Naples and not Rome was the focus of the Armed Forces Day on 4 November 20191. Five battalions paraded along the Caracciolo promenade. The highlight, however, was the exhibition area of the various armed services branches, which for five days drew mainly young people and children to the Piazza del Plebiscito, Naple’s largest square.
They were allowed to board a fighter, steer a helicopter with a flight simulator, admire a Predator drone, climb into a tank, train with military instructors and then go to the port to board an amphibious assault ship and two missile frigates (FREMM).
A large “war festival“ set up for a specific purpose: the recruitment of new forces.
70% of young people who want to enlist in Italiy’s army live in the Mezzogiorno, especially in Campania and Sicily, where youth unemployment is 53.6%, compared to an EU average of 15.2%. The only employer offering them a “secure“ job is the army. After the selection process, however, the number of recruits is lower than necessary.
The Armed Forces need more personnel, as they are engaged in 35 operational areas in 22 countries, from Eastern Europe to the Balkans, from Africa to the Middle East and Asia. These are the “peace missions“ carried out in particular where NATO under US command and active Italian participation, has unleashed the wars that have destroyed entire states and destabilised entire regions.
The maintenance of the armed forces and the necessary munitions – such as the Italian F-35 fighter jets deployed by NATO in Iceland, and demonstrated by the Rai television station on 4 November – costs the annual sum of approximately 25 billion euros a year of public money.
In 2018, Italian military spending climbed from 13th to 11th world position, but the USA and NATO are applying pressure for a further increase, dependent above all on the escalation against Russia.
Last June, the Conte I government “unblocked“ 7.2 billion euros to increase military spending. In October, at the Prime Minister’s meeting with NATO Secretary General, the Conte II government pledged to increase military spending by around 7 billion euros from 2020 on (“La Stampa” from 11 October). We are thus moving from military spending of around 70 million euros per day to around 87 million euros per day. This is public money taken away from basic productive investments, especially in regions such as Campania, to reduce unemployment, starting with youth unemployment.
The “investments” made in Naples are quite different. The city has acquired a growing role as headquarters of the most important US/NATO military commands. The headquarters of the US Naval Forces Europe is based in Naples-Capodichino operating under the command of a US admiral who at the same time commands the US Naval Forces Africa and the Joint Allied Force Command (JFC Naples) with headquaters in Lago Patria (Naples).
Every two years, JFC Naples takes command of the Nato Response Force, a joint force for military operations in the “area of responsibiliy” of the Allied Supreme Commander in Europe, who is always a US General, and “beyond that area“. Since 2017, Lago Patria’s headquarters have housed the Nato Strategic Direction South Hub, a centre of intelligence, i.e. of espionage, concentrated on the Middle East and Africa. The US Sixth Fleet is under the command of Naples, with a base in Gaeta, which – according to US Vice-Admiral Lisa Franchetti – operates “from the North Pole to the South Pole.”
This is the role of Naples in the NATO framework defined by President Sergio Mattarella in his message of 4 November as “an alliance to which we have freely chosen to contribute to the protection of peace in the international context, to the protection of the weakest and most oppressed and of the human rights.” •
1 4 November is the National Unity and Armed Forces Day an Italian national day since 1919 which commemorates the victory in World War I, a war event considered the completion of the process of unification of Italy. [rem. of transl.]
Source: Il manifesto of 5 November 2019; https://ilmanifesto.it/4-novembre-vedi-napoli-e-poi-muori/
(Translation Current Concerns)
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