Republic of Italy

Italy views itself as a medium sized power participating in the grand security alliance of NATO and in the European process of integration. At the same time, Italy intends to assume a higher profile and greater responsibilities in the geographic areas in which it has immediate security interests. The region including the Mediterranean as far as the Persian Gulf, Central/Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Turkey with a push in the direction of the Caspian Sea area and Central Asia is seen to be the nerve center of future European stability and of Italy's interests. The Italians do not see themselves acting alone in any regional confrontation but rather as part of a community of European nations acting together to resolve issues and differences that will disrupt the political and economic stability of Europe.

In the absence of any direct threat to its national security, Italy has chosen to declare a series of issues that are significant to its national interests. Italy has a strong geostrategic interest in bringing Russia back into the international community through a stronger bilateral partnership. Italy is also committed to stabilization in the Balkans to prevent further fragmentation. Italy's strategy in the Persian Gulf is based on containment of Saddam's threatening ambitions by constant surveillance on Iraqi programs and by maintaining Italian military capabilities in a state of readiness for possible intervention. Italy has also embarked on a strategy of normalizing relations with Iraq's neighboring countries such as Iraq and Turkey. Italy regards the Middle East as an area filled with dangers and uncertainties.

Italy is an important economic and political partner of the United States. Italy's proximity to areas of tension in the Balkans, the Eastern Mediterranean, and North Africa underscores its strategic significance. A founding member of NATO, Italy has worked with the United States in efforts to promote reconstruction, democratization and stability in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Central and Eastern Europe, implementation of the Dayton accords in Bosnia, and the success of the Middle East Peace Process. Italy played a crucial role in NATO's action in Kosovo and in managing the refugee crisis, as well as in efforts toward economic and political stabilization in Albania. Italy has played a central role in the growth of the European Union, supporting European economic and political integration and advocating a stronger European security and defense identity within NATO.

The armed forces are under the control of the Ministry of Defense. Control over the Carabinieri, a military security force, was transferred in March from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Defense; however, the Ministry of Interior retains authority over this force in matters of internal security. Four separate police forces report to different ministerial or local authorities. Under exceptional circumstances, the Government may call on the army to provide security in the form of police duty in certain local areas, thereby freeing the Carabinieri and local police to focus on other duties. For several years, the army supported the police in Sicily and in the province of Naples, areas with high levels of organized crime. The army left Naples at the end of 1997 and Sicily in 1998 but was redeployed back to both locations for a short period in 1999, during which time special actions were in progress against organized crime. In September 2000 the Government sent an augmented force to Naples of 500 police and Carabinieri, some of whom wore military-style camouflage battle dress uniforms, to combat criminal violence in the city. Amnesty International (AI) reported numerous allegations that the police used excessive force against individuals, often Roma, refugees, and, increasingly, women, at the time of arrest and initial detention.

Italy has 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 needs to provide greater sustainability and force protection for its forces in out-of-area operations. Italy's naval strategists have further argued that, with the Cold War over, it is necessary to focus on naval projection in the Mediterranean. Since Italy's naval forces are becoming obsolete, a major modernization program is required. This program should 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 Defense white paper "Investing In Security - Transforming the Italian Military" notes : "Based on experience and considering the high volatility and unpredictability of future scenarios, there is a preliminary requirement to develop a military tool able to respond to a wide and diversified range of contingencies and, as such, balanced in its capabilities. A second consolidated requirement is to create a deployable 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. Whether we oppose a threat, prevent a crisis, enforce or maintain the peace, or lend relief to populations, operations will take place outside of the national territory, thus compelling military forces to be intrinsically expeditionary."

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