What does the right of military unions think? (A look from Atreju)

(To Federico Castiglioni)
24/09/19

An ongoing debate, a comparison of quite different positions and the conditio sine qua non that, as it goes, the introduction of trade unions must not damage the operations of the armed forces. These are, in a nutshell, the positions that emerged on the subject of military unions during the event Atreju, a Roman appointment on the Tiber island, now a regular meeting point for Fratelli d'Italia and Giorgia Meloni.

The protagonists of the debate, which took place during Friday morning on Defense issues, were Caio Gulio Cesare Mussolini, national party defense leader, General Marco Bertolini, coordinator of the council for the armed forces, and senators Petrenga and Rauti.

The speakers took the suggestions of the public and the enthusiasts, unanimously worried by the state of the armed forces after the disastrous management of the Thirty, and immediately entered into the heart of the theme of the unions that more than any other is stirring the waters these days.

The doubts raised among the public, in this regard, are the same raised by many readers of Defense Online: how it is possible to have a union without the right to strike and how one can imagine a legislative device that equates the rights of the military with those of others workers without affecting the efficiency of the armed forces and the natural chain of command?

The same perplexities were raised by General Bertolini, who had already sparked a debate on the subject starting from an article in which he had defined as almost subversive the unionization provision (v.link). According to the general, who correlated unionization with the affair of his colleague Stano, recently convicted for the lack of protection of the Nassirya base, this phenomenon runs the risk of advancing ever greater demands on the part of the military body, which could eventually resort to to the union for any inconveniences outside the area that are intrinsic to the choice of military life and that have always distinguished it.

A first response to these harsh arguments, arrived from the organizers during the discussion, was to make a proper distinction between the duties of soldiers on mission, necessarily belonging to the strictest discipline, and the situation that the soldiers find in their homeland, where under the pretext of obedience and hierarchy there are hidden situations of needless inconvenience and inefficiencies, dictated only by the needs of defense savings.

The impossibility of protesting for the lack of maintenance of the barracks, for the inadequate equipment, for the poor quality of food and lodging would therefore not be a consequence of the "natural military life", but only problems caused by a poor appreciation of the armed forces, increasingly employed starting with the "Safe Roads" operation as a low-cost police force.

The finding of these inefficiencies, already brought to light by this magazine, joins those far more serious in terms of ammunition and equipment that are now known and are a consequence both of the indiscriminate cuts we have witnessed in recent years and of the declared attempt made by the five-star movement to make the defense a sort of armed civil service, thus distorting its mission.

This distressing situation leads to the second issue that emerged during the discussion, as well as the real crux of the matter, namely how the military unions will be able to grasp the task to which they are now called with maturity and responsibility. For example, will these young unionists have the courage to protest if they find insufficient or inadequate training, perhaps going against the prevailing interest or mood of those they represent? Or will they rather be a simple counterpart to the existing hierarchical line, limiting itself to contesting deliveries in barracks and punishments and actually going to remove authoritativeness from what remains of the chain of command?

It is no mystery that these are the concerns that agitate all major states at the moment, so much so that the "Sim group" following the hearings this summer in the House and the Senate felt compelled to issue a joint note which expressed concern for "the retrograde thinking of military administrations, capable of influencing politics".

Whatever the truth, the certain fact is that politics cannot ignore these new trade associations, which will probably become (if equipped with a clear regulatory framework) the main vehicle of communication between the barracks and the outside world, similar to what is already happening in the police force. A new reality that will inevitably be permeable also to party dynamics. It is no coincidence that the theme of Defense, almost ignored by all parties with few exceptions, has found a space for debate and discussion in the party of Giorgia Meloni, traditionally close to the military world.

The promise at the end of the debate by the parliamentarians and senators of Fratelli d'Italia was to "continue the internal confrontation, even if lively" and to "seek a balanced legislative framework"; promises that will certainly be kept, but that cannot be separated from the guidelines of the newly installed government that will be known shortly.