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Italy - Security Policy

Italy's consolidated requirement is to create a employable force, or one equipped with significant expeditionary capabilities. During the Cold War the Military was essentially static, out of the need to face a known threat on national territory, coming from a clearly-defined direction. Today the opposite is true. By 2005 over 10,000 Italian soldiers were engaged in operations outside of the national territory: in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans, the Mediterranean, Lebanon, the Sinai, the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean and the Sudan. They were engaged under NATO or United Nations flags and were making Italy’s contribution to missions of peacekeeping, stabilization, reconstruction and humanitarian aid as the changing international situation required.

The Italian government stated in 2016 that it refused to take part in military strikes in Libya until a legitimate Libyan government requesting assistance should arise. Further, despite increasing pressure from Washington for offensive operations to be launched from Sigonella, Italian officials continued to refuse to escalate, for fear of becoming embroiled in another country’s civil war, and the unpopularity of Middle East intervention among the domestic electorate.

In the 1990s Italy embarked on a major defense reform to create a “New Defense Model.” The objective is a well-balanced military force that is small in size but high in quality, to include adequate strategic mobility and logistics autonomy for out of area operations and appropriate capabilities to permit easy integration with allied or coalition forces. Because of Italy’s geo-strategic position in the Mediterranean, the threat from possible attacks by ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction (especially from the Middle East) is an important concern.

Since Italy is not a nuclear power that can invoke deterrence to forestall attacks, effective air and missile defense is viewed to be an essential element of Italy’s future military force posture. In addition to general modernization of its land combat and naval systems, Italy also needed to provide greater sustainability and force protection for its forces in out-of-area operations.

Italy’s naval strategists further argued that, with the Cold War over, it was necessary to focus on naval projection in the Mediterranean. Since Italy’s naval forces were becoming obsolete, a major modernization program is required. This program could include a second light carrier with amphibious capabilities, two anti-air warfare frigates, a new generation of multi-role frigates, eight additional coastal ships, and modernization of the helicopter fleet.

The 2004-2005 Ministerial Guidance and 2005 Strategic Concept had been the principal reference documents for planning the evolution of the military forces of the future. In particular, these documents recognize that the great security challenges of the 21st century are represented by regional instability, the global threat of terrorism, the potential use of weapons of mass destruction and the possible forfeiting of vital national interests, even outside of the national territory.

The main references to be considered in developing the planning process are tasks established for the Armed Forces by Parliament (Law 331 of 14 November 2000) and Government directives on national defense and security. Within this framework, objectives assigned to the Ministry of Defense as part of developing national policy are translated into precise planning indications within a Ministerial Guidance issued every two years by the Minister himself.

At the strategic-military level it is up to the Chief of Staff of Defense, who is in charge of planning, preparing and deploying the Armed Forces as a whole (Law 25 of 18 February 1997), to give practical implementation to Ministerial Guidance, and to elaborate a specific plan of action expressed through a Strategic Concept. This document, also issued every two years, represents the primary point of reference as concerns both the long-term vision and technical programming for all activities of the Armed Forces.

To complete the process, a Defense Long-Term Planning Document is also prepared every two years, representing the final chapter of the military effort to develop concepts and plan programs. Thus politico-military directives (the Ministerial Guidance) and strategic military indications (Strategic Concept) are translated in objectives to obtain develop a military tool coherent with available resources and able to perform assigned missions in terms of size, configuration and readiness.

Three strategic macro scenarios were used for force planning purposes. Although they were not considered planning situations of an operational nature, they formed the basis for generating plausible predictable situations and means for force deployment, in relation to the relative threat-andrisk analysis. This in turn facilitated the process of identifying related required operational capabilities and acquisition priorities.

