CONSIDERATIONS ON ITALIAN DEFENSIVE SYSTEMS
Irdisp - Which disarmament
(Irdisp - Which disarmament - Franco Angeli - Milan - October 1988)
The aim of this chapter is to give a rough outline of the evaluation of the military threats for Italy's security, and of the defensive measures adopted in order to face them. Some hypotheses of unilateral reduction of the Italian military means will follow. It is only after having estimated the dimensions of the threats, that the defense policy of a country should be laid down. The conclusion reached here has its own logic which only partly has to do with a "realistic" estimate of the threats. We believe that this must be taken into account, even more so if we consider the perspective of disarmament favourably.
In this chapter the military competition between NATO and Warsaw Pact is taken seriously: not unlike what the General Staff does, the political intentions of the potential enemy (which might not always be hostile) are left out of consideration, and the defensive capacity of Italy is simply considered, mainly in the context of a war between the two blocks.
It might be said that the East-West axis isn't the only one from which military attacks can come - for several years now, beside this, the concept of "threat from the South" has been the central argument of the discussion on the Italian defense policy. However, if one attempts to better define this threat from the South, one comes up with either the air and naval (Mediterranean) aspect of a NATO-Warsaw Pact conflict; or else with some non-aligned country, Mediterranean once again, which has conceived or can conceive reasons for hostility against us. In the latter case, it must be immediately said that the only reasonable way to consider a potential threat for Italian security is that of considering the hypothesis of a "normal" use of military force. Using military means for terrorism attacks or other incursions of various kinds is obviously an "abnormal" use: it points to a political problem much more than to a problem of defense organization. There is
little to be done, on a military level, against terrorist attacks. On the contrary, wanting to prepare to contrast with military means threats which are basically non-military, amounts to distorting the debate on the role of the armed forces. A mistake, this one, that we will attempt to avoid here.
In conclusion, in this paper it is assumed that the Italian military policy is centred around two possible threats: one coming from North-East, the other coming from the Mediterranean. To these two defensive missions for our armed forces should correspond: an
air-land one and an air-naval one (1).
2. The threat from North-East: the defense of the Gorizia threshold (2)
As in other European countries, the Italian press has accustomed us to believe that our defenses, in the event of an attack from the Warsaw Pact, would resist only a few hours. A few hours and then complete defeat. It is however enough to even superficially look at the forces deployed to find these catastrophic forecasts absolutely groundless. Apart from the problem of landing on our coasts (3), whence should an attack of the Warsaw Pact on the Italian borders come from?
It is commonly believed that it would come from Hungary. The main part of the Hungarian forces consists of 1 armoured division and 5 divisions of motorized infantry (4). As regards the operative readiness, the armoured division and two of the motorized division ones are considered first class, the three remaining third class (5). Hungary has a total of 1200 T-54/55 tanks, built in the fifties, and about one hundred more modern T-72s. The Hungarian Air Force has 120 old Mig-21, in addition to 10 Mig-23, all used as interceptors. There are a total of 15 fighter-bombers (Su-25) and 15 anti-tank helicopters (Mi-24) 30. In Hungary there are also 2 armoured divisions and 2 Soviet divisions of motorized infantry (all first class), as well as 240 Soviet made fighter aircraft (6).
If war lasted long enough to allow it, the Warsaw Pact could direct toward the Italian front 6 to 8 armoured divisions (second class), 1-2 artillery divisions, all Soviet, coming from the military district of Kiev (7) - in this district the Soviet Union also has approximately 90 fighter aircraft. It is however clear that deploying all these reserve forces would take a long time, and would also be very visible; so visible as to enable NATO to take suitable counter-measures. To reach our borders, in any case, these all but extraordinary forces of the Warsaw Pact would have to pass through Austria and/or Yugoslavia, where they would encounter fierce opposition in both cases (8). In the end only a fraction - which it is difficult to foresee precisely - of these forces would have to deal with the Italian armed forces. Which, on their part, have the important advantage of having a thorough knowledge of the area. An area which seems to be made on purpose to complicate the plans of any enemy. "The Gorizia threshold - quoting an Italian general - is the only real access route from the East to the Northern part of the Mediterranean basin and the Italian peninsula" (9). The Gorizia threshold more or less corresponds to the Italian-Yugoslavian border, whereas the Alps are a natural barrier against an invasion coming from the Austrian territory. The Alps, it must also be said, are the action area for the five alpine brigades of the Italian army.
Between Brescia, Padua and Bologna and up to the Eastern border there are 14 brigades (armoured, mechanized, and alpine), in addition to the missile brigade and the main part of the anti-aircraft units of the army. Immediately next to them, between Lombardia and Piemonte, there are other four brigades. This obviously represents the main part of our land forces: there are an additional 6 brigades (among which a paratrooper one) scattered in the rest of the peninsula.
Between 1975 and 1985 the Italian military effectives passed from 459,000 to 531,000 (10). Part of this increase, perhaps 50% of it, can be explained with the expansion of the para-military corpses (11). However the rest of the increase is due to the army, whose 24 brigades almost reach 100% of the appointed effectives (12). Moreover today, unlike 10 years ago, the field units are almost totally mechanized. An increased mobility has enabled to redeploy these units backwards. But also the lack of physical space - the Gorizia threshold is 50 kilometres wide - must have suggested to introduce some elements of flexibility in the NATO principle of forward defense. The programmes for the enlargement of the three armed forces - better known as "promotional laws" - began in 1975. Since then the Italian military expenditure have been growing with high interest rates considering the Alliance's average. This has had effects on the incidence on the Gross National Product, which has passed from 2,3% in 1976 to 2,7% of 1983 - a level which has then remained stable at least until the end of 1986. Most important of all, the share destined for the purchase of weapons tends to increase within the Defense budget (13).
The Italian army has 1110 guns, the highest number among the European NATO member states, following West Germany which has 1227. Among these there are 164 FH-70s, a last generation 155mm howitzer, and almost 300 self-propelled M-109/110 howitzers (others have been ordered). The number of tanks is also quite consistent: 920 'Leopard' 1 and 300 M-60Al, in addition to 500 M-47 (14). As far as troop transport is concerned, 2000 4x4 light 'Pumas' tanks have been ordered, and 600 armoured VCC-80. Thousands of billions have been invested for the purchase of different anti-tank weapons, all of recent make: 'Milan', 'Apilas' and 'Folgore', plus over 60 A-129 'Mangusta' anti-tank helicopters.
The Air Force, which already has 460 fighter aircraft is deploying consistent resources in the modernization of its means: 64 'Tornado' fighter-bombers are already operating (over 100 ordered units); the development of the AM-X, a tactical support fighter ordered in 240 units is already at an advanced stage. The Research and Development stage of the 'European Fighter Aircraft' (EFA) has begun, a multi-national union of which Italy is also a member, for the replacement of its interceptors; the programme for the acquisition of the 'Spada/Aspide' missiles is at an advanced stage, and the one for the 'Patriot' missiles is about to begin, both aimed at making the anti-aircraft defense of the Air Force's basis more effective.
Globally considered, the data which we have mentioned justify the belief that the chances for the Italian air and land forces successfully opposing an attack from the East are definitely high (15). Of course, it is a theoretical attack, whereas a war would call for a great number of variables of impossible evaluation. However, and fortunately, the method of theoretical confrontation is the same for everybody. Even for those who foresee a swift Soviet advance.
Finally, two considerations must not be left out. First of all, it is not very probable that the allies of the USSR would be willing to join a Soviet offensive campaign against the Atlantic Alliance - and the Hungarians are no exception. Secondly, and most importantly, it is absolutely not obvious that the divisions stationed in Hungary would be used in the very difficult mission of crossing Yugoslavia and invading Italy from North-East. Many analyses of the balance in power between NATO and Warsaw Pact (16) assume that those divisions would join the offensive on the central German front.
