Thank you for your invitation.
It is an honour to speak in this academy whose level of excellence is well known to all Italians. I saw the MSU’s of the Carabinieri Corps on the job in Bosnia and in Kosovo and admired the efficiency and the commitment of all their members. I was also very favourably surprised by the quality of their commanders - among others I recall General Leso and Colonel Coppola - and by the respect and prestige the local population and those responsible for the different international organizations working there acknowledged them. Between 1997 and 2001 I was Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman in Bosnia, in Croatia and in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in charge of carrying out armament control measures - that is the destruction of thousands of heavy weapons, 7.000 to be precise - and, in particular, of Safety and Confidence Measures in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The latter consist in a range of activities, from preventing surprise attacks to budget controls, to the development of a common military doctrine and structures of forces in agreement with the various political and military components (two in theory but three in practice) existing in Bosnia. Almost once a week I had to contact those responsible for the international intervention in Bosnia and local politicians.
I can assure you that the initial curiosity for the first MSU deployed on the terrain soon turned into deep admiration of the Carabinieri. They succeeded in maintaining the prestige of the Cartabinieri Corps and of Italy high. I believe that every Italian should be grateful to those who worked in the Balkans, or elsewhere for that matter. The greatest difficulties encountered in all international interventions during the aftermath of war are not only the result of the flexibility of the situation, the lack of language fluency, the local culture and mentality, the control of the economy - always “black” or “gray” - by the chiefs of the factions fought during the civil war (whether a war of secession or an ethnic-identity war) - but also of the plurality of the international organizations, each with its own modus operandi and tradition, as well as an autonomy of which it is jealous. It considers itself somewhat the centre of the system and tends to neglect the whole. In this respect we experience the so-called “co-ordination paradox”, which consists in the fact that everybody understands the need for it and asks for it (especially when someone “treads on their feet”), but at the same time nobody wants to be co-ordinated by others.
Only a true knowledge of the general context and of what the others can do and actually do can lead to operate organically in the chaotic situations of the aftermath - whether defined as peace-building, Nation building or State Institutions building (they are substantially the same thing) - when the military victory must be turned into a political victory and security, stability and reconstruction must be guaranteed to the populations and territories where the intervention takes place. As recalled above, the greatest problem to be faced in these “war after war” operations is the fact that they are strongly affected by the alliance of the “War Lords”, territory and “black” or “gray” economy, as well as by the fact that international community aids often delay the normalization job The citizens survive and do not turn against their political leaders who continue to rival for personal power and wealth. A particular and rather new type of international mandate was established in Bosnia and in Kosovo whose efficacy is still to be proven and where the disputes over ownership and conditionality are still at issue.
As far as the MSUs and their employment doctrine are concerned, they should be situated within a global intervention doctrine defined by those responsible. I thus tend to agree more with General Cabigiosu than with General Esposito. Were it developed autonomously, even on the basis of the brilliant experiences and successes achieved in the past, it would still seem selfreferential. Tactical and technical norms and employment procedures have specificity, but not what is generally called “doctrine”. I believe this is an essential point as the MSUs, for their very nature and the training and equipment of the Carabinieri Corps, occupy a “gray zone” that takes part both in true and proper military interventions and in the upkeep of public order and security. In the following stabilization stages when power is in the hands of international civil authorities at first and then passes onto the local authorities with a gradual accentuation of ownership as compared to conditionality, of democratic policing (to repeat the expression used by the United Nations) as compared to public order and security upkeep and also for enforcement measures.
On the basis of what I saw in Bosnia in particular (in Kosovo I only counted the Yugoslavian vehicles destroyed or damaged by NATO and UCK bombings), I can say that the MSU doctrine must be tailored according to what must be done in a global context and avoid extending to other sectors where the Carabinieri Corps has undoubtedly a high degree of professionalism, but which end up by creating unease, conflicts of competency and, to use a diplomatic term, “chaos” with the other organizations operating on the same territory. I refer especially to IPTF (International Police Task Force depending from the Representative of the United Nations’ General Secretary - who was indeed a “clever guy”), with which some problems arose also due to the lively nature of the French Gendarmerie Brigadier in command who would have liked to have the Carabinieri MSU at his command. According to me, it is essential to clearly divide competencies: let us set aside general and judicial police.