Macro scenario “ALPHA” - Security of national spaces

This includes those operational situations required to avert and thwart unexpected military threats from entering Italian national territory by land, and/or air or sea space, including terrorist acts, but relatively limited in nature. With regard to the evolving forms of possible risks, which will inevitably be asymmetric, they might occur both on national territory, as well as in adjacent air and sea spaces; emergency situations even of high political and/or security impact, but still limited in military nature, in which it is necessary to resort to immediate and autonomous response capabilities.

Depending on the circumstances these responses may require solely the use of military capabilities, whereas others may require coordinated interagency actions alone, or further yet situations could call upon highly coordinated synergic action by the armed forces and other central or local government agencies.

For this scenario it will be necessary to have a small number of diverse types of Forces with an extremely high status of readiness, designed to operate on National territory to ensure the military presence, military protection of key objectives, adequate rapid-intervention capability and surveillance of the homeland area and adjacent air and naval spaces (including in-depth distances).

Macro-scenario “BRAVO” – Immediate-reaction coalition operations

This includes possible operations aimed at rapid defense of vital and/or strategic national interests when compromised; operations to be carried out autonomously (for example, in the case of evacuation of citizens from risk areas) or in the context of a wider coalition.

The term “immediate reaction” refers to force projection operations which are usually conducted multinationally and in the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations, with the purposes of favorably influencing developing strategic crises, at the same time effectively and with the minimum risk to human life and material. In particular, such operations are intended to resolve crisis situations in less time than would be necessary through successive staging.

For this scenario it will be necessary to have continuously available even in “normal” (non-crisis) situations a number of Forces with:

  • Technology at the state-of-the-art level;
  • Full “joint” and “combined” interoperability;
  • Extremely high readiness and re-deployability capabilities;
  • Standards of operations and training similar to those the Forces of a possible coalition “leader” nation;
  • Capability of providing effective quality contributions, even at niche level, in conducting operations.

The Forces described will have a high level of operational readiness and must be capable of carrying out autonomous operations, within the context of a Coalition of the Willing, both as part of a larger Force or as the “Initial Entry Force”. The forces should also be able to rapidly redefine themselves and operate as “stand alone” forces for at least 30 days using self-sustainable logistic capabilities or, if re-supplied with additional provisions, for even longer periods.

These forces will constitute the conventional national deterrent and the first level of response for the rapid resolution of crises when they erupt, while foreseeing the need to deploy greater numbers in the subsequent phases (“Early Effect Concept”). In this context, these forces will also form a pool from which to draw our National contribution to the NATO Reaction Force (NRF) and to European Forces with the highest level of operational readiness (“Battle-group Concept”).

Macro-scenario “CHARLIE” – Decisive Operations

It includes possible operational situations for the defense of national integrity, collective NATO defense and long-term crisis management. Faced with new scenarios, even though it did not modify its Charter, NATO rapidly updated its Strategic Concept by extending the areas of interest and intervention. As a result Allied planning adapted force and command capabilities and structures, and conferred maximum priority to the possibility of developing force projection (without neglecting the capabilities required for collective defense).

The European Union also developed its own Strategic Concept, by defining its security and defense dimensions and addressing its efforts towards Peace Support missions by developing a force and capability-based planning process. In this framework, the group of potential situations identified as macro-scenario “CHARLIE” is designed for long-term, low-and-medium intensity crisis management, while still maintaining the capability to contribute decisively to any potential (if improbable) collective defense operations on national or Allied territory.

For this scenario it will be necessary, even under normal circumstances, to have continuously available a group of Forces of diverse types and levels of readiness, integrated into an innovative system of mobilization and characterized by:

  • Adequate levels of technology;
  • Elevated NATO/EU “joint” and “combined” interoperability and integrability;
  • Readiness and force projection adequate to NATO/EU decisions;
  • Adequate training levels.

It is opportune to point out that the “CHARLIE” macro-scenario embraces a number of relevant possible tasks which require diverse force qualities and types. NATO itself foresees for these kind of missions a differentiation of forces relative to their operational readiness and capabilities for executing specific tasks.

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Page last modified: 28-06-2016 14:01:32 ZULU