In the event of a generalized conflict in Europe, the scene would be very different from that of hoards invading the Po Valley: the Gorizia threshold would be simply ignored. In this case, what would the 24 brigades and 460 Italian fighters do? Would they look on while the Soviets attack the central front? The problem of the two buffer-states, Austria nd Yugoslavia, would pose itself again, but the roles would be different: it would be the Italians who would need to cross one or the other to join the rest of the NATO forces. The only difference being, that these countries, like Switzerland, might authorize this passage because they would have nothing to gain from a Soviet victory. But we should stop here, if we don't want to enter the realm of political science-fiction. It is worthwhile considering, however, that there are people who seriously consider the hypothesis of the Italian forces quickly moving toward Yugoslavia or Austria in the event of a conflict - of course without asking Belgrade or Vienna for an authorization. Quoting Carlo M. Santoro: "The defense of the 'Gorizia threshold' has a strategic and tactical sense only if it comes before the defensive lines in front of Lubljana or Karlovac in Yugoslavia, or the Innsbruck/Graz line in Austria. In the contrary event it is difficult to imagine that the wall of resistance offered by the sole armed forces of the two neutral countries could really counteract the advancing of the Soviet forces and the Warsaw Pact forces" (17).
Virginio Ilari, on his part: "On the Italian front, 'cross-border operations' envisaged by the Airland Battle (ALB) could even be carried out, the same way as an outlet East of the Julian Alps, or a connection with NATO's central front from Austria" (18). More cautiously, Maurizio Cremasco stated that "the connection between NATO's central front and Southern front is strategically narrower than it appears geographically, whereas the defense of Austria is a concern shared by the Italian and German armed forces" (19).
Probing deeper into the opinions expressed by these experts of conservative tendency, one might gather that the Italian capacity of defending the Gorizia threshold is more than adequate compared to the threat (20) - even more so because a specific threat directed against the area seems to be lacking. Otherwise, how could the insistence on hypothetical operations of the Italian armed forces beyond the borders, or on the connection with the central front be explained?
3. The threat from the South: the Mediterranean
Considering the forces regularly stationed there, the Mediterranean is not a region of fundamental importance for the two superpowers. The U.S. Navy, for example, appoints about 60% of its units to the Atlantic/Mediterranean area, and 40% to the Pacific/Indian Ocean (21). In the first, however, the following ratio is to be found: 28 nuclear ballistic missile-launching submarines (SSBN), 51 attack submarines (SSN/SS), 7 aircraft-carriers, 93 main surface units (cruisers, destroyers, frigates and corvettes (22) ), 24 amphibious ships for the Second Fleet (Atlantic); versus 0 SSBNs, 4 SSNs, 1 aircraft-carrier, 9 main surface units, 5 amphibious ships for the Sixth Fleet (Mediterranean). Therefore the Sixth Fleet - which has its headquarters in Gaeta - accounts for approximately 5% of the U.S. naval forces.
This is the average composition instead of the Soviet Fifth Naval Squadron of the Mediterranean: 0 SSBNs, 5 SSN/SSs, 7-8 main surface units, 0 light surface units (fast patrol boats, hydrofoils, patrol units, including the missilistic ones), 2 minesweepers, 0 amphibious vessels, 24 auxiliary vessels. To make a comparison, the Soviet Navy has 62 SSBNs, 360 SSN/SSs, 274 main surface units, 757 light surface units, 365 mine warfare units, 190 amphibious vessels and 382 auxiliary vessels (23).
If one wishes to concentrate, however, on the balance in power between NATO and Warsaw Pact, the first thing to do is to have a look at the geographical map. It is immediately evident that the navies of the Eastern block - the Soviet one, in addition to the Roumanian and Bulgarian ones - are all crammed in the Black Sea: to get out of the Mediterranean they must cross the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, straits which are under the complete control of a member of the Atlantic alliance, Turkey (25). The USSR obviously has other naval bases in addition to the one in the Black Sea. And some units of the Fifth Squadron - the submarines (26) - come from the North Sea: it is useless to recall that here again to reach the Mediterranean they must cross the Straits of Gibraltar which are under Western control. The consequences, in the event of a conflict, are easily foreseen: "It is to be expected that the Mediterranean will become a sea basically closed to the Soviet units, both because of the block of the Bosphorus, both for the extreme difficulty of an unobserved and unopposed passage of the Soviet submarines through the Straits of Gibraltar" (27).
Of course, the situation would be different if the Soviets had a permanent naval base in the Mediterranean. Having lost the base of Alexandria in the seventies, following the break with Egypt, the USSR has not managed to provide itself with another one. Nor does it appear probable that it may succeed in doing so in the near future, unless significant changes occur in the context of Mediterranean alliances.
At the beginning of the seventies, in any case, the Commander of the Sixth Fleet at the time, U.S. admiral Stansfield Turner, minimized "...the size of the Soviet naval threat, remarking that the fleets of the NATO countries operating in the Mediterranean...have a firing potential which is superior to the enemy one: the presence of the U.S. aircraft-carriers increases this difference even more" (28).
In the fifteen years following this opinion, many factors have contributed to underline Western superiority. First of all, all the navies of the NATO countries (29), starting from the Italian one (30), have benefited of consistent modernization programmes. Secondly, Spain, though remaining for the moment outside of any integrated military structure, has entered NATO (31). Thirdly, "since 1976 France has shifted to the Mediterranean (Toulon) about half of its fleet" (32); France is also not militarily integrated in the Alliance, yet takes part to the main exercises (33) and has not stopped sending signals of growing military cooperation in the Mediterranean with the Western allies (34). Fourthly, if a trend is to be seen in the Soviet military presence in the Mediterranean, this trend is a negative one: measured in yearly ship-days, it reached a peak of 20,600 in 1973, to drop to approximately 16,000 up to 1981 (35); since then, several other indicators have confirmed this same trend (36).
It is however true that in the same lapse of time the average size of the Sixth Fleet has also decreased, passing from two to one aircraft-carriers, and relative convoys. This reduction, however, while on a political level reflecting the substantial expulsion of the Soviets from the Middle East and the growing relative importance of other areas (Persian Gulf), is of scarce military importance: the U.S. navy has no problem in the Mediterranean, neither of access, nor of availability of bases. In other words, it is easy to increase one's presence where the circumstances call for it (37).
The lack of Soviet bases in the Mediterranean strongly limits the air threat against the force of the Atlantic alliance. In fact, "the airports of Jiyanklis, Cairo West, Beni Suef and Aswan, which in 1970 were under complete Soviet control and from which reconnaissance aircraft for the Mediterranean took off, are no longer available" (38). Of course there are still the long-range bombers (39) of the Soviet navy aviation, equipped with 'stand-off' missiles and with a considerable range of action. Theirs, in any case, is not an easy mission, considering both the outstanding capacities of surveillance, electronic warfare and 'early warning', both the significant air force superiority of NATO in this region.
As was the case with the Gorizia threshold, in the case of the Mediterranean it can be concluded that the balance in power between NATO and Warsaw Pact is such as to ensure our country with a more than satisfactory security from military threats. Excepting, of course, the usual consideration: true wars take a course which it is difficult to foresee, on the sole basis of the data contained in the yearly books, because incommensurable factors such as moral, political motivation, social cohesion of soldiers and civilians must be dealt with.
Considering this balance in power, the problem of guaranteeing for oneself the inflow of energy, raw materials and military supplies - in an East-West conflict lasting so long as to make all this necessary - seems adequate to NATO's capacities: the Soviets do not seem in the condition of engaging in a air, naval, land and even less submarine war in the Mediterranean, such as to strongly limit the movements of possible convoys of the Atlantic alliance. There is on the contrary the impression that, compared to the Atlantic, where a real battle would occur for the inflow of supplies from the United States to Europe, the Mediterranean would soon turn into a sort of Western lake.
What is the reason, then, for all this discussion on the "threat from the South" of the last decade?
Af far as the Soviets are concerned, the whole case seems to have been based on this: "The deployment in the Mediterranean of a Soviet naval force, its gradual strengthening both in quality and in quantity to reach the level of "threat", the adoption of the Tu-22M 'Backfire' bomber in the detachments of the naval air force have been the main factors for the change in the military pattern in the Southern flank of the NATO" (40).
This reasoning perfectly depicts the sort of psychological, rather than strategic, attitude behind the arms race. As we can see, all that which is asserted is that the enemy takes part in the race as well: it modernizes its own forces and, if it has the possibility, tries to increase them. A sufficiently accurate definition of what is to be considered "a significant level" of threat is lacking. Unless we consider significant all that which does not correspond to the "absence" of a threat. The author, seven years after the quotation above, writes that the Soviet Fifth fleet "is presently in the conditions to carry out an effective 'mission-denial mission' against NATO's naval forces, at any rate in the determinant initial stage of a military conflict; this, together with the threat represented by the 'Backfire' bombers, means that the Sixth Fleet, together with the allied air and naval forces, will first of all have to neutralize the air-naval Soviet threat and win the battle at sea. Only then could it envisage to assist land operations. In other words, the 'sea-control' mission has become a priority compared to the traditional 'power projection' mission (41).
