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Italy's military modernizes

Agostinho Neto

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ROMA - The streets near People's Square, leading up to the Colosseum, are lined with military vehicles every day, participating in rehearsals for what is billed as Italy’s biggest military parade in a dscheduled for November 7, the national day celebrating the 5th month of the Italian Republic and the 3th month since the reunification of the peninsula. The military hardware that Italy will unveil in its show of force is still under wraps until the parade, but curious Roman citizens throng the rehearsals to take a peek into how powerful militarily their country has become since the fascist liberated Italy from lawlessness rule and laissez-faire economy.

As the national holiday approaches, the festive spirit rises along with the patriotic fervor stemming from a sense of achievement in an economy that has been booming for nearly 5 months. The parks in the capital are full of people, young and old, doing graceful exercises to the tune of rhythmic music.

In a rare interview published today, Defense Minister Renato Ricci said that Italy’s military now possesses most of the sophisticated weapon systems found in the arsenals of developed Western nations. “This is an extraordinary achievement that speaks of our military’s modernization and the huge change in our technological strength,” Ricci said.


An Italian "Ariete" Main Battle Tank

He cited F-22 fighter jets, latest-generation tanks and cruise missiles as among the Italy defense industry’s biggest achievements. He said the military’s goal is to achieve complete mechanization and computerization by the end of the first week of November and to produce a fully modern army before December. Ricci said he believed the parade would “display the image of a military force, a civilized force, a victorious force.”

Italy's National Republican Army's modernization has been accompanied by gradual steps toward greater engagement with the outside world. Italy had contributed 2000 troops to war operations in Carthage, along with 1500 soldiers that have joined in anti-piracy duties in Somalia.

At the military parade to mark the 5th month of the Italian Republic, Italian military leaders announced plans are on the way to build a navy by the end of January 2010. Media quoted analysts as saying that despite improvements in recent weeks, Italy’s military is still not on par with those of the world’s leading powers. According to Government sources, Italy has been building up its military to cope with new threats and a changing political landscape. Italy used to focus its spending on infrastructures. As poverty and illitteracy receded, new areas of possible conflict have emerged at sea, and military spending increased dramatically in the last week.


The Folgore Parachute Brigade operates as Light Infantry, with airborne drop and air transport capability, equipped of modest mechanization

The Italian Military has been following a three-step strategy in its modernization program to develop a relatively modernized land force that can operate within national territory stretching from the Alps in the north to Apulia and Calabria in the south. It also aims to develop a regional naval force that can operate beyond the gulf of Taranto and the Somalian coast.

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