Italian-American metalmodel in the heart of the industrial defense of the US defense

(To Leonardo Chiti)

Just as New York in the second half of the 2000 years was the financial epicenter of the global crisis triggered by the bursting of the subprime mortgage housing bubble, Detroit, as the car's capital, was its industrial epicenter. Moreover, the shock wave hit a sector that already had to face its own structural difficulties, which precipitated the situation with two out of three manufacturers who had to resort to bankruptcy procedures, with consequent intervention of the Obama administration.

The rescue plan for the Michigan auto giants envisaged a drastic restructuring of General Motors under a controlled administration, a sort of bankruptcy piloted by the governmental task force set up by the White House. For Chrysler, it was a question of finding an industrial partner to take care of the reorganization and relaunch after the divorce from Daimler-Mercedes, in the 2007, and the period of management of the Cerberus investment fund.

After a negotiation with Renault-Nissan and a merger hypothesis with the same GM, in the spring of the 2009 the FIAT group entered the scene which, in full harmony with the US government, took over Chrysler with a perfected acquisition between the 2013 and the 2014, after the federal loans have been repaid.

Compared to General Motors, present worldwide and also in the low-displacement segment thanks to the Opel brand, Chrysler produced and sold almost exclusively in the United States and Canada and in the medium-high market segment with SUVs and pick-ups. So the alliance with FIAT presented an industrial sense, allowing an expansion both of the outlet markets and of the production lines.

In the meantime, international competition has become tougher and recently the CEO of the Italian-American manufacturer, Sergio Marchionne, expressed his opinion about the need for a further strengthening of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles through a merger, for which GM was named. which for the moment declined the invitation. However it may be at present, it can be assumed that the Turin group has consolidated its positions in the Midwest of the United States, where it can boast a long-standing presence in the field of complex mechanics.

In Racine, Wisconsin, has its headquarters Case-New Holland, a global player in the capital goods sector: agricultural and earthmoving machinery. As is emphasized in the company website, for over a century Case has earned an enviable reputation as a supplier to the armed forces and to various specialized organizations, operating all over the world and engaged in different activities such as land clearance or reconstruction of communities devastated by natural disasters.

For example, in December of the 2013, through its distribution network in the Philippines, CNH Industrial made arrangements to provide machines for United Nations-led relief operations in Tacloban, the capital of Leyte province, the worst hit by Typhoon Haiyan 8 November. The fleet of five vehicles included: a New Holland Construction B115B backhoe loader, a Case 580SN backhoe loader, a Case SR150 mini compact loader, a New Holland Agriculture TD5.90 tractor and a Case IH JX95 tractor, both equipped with a shovel.

The history of the Case begins with Jerome Increase Case (1819-1891), a mechanic who in the 1842, Wisconsin, worked on an improved thresher model. This enterprise will be strengthened in the following decades by combining the success of its agricultural machinery with a path of growth for external lines absorbing dozens of companies. In the 1967 it is in turn acquired by the first world distributor of natural gas: Tenneco.

Thanks to the latter's financial strength, in the 1985 Case it takes over International Harvester, one of its biggest competitors in the United States, becoming the second world producer of agricultural machinery behind John Deere. With the placement of the Tenneco control package on the market, the Wisconsin company has become a public company since the mid-90.

At the end of the same decade a worsening of the agricultural economic cycle invests the Case which records a drop in production and losses that weaken its financial position, thus paving the way for the acquisition by FIAT already present in the sector with the New Holland brand.

In the 1988 FIAT had grouped Fiatagri and FIAT-Allis into FIAT Geotech and this in the 1991 will acquire New Holland, born in the 1986 from the spin-off carried out by the Ford group of its activities in the agricultural and construction machinery sector, finally in the 1993 FIAT Geotech changes name in New Holland through which the Turin-based group acquires Case in the 1999. At a time when its policy of alliances in the automotive sector was setting the pace, FIAT gained a position of global importance in the agriculture and construction sector.