It is clear then, that in such an evaluation little or no weight is given to the fact that since the beginning of the decade the situation for NATO has always grown better - an improvement which is mainly due to the fact that the Soviets have lost their naval and air bases in the Mediterranean and have gradually withdrawn their naval presence. The term of comparison is a sort of golden epoch - the fifties? - when the Soviet military power was presumably nil. It is evident that using such a measure it is impossible to find, in the field of the balance in military power, an acceptable level of security.
4. The cod-fish war
But NATO, it is often said, cannot cover all the fields of Italian policy - especially in the Mediterranean.
The first part of this statement is difficult to question, given that NATO is an alliance between sovereign states, that wish to maintain autonomy of movement. What might be questioned is if the Mediterranean must necessarily be the area in which Italy exercises its autonomy. It is true of course that in this sea we have immediate interests: the exploitation of the resources in the areas which belong to us; the flow of cargoes leaving from and arriving in our ports; the battle against pollution (of which our government takes little heed of). And so on. But apart from this, it is sufficient to think that a student, a businessman, or a government of any Mediterranean country have no reason - except for circumstantial convenience or opportunity - to privilege relations with Italy rather than with any other European country. With the exception of Libya, we do not even have a colonial past which might have led to the creation of privileged relationships with certain countries. These considerations are valid also if we focus on the security level. Here too, by literally translating geography into politics all we come up with is commonplaces such as "unsinkable aircraft-carrier" (42) and similar things (43). Whereas the problem of security policies remains the same: the problem is that of locating the threats which could 'realistically' concern us, and if, in relation to these, the military means deployed are adequate.
Basically, the affair of a "threat from the South" has been created in Italy - as well as that of a "growth" of Soviet military potential, which we have already analyzed - on the following hypothesis: "minor controversies" could arise in the Mediterranean, involving Italy and a non-aligned country, but not such as to involve NATO (44).
Minor as these controversies may be, in the meanwhile it is difficult to understand why the ties of the alliance should fail. The implicit assumption in this case is that NATO should only serve as a 'vis-à-vis' to the Warsaw Pact. But nowhere in the North Atlantic Treaty is a distinction made between minor and major controversies, nor is the bearer of the threat a priori identified (45).
Of course, it is impossible to exclude the rise of a 'casus belli' to which - after adequate consultation - it be decided not to reply as Atlantic Alliance. It may be presumed that this would be done in order not to raise the stakes, to cool the crisis down and to increase the chances that the latter quickly be solved.
In any case, it must be an all but lethal threat to justify such behaviour. A threat which does not involve additional military missions apart from those already collectively arranged. In the contrary case, NATO would be a strange alliance indeed, if its members adopted military planning without taking its existence into account. Now that we are into this topic, it is perhaps useful to try to see what the military power of our potential Mediterranean enemies would be (46). The list of candidates seems to amount to just two countries (47): Algeria and Libya.
Algeria has a consistent army, amounting to 150,000 men, 2 armoured brigades, 5 mechanized brigades, 9 motorized infantry brigades, with 910 tanks and 780 guns. The air force and the navy, which from our point of view are the most important thing, are equally well equipped. The former has about 346 Soviet made fighter aircraft (Mig-17, 21, 23, 25, Su-7 and 20). The latter is equipped with 3 frigates, 3 corvettes, 16 fast vedettes (all equipped with anti-ship missiles), in addition to two submarines. Both the navy and the air force seem to be lacking in personnel as compared to the means they have: 7000 men the former, 12,000 men the latter. Just to make a comparison, the Italian air force has 460 fighter aircraft and 73,000 men. The Algerian armed forces are of a good level considering North-African standards. However there is no evidence that they are an exception as compared to that same standard - that is, that they are capable of conducting prolonged actions and, above all, that they have a sufficient number of specialized technicians in order to fully exploit their means (48). On a political level, finally, the Algerian government has always proved sufficiently moderate and reasonable to exclude the possibility of their having any interest in engaging in, or fostering, an aggression on their own. And especially not in Italy, being there strong economic incentives (49) to keep the relations friendly.
The case of Libya is very different, especially from a political point of view. The government of this country does 'have' an aggressive behaviour: in its domestic affairs (the fierce execution of dissidents, both in and outside of Libya), in its own region (the war against Chad), and overseas (the consistent evidence that it supports different terrorist groups all over the world). As far as Italy is concerned, there is an alarming precedent: the launching of two missiles against the island of Lampedusa in April 1986. Fortunately, the two missiles landed in the sea, without even hitting land. But it is difficult to believe that this was the intention: if the missiles had landed in an inhabited area it is very likely that they would have caused several victims. On top of all this, the arsenal set up by the Libyan government is impressive: 2300 tanks, 1300 guns, 540 fighter aircraft, 6 submarines, 2 frigates, 4 corvettes, 24 missile-equipped patrol boats.
These elements however are not enough to give a correct evaluation of the Libyan threat. To start with, the ratio between means and men is even more disproportioned than for Algeria. Libya is a nation with 3 and a half million people, the armed forces amount to 76,500 men - 60,000 of which in the army, 10,000 in the air force and 6500 in the navy. A great part of the equipment, especially the more sophisticated one, is stacked away in depots, unused. The Soviet military counsellors are about 2000, in addition to several other technicians coming from East Germany, Syria, Pakistan and North Korea. These basic problems are echoed in practical problems in occasions in which Lybia is called to fight. During the U.S. raid over Tripoli on the 15th of April 1986, "the city lights remained on for 20 minutes after the beginning of the attack" and "no Libyan planes were seen taking off or chasing U.S. planes" (50). In the weeks before the attack, when tension was high in the Sirte Gulf, Libyan pilots never flew at night, or at the most circled around the take off bases in order to see the lights of the track. As to the seamen, "military analysts are incapable of giving a correct evaluation of Libyan potential, and confirmed the news according to which seamen in service tended to be sea sick" (51).
Not that the situation is any better as far as the land component is concerned: the war in Chad, for example, turned out to be a real disaster for Gheddafi's men. The fiercer fightings occurred between August and September 1987 for the control of the Aozou oasis, in the North of Chad. The troops of the latter country are a non-army, at the most armed with anti-tank missiles and Toyota jeeps. However it was with these means that the Chadian men overcame Libyan defenses, consisting in tanks and mined fields, and achieved control of the oasis (52). A couple of days after, at the beginning of September, they advanced 60 miles into the Libyan territory and destroyed the air base of Matan-as-Sarah, whence the Libyan bombs were fired on Aozou, it too strongly defended (53). In the end, Libyan counter-attacks managed to reconquer Aozou and "after having lost a tenth of its army, 1 billion dollars worth of material equipment, and the control of a large part of Northern Chad, Colonel Gheddafi accepted a cease fire, negotiated by the Organization for African Unity" (54).
It is no wonder, therefore, that "Israel, which is generally considered to be the country with the best intelligence services of the region, is very little concerned with Libya, because Libyans are not considered a threat. One officer said: 'are the Libyans a military power to be dealt with? No'" (55). In the months following this statement, the situation has become even worse for the government of Tripoli, at such a point that the "Reagan administration believes that the government of Colonel Moammar Gheddafi has been so much weakened by a series of defeats during the past year, 'that it is no longer in the condition to represent a serious threat for its neighbours in the Mediterranean region'" (our italics) (56). Granted, of course, that it ever has been.
A brief comment on the Libyan missile attack against Lampedusa. The act was unquestionably typical of the criminal craziness of the Libyan government. However, in order not to exaggerate the harm that that regime is in the condition of causing anyone, the exceptional character of the circumstances must be taken into account. The U.S. raid had just occurred, causing, according to Libyan sources, 37 casualties, (among which an adopted daughter of Colonel Gheddafi's) and 93 wounded, and from a Libyan point of view Lampedusa was involved in this, if it is true that "while nearing Tripoli, the F-111 (U.S. bombers used in the attack. editor's note) oriented themselves with the radio-beacon of a U.S. base located in the Italian island of Lampedusa" (57).
