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Core principles and concepts of the new Italian Defence and International Security policy

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Core principles and concepts of the new Italian Defence and International Security policy

Core principles and concepts of the new Italian Defence and International Security policy

Xavier Servitja Roca Europe, National security strategies 09/08/2018 Comments

On July 26, 2018, in Rome, the Italian Minister of Defence, Elisabetta Trenta, released the new Defence and International Security Policy of the Government of the Republic of Italy for the next 5 years that will be at the core of the National Collective Security Strategy. This new Strategy is expected to be launched shortly and will replace the White Paper for International Security and Defence that was passed by the Supreme Defence Council in July 2015, which sets out guiding principles and criteria of the Italian strategy up to now.

Thus, and before Italian Defence Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Minister explained the four basic principles of action of the Italian Armed Forces: 1. The defence of the State; 2. The defence of the Euro-Atlantic area and the Mediterranean; 3. The commitment to promote, mantain or restore International Peace and Security; and 4. The support of the Armed Forces to other administrations.

Within these four points, it should be underlined the introduction of the National Resilience concept for the Italian Defence policy, as the ability to adapt, resist and confront changing and complex situations that they are not expected or unlikely to be anticipated (black or grey swans). These situations could have a huge impact in terms of instability and domestic security, for instance, in the face of hybrid threats, cyber attacks, natural disasters, or emergency and crisis situations. Regarding these latter situations, the new Defence policy also highlights the introduction and implementation of the Dual Use concept as the capacity to use the Italian Armed Forces not only in its military dimension, but also as a tool and a resource to support the National Resilience concept integrated within a broader framework of the Italian national security system.

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In doing so, I point out that these two concepts within the new Italian Defence policy lead us to a dual interpretation of the Collective Security concept inside the national security strategy: firstly, as a commitment to the security of alliance systems and international organizations to which Italy belongs as a member State, and secondly, as an integration of the Defence policy and its Dual Use within the Italian national security system as a public good at the service of and for all.

Concerning the first interpretation, it reasserts Italy’s commitment to the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) of the European Union (EU), being one of foremost states to push for setting up the PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation) on November 13, 2017. Despite of this, Italy makes a request for a non duplication of role and purpose in relation to NATO, the so-called “No Duplication, No Competition”. In this way, the Minister of Defence also ratifies the role of Italy as one of leading member states within the Atlantic Alliance, and the Italian government’s commitment towards NATO aims in order to guarantee and provide the security in the Euro-Atlantic region and to implement its three main tasks: collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security. Thus, she asserts that Italy needs to increase its deterrence capabilities and to spend 2% of GDP on Defence just as U.S. Administration claims.

Besides, Minister Elisabetta Trenta point out the southern flank and the Mediterranean Sea as Italian main priority areas in terms of defence and international security due to the increasing regional instability, current humanitarian crises and various transnational threats such as insurgencies and jihadi terrorism, organized crime and illicit trafficking with strong presence in North Africa and the Middle East. In this regard, Italy assumes and ratifies its commitment to all international missions and operations in several theaters of operations in which it has got involved, whether under the banner of the United Nations, the NATO, the EU or through bilateral agreements with other states. Even though the Minister also assures that international missions and operations will be reviewed and assessed with the aim to relocate more capabilities and resources to designated areas of national interest according to the next Italian national security and defence strategy.

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Hence, this could prompt a policy of redeployment and reduction of troops in Afghanistan to be allocated to other theaters of operations located on the southern flank in order to strenghten capabilities and resources of missions and operations in the Mediterranean Sea and Noth Africa. At present, Italy has deployed more than 6,000 troops in 31 international missions and operations in Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean region, the Middle East and Asia (the table above shows 32 operations, because it still counts the MIADIT 8 mission in Palestine completed on May 9, 2018), of which ten are carried out on the initiative of the European Union, nine and four under the banner of NATO and the United Nations, respectively, and eight more are executed through multinational forces or bilateral agreements with other states.

Another relevant issue of Minister Trenta’s speech is the government’s commitment to strengthen and enhance cyber security capabilities of the Italian Armed Forces. To this aim, the Ministry of Defence recently established a new Joint Command for Cybernetic Operations. In addition, it launches an initiative to improve the cooperation with other administrations, the private sector, and the Defence industry in order to guarantee the collective security in the cyberspace. Besides, it promotes an increasing interaction between cyber defence, critical infrastructure and energy security, the latter, one of the main priorities at the core of the Italian new Defence policy. Thus, this policy must ensure the supply and distribution of energy and it entails the securitization of the command, control and managment of systems, a field in which the role of cyber security is rising within the so-called “energy security-cyber security” pairing model.

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Regarding this model, it is worth mentioning that the new Italian strategy drives an initiative to set up a regular cooperation between the Ministry of Defence, the Defence industry, the ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) sector, and Universities’ research programmes focus on strategic and technological innovations in Artificial Intelligence, satellite system technology, cyber security, big data and data cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain. For this purpose, the Ministry of Defence is going to establish an Operational Center with three main tasks: 1. Creation, support and supervision of a new Centre of Knowledge and High Specialization on these fields; 2. Support the integration of the private sector and universities in the “value chain” of the Defence industry; and 3. Support the international presence of the Italian Defence industry.

In short and bearing in mind the fact that big changes are not expected in the next National Collective Security Strategy regarding its support and engagement towards the achievement of the aims of alliance systems and international organizations to which Italy belongs (including the new PESCO), it should be pointed out that new trends will be added to the International Security and Defence policy with the introduction of concepts like National Resilience and the Dual Use of the Italian Armed Forces. Besides, a special attention will be paid to the southern flank in its international missions and operations causing redeployments of Italian troops from Asia to North Africa and the Mediterranean area. In addition, the Minister Trenta introduces new initiatives to develop and strengthen cyber security capabilities, specially in relation to energy security, and to promote the cooperation between the Ministry of Defence, the defence industry, the private sector and universities in order to face new challenges in security and defence fields, with a special focus on disruptive technologies.

Xavier Servitja Roca


Photo 1: The Italian Minister of Defence, Elisabetta Trenta, attends the launching ceremony of the “Vulcano” ship, Marina Militare logistic support unit, in the Muggiano shipyard (Italy), 22/06/2018 (Source: Ministerio Difesa).

Photo 2: Italian unit deployed in Latvia within the NATO multinational battle group as part of the mission “Enhanced Forward Presence” (eFP), 18/04/2018 (Source: Ministerio Difesa).

Photo 3: Table with deployments of the Italian Armed Forces in international missions and operations (Source: Ministerio Difesa).

Photo 4: Command and Control room during the military drills Joint Starts 2018, 19/06/2018 (Source: Statto Maggiore Difesa).