In recent years, we’ve witnessed a slow breakdown of Italian military institutions. It’s a crisis that affects the whole of Europe but in Italy, has consequences that reflect on the dignity of the army environment. The most worrying data related to the investment which, with Italian Defense Minister Elisabetta Trenta, has reached an all-time low. All these problems stir up troubles in the military circle: what’s being questioned is the identity of the soldier himself. The traditional view of the soldier trained to make war is disappearing: today, the Italian government prefers to see its military engaged primarily for the public asset.

Op-Ed: Where Does the Italian Army Go?
(Photo: Esercito Italiano/Difesa)

For example, Operation “Safe Street” (Strade Sicure), pictured above, engages the army in tasks such as maintaining public order by assisting law enforcement officers. Historically, this is an anomaly, because the army engagement for citizens’ safety is always the ultimate ratio. The time spent on the cities’ streets is taken away from drills and training camps. According to many military experts, this initiative weakens the army’s ability to operate.

A few months ago, Rome’s mayor, Virginia Raggi requested the use of the military’s engineers to repair the streets of the city: specialized military units to cover the asphalt holes! On 25 April—Italy’s Liberation Day, which commemorates the end of Nazi occupation in Italy during World War II—a representative of the Italian Partisans National Association (Associazione Nazionale Partigiani d’ Italia, or ANPI) publicly accused the army of killing innocent people in Afghanistan.

An army general, present for the day’s events, defended his honor and that of his men. The charges were intolerable: not only for the militaries but especially for the Italian authorities. What was the reply of the defense minister? Instead of defending this representative, she considered it more appropriate to initiate an investigation against him!