All the above considered, the pattern of the military balance in the Mediterranean does not seem to justify all this talking about a "threat from the South" which has been going on in Italy for the last decade. The Italian means - especially if considered, as it logical to do, in the context of NATO - are 'realistically' more than sufficient to face possible aggressive acts, even if senseless and unprovoked.
If there were, on the other hand, ambiguities concerning its status of victim of an attack, Italy would certainly have to deal with this without the help of its allies. But that is equivalent to saying that if we were to attack someone, then NATO would not defend us (58).
This hypothesis having been discarded as well, we are left with those ambiguous situations such as controversies over fishing or the exploitation of those Exclusive Economic Areas for which, being there no decisive agreements, a country would want to impose itself on others (59).
However, can Italian military policy - which costs every tax-payer over 20,000 billion each year - rely on these premises?
According to the Head of the Navy Staff Command, which absorbs a large share of those 20,000 billion, yes. In a recent speech, Admiral Piccioni, after delivering an extensive report on the Greek-Turkish controversy in the Aegeus, stated: "Confronted with such striking facts which, in Europe, must be added to the controversy between Ireland and Great Britain, better known as the codfish war, it is easy to understand why the use of fleets to protect the high seas, a role which is typical of the so-called period of peace, must presently be considered in the sole context of activities of a purely national nature" (60).
It is therefore at least partly to prepare for the codfish war that..."two open sea fighter groups are considered necessary, underwater forces, mines, counter-measure mines, anti-submarine air forces and a complementary set of auxiliary means to support the squadron...(as well as)...air forces for defensive and offensive air support (interceptor fighters and bombers in an anti-ship function with an adequate range of action)" (61).
It is painful to say so, but the above mentioned is not the only case in which the enunciation of strategic targets, or more simply of the 'desiderata' of the different forces, here in Italy, sounds grotesque.
Official documents similarly read that "to ensure the defense in the South and to the communication lines of national interest, the Italian air-naval forces must gain control of the sea". Alone, of course, as if the allies didn't exist, and not only a part, but the whole of the Mediterranean (62)!
What about the theses of the former Head of Air Force Staff Command Basilio Cottone, according to whom the next generation of Italian interceptors "...in order to be used in time, should not be stationed on land, but should permanently fly in the areas near the interception...(thanks to)...the purchase of tank-aircrafts which would refuel the planes in the air" (63)? Not even the 'Strategic Air Command' (SAC) of the U.S. air force could afford things like this.
Finally we must mention the expressions used by the most important in rank of the Italian military men, Head of the Defense Staff Command Riccardo Bisogniero. According to the general, "the geographic and political milieu which Italy belongs to, and inside of which it must function as a nation, consists of two confining areas: the European continent - not just Southern Europe - and the area of the Mediterranean which for our purposes 'includes the whole of the Middle East and North Africa, and stretches from the Arabian Gulf to the Straits of Gibraltar'" (our italics) (64). If it were simply a remark on how complex international relations are today, this sort of definition might be shared - but then why not say that the geographical and political milieu of Italy is the whole world? The problem is that it has consequences on the security policy: "The Italian armed forces must be capable today of maintaining security in the Mediterranean". Given the above definition of the Mediterranean, it is no wonder that "a wider vision of Italian security policy is only logical".
For anyone who should wonder which are the issues capable of "conditioning the future of Western policy on security" here is the answer: "First of all, the uncertain role of nuclear weapons; secondly, the growing influence of religious fundamentalism in the Moslem world".
Given the topic of this book, it is also interesting to know if the Head of the Defense Staff Command thinks that there could be "significant changes in the nature or size of the armed forces". Here again is the answer: "The only significant change which can be considered is the acquisition of additional forces". It's a pity that the resources are lacking, because 'each service has been frugal'; there has been no waste.
5. Some options
Although we know that the Head of the Defense Staff Command is not on our side, we believe that reductions of the Italian military potential - even unilateral - are possible. We will make a couple of examples, mainly to depict the feasibility and the theoretical possibility. We are however well aware that putting this into practice would call for the solution of a number of important problems.
The first possibility is purely related to figures: in Italy there is an excess of military personnel, both compared to the mission of defending the Gorizia threshold, both compared to other NATO countries (65). Many of them only do office work, as can be gathered by the fact that in the Latium region there were 64,000 military men in 1982, versus the 57,000 in Friuli and the 44,000 in Veneto (66). This can perhaps explain why "The size of the civilian defense personnel is largely inferior compared to other European countries: 57,000 in Italy, versus 142,000 in France, 189,000 in Germany and 199,000 in Great Britain" (67).
As far as the operative aspect of the problem is concerned, it should also be possible to reduce the number of the large units of the army, given the configuration of the threat on the North-East border. To continue with international comparisons, the 8 Italian divisions (the equivalent of 24 brigades) seem too many as compared to the 10 French ones and the 12 German ones: as explained in the second paragraph of this chapter, the Gorizia threshold can contain only a limited number of them. And in fact, 5 brigades are deployed in areas of the peninsula which are rather distant from that which is considered the scene of the most probable land operations (68).
It would be perhaps better to look at the problem without the taboo of the inviolability of the conscription army: 40 years of democracy should have sufficiently strengthened the republic; so much as to allow it to rely on professional armed forces (69). If this were the case, the hypothesis of an English-type army could be considered: a limited number (about ten) of brigades made up of well equipped professionals, plus cadre-units of territorial forces to "fill" with reservists only if the circumstances call for it. Such a solution would receive the consensus of large strata of the population (especially the youth) and of the army itself. It would also be well accepted by NATO, given that it certainly has no spirit of demobilization. Moreover it would not necessarily cost more, because it should be carried out at the same time as a consistent reduction of the large units and of those career cadres (officers and non-commissioned officers) who are presently employed in offices (70). It must not be forgotten, finally, that even today 50% of the Italian military effectives is made up of professionals.
Up to now we have spoken only about the army. However, reductions in the navy and air force are also perfectly conceivable. In this case, the question would be not so much to reduce the number of men, but to reduce the means. Some of the programs planned by these two armed forces are so foolish that they should immediately be canceled, and the sooner the better: the vertical take off aircraft and the construction of more aircraft carriers for the navy; the in-flight refueling aircraft, and those for the 'early warning' for the air force. Significant savings (that is reduction not of men or means, but of budget) could occur only if certain bad habits were given up, such as that of disarming warships after twenty years of service. The bodies of the ships - but the same thing can be said about tanks, and in a certain measure about planes - do not age: it is the combat systems which become obsolete. It is sufficient to periodically revise the latter to maintain the weapon systems reasonably effcient.
To reduce the Italian military apparatus (and the military expenditure), compatibly with our commitments inside NATO and without great strategic-doctrinal changes, is possible. It is significant that hypotheses of this kind are advocated by professional military men as well, though without overwhelming enthusiasm. Quoting General Jean: "For example, the army could resort more to mobilization and, light components would have more weight inside its structure as compared to the more sophisticated ones. In the field of air defense, certain components could be given up, such as, for example, the replacement of the 'Nikes'. It is most likely that the acquisition of a national capacity of 'early warning' could also be given up, as well as refueling in flight and improving transport capacities. The navy would no longer be able to conduct 'sea-control' actions and to support the Sixth Fleet in the Central-Eastern Mediterranean, and would limit itself to the Central-Western Mediterranean and to the coastal defense" (71). In this chapter we have discussed Italian defensive problems, considering only conventional capacities. But it cannot be ignored that hundreds of so-called tactical nuclear warheads are deployed in the peninsula - in addition to 112 cruise missiles stationed in Comiso, which should be dismantled in the next three years, following the U.S.- USSR agreement of 8 December 1987 on short and intermediate range missiles. The situation in 1983 was the following: 200 nuclear bombs fitted on U.S. aircraft; 50 bombs fitted on Italian planes; 50 warheads for the 'Lance' missiles for the Italian army; 70 warheads for the 'Nike Hercules' surface-air missiles for the Italian air force; 22 atomic mines owned for the U.S. army; 40 203 mm nuclear shells for the Italian army; 15 155 mm nuclear shells; 43 anti-submarine nuclear shells for aircraft (and probabaly also for helicopters) of the U.S. navy; 20 anti-submarine nuclear bombs for the aircraft of the Italian navy; 50 nuclear warheads for the anti-submarine missiles of the U.S. navy (72). This amounts to a total of 560 warheads (73).