After a few years of difficulty, in the 2005 the operation begins to bear fruit and the good results of CNH have allowed FIAT to limit the damage of the global economic-financial crisis, from whose effects the Wisconsin manufacturer initially showed itself almost immune by moving even in contrast.

In hindsight, it is not an exaggeration to believe that the overall reorganization of the group in recent years, of which the acquisition of Chrysler is the centerpiece, was possible also thanks to the good sales trend of tractors, combine harvesters, excavators and loaders. So much so that in November 2008, when the financial storm had already broken out on international markets (following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers on September 15), Marchionne expressed its appreciation for CNH products with benevolent irony.

Because the car will be sexier than a combine but these machines have put together a turnover that has passed from 12 to 20 billions of dollars between the 2004 and the 2008 and in the next five years could point to a doubling (Salvatore Tropea, “Case New Holland: FIAT's happy island”, Affari & Finanza, 3 November 2008).

In fact, to date, CNH can certainly compete for a position as a world leader in the capital goods sector, even if the performance of the business since the end of the 2008 does not present exactly the features of a triumphal march, as can be seen from the results of the fourth 2015 quarter. After all, the acquisition of Chrysler has brought the core business of the car back to the center of the stage, as shown by the litmus test of the marketing policy with which we want to guarantee maximum visibility to the leading brand. From the 2007 to the 2010 CNH was the sponsor of Juventus whose shirts featured the word New Holland, a position now occupied by Jeeps.

Limiting ourselves to just a few numbers to give a rough idea: CNH Industrial closes the 2015 with 25,9 MLD $ of consolidated revenues, down by 9,2% compared to 2014 at constant exchange rates and 20,4% at current values. The last quarter of the year alone showed an improvement in the business trend with revenues for 7,1 MLD $, an operating profit of the industrial activities of 563 mln $, up 50%, with an operating margin of 8,2%, higher than average value of the year equal to 5,8%. For the 2016 the top management envisages net revenues of the Industrial Activities between 23 and 24 MLD $ with an operating margin between 5,2% and 5,8%.

The largest segment remains the agricultural machines with net revenues for 11 MLD $ in the 2015, followed by commercial vehicles with 9,5. The latter are the result of the incorporation of the "extra-car" activities of the FIAT group, initially in FIAT Industrial which in the second half of the 2013 - following the merger with CNH Global - took the name of CNH Industrial with stock exchange listing (on New York Stock Exchange and on the Mercato Telematico Azionario, organized and managed by Borsa Italiana SpA), the 30 September of the same year.

Case company park is composed of over 90 models including: mini excavators, backhoe loaders (very versatile earth-moving machines equipped with a front shovel and a backhoe that can be equipped with a wide range of buckets and easily interchangeable equipment thanks to the rapid hydraulic attachment integrated), tracked and wheeled excavators, wheeled loaders, mini skid steer loaders, crawler dozers and motor graders.

These are machines designed to deal with extreme weather conditions and operate in areas at risk, which makes them particularly suitable for equipping those departments of the armed forces whose abilities are a prerequisite for the effective operation of combat units.

The ability to build, remove or circumvent obstacles of any kind, to build defensive structures for built-up areas and / or a network of efficient communication routes has always had an important military importance, just think of what is called the most powerful machine war of the ancient world: the Roman army. The Department of Genio Ponteeri has played a fundamental role in the Napoleonic campaigns and the network of tracks built in India by the British during the colonial period constituted the structure at the base of the current railways of the subcontinent.

The first real university courses in engineering, architecture, physical sciences and mathematics (with particular attention to geometry), in the history of the USA, are due to the West Point military academy for whose foundation the Congress allocated the first funding in the 1802 , with a law ratified by the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826).

For the reorganization undertaken after the 1815, the Paris Polytechnique was born as a reference model, born in the 1794 on the initiative of Lazare Carnot (1753-1823) and Gaspard Monge (1746-1818). To this end he drew directly from the teaching staff of the latter, especially in the person of Claudius Crozet (1789-1864), specialist in bridges and roads, who will become the heart and soul of the prestigious institution together with the army officer American Sylvanus Thayer (1785-1872), nicknamed the "father of West Point", who will serve as rector.

