Mar 272009
 

ITALIAN DEFENCE ATTACHÉITALIAN DEFENCE ATTACHÉ

MEHMOOD-UL-HASSAN KHAN

1. Would you please share with us your childhood and schooling?

I was born in a little city, Benevento, 100 km far Naples and situated in the south of Italy. There I spent my childhood’s summers in the grandparents’ farm, while I attended the school in Caserta, not far from the hometown.

Benevento is a historical town of the Sannites. It was renamed Beneventum by the Romans, when it became an important base for Roman expansion in southern Italy. Then it was the capital of an important Lombard duchy controlling most of southern Italy. Monuments from classical times include Trajan’s Arch, the ruin of a Roman theatre, and the Ponte Lebbroso, a bridge old more 2000 years. The frequently rebuilt cathedral (founded 7th century), with the magnificent bronze doors; the 12th century cloister of the Church of Santa Sofia (8th century); and the castle (1321) are notable medieval buildings.

While Caserta is famous for the Bourbon Royal Palace, designed by the Italian architect Luigi Vanvitelli and constructed in the 18th century. It was one of the last triumphs of the Italian Baroque. Anyway my high school was humanistic preparatory, then I continue my study at University of Bologna, the oldest University of Europe. It was founded in 11th century where I completed my graduation in Economics and Commerce.

2. Would you please tell us about your professional career?

I started my military career to the Italian Military Academy. I completed the specialist training at the Application School. I was Platoon Leader and Company Commander at a Mechanized Infantry Battalion, I commanded also the Platoon and the Company in the Military Academy and the Company in the School of Infantry. I completed Based and Advanced Army Staff College, prior to attending Joint General Staff College. I commanded the Battalion and the Regiment and I filled Staff assignment at the Italian Joint Operations Headquarters. I was the Military Assistant of the Deputy Commander of the “Salamandra” Division in Bosnia-Herzegovina (SFOR), where I was awarded the Spanish White Cross for Meritorious Service. I was also awarded the Italian, NATO and France medals for operation in former Yugoslavia.

I have been serving as Italian Defense Attaché in Pakistan since 1st October 2006. I have diversified and integrated educational qualifications and professional expertise. I have master a Master in Strategic Science from the University of Turin. Furthermore, I am a qualified Patrolling Specially-Trained officer as well as the parachuting military license.

3. Do you think that military cooperation between the two countries is at right track?

Yes, I think so, because we agree that working together and mutually supporting each other is the key to succeed in fostering stability and mutual cooperation. And both countries are working jointly to achieve this ultimate goal. As from January 2008, Officers of Pakistani Armed Forces started a six-month Italian course at the University of Modern Languages of Islamabad. It will enable them to take part in technical courses offered by the Italian Joint Staff Headquarters and held in the Italian Language.

4. In which areas do you think that military cooperation may enhance in the days to come?

Every area can be interesting and mutually beneficial We have different programs, training schemes, refreshing courses, technical assistance exchange programs in the maritime operation and mountain troops training, the PSO training, the control territorial and the operations systems of police and army and the last not the least, the strategic research. Furthermore, we could improve the exchange experience in Defence Production’s Sector too.

5. Would you please tell us the nature, scope and prospects of present different ongoing military cooperation and others projects between the two countries?

Working together and mutually supporting each other, is the key to succeed in fostering stability and mutual cooperation to enhancing bilateral defence cooperation between the two countries. Both the have agreed upon different projects and programs which would be useful to the both the countries in the days to come.

6. How you evaluate Pakistani armed forces?

They are excellent personnel. They are very professional officers and NCOs. They are very strong soldiers too. Indeed, they are ideal combination of braveness, command, submission, solidarity, honest, loyalty, commitment, hard work, struggle, passions, wisdom and above all humanity.

7. When do you celebrate your Army Force Day?

We celebrate our Army Force and Day of the National Unity on 4th of November. It has multi-dimensional importance too.

8. What is the significance of it?

The 4th November is a historical date/day for our country. With the end of First World War, some 89 years ago, we confronted with difficult times but we succeeded to maintain the unity, integrity and territorial sovereignty of Italy after a series of national campaigns. It was a hard path lasted 70 years since the First Independence War. By celebrating it we actually rejuvenate our commitments to be remained united, free and sovereign for ever.

It was a long journey and uphill task, in which dynasty to dynamic worked very hard for the unity and integrity of their beloved motherland, Italy. Everyone was driven by the desire to put under one flag the destiny of his country. Those were noble, great and immaculate people who offered scarifies and fought against all odds to unite the people and saved the glory of Italy. Those special people represented the very heart and soul of Italy and epitomize the nobility of service to country and of service above self.

9. Kindly share with us the different global missions of Italian armed forces?

The peace-keeping operations performed by Italian Armed Forces from the last decade of the 20th century have shown how a military organization can rapidly and effectively adapt to the new geo-political and geo-strategic scenarios and requirements challenging the international community. Italian soldiers, both men and women, conscripts and volunteers, officers, NCO and enlisted men, have been showing their professionalism, determination, parasitism, humanity and comprehension in several different environments not confined only to Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Central America. Anywhere and at anytime, even wearing a bullet-proof vest and a camouflage helmet they have shown generosity, adaptability, sincerity, dignity, unity and intelligence and use to try their levels best to establish friendly relations with native people belonging to different ethnic groups, cultures, faiths and ideologies.