The question of their withdrawal should be posed with insistence, regardless of possible U.S.- USSR agreements concerning nuclear field weapons following the double zero option. Especially considering the Italian defensive situation, such weapons are useless, given that there is no conventional hiatus to be "compensated" with nuclear weapons (74). Moreover, and it is not an irrelevant fact, tactical nuclear weapons are not even dear to the Italian army: "On the subject of the function of tactical nuclear weaponry - quoting Head of Defense Staff Command Riccardo Bisogniero - the field one, to be precise, I personally have some doubts: they should be used either in national areas or in territories of neutral countries. This makes them unreliable" (75).
In the intermediate-short range, finally, it is possible to envisage deep reorganizations of the Italian and allied military warmachine, according to the principles of "non-provocative defense" explained in this book in the paper by Albrecht von Mueller (76). In spite of the fact that it is less often mentioned and discussed, the principles of "non-provocative defense" can also be applied to naval warfare (77), a field of particular importance for a country like Italy.
As a matter of fact, the vulnerability to so-called intelligent weapons (especially missiles) is actually more remarkable in the case of large surface ships than in the typically terrestrial case of tanks. In theory, it would be perfectly sensible to establish the corvette as the maximum size for the surface units of the Italian navy, purchasing a reasonable number of fast patrol boats and hydrofoils equipped with the most up-to-date anti-ship missiles (78), instead of long range dislocation ships. Batteries of anti-ship missiles can even be stationed on land, on self-propelled platforms along the coast, with further, significant savings. And further: the anti-submarine warfare, which relies on its aircraft as its main 'non-submerged' instrument, can be conducted with planes and helicopters stationed mainly on land (79). Finally, the defensive mining of the maritime forced passages - there are some in the Mediterranean concerning Italian naval missions - could be reconsidered. All these measures are far less revolutionary than they may appear, if it is considered that they are advocated even for the U.S. navy (80).
It is perhaps useless to add, at this stage, that if it legitimate to think of unilateral reductions of the Italian military means, even more so should our country be in a privileged situation for possible negotiated reductions. In other words: if an agreement were to be envisaged between NATO and Warsaw Pact towards a mutual reduction of military means, Italy should have nothing whatsoever to object as regards its own security. In the same way, the conditions are there for the Italian government to focus its energies in that direction.
6. Some caution
Summarizing, if the Italian situation presents some peculiar aspects, this is due to the discrepancy in the country's policies, between the growing military means (and ambitions) and the stable or decreasing military threats to its security. If the analysis of the threats were in actual fact the measure to evaluate security policies, then Italy could immediately adopt many of the measures of unilateral disarmament dealt with in this volume. But such is not the case. After having considered in theory such measures, it is worth examining the other aspect of the problem, that is, the causes for the growth of the Italian military ambitions. This is precisely what we will attempt to do here, without claiming to be systematic.
First of all there is a fundamental reason related to Italian foreign policy. Since achieving unity, this country has made huge efforts to enter the club of important nations. Which ever way one chooses to judge this, this aim has been pursued by all governments. Now, one of the most immediate indicators of the international 'standing' of a nation is its armed forces. It is unfortunate that it is much easier to acquire prestige by purchasing a few more tanks rather than by increasing the prosperity of its citizens. But such is the truth. The longer the period since the end of the war (lost), the more the political leadership starts discovering once again the military dimension of the country's foreign image (81). It is perhaps not by chance that such a phenomenon is starting to affect Japan as well. Secondly, the political process of the Atlantic alliance - which is first of all a military alliance - is devised in such a way as to further increase the reward in foreign image established by military options. We will make a few examples, referring to the recent past: the commitment to increase the defense budgets of the member states by a yearly 3% in real terms, undertaken by NATO in 1978, which has often served the purpose of making a distinction between "responsible" allies and 'free-riders'; the decision to deploy euro-missiles, subscribed especially, if not solely, by the Italian government to gain credit, and not only in the context of NATO (82). I believe however that it would be a mistake to conclude that the Alliance is the cause of the increase in our military means. As we can see, the Italian defense cultivates ambitions, or fantasies, that go beyond the missions it would be reasonable to subscribe in the context of the work shared by the allies. At times NATO feels too tight for our high ranks. In other occasions, on the other hand, it can offer opportunities both to politicians and to the army, as explained above.
Thirdly, the leading Western country, the U.S., has constantly insisted - from 1981 on - on the importance of military power in international relations. The question of 're-balancing' the ratio of military power has been, in these years, a sort of obsession of the Reagan administration. It is no wonder that it has managed to gain consensus on this side of the ocean.
Fourthly, the internal political affairs of these last years must be considered, from 1981 to this day. The Ministry of Defense is the third most important governmental assignment, after Prime Minister and Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Having given the presidency to the lay parties, the Christian Democrats have constantly - in the last two legislatures - kept the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for themselves. When a Republican (Spadolini) was Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense was a Socialist (Lagorio), and vice versa (Craxi as Prime Minister and Spadolini as Minister of Defense). The result, at any rate, was that the Ministry of Defense was regularly headed by a representative, personally ambitious, of a political force equally eager to increase its influence. Both believed that they had a lot to gain from a stronger military presence. Is it any wonder that they have pursued this aim with all their possibilities?
A fifth consideration concerns the economic role of the military expenditure. It is a wide-spread prejudice that the investments in the military field should have priority on others, not so much on the basis of security considerations, but rather because it is believed that military production has a strong propulsive capacity from a technological point of view. This is not the appropriate moment to question something that is basically a prejudice. The fact is though, that its effects are clearly visible in the case of Italy, where there are really very few military reasons to justify the increase of the defense budget and the expansion of the military industry. A clear example in this sense is the already mentioned replacement of the M-47 tanks with new heavy tanks in the army brigades scattered in the peninsula. I personally cannot find any other explanation than the will to subsidize Fiat and Oto-Melara, the companies that produce the tank.
Finally, there is the mechanism of the great bureaucratic organizations in modern societies. Mechanism which concerns the armed forces as well (83). In other words, these organizations constantly struggle to maintain, and if possible increase: their autonomy, their missions and the financial resources granted them. In this context the reduction of the military threats to the country's security is experienced by the armed forces as a terrible increase of the threat: to their own survival as a great bureaucratic organization. This is why if the military threats are lacking, they are invented, even with the risk of creating a paradox: if it is not the Soviet fleet, it will be the codfish war. In many cases, it is purposeless to attempt to find strategic plans behind the choices of the armed forces. The navy, for example, wants its aircraft-carriers and amphibious vessels not so much because the admirals seriously think of landing anywhere, but because a fleet of patrol boats and missile-launching hydrofoils would reduce the allotted resources, the missions and the prestige.
All these facts can vary in meaning and scope in the course of time. But they will continue to act. It would be wise if any disarmament plan, be it unilateral or negotiated, took due heed of them.
1. In Ministry of Defense, 'Defense. White book for 1985', self published, Rome, November 1984, 5 interforce missions are pointed out: the first of defense in the North-East; the second concerning defense in the South and defense of communication lines; the third of air defense; the fourth of operative defense of the territory, the fifth of peace, security and civilian protection actions. Paolo Miggiano appropriately comments: "It is difficult to accept the reasons for these five missions when, from the whole context depicted (in the same White Book), only two threats clearly emerge". "Italian defense policy", in M.De Andreis and P.Miggiano (edited by), 'Italy and the arms race', Franco Angeli, 1987, p.154.
2. This paragraph is based on the handling of the same topic contained in M. De Andreis, "The nuclear debate in Italy", 'Survival', May/June 1986. The data on military forces have been updated in consideration of the most recent yearly of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), 'Military Balance 1987-1988', unless otherwise specified.
3. Problem which does not exist, because nobody has the capability and the intention of doing so. With these words, for example, former Head of Army Staff Command Umberto Cappuzzo, in a speech delivered on the 21st of May 1982 at the Centre for High Studies on Defense (CASD) defined as "inconceivable" the hypotheses of large-scale amphibious landings or paratrooper landings in the core of the peninsula.
