Technological innovation, operational requirements, training areas but especially challenges and opportunities of the training of Italian Armed Forces, were the main subjects covered in the framework of the conference organized by IAI, on “The training of Italian Armed Forces: it’s time for decisions”. The conference – attended by the undersecretary for Defence Domenico Rossi and representatives of Italian Armed Forces and of the industry – was the occasion to present the IAI report on “The training of Italian Armed Forces: challenges and opportunities”, edited by Alessandro Marrone and Alessandro R. Ungaro, respectively Senior Fellow and Research Fellow in the Security and Defense Programme at IAI.
Starting with the main issues emerging from the report, the training of Italian Armed Forces was discussed under several perspectives, especially considering the declining trend of training’s expenditures. Despite being the “Cinderella” of the defense budget - and often ignored or overlooked by decision makers and public opinion - the training remains a fundamental aspect for the operational capabilities of the Armed Forces, in Italy and abroad.
Indeed, the Armed Forces are often called to face simultaneously a decrease of their international deployment and the persistent need to assure adequate standards of effectiveness, readiness, interoperability and efficiency. In addition, it is a military instrument that uses equipments and weapon systems that are often complex and technologically advanced, in the framework of “systems of systems” that are even more complex and sophisticated, in joint and combined operations with NATO and European allies.
Finally, challenges and opportunities for the training of Italian Armed Forces were discussed in light of technological progress, above all in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). In this area, the advantages of using “live”, “virtual” or “constructive” simulations are clear, thanks also to the improvements related to the technological development. However, it seems equally important that relying exclusively on simulated and/or virtual training is not possible neither effective. The trade-off between advantages and drawbacks of simulation, as compared with the “real” one, has to be assessed carefully in order to guarantee the maximum level of efficiency.
The conference and the related report, as well as other events organized by IAI, aimed at contributing to the debate on the process of reform and rationalization of Italian military instrument, which will reach a crucial stage with next White Paper on International Security and Defence. Finally, as it was highlighted in the conclusions of the conference, it is ever more necessary for Italy to spread a culture of security and defense, so as to increase the awareness in public opinion that even the training of the Armed Forces has positive implications for the operational capabilities of the military and, ultimately, for the Italian foreign and defense policy.