The history of the mechanization of the Corps of Engineers is inevitably intertwined with the development of transport and in general with the industrialization of war, a phenomenon that certainly could not extend simultaneously to all areas of use of a military device. With regard to the maneuvering capacity of the armed forces, the strategic dimension of mobility showed the traits of industrial modernity already during the American Civil War, while for the first large-scale progress at the tactical level it will have to wait for the Second World War.

The radical changes caused by transport innovations stopped at the railway stations. Although the steam force and the telegraph had improved the movements at the strategic level [...] their effects were limited to the sustenance of the great armies of the industrialized states. Once they got off at the last stop, the soldiers returned to the ones of the past, forced to march with heavy loads on their backs and with their food transported on carts. This had happened during the American civil war, and so it continued to occur in the First World War (Rupert Smith, "The Art of War in the Modern World", the Mill, 2009).

It will be the great spread of the internal combustion engine over the years between the two world wars to extend the motorization of the war theater up to the tactical level of the various operational theaters that compose it. In this passage the Jeep has certainly played an important part, a vehicle built starting from the 1941 by the American Willys (acquired in the 1987 by Chrysler, after a series of ownership changes), in more than 639.200 exemplars.

In all probability the name of the famous brand is due to the phonetic transformation of the identification code of the characteristics of the vehicle (GP, general purpose), but according to a more imaginative version it would derive from the character of "Eugene the Jeep" - a sort of alien dog capable of do amazing things - which appears in Popeye's cartoon.

Strategic mobility and tactical mobility refer to its own logistics chain which in the first case concerns the acquisition, storage, transport and distribution of materials to the relative operating theaters, while in the second it develops within the latter.

In general, the presence of natural barriers such as mountain ranges, valleys with sheer walls, seas, oceans, desert expanses, wide-bed rivers and great reach, represent an advantage if considered from a defensive point of view, in fact they have always been taken to reference for setting boundaries. On the contrary, from the point of view of power projection these become part of the difficulty factors to be put into the account during the planning of operations.

The operational capacity of a projection force tends to decrease with the progressive distance away from its generator center, which makes it essential to refuel and support the units in the field. From this point of view, the coordination at all levels of the bodies constituting the logistic services must be aimed at minimizing the problems related to the breakage of the cargo (unavoidable at the modal interchange points), due to the passage from the ship or cargo plane to truck, or from this to the railway wagon and vice versa.

In the three decades following the Second World War the motorization of the armies has made further progress and the first great use of the helicopter during the Vietnam War (of which the machines of the UH-1 series, based on the Bell Model 204, have been one of the symbols), marked another important step in the transformation of the multimodal intrateatro transport system.

The airborne soldier is the component of a new type of army, mechanized, tracked and armored to an extent unknown to any armored formation of the Second World War. Combat units [...] they are completely mechanized, including even logistic services, workshop departments and bridges, and to a large extent armored and tracked, including artillery. [...] the ten-man infantry section enclosed in an armored vehicle: here the difference, really revolutionary, of the armies of the '70 years compared to those of the years' 40 (John Keegan, "The Face of the Battle", the Assayer, 2001).

In some cases the different specialties in which the military genius is articulated (bridges, miners, sappers, railway workers, etc.) are trained as elite units (assault engineers) to be able to operate in direct contact or even in front (like for example the Genio pontieri), to the most advanced troops. The departments used in close combat support (adherence logistics) are equipped with armored vehicles developed on platforms designed for the battlefield such as the gittaponte vehicles or bulldozers derived from tanks equipped with demolition equipment (usually a low-speed cannon). ), modified with the assembly of a front mechanical shovel.

The roles of adherence fall within the operational concepts of mobility and countermobility which in the first case take the form of operations related to the restoration or simplification of the ability of movement of friendly forces: restoration of the road network compromised by actions of interdiction by the enemy, preparation of systems of crossing, opening of corridors and gates in minefields. In the second it deals with activities aimed at limiting the maneuvering capacity of the opposing forces through channeling, obstacle (laying of mines, barbed wire, etc.), or attrition.

