Monday, June 25, 2018

Where are the Legions Headed?

Italy has been a valued partner in military missions abroad. Will that change with a new populist government?

Will Italy cut defense spending and the overseas record they've compiled in the post-Cold War world?

Italy has more troops on foreign deployment than any other European country except the UK. Indeed, from having been solely focused on territorial defence during the Cold War, the Italian armed forces have undergone a remarkable transformation and now make a crucial contribution to regional security. Sure, the US has more than 60,000 troops permanently based in Europe – but among European NATO member states, Italy’s contribution looms large. According to statistics from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank, Italy currently has 5,000 troops on foreign deployment – far more than Germany (around 3,800) or Spain (around 1,700). Some 600 Italian soldiers are serving as part of the NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, along with some 900 with Resolute Support Afghanistan. Nearly 300 Italian sailors (along with two ships and two aircraft) are part of NATO’s Sea Guardian mission in the Mediterranean; another 500 or so are deployed in Niger. Until May, the Italian Air Force helped protect the Baltic states’ air space as part of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing. Italy has even dispatched 162 soldiers, along with 50 vehicles, to Latvia as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence mission, aimed at deterring Russian aggression in the Baltics.

They haven't committed to fighting missions, it is true. But their participation has been valuable.

Or is the worry based on the vague sense of doom that any non-centrist party (of the left or right variety) inspires in the status quo proponents?

Also, it is funny that in Europe a populist government is seen as likely to cut defense spending; while here the defense budget is considered important to prioritize American interests.