The total commitment of the Italian Armed Forces to overseas operations amounts to approximately 8.500 soldiers, plus the logistic effort to sustain them. During last year, Italy’s effort reached a peak of 12.000 servicemen and women deployed in different operations. Italy is one of the main contributors to NATO-led operations and the second largest contributor for the EU led operations and one of the biggest contributors on a global, international level too. Today, ITALY has the leadership of operations in BOSNIA (both EUFOR and EUPM), EUBAM (in RAFAH) and MFO in Egypt.

Furthermore, our country has recently taken on a strong commitment and a leading role within the UN pacification process in the Middle East, endorsing the dispatch of about 2500 soldiers to Southern Lebanon.

10. What is the main motive of Italian Armed Forces?

Resolving international controversies/conflicts is first and foremost duty of the Italian armed forces. To protect the freedom of other nations against any aggression or invaders provided by the article II of our own constitution is also our national duty and international commitment. The new geo-strategic environment in Europe and the consequent NATO strategic concept have had profound consequences on Italian security policy. New tasks have been added to the traditional defence of the territory with the aim of preventing international risks, guaranteeing peace and stability.

The Italian Armed Forces’ Missions have been identified as follows, in order of strategic importance:

• Defence of the vital interests of the country against any possible aggression, not only in terms of Homeland Defence, but also wherever they may be compromised
• Safeguard of the Euro-Atlantic area security, through contribution to NATO collective defence
• Management of international crisis, by participation in “crisis response operations” (CRO’s)
• Support to the Civilian Authorities when requested by situations, such as natural disasters, and calamities

In particular, I would like to stress that:

The main goal of our Armed Forces is to develop, alongside with those of the leading western countries, a competitive, modern military organization, capable to cope with current and future threats and risks. It should be enabled to fulfill the full spectrum of assigned missions. We have already started wide ranging reforms that is involving the whole defence sector. This activity has been carried out, taking into account and implementing the decisions taken within NATO, EU and UN, the international organizations that we consider the pillars of our Defence and Security policy. We confront all kinds of nature crises, and threats, together with the need for a collective multinational response, demand that future military actions will be taken under the aegis of the international community; to fulfill this requirement, UN, EU and NATO will have to evolve and develop better capabilities to ensure peace and stability in a changing world; particular situations and specific national caveats and peculiarities, however, could sometime result in the impossibility to proceed with a global effort and a perfect burden-sharing. Italy, therefore, recognize that in those situation a specific “Ad hoc coalition” the so-called “Coalitions of the Willing” could be the best way to cope with a crisis.

11. What are the details of humanitarian operations of your country in Pakistan?

Following a catastrophic earthquake on 8th October 2005, two Italian Air Force C-130-Js was deployed on Operation “Indus” and an Engineer Task Force (battalion Level). Task Force “Elefante” (Elephant) was a self contained special-role unit of 250 personnel and 140 pieces of specialist engineering plant, reinforced by Signals and Logistic Support units. It deployed to Bagh, a city lies about 100 Km north-east from Islamabad. It was assigned reconstruction and humanitarian assistance tasks coordinated by the Pakistani authorities, the local NATO and UN authorities.

Italian soldiers were tasked with providing relief and assistance to the suffering population and to improve the living conditions in the affected areas concerned, particularly they made a contribution:

• Easy and smooth supply of humanitarian assistance
• Reopen streets and roads of affected areas and villages
• Move out the debris
• Restore the water system
• Set up camps for homeless

12. What is special about “The New Soldier” program?

The program is integral part of the digitalization of the room to maneuver and is intended to maximize man’s synergy with his hi-tech, knowledge-intensive equipment. The system can be used in a variety of operational scenarios, using modular equipment capable of exalting the capacity for personal protection and integration into the global system of command, control, communications, consulting and intelligence, offensive power, mobility and logistical autonomy.

• Six national companies have set up a consortium, represented by SELEX Communications, a FINMECCANICA Group Company, to take part in the system’s R&D.
• The principles driving the transformation process are expressed in the CHOD’s Strategic Concept. The Transformation’s aim is “to enhance the global quality level of the Armed Forces in order to increase their effectiveness, their operational capabilities and their usability, making the best use of available resources”.

The three main areas that have been identified to focus upon:

• Quality: particularly taking into consideration new technologies and C4I capabilities
• Quantity: forces implementation will have to be balanced with available resources (joint as a mandatory concept)
• Capability: new capabilities must be achieved, while maintaining current high standards in niche capabilities

In the flow of transformation, some important reforms have been already carried through in the last years, such as:

• The Reform of the Military High Level Command structure
• The Reform of the C2 and Intelligence Command structures
• The Reform on entirely professional Armed Forces
• The Reform of the Carabinieri, with their new status of Service

In particular, a significant step has been the approval of the professional model which envisages a total strength of 190.000 soldiers (excluding Carabinieri).

