The controversy over the "63 missiles of the Navy": violation of (Pulcinella) secrecy or worse?

(To Andrea Cucco)
07/01/24

The issue of the 63 missiles available to the Italian Navy emerged after a statement attributed to the Italian Minister of Defense who, commenting on the launch of aeighty missiles by the U.S. Navy in the Red Sea, he reportedly expressed concern about the Navy's limited missile equipment.

Minister Guido Crosetto (always very well advised...) was quick to issue the following note - "I would like to point out that I have never declared what was reported by the newspaper 'Il Foglio' in the edition of 3 January 2024 and then taken up by some press outlets, regarding a limited availability of armaments by the Navy. What was reported by other newspapers according to which I stated, again in the context of my interventions at the Defense Commission, that the Navy only has 63 missiles is also false. I invite journalists to read the minutes of the commission: they will not find confirmation of what they falsely reported. I don't know if the journalist got wrong information from someone who listened to my reasoning without paying due attention. On this occasion, I instead explained what it means to be involved in a complicated area like the Red Sea today, even just to defend oneself, recounting the shots that an American ship had to fire in a single day to defend itself."

A small scuffle ensued in the newspapers with further confirmation of the minister's statement on the part of The paper.

Yet another clumsy response from the minister's staff? Possible, it wouldn't be the first time...

Would silence have been more appropriate? Of course, because if in the same article we talk about 20% of tanks "in optimal conditions", the suspicion arises that the missiles are much fewer given the serious mistake! A few years ago the value of efficient wagons was around 10% and today, in qualitative terms, it should be "ZERO".

In the offending speech the minister then referred to the USS destroyer Thomas Hudner… Do you know how many missile launch cells it has? 96! Our frigate (Fasan) in the Red Sea? 16...

The shortage of ammunition is an alarm that this newspaper raised for many years before the outbreak of war in Ukraine. For us to be indignant today is therefore late and in any case hypocritical.

We want to remember the "Beijing" years in which the dual use was it the mantra? It's no secret that they even managed to pass off the F-35s as "dual" but of course, for ammunition and missiles, they didn't even try. It's no secret that the development - which cannot be postponed - of some systems (e.g. CAMM-ER programme) was in fact postponed. It's no secret that if the soldiers were once wanted to be busy collecting rubbish, today they are even more demotivated as guards, certainly not trained in real fire. It's no secret that for decades everything was cut off from the armed forces with the excuse that "we are ready" was always and in any case guaranteed. It's no secret that we have built ships for our Navy not stealth and poorly armed because "humanitarian" use was the main purpose (v. video) “granted” by politics, certainly not the war kind.

So what are we surprised by? Of a minister who had the honesty and courage to say immediately the truth: “we have armed forces modeled on the peacekeeping”. This posture certainly does not focus on missiles. Or can we find a "dual" use for anti-ship or anti-aircraft missiles?

Some also like to think in terms of "numbers" when the real problem is also the vacuum regarding many "capabilities" of our Navy: in hostile environments the equipment cannot always and only be defensive and one should ask oneself, to make a example, how many (real) ground attack missiles does the armed force possess...

So that's not all excellent and plentiful: we built a little house (perhaps) out of wood, no need to have a “straw” tail now!

An invitation to the Minister of Defense: Don't care about criticism, continue to assert your preparation and tell the truth, especially if it hurts. He has assembled a defense that is the result of decades of underfunding and ideological indoctrination, the problem will not be solved in a year. She seems to want (without haste...) to reverse the trend. Show more courage, as you do in the committee!

Most of all remember one thing, while other countries strengthen their armed forces we still have to explain them to our fellow citizens. The casualties of 20 years of Afghanistan today correspond to half an hour of war, if non they were appreciated and correctly told so, how will we be able to face a whole day when our “little house” will be swept away?

Photo: Marina Military