Uranium Commission: General Bertolini's considerations on safety measures in the operating environment

(To Andrea Cucco)

In the light of what has emerged in the last two days, after the presentation to the press on 7 February of the final report of the parliamentary commission of inquiry on depleted uranium in the defense sector, by the president senator Gian Piero Scanu (PD) and today of the minority report presented by the Hon. Mauro Pili (People of Freedom), a frontal attack on the top leaders of the Armed Forces, at least those who were in charge at the time of the missions and the facts under investigation, appeared evident.

Beyond the very respectable intent to safeguard the health of the military and to give an answer that in some way is comfort and relief to the soldiers who are currently sick and their families, the times and methods of the presentation appeared singular. There has been talk of "unsettling critical issues", of "negationism of the vertices" going down even verbally and referring to the military world as a self-referential and self-sufficient world. One would say that it would seem to have discovered hot water. The military world is by its nature a world that makes discretion a distinctive aspect even if it should be noted that times have changed a lot compared to the past and that even the military world has adapted for what it has been able to open to the public and citizens, like much of the public administration. But it would be a mistake to think that this opening is extended to the operating world, properly said, it is and we believe rightly it will remain difficult to access a large audience without the Armed Forces being accused of being denied.

We wanted to hear about this theme, who for many years has been part of that operational military world, General Marco Bertolini, former commander of the thunderbolt and commander of the Interforces Operating Command.

General how do you judge the conclusions reached by the parliamentary inquiry committee on uranium and which were made public by Senator Scanu?

It seemed to me a frontal attack on the Armed Forces that has the only effect, the malicious would say only the purpose, to erode at the base the raison d'etre of the military organization. It is regrettable to note that Senator Scanu, who is well aware of the military reality for having been involved as president of the Senate defense commission for many years, has such a low consideration of the leadership of the Armed Forces, becoming a promoter of a real revolution against the Italian military reality . A moral and motivational revolution, which puts the Commanders on the dock of the accused; that nailed them to the role of "employers", with all the bureaucratic tasks involved, also forcing them into operations - Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon and shortly, Niger - to focus their attention on important rules for a normal working environment, but much less for the operational environment, distracting them from their main task, namely operational planning to counter "real" threats to the safety of their men.

Do you think that behind the commission's conclusions there is not only the search for truth?

To tell the truth, given the attack so obvious, I wondered if there was not something personal, maybe due to the next election. I can also understand that expectations betrayed can generate resentment, with particular reference to the incredible proposal to invest the INAIL of the problem of military safety, with the consequent checks and checks on the safety of the same, in garrison, training and even operations, which they would have resulted. An act, therefore, that would have shown a rancoroso distrust of the Armed Forces, refusing to recognize the military world a specificity that makes it different in all from any other organization or other institution of the State.

So you general, is it critical of the application of the normal safety rules to the military work environment?

They are when it comes to operational activities, where the military is normally called upon to operate. In this regard, however, allow me to add, that the commissioners' solicitude would have been welcome if only they had had the humility to recognize what is known in all countries of the world: that is, that the first security measure for soldiers it is represented by training, not by giving up on it because it is “dangerous”. In fact, it is the credible, realistic, hard and continuous training that puts them in conditions, once in operations, to react effectively and automatically to threats and not the respect of absurd safety rules dictated by some expert in accident prevention. Norms, the latter, which already force the soldier to systematically disobey them, as they are impossible to apply when it is done seriously. In fact, that of the soldier is not a profession like any other in which he has to face the banal incidence of chance or misfortune. In short, the main danger he faces is not the negligence, imprudence and inexperience of the employer, but a "murderous" will that exercises courage, professionalism, intelligence and spirit of sacrifice often pushed to heroism for the sole purpose to hit him.

Do you think the commission did not actually aim to meet the military?

Paradoxically, the road chosen by the willing parliamentarians of the commission was exactly the opposite: with surreal motivations the availability of training areas, devalued ideologically to contaminated buboes to be cleared by the Armed Forces, was reduced to levels that were decidedly insufficient. some cases are home to over a hundred-year-old world record families, as in the case of Perdas de Fogu in Sardinia; bay escaped the wild urbanization that has destroyed some of the most beautiful areas of the boot because it is reserved for the military.

If the commissioners actually felt so worried about the safety of our personnel, did they ask themselves how many shots did the soldiers who will be sending to Niger in a short time fire in training? They ask themselves the question of how many ammunition, how many spare parts for their vehicles do they have available in some of the most delicate areas of our corner of the world? Is it relevant for them to know how many exercises are done on the premise of employment? Or it is enough for them to know that the Commanders compile a nice Risk Assessment Document that pays attention to the height of the steps and the roof terraces, the qualification for "work at height" of the sentries, the air quality and the rest shifts, without considering the real threat, the armed and intelligent one of the counterpart they will face? In short, they are aware of the ideological removal of the reality of which they are guilty and which will force the next government, of whatever color it is, to remedy failures that could deprive us of an indispensable tool in order not to disappear, in order not to sink into the Mare ex-Nostrum in which we barely still float? They operated as if the Armed Forces were their thing, forgetting that they are the heritage of all our people, including the now vanished one who literally built the well-being we are enjoying and squandering and who considered soldiers their children, not stepchildren.