Other supporting measures and programmes include:

• Renewing infrastructure to give adequate accommodation to our volunteers, men and women; reorganizing the training component; outsourcing of logistical services (catering, cleaning services, transportation, etc.), whenever possible.

• According to the decisions of Political and Military Authorities, Italian Armed Forces are coping with a transformation process which is going on while we are strongly committed overseas.

In other words we are “transforming while operating”.

The process envisages a military component deeply joint / expeditionary oriented and capable to:

• Operate achieving “decision superiority” and “coherent effects”
• Ensure interoperability to the maximum extent; ensure joint support to assets for long periods (“Joint Deployment and Sustainment”)

The Italian Armed Forces’ Transformation is developing coherently with similar NATO and EU ongoing processes.

The concepts characterizing the transformation of our Armed Forces are:

• Integration of our Armed Forces, both in Joint and Combined environments
• Development of net-centric capabilities and concepts
• Implementation of the “Effect Based Operations” concept
• Coherence of such a transformation with that currently ongoing within NATO and EU

To sum up, we can affirm that our Armed Forces are deeply involved in a process of transformation, which is certainly ambitious but vital for their future role. The key point is to keep national transformation coherent with the concurrent transformational process occurring within NATO and EU, as well as with that going on in the leading western countries. It is also very important that transformation is carried out while continuing to sustain the operational commitments which Italy has agreed to contribute to.

13. What are the geo-strategic threats to Italy?

As you are already known, today’s international security scenario is characterized by a number of instability and conflict actors.

New asymmetric threats, unpredictable and widespread, linked with ethnic, social, economic and religious tensions; an increased occurrence of high intensity crisis, often in distant theatres, having great impact on global stability and international relations; a growing concern for the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), nuclear proliferation and the delivery means; the need for a multinational and integrated approach, involving political, diplomatic, military and economic actions to the crises response; a changed way to intend security on a global scale.

14. 15. What are the trans-Atlantic security challenge of your country and EU?

NATO, together with EU-27 is a pillar in our international relations and a primary mean to ensure Italy and Europe a collective security and defence system. Its relevance and effectiveness are therefore essential priorities for Italy. European Union, also, plays a crucial complementary role to NATO in bringing security and stability, mainly through political, social, cultural and economic processes. In comparison with NATO, the EU security dimension is relatively new. Its progressive enlargement, however, will support the development of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CFSP) agreed in Maastricht in 1992 and Amsterdam in 1997.

Our two key strategic objectives in this area are:

• Improve European military capabilities
• Ensure that NATO and the defence dimension of the EU are mutually reinforcing

The EU has been increasing its role in crisis situations:
• By taking over the leadership of Operation “Althea” in Bosnia and of the “European Union Police Advisory Team “ (EUPAT) in FYROM
• By increasing operational capabilities, like the EU Battle Groups, and by moving step forwards in the field of Strategic Lifts, as well as in the integration of Military Police units, with the constitution of the European Gendarmerie (FR, NL, PO, SP and IT) in Vicenza. Equally important is the activation, in Bruxelles, of the Civilian-Military Cell and Operational Centre;Finally, by defining a new “Helsinki Headline Goal” for the year 2010.

The strategic partnership between NATO and EU requires a coherent development of the military capabilities of both the Organisations. About sixteen years after its constitution, NATO today is not only a bulwark of democratic principles, freedom and legality, but must also meet the challenges of the new century, which entails a revision of its role and responsibilities, in order to achieve three fundamental objectives i.e. new capabilities, new member countries, new relations and overtures to the East.

The constant balancing process between the European and the North Atlantic interests and, more in general, the interests of all member countries, makes NATO an organization able to evolve and adjust to the emerging or potential strategic changes/problems/issues/threats. The adversaries of the Cold War period are now partners in the NATO-Russia Council (NCR) for the struggle against terrorism, confirming the validity of the agreements reached in Rome in 2002.

The new threats have shattered the old concept of security. Unlike the Cold War, the defense against the terrorist organization takes a wider dimension that implies the inadequacy of the “In and Out” of Area border line. The global dimension of the accomplishments of the organization, which, through the “Mediterranean Dialogue” are now extending from the North African Countries as far as Pakistan, with the employment of the NRF in humanitarian mission that assist the populations affect by the earthquake.

NATO’s success is the sum of the will and capability of each country to make the necessary changes and allocate adequate resources in order to give effectiveness to the current process of transformation. It is essential not only to avoid duplications, but also to avoid the arising of conceptual or doctrinal divergences that could slow down the process of interoperability of the members’ armed forces. The cooperation between the two organisations must be seen as an activity aiming at exploiting opportunities and achieving synergies whenever this will be USA is trying to deploy parts of an anti-ballistic-missile system on the soil of two NATO allies i.e. Poland and Czech Republic.

15. What are the main chrematistics of European Union common defence policy?

Full support for the European concept is the trademark of European Union common defence policy. It also remains a vital element in Italy’s security policy. We are fully aware that a greater integration of the European States would increase their overall political weights as well as reinforce defence capability.

ITALIAN DEFENCE ATTACHÉ

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