4. This is how we translate the English term 'Motor Rifle'.
5. The 'Military Balance' makes a distinction between three categories of Warsaw PAct divisions, according to operational readiness. The first class divisions are completely equipped with men and means and are ready for combat within 24 hours. The second class divisions have all the necessary combat means, but only 50 to 70% of the personnel - the plans lays down that 100% be reached in three day's time, and be fully operational in one month's time. The third category divisions are the so called cadre ones: complete equipment but made up of older means, 20% of the personnel - the plan laid down that 100% be reached in eight to nine weeks.
6. In this case too, the main part consists in not very recent models such as Mig-21 and Su-17. Of a total of 240 aircraft, there are 90 fighter-bombers.
7. The lowest figures have been taken from the 1983-1984 edition of the 'Military Balance', the highest ones from the 1987-1988 edition. The level of operative readiness on the other hand, has been taken from D.C.Isby, 'Weapons and Tactics of the Soviet Army', Jane's Publishing Co., New York and London, 1981, p.27. The fact that in four years time the Soviet divisions in this military district doubled cannot but generate skepticism. The IISS's yearly, though having a good reputation, often revises its figures from one year to the other and without giving any explanation. When dealing with the Warsaw Pact, furthermore, such revisions almost invariably tend toward an upward trend.
8. On defensive organizations and security policies of these two countries cf. chapter IX of this book.
9. G. Donati, "The defence of North-East Italy", 'NATO's Sixteen Nations', May-June 1983.
10. Cf. 'Notizie NATO', February 1987, p.35. As far as the size of military personnel is concerned, in 1985 Italy was surpassed, within NATO, only by France (563,000), Turkey (814,000) and United States (2,3 million). The fact that Great Britain and, above all, West Germany, have less effectives cannot but strike us.
11. Carabinieri, State Police and Guardia di Finanza. However the first, apart from tasks of internal security, play a significant military role. They are equipped with armoured vehicles, a sizeable number of helicopters, and deploy a mechanized brigade and a paratrooper batalion.
12. Before the so called reorganization, started in 1975, the army deployed 36 brigades. This in theory, because many units were in similar, if not worse conditions than the third class Soviet divisions: in other words they were only cadre units.
13. For a more extensive handling of the economic issues connected to the Italian Defense, cf. M. De Andreis and Miggiano, 'op.cit.'.
14. The M-47 is a U.S. made tank, which was introduced in the fifties. The Western armies nowadays consider it barely more than a wreck, and Italy will be one of the last countries to get rid of them. In order to replace it (and plentifullt), the army has commissioned the Oto-Iveco complex to provide 300 units of a "second generation" tank (that is, more sophisticated compared to the 'Leopard') called C-l 'Ariete', and 450 units of a heavy tank (20 tons, 8x8, 105mm gun) called B-l 'Centauro'. The complex has already built the relative prototypes. To make a comparison, anyhow, it must be considered that the correspondant Eastern model of the M-47 - as far as technology and period of entering service is concerned - are precisely those T-54/55 which, apart from being almost all that the Hungarian army can deploy, account for about half of the Warsaw Pact tanks. On the 'Centauro' and on the 'Ariete' cf. E. Po, "Etruria 87: the army shows its new materials", 'Rivista Italiana Difesa', October 1987. Finally a not only numerical comparison between Eastern and Western tanks can be found in the Stokes Report, presented on the 2nd of November 1987, during the 33rd ordinary session, on behalf of the Commission on the defense and armament issues of the Assembly of the Western European Union (UEO) titled 'Evaluation de la menace'.
15. The same result is achieved by using the ADE (Armored Division Equivalent) as a measure unit, a concept developed at the Pentagon and also used by independant analysts. Paolo Farinella considers the Italian armed forces at 3 ADE, versus 3-4 ADE for the Soviet and Hungarian units which could attack Gorizia. This amounts to a balance in power "similar to that of the central front, that is, not particularly alarming. This conclusion - Farinella says - is supported by the evaluation of the geographic factor and the forces-space relationships". Cf. "Non-nuclear and non-offensive defense on the Italian North-East front", preprint of the Forum for Peace and Conflict problems in Florence. General of division of the army Carlo Jean is also moderately optimistic: "The scarce width of the North-Eastern scene, the very intensive urbanization of the Friuli-Veneto passage, stretching in an East-West direction for about 120 km., the mountainous configuration of the border positions, the existence of a fortified stretch on several echeloned lines for 60 km, and the presence of buffer-states between the Italian border and the Warsaw Pact forces, allow us to give a more positive judgement on the Italian contribution to the Alliance, more than would be possible considering just the percentage and finacial indicators". "The economic and budgetary constraints of the Italian Defense", report produced at the 'The Italian Defense model and NATO's Southern flank' workshop, organized by the CASD and the Institute for International Affairs (IAI) in collaboration with Canby Luttwak Associates, Rome 19/20 March 1987.
16. Among which the one by Jonathan Dean in this book. For his part Maurizio Cremasco wrote: "In fact an analysis of the Warsaw Pact practices from 1970 to 1976 could lead to the hypothesis of a Warsaw Pact military planning which excludes the invasion of Italy". "International situation in the Mediterranean area and problems concerning the Italian defense model", in Insitute for Studies and Research on Italian defense (edited by), 'The orientations of the Italian defense', self-published, Rome, 1982, p.113.
17. "Italy as an 'intermediate power'. Foreign policy and the defense model", in Caligaris and C.M. Santoro, 'Objective defense', Il Mulino, Bologna, 1986, pp.65-6.
18. "The new Italian defense model: problems concerning doctrines, options and tendencies", report presented at the 'The model of defense...' workshop, cit.
20. I do not think this conclusion would be explicitly shared by the above mentioned Italian scholars.
21. In this section too, the data were taken from the 'Military Balance 1987-1988', unless otherwise specified.
22. Only in the case of the U.S. navy, among the main surface units there are also battleships: those of the 'Iowa' class , one of which is normally appointed to the Atlantic/Mediterranean area.
23. The Soviet fleeet in the Black Sea includes 0 SSBNs, = SSNs, 32 conventionally propelled submarines, 72 main surface units (4 corvettes in the Caspian sea), 95 light surface units (5 in the Caspian sea), 28 amphibious vessels (3 in the Caspian sea), 77 auxiliary vessels (7 in the Caspian sea). According to the IISS's yearly, "the main mission of the fleet is probably that of supporting operations in Thrace together with the Mediterranean squadron; as a secondary role sea control off the Turkish coast".
24. Rumania has 1 fighter, 3 frigates, 3 corvettes and 6 missile-equipped patrol vessels; Bulgaria has 4 submarines, 3 frigates, 3 corvettes and 6 missile-equipped patrol vessels.
25. The passage through the Bosphorus is regulated by the 1936 Montreux convention. According to this convention passage is forbidden in the case of "capital ships", formerly battle-ships, the equivalent of which nowadays are aircraft-carriers. Moreover, the treaty restricts the transit of submarines to those units heading for ports for servicing - this way preventing the outlet to Soviet submarines.
26. For the reason mentioned in the previous note.
27. S. Silvestri, M. Cremasco, 'NATO's Southern flank', Feltrinelli, Milan, 1980, pp. 97-98.
28. IAI, 'Italy in international politics', year I: 1972-1973, Edizioni di Comunità, Milan, 1973, p. 209.
29. In addition to those mentioned in other parts of the text, the Greek and Turkish ones must not be forgotten. Considering only main units: the former has 10 submarines, 14 fighters and 7 frigates; the latter 17 submarines, 12 fighters, 4 frigates. Due heed must also be taken of the fact that many NATO navies are equipped with light fast units equipped with anti-ship missiles.
30. These are the main units of the Italian navy: 9 submarines, 4 cruisers, 4 fighters, 14 frigates, 11 corvettes.
31. The Spanish navy is all but negligible. To mention only main units, it has 8 submarines, 2 aircraft-carriers, 9 fighters, 12 frigates, 4 corvettes.
32. P. Miggiano, "Italian security policy", cit., p. 168. 2 SSNs, 9 conventionally propelled submarines, 2 aircraft-carriers, 14 main surface units, 5 mine-sweepers, 5 amphibious ships.