For general logistic support (support logistics), the equipment consists of materials handling equipment (handling), very similar to those used in any civil construction site or freight sorting center, although it usually has a configurability modular that allows you to accommodate protected components - armor of the powertrain (engine-transmission-transmission system) or armored cabins - when operating in sectors of the rear facing anyway to the initiatives of hostile forces.

These machines are used for: construction of shelters, execution of masking jobs of command posts, refueling and repair, preparation with securing and subsequent clearing of the bases. These are activities related to the role defined as protection, on which two recent examples can be made.

In June of the 2015 the American military started the works for the construction of a base in the locality of al Taqaddum, at 25 kilometers from Ramadi, the capital of the province of Anbar, conquered by Daesh militiamen in May. The new installations of US forces were part of the preparations for the reconquest of the city that had a population of 500.000 inhabitants, displaced in large refugee camps after the fall of Ramadi in the hands of ISIS.

According to statements by the then Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, reported by Reuters news agency 6 June, the Taqaddum infrastructure was aimed at facilitating relations with local tribes willing to fight against Daesh but hesitant to move towards the base of Ain al-Asad, a reference point for US troops stationed in the Anbar.

After months of fighting, Iraqi forces resumed Ramadi last December 28 entering a kind of ghost town, made up of piles of rubble and booby traps everywhere. In practice, there is no building that has not been riddled with blows or mined or both, and the destruction did not end with the expulsion of the caliphate militiamen (which required about two more months to complete), in as some of the devices, in many cases placed in tunnels dug under the buildings, have a structure called "spider web" which makes them impossible to defuse, so they must be blown up.

The reclamation work in these cases (for Ramadi alone evaluated in 15 million by the UN), does not allow stops for the personnel of the Engineers, whose level of commitment is certainly not destined to diminish considering the offensive underway on Mosul. To use the words spoken on Fox News microphones by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters: Ramadi was a schoolyard brawl. Mosul will be a heavyweight boxing world championship final. This applies to the first, during and after, compared to the actual combat phase.

The autumn of the 2014 saw the beginning of the demobilization of the majority of the personnel of the great air base of Bagram, about fifty kilometers from Kabul, a milestone of the US intervention contingent in Afghanistan, and where the old hangars are still located Soviet military airport.

The aspect was that of a construction site with the engineers who wear helmets and safety shoes, carefully removing the electrical equipment and metal structures to the last nail, so as to prevent these materials from falling into the hands of the Taliban for be used in packaging explosive devices.

At the height of the commitment, in the 2011, Bagram hosted 30.000 civilian and military people, a presence that the transition to the “Resolute Support” operation, envisaged to recalibrate around the 6.000 units, with an evacuation plan that included the demolition of 2.000 buildings on a total of 2.600, by the end of the 2014.

Going back to the machinery supplier companies for these activities, CNH Industrial can boast a position as a global leader in the capital goods sector: it is present in 190 countries through its 12 brands, 64 production facilities, 49 research and development centers, plus 68.000 employees and about 6.000 dealers.

To date, they are part of: Case IH, New Holland Agriculture and Steyr, for tractors and agricultural machinery; Case and New Holland Construction for earth-moving machinery; Iveco for commercial vehicles; Iveco Bus and Heuliez Bus for buses and coaches; Iveco-Astra for quarry and construction vehicles; Magirus for fire-fighting vehicles; Iveco Defense Vehicles for defense and civil protection vehicles and finally FPT Industrial (powertrain), for engines, transmissions and axles.

Wishing to conclude along the lines traced by the ironic tones of FIAT's 1 number: watching bulldozers, bulldozers and bulldozers at work is certainly less exciting than seeing in action squadrons of hunting, departments of armored vehicles or naval battle groups, and yet these means, and the respective teams of specialized personnel play an indispensable role at all times and in all areas of a mission theater.

(photo: / web / US DoD)