I know that the Carabinieri have been complimented by everybody; everyone wants to imitate them. However, before you start boasting I must tell you that before going to college in England when I was eleven I went to primary school in Palermo for three years. Therefore for me you are just Piedmont cops! O.K? That is all. There’s another point I’d like to make: after having swayed for about 183-185 years, you have now taken on some women; now, perhaps, you have a future. Thirdly: I must remind you that Carlo Jean, who is an old friend of mine, worked for years in Washington D.C., occupying positions of responsibility. It is a matter of the MSU in the entire activity, that is peacekeeping, peace enforcement, peace building, etc. Now, perhaps, the job of the MSU is a nice job and you have to know how to go about it. In fact, many other things may be done without expecting Italy to train thousands of people for the MSU, perhaps to train the police of the whole world. Sometimes the eastern side of Washington D.C. would do well with a MSU. 1700 people were killed in the last two years: perhaps we need a MSU in Washington D.C. However, before doing this and though your job is very nice and integration is one of your territorial competencies as well as the competencies in the battalions, etc., you have a specific function in something bigger than this: you need to work with the others, with the army, with local armies, foreign armies, the Italian army; you need to work with civilians.
There is a problem however: the job of a MSU, the job of entering an area that is neither hot nor cold (an MSU does not carry out its job in Parioli nor in the middle of a battle where cannon balls are fired) is difficult enough at home, in Calabria and Sardinia, but to carry it out abroad is tenfold more difficult; unfortunately, we cannot avoid this difficulty, the difficulty of the job of a MSU, doing it well and, at the same time, maintaining a dynamic and constructive co-operation with the existing situation. MSU in this liaison cooperation - communication - job sharing - compromising - etc. This is what is called jointness, unity of force. Unity with foreign forces and civilians as well, civilians carrying out Carlo Jean’s macropolitical functions or the more normal functions of giving economic, sanitary aid and so forth. This is all very difficult.
I am also aware of the fact that jointness has a true and proper cost, there is no point in preaching the unity of forces as if it didn’t entail a cost; it has an enormous cost because when we try to stay together without quarrelling we always risk falling to a low common denominator If you have a private talk with the Marines, after the war in Iraq, they would say that the hardest thing wasn’t fighting the Iraqi, the Iraqi army, the fedayn, etc. Nor were the sandstorms. The most difficult thing was those 24 hours they had to co-operate with the American army. Cooperating with the British, perhaps: but when they had to... that particular time when all the MRI armies arrived in the western side of Baghdad, that is the airport, and the Marines, in the south-eastern side, had to pass the city of Baghdad because the MRI went to Tikrit - you may remember that the Iraqi war ended with the vehicles of the Marines, those built to cross two kilometers of beach - parked in the streets of Tikrit. All this for the sake of those who could move. 200 To do this however they had to pass the city of Baghdad and had thus to co-operate with the army present in the western side patrolling the city. This liaison required an eighteen-hour negotiation. True, there was no danger of combat, but those present thought that this was soon to come.
At the end the army allowed the Marines to cross Baghdad, though without tanks. How did they manage in Tikrit without tanks when they met what could have been a counterfort? Jointness is difficult to carry out, even in less dramatic situations, simply because one does not have enough officers and the latter have to do many things in a complex environment as well as dealing with other corps that speak different languages and have a different terminology, operational methods and concepts of acceptable or unacceptable risks. Jointness is thus very difficult and the danger is that it may be carried out at the expense of carrying out one’s activity. We all agree, we are always having meetings, and nobody has time to patrol the streets and work. This is what may happen. This is why I would like to speak of the following: You have already been congratulated and told how good and nice you are. I would like to give you a specific suggestion: something in between. Italy cannot multiply the number and entity of the MSUs around the world for the demand may be endless.
What may be done is the following: nowadays there is a real problem, as you well know, and that is that every time a new situation arises, international leaders, the élite and the mass-media do no longer intend to accept the disruption of certain countries (nowadays if Haiti is being disrupted we feel the need to intervene whereas formerly nobody seemed to mind. But today we have to intervene practically everywhere); considering this today there is a mechanism by which if someone phones the UNO in New York and says: “do something, send us someone”. The UNO (this was Kofi Annan’s job before being promoted) starts summoning someone, at this point there are two kinds of countries: those trained and capable who have the right forces who reply: “we can’t send our men because they are already engaged elsewhere”; and those countries who do nothing but transfer their troops from their barracks (and making them have their meals and possibly the UNO meals), but who are totally and rather pathetically unprepared.