33. Normally Great Britain also takes part in naval operations in the Mediterranean.
34. "U.S. war ships and seamen, which had become rare in the last decades in French ports, have once again become regular visitors in Marseilles and in other French ports in the Mediterranean". J. Fitchett "Marseille Welcomes Closer U.S. Navy Ties", 'International Herald Tribune' (from now on referred to as 'IHT'), 25 November 1987. In December 1987, moreover, the French Ministry of Defense announced a cooperation agreement with Italy (to subsequently extend to Spain as well) to facilitate the exchange of information concerning air defense and radar alarm in the Mediterranean". F. Rampini, "Italian-French military agreement to patrol the Mediterranean", 'Il Sole-24 Ore', 10 December 1987. It seems that the French have also signed an "Agreement Memorandum with NATO commands for war-time cooperation". G. Piccioni (Head of the Italian Military Navy Staff Command), "The role of Italian European and allied naval forces in the Mediterranean", 'Informazioni Parlamentari Difesa' (from now on referred to as 'IPD'), n. 6-7-8, 1987.
35. Cf. R.G. Weinland, "Soviet Strategy and the Objectives of Their Naval Presence in the Mediterranean", in G. Luciani (edited by), 'The Mediterranean Region', Croom Helm, London Camberra, 1984, pp. 284-5.
36. One of these indicators is the average number of units (for war and auxiliary) composing the Fifth Squadron: 45 in '81, 38-39 in '86 - the first of the two figures is taken from R.G. Weinland, cit., p. 287. More recently, the transformation into a helicopter-carrier of what was meant to be the first Soviet aircraft-carrier"...together with a reduction of ship-building activity and of the Soviet naval operations around the world, have convinced most experts that the Kremlin has significantly reduced its plans for a 'blue water navy' capable of projecting Soviet power in the Third World". R.C. Toth, "Moscow Downgrades New Aircraft Carrier", 'IHT', 23 October 1987.
37. The last time this occurred was the bombing of Libya in April 1986, to which 2 naval group stationed on the aicraft-carriers took part.
38. Silvestri and Cremasco, 'op. cit., p. 107.
39. That is, 115 aircraft, among which perhaps 40 (2 regiments) of the more modern Tu-22M 'Backfire'. It must not be forgotten, at any rate, that a wider range of action only partly compensates for the loss of bases 'on' the area, because the farther the departure airport, the higher the probability of an immediate alarm for NATO.
40. Silvestri and Cremasco, 'op. cit.'p. 107.
41. M. Cremasco, "Italian military policies in the Mediterranean. A new course?", cit., cf. p. 117. The thesis according to which NATO does not already have sea control in the Mediterranean is very questionable; at any rate if by sea control the protection of maritime communications is meant, as it normally is. The typical threat for the latter are anti-ship submarines. Now, the main mission of the Soviet ones in the North Sea is to protect its SSBNs and not to attack the ships of the NATO navies. As a consequence, there are few anti-ship submarines entering the Mediterranean, the closing of which, moreover, is perfectly feasible for NATO. On the concept of 'sea-control' cf. J.J. Mearsheimer, "A Strategic Misstep - The Maritime Strategy and Deterrence in Europe", 'International Security', autumn 1986. As far as the 'power-projection' of the Sixth Fleet is concerned, it is worth noticing that the commander of the Marines, General Kelley, in an article "has gone so far as to suggest the possibility of the Marines landing on the Eastern Baltic or 'the coasts of the Black Sea'" (our italics). 'Ibidem', p. 24.
42. The English as well call their country 'The unsinkable Aircraft Carrier' - incidentally, the expression is also the title of a book by Duncan Campbell on the U.S. bases in Great Britain.
43. According to Maurizio Cremasco "the projection of the peninsula in the centre of the Mediterranean, the possibility of a complete control of the channel of Sicily, fundamental passage point and dividing point between the two basins, the privileged position of Sardinia in terms of air and naval coverage in the Western Mediterranean, the further 'operative' depth offered by the minor islands, Lampedusa and Pantelleria, are all strategically important elements which make Italy a 'necessarily' Mediterranean country". "Italian military policies...", cit. Equally evident considerations can be practically applied to any country of the world, as the following example shows: "Greece, the southernmost member of the European Community, consisting of a great number of islands and a portion of the Balcan peninsula, represents an important geographic and strategic link between Europe and the Middle East, one of the most important areas of the world...Greece has an important role to play in the security of the Balcans and of the Mediterranean. Its positions has made it the natural bridge between Europe, Asia and Africa, and its unique combination of mountainous and maritime geographic configuration has made it the centre for the control of the East Mediterranean". M. Sadlowski, "Publisher's Foreword" of "Defence and Economics in Greece", special 1987 issue of the 'NATO's Sixteen NAtions' review.
44. This thesis can be traced in the 'White Book' of Defense, cit., but illustrated perhaps more clearly both in L. Lagorio, 'Orientations of military politics', Minister of Defense, Rome, June-July 1980, both in G. Spadolini, "Orientations of military politics" (presented at the Chamber of Deputies in November 1983), 'IPD', n. 19-20 of 1983.
45. Atricle n.5 of the Treaty reads: "The parts agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or in Northern America will be considered a direct attack against all parts, and consequently they will agree that if this event should occur, each one of them...will assist the part or parts which have been attacked, immediately adopting, individually and with agreement of the other parts, the actions it will judge necessary, which will include the use of armed force to restore and maintain security in the North Atlantic region". Article n.6 specifies that the above applies not only to attacks to the territory of one of the parts, but also against "the forces, the ships, or the aircraft-carriers present, among other places, "in the Mediterranean sea".
46. In this section as well the data have been taken fron the 'Military Balance 1987-1988', unless otherwise specified.
47. Cum grano salis, of course. It seems legitimate, for example, to exclude the allies of NATO and those countries which are firmly pro-West, such as Morocco, Egypt and Israel. The last two are equipped with considerable military means. Particularly Israel, with the air raid on Tunis in September 1985, has proved that it is capable of hitting targets that are very distant from its terrritory. The thesis according to which Israel could represent a threat for Italian security is in any case very difficult to support. Tunisia, apart from any considerations on its choice in international politics is weak from a military point of view: the air force consists in a total of 12 fighter-bombers (F-5) and the navy of 5 fast missile-lauching patrol boats.
48. It is perhaps not by chance that in Algeria there are about 1000 Soviet military counsellors.
49. Above all the Italy-Algeria methane pipeline, which part of the Algerian exports of Algerian gas passes through.
50. E. Shumacher, "As Bombs Fell and Sky Blazed, Traffic Moved, Lights Were On", 'IHT', 16 April 1986.
51. R. Halloran, "Libya's Military Is Weak By Mideast Standards, Analysts, Officers Say", 'IHT', 27 March 1986.
52. Cf. J. Brooke, "Chad's Desert Weapon: Fast Pickup Truck", 'IHT', 15-16 August 1987.
53. Cf. S. Greenhouse, "Chad Says It Killed 1730 Libyans And Destroyed 22 Planes at Air Base", 'IHT', 9 September 1987.
54. J. Brooke, "Chad and Libya Calmly Rearm", 'IHT', 10-11 October 1987.
55. R. Halloran, "Libya's Military etc.", cit.
56. E. Sciolino, "U.S. No Longer Considers Libya a Threat", 'IHT', 11 January 1988.
57. "Reagan's Raiders", 'Newsweek', 28 April 1986. The article goes on: "Which can explain why Libyan patrol boats the day after were launching a useless attack against the island". It should be noticed that in this reconstruction and in all those published by the U.S. press in those days, it is referred to 'patrol boats' and not to the Soviet made 'Scud' missiles, mentioned by the Italian governement and press. Particularly the government has never had ascertained elements in order to support the thesis of the attack with the 'Scud', which was allegedly signalled, and in an informal way (Cf. V. Nigro, "The lesson of this war", 'La Repubblica', 25 April 1986), by the U.S. intelligence. However: a) it is questionable that the U.S. 'early warning' satelllites can capture the launching of a relatively small missile like the 'Scud' (the trace for the infra-red sensors is too weak); b) Libya is at the borders of the coverage area of those satellites (Cf. picture 21-l, "Approximate DSP Satellite Earth Coverage" in A.B. Carter, J.D. Steinbruner, C.A. Zracket (edited by), 'Managing Nuclear Operations', The Brookings Institution, Washington DC, 1987, p. 684); c) from a military point of view it can be presumed that the 'Scuds' are normally deployed near the borders with Egypt, from where they certainly cannot reach Lampedusa; d) if such is the case, then it is not possible for the batteries of those missiles, though they are mobile, to cover the one thousand kilometres dividing them from the border with Tunisia in a few hours, the only point of the coast from where, at maximum range, the 'Scuds' could in theory reach Lampedusa. The interests of our government in excluding Libyian use of naval missiles is evident: many of those missiles are Italian made 'Otomats'.