I have never been able to understand how it can be carried out by staff, though skilled and specialized, scarcely knowledgeable of the local reality and culture and independent from the judicial and prison system, three issues that are essential for the good functioning of any penal system. The complexity and unexpectedness of the aftermath solicit the existence of a command unity. At first it can only be a military command for it has the necessary organization and means. Once the situation is stabilized, the military command may no longer enforce the power and rights it is entitled to and carry out the duties provided for by international law, but will start yielding the political and economic aspects and gradually justice and home affairs to civil authorities. Territory security and control, as well as reserve forces, must remain at the orders of the military command. During a third stage everything, including military forces, should pass under the jurisdiction of the civil authorities, starting from the MUSs whose action will gradually become similar to that of the mobile battalions or police units, to co-operate with the other domestic security forces in the upkeep of public order and, perhaps, to strengthen local police in carrying out all other functions.
This means passing from a military to a civil command. There is no third solution for the MSUs - not even autonomously in the “gray zone” or an extension of roles which would turn them into something completely different from what they have been established for, causing only complications. An in-depth survey of the latter could be useful for the “doctrine”. It is not a matter of doing only one thing or of marching on with blinkers. In carrying out every day activities - core business according to industrial jargon - certain by-products may result - from intelligence to activities regarding judicial police - which must naturally be enhanced, though conveyed into the respective channels. The idea of wanting to do everything would be very dangerous and would only give rise to criticism in complex and multifarious situations such as the ones in which the MSUs operate.
Moreover, the MSUs and the General Command of the Carabinieri Corps have every right - indeed duty - to demand that the civil and military authorities under which they operate be informed of employment tactics and techniques, limits and potentials. This can be achieved through the presence of Carabinieri officers in the commands and in the offices of international military force operations, who can contribute with their specialized know-how as is the case in all inter-force operations. At a lower level, the measures carried out in Bosnia (the “blue-box” for instance) seem to guarantee a sufficient efficacy of field coordination. I cannot say whether such measures need radical improvements or have already been sufficiently improved after the Bosnia experience. In conclusion, the unity of the international command, not only as regards MSUs, but also in all peace-keeping and peace-building operations - is an essential issue, without which fragmentation and chaos will ensue. Thus, the doctrine must first and foremost be developed at global level.
Only then will we be able to go into details. Conversely, an inefficient and conflicting system will arise where everyone will want to do everything. Local forces opposing stabilization will creep into the ensuing “cracks” of the international interventions and the final outcome would be negative despite all good intentions. Allow me to conclude by underlining a rather particular issue, which according to me - as already mentioned in a report drafted for the Brussels CEPS and requested by SG/HR, Mr. Solana - could be enhanced by Italy to pursue its own national interests just as it does by employing its much appreciated Carabinieri. During the post war stabilization there are two particularly important aspects: the restraint of a widespread organized criminality, tightly bound to politics, and the creation of favourable conditions for the Italian presence and interests, both economic and commercial, in the intervention area. The former may easily be fought when the money surfaces to enter the bank circuits both local and international. The second point may be achieved by targeted interventions and, in particular, by occupying strategic positions in the new institutions, providing also for the training of the people in charge.
The systematic employment of the Guardia di Finanza for these tasks could be of great importance and enhance Italy’s role and authoritativeness in the stabilization and create the conditions for a greater Italian presence in the long term. I wish to conclude by thanking you once more for the invitation, wishing all the best to the Carabinieri Corps and acknowledging my appreciation of the Carabinieri employed in the MSUs whom I saw on the job and who have contributed to the credibility and prestige of our country on the international scene.
(*) - Transcript from an audio recording corrected by the author.
(**) - Lieutenant General of the Italian Army.