And the level of their lack of training varies. Every year I personally award a peacekeeping prize, though inversely: there is a gold, a silver and a bronze medal. Some years ago I awarded the gold medal to that Guinea battalion that, once entered the UNO to participate in public order upkeep operations, sold its uniforms to the rebels in exchange of money and diamonds and remained half naked, without vehicles or weapons. It won the gold medal, but gold medals are rare. Silver medals are frequent: they are awarded to those who sell half their weapons or ammunitions to the most wicked in the area. Lastly the bronze medal awarded to those who are simply unskilled. So, what is my suggestion? I suggest that instead of endlessly multiplying the Carabinieri (nowadays this can also be done by genetics, we may clone a perfect Carabiniere; take a Carabinieri in the midst of a storm and clone him) we may create a school (a training camp) where Kofi Annan may phone and instead of calling the usual suspects such as Bangladesh and the like, the latter may qualify by sending a battalion to a school where they may learn the MSU job and then commit themselves to keep this unit together for three years.
Training validity should expire after three years: thus, instead of summoning those who are ready and capable, those who refuse and those who accept but are unprepared, Kofi Annan could rely on a limited list of those who have been trained. It would be far cheaper to send people to this school to be trained. In other words, employ a training function as a qualification for an international mission. There would therefore be three categories: countries with good units but already engaged. Those who are willing to do the job but are unprepared and lastly those who want to do the job for economic reasons and are prepared and trained. Then there are technical issues. From the military viewpoint for instance (I know little about the military aspect and the police functions and as I left Palermo when I was very young I have not observed the Carabinieri from the military viewpoint). I only know that in ten weeks you can train a person from the military viewpoint; a person can be trained to carry out the minimal garrison infantry military aspect, to do few things but to do them well and not be defeated or shamed by any group of armed boys as occurred in Sierra Leone where armed boys would capture entire battalions under the UNO.
This could most certainly be avoided. Much more than ten weeks is required for the other jobs of the MSUs such as the police functions; understanding the territory, understanding how to move about on the territory. However, I don’t see how a two-year training could be possible. To start with, twenty weeks could be enough. A unit from a willing country such as Bangladesh could have a twenty-week training divided into ten weeks of military training and ten weeks of territorial training, social and integrative police, post conflict training and everything else. And then we have a unit from a country that really wants to send it abroad and that has had twenty weeks of proper training. In this way Italy could contribute to the creation of available foreign battalions trained by the special method of the Carabinieri. Training could be carried out in Italy or we could think in terms of a mobile training team where an entire Carabinieri contingent goes on the spot not to act directly as a MSU, but to train personnel on the basis of 1 out of 20, 1 out of 15.
Now one may wonder: “how much can one train, how much can one learn, how much can a Carabinieri do in twenty weeks?” and so forth. The answer is in remembering what competition is about. I am not suggesting that you open a restaurant to cook pasta in Naples (even the worst restaurant in Naples has some degree of skill): I am suggesting you open a “peace” restaurant: it is enough to cook some pasta e put some tomato sauce on it to make people happy because it is far better than what they are used to eating at home. What we see today in UNO interventions is dreadful: politicians, as well as the press, the mass media, who criticize everything and everyone, say nothing about the behavior of multinational forces in situations such as the one carried on for years in Yugoslavia and elsewhere such as Sierra Leone where 11000 soldiers, so-called “soldiers of various countries” are incapable of doing anything against enemies who are but youngsters armed with kalashnikovs and in fact flee before them. Thus, considering the above, I believe we can give a serious and lasting training where you can throw out anyone who is unfit because you are not on the territory where you have to accept everything.
Italy would make the effort of training them, but if they cannot be trained, they can be thrown out. You can then have an Italian trained unit, a unit trained by the Italians that would be far better than the ones existing today and would not mean an impossible sacrifice because in time there would be 10-20 Italian trained units, far more than could be expressed by Italian-Italian units. This is my suggestion. Thank you.
(*) - Transcript from an audio recording corrected by the author.
(**) - Professor, senior adviser at the Center of Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in