Posted by: Jason Tudor, PAO | 09/04/2009

Top Italian general speaks about Afghanistan, NATO, earthquake

By Jason Tudor
GCMC Public Affairs

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany — The military leader of Italy’s armed forces said a “comprehensive approach” to regional stability and military planning is both historical and prudent to a continued peace.

Italian Gen. Vicenzo Camporini, chief of the Italian defense general staff, gave a speech at the George C Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, April 8.  He spoke to about 100 students from various European and Eurasian nations attending the Program in Advanced Security Studies.

The Marshall Center is one of five regional centers for security studies belonging to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, based in Washington, D.C.

The general said he wanted students to understand his message about a “comprehensive approach” to stability and military planning, while understand that history is on their side.

“Some things have been true through history,” General Camporini said.  “So, don’t jump out and say ‘we’ve discovered a new world!’ The essence is that nothing has changed, but everything is changing.”

The general’s discussion highlighted works from Machiavelli, as well as touching on historical examples, like the creation of “war cabinets” by the United Kingdom during World Wars I and II. 

“How the old principals can be implemented today is important.  That is the essence of my message,” he added. 

General Camporini also talked about Italy’s bolstering of troops in Afghanistan.  Italy pledged to grow its force by better than 20 percent, growing the number of soldiers there from about 2,300 to about 2,800.

“We believe Afghanistan is the top priority for the western world,” General Camporini said.  “Afghanistan is the place where the threat to our societies has grown.  We cannot afford to have parts of the world where those who hate our way of life can nurture activities against us.”

Meanwhile, Afghanistan earned discussion and action during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 60th Anniversary summit at Strasbourg, France.  As the organization celebrated its sixth decade, General Camporini said NATO’s existence has never been more important and reminds others why.

“When I talk to young students who start complaining about things in their life, I have to remind them that we are living in a golden age in a small part of the world where everybody is free, everybody is fed, everybody has the right to be educated and life is easy,” he said.

“This has been possible,” he added, “because of the peace that has been kept in Europe and the Euro-Atlantic area by NATO.  I do not believe that this is something is just acquired and set for the rest of history.  You have to conquer it day by day.  That’s why we need NATO today and for the future.”

“We cannot afford a future without this kind of political-military alliance,” he said.

The general also addressed recovery efforts following the earthquake center at L’Aquila, Italy that killed as many as 270 people and registered 6.3 on the Richter scale.  He said Italy sent 3,000 soldiers and equipment to aid civil protection authorities with medevac and search-and-rescue efforts.

“I am very pleased with the reaction of our military to this effort,” he concluded.


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