58. However "Italy rejects war as an instrument for threatening the freedom of other peoples and as a means for solving international controversies", art. 11 of the Constitution.
59. Even if some cargoes are escorted and it is attempted to de-mine the area, that of showing the flag is basically the mission carried out by the Italian ships - and by the ships of the other Western navies - in the Persian Gulf as from Septemner '87.
60. Ministry of Defense, 'Additional note to the state of prevision for Defense 1988', presented to Parliament by Minister of Defense Valerio Zanone on the 7th of October 1987, Rome, p.9.
62. 'Ibidem', p.8. It is true that further on (p.9) it is specified that "The international air and naval forces will operate normally in the broader context of allied operations"; immediately after however it is quickly attempted to establish a distance from NATO: "They will, however, be capable of carrying out even autonomously part of the necessary operations to seek and maintain control of the sea". At times it really seems that in Italy the worst enemies of the Atlantic Alliance are precisely in the Ministry of Defense.
63. IAI, 'Italy in international politics', year XXIV, 1985-1986, Franco Angeli, Milan, p.177.
64. "Italian defence - evolving to meet a rapidly changing world situation", 'NATO Review', October 1987, whence all the following quotations of General Bisogniero have been taken. We will quote, translating from English, because in the Italian edition of the same review, 'NATO news', many of the statements have been "subdued" or removed.
65. For figures on this topic, cf. note 10. The data provided by General Jean are different. According to him the Italian effectives in 1986 were "490,000 units (100,000 Carabinieri), compared to the 107,000 (16,000 Gendarmeries) in Belgium, 557,000 in France (85,000 Gendarmeries), 495,000 in Germany, 107,000 in the Netherlands and 331,000 in Great Britain". Cf. "The economic constraints...", cit.
66. Cf. IRDISP, 'What the Russians know already and the Italians must not know', self-published, Rome, 1983, enclosed map. In the book (p.15) it also says that "Still now over one third of the approximatively 316 thousand men of the army are used for office, presidiary and administrative activities of different kinds".
67. C. Jean, "The economic constraints...", cit.
68. These are the "Friuli" motorized brigade (Tuscany), the "Granatieri di Sardegna" mechanized brigade Latium), the Acqui motorized brigade (Abruzzi), the Pinerolo mechanized brigade (Apulia), the Aosta motorized brigade (Sicily). The prevailing trend is certainly not one of reduction: in the context of the reorganization of the army, started in 1986, these five brigades will all be equipped with the heavy C-l 'Ariete' tank (Cf. note 14), though it is not clear to defend themselves from whom - given the area in which they are located. Cf. on the topic P. Valpolini, "The new structure of the army", 'Panorama Difesa', January-February 1988.
69. It must also be said that, judging from what has happened in various parts of the world in the post-war period, it seems that conscription cannot do much to contrast a praetorian role for the military.
70. It might be argued that once military personnel has been eliminated, it would be necessary to replace it with other, civilian personnel - and this would cut down expenses only if the average salaries for civilians were inferior to those of the military, to perform the same tasks. However the solution is always in the operative part of the whole structure of Defense. By reducing that part there should also be a reduction of the administrative-bureaucratic part, no matter what its military/civilian composition.
71. C. Jean, "
72. Cf. W.M. Arkin and R. Fieldhouse, "The U.S. armed forces in Italy" in IRDISP, 'What the Russians know already and the Italians must not know', II edition, self-published, Rome, 1984.
73. The situation shouldn't have changed significantly since 1983. Perhaps the atomic mines have been withdrawn, following the decisions taken by the Group for nuclear planning of the NATO in October of that year at Montebello, Canada. The Italian option to purchase the 'Patriot' anti-missile planes, announced by Minister of Defense Valerio Zanone during a trip to Washington in November 1987, should lead to the withdrawal, in the next few years, of the 70 warheads for the 'Nike Hercules' missiles.
74. Similar considerations can be made for naval nuclear weapons: the threat of the Soviet submarines in the Mediterranen is sufficiently contained to justify their withdrawal.
75. "Evolution of the strategic pattern in Europe and the Mediterranean. Effects on Italy's security policies and on the national defensive instrument" 'IPD', n. 6-7-8, 1987.
76. A first application of these new defensive concepts to the North-East Italian area, based more on Horst Afheldt's model than on von Mueller's one, can be found in Paolo Farinella's paper mentioned in note 15.
77. For the first attempts made in this direction cf. B. Moller, "A Non-offensive Maritime Strategy for the Nordic Area", 'Working Paper', n. 3/1987 of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Research at the University of Copenhagen; A. Boserup "Two Papers on Maritime Defence", 'Ibidem', n. 1/1987; Commodor E. Schmaehling, "The Survivability of Static and Large Weapon Systems against Modern Stand-off Weapons" and "Thoughts on the Future of Surface Forces", papers presented at the 'Fifth Workshop of the Pugwash Study Group on Conventional Forces in Europe', Castiglioncello, Italy, 9-12 October 1986.
78. An immediate example are the 7 'Sparviero'type hydrofoils, equipped with 'Otomat' missiles in line with the Italian Military Navy. With the cost of a frigate 6 of them can be purchased, with the cost of a helicopter-carrier cruiser 11.
79. By "land", islands are also meant, of course. Anti-ship missiles and deployed anti-submarine means, for example, at Pantelleria and on the Sicilian coast, could practically close the channel of Sicily.
80. "While the financial limits have come in the way of naval rearmament in the (Reagan) administration, the reserve forces, the aircraft and the anti-submarine helicopters, the fixed sensors, and the defensive mines have received insufficient resources. From the point of view of a control of the escalation, this is a real pity". B.R. Posen, "U.S. maritime strategy: a dangerous game", 'Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists', september 1987.
81. The Ministry of Defense recently wrote, obviously referring to Italy: "The fifth free economy of the world cannot give up on having a defensive system adequate to the role that belongs to it in Western cooperation". V. Zanone, "Now Europe must learn to defend itself", 'Il Sole-24 ore', 9 December 1987.
82. This is how Italy entered the group of the seven most important industrialized countries. "Following the exclusion of Italy from the Guadalupa summit, improving the role of Italy within the Alliance becomes the first concern. It seems that Cossiga (who was Prime Minister in 1979. editor's note) had told his collaborators that if Italy had cooperated on euromissiles, he expected that there would be no more Guadalupa incidents. Out of coincidence or choice, the fact is that the 1980 economic summit was held in Venice". D.N. Schwartz, 'NATO's Nuclear Dilemmas', The Brookings Institution, Washington DC, 1983, p. 230.
83. The question is excellently handled by M.H. Halperin in "Why Bureaucrats Play Games", 'Foreign Policy', n.2, 1971.
39 Congresso (I sessione)
39° Congresso (prima sessione) del Partito Radicale Nonviolento Transnazionale e Transpartito. Le mozioni approvate
Sostegno all’appello del Presidente Chirac e del Presidente Diouf, Sauver Tombouctou pour sauver la paix / Saving Timbuktu to save the peace.
Senato del Partito Radicale
Roma, 8/9 febbraio 2014
- dall'intervento di Maurizio Turco, Tesoriere del Partito Radicale (pdf)
- Il dibattito dell'8 e 9 febbraio [primo giorno] [secondo giorno]
Roma, 14 dicembre 2013
Iscritti e contribuenti 2015
|Antonio C. Napoli||413 €|
|Elena M. Brescia||100 €|
|Ferdinando B. Bologna||100 €|
|Teresa R. Trani||145 €|
|Alberto Lorenzo R. Madrid||30 €|
|Alessandro M. Roma||200 €|
|Sabina G. Roma||200 €|
|Mario P. Perugia||250 €|
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|Amedeo F. Pieve Ligure||365 €|
|Total SUM||251.221 €|