlapping functions. In this way, notwithstanding Officers and NCOs numbers have been greatly downsized, the logistic activities managing food, clothing and material supplies and supervising general administrative functions, will benefit from the synergetic input created by merging two structures, i.e. the Quartermaster / Sustainment and Administration, which are now completely separate.

Similarly , the Medical and Veterinary Department was set up to concentrate the functions and further integrate the activities performed by doctors, veterinarians and chemists/pharmacists. This Department also supervises regular inspections on food standards, premises healthiness (kitchens and mess facilities in particular) and manages the Army's general medical and veterinary organization. Besides establishing the guidelines for and directing the above mentioned sectors, the Logistic Inspectorate organises the training of its personnel, both through the institutes subordinated to each Department (Trasportation and Materials School within the Cecchignola compound, Quartermaster and Administration School in Maddaloni and Medical and Veterinary School), and by keeping the necessary liaison with the other Schools of the Army (the Communications School mainly), to include those skills not covered by the Inspectorate.

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Page last modified: 26-02-2013 10:55:07 ZULU