The Training School, National Intelligence Campus, told by the new director Paolo Scotto of Castelbianco

(To Andrea Cucco)

One of the main innovations brought by the 2007 Intelligence reform is the unification of several realities, now called Agencies, in a single School. Not a small step for the Information Services of a country with often competing logic and mentality. In the military sphere the way joint and combined, interforces, has been taken, obligatorily, for some time. And the military, more or less enthusiastically, appreciated it. Here, however, more has been done: a single institute has been set up for the overall Italian Intelligence staff that is formed by recruits to veterans with refresher courses.

For a month now, the head of the school has been the Head of Communications for the Intelligence Section, Paolo Scotto di Castelbianco, who in an interview with Defense Online describes mission and objectives of this plural structure which, with a broad educational offer, prepares the 007 of our time.

Director, how long has the new Training School been operational?

It was born as "unified" with the reform law. As with other functions provided for by the law, it is useful - as is obvious - a period of "adjustment of the shot". Today we are getting closer and closer to one Intelligence Academy.

Is there still some adjustment every year?

The School resembles in some way what is the general system of the Services, which are an active part in presenting the operational priorities. The government and the ministers of the CISR (Interministerial Committee for Security of the Republic, ed) establish the information needs that represent the priority for our final decision makers. The School - real Campus of Intelligence national - expresses long-term activities and updates its training offer according to the indications of the political decision-maker: it ranges from cyber to the analysis of ISIS propaganda. The School reality is a research and training center, but also an analysis multiplier. A place of training and promotion of safety culture, but also a structured 'bridge' for relations with the outside world and in particular with universities.

How many courses are there?

They range from initial training to highly specialized courses. And again, refresher courses that perform very specific functions, such as linguistic, cyber or fine mechanics laboratories, but also second-level courses designed to train the apical leadership.

Many 'pupils' come from the armed forces, others from the police and others from the civil world. We try to do them intelligently to contaminate and enrich each other with their own experiences. At school we show how we project ourselves and what we want to build for the future. We shorten the distance with the citizens and extend the field. A tool to give strategic depth.

How long does a young graduate's initial course take?

The newly recruited 30 from universities will receive a few months' training to learn the legal, organizational, or proper aspects of other operational sectors, so that even the man cyber you learn everything that can enrich your right of citizenship in the intelligence world. Then there is security and, of course, "operational" training, as you do not work for a company or for any office but for national intelligence.

Here work is the transmission of knowledge that is not trivial and often complex, it is a vision of the world and - as Ambassador Giampiero Massolo, Director General of the DIS says - it is also a great lesson in humanism. A learning that is often made by 'stealing' with the eyes and being together with more experienced colleagues, in a perimeter of strong availability, being all on the same side. Whoever enters the Services is considered one resource, not a hamster to run on a swivel.

Having already the responsibility of institutional communication. The new position of the school management will be a lot of work.

It's a good challenge. The 28 last October, in Gorizia - was the 21ma stage of our 'Intelligence live' roadshow in Italian universities - I showed, a little for fun and a bit for provocation, the trailer of the last James Bond film in which the protagonist jumps from one roof to another and shoots with a sniper rifle. I explained that there is nothing in the film, despite being very funny, that corresponds to our life. To give wrong expectations to young people means to get them here thinking about who knows what.

Il challange it is mainly "intellectual". There are no chases on the croisette of the French Riviera. We are called to put our intelligence at stake in the face of very complex problems. We need people willing to challenge each other constantly, moving their inner boundaries to decode the fluid reality in which we live.

I do not define our students only as "analysts", but true "intelligence officers". They are not passive recipients of cards but the protagonists of a journey, coming together in a common discourse of growth. They formulate definite thoughts and precise hypotheses. If you give me a quotation, that expression of Plutarch comes to mind: "Young people are not vases to be filled, but torches to light".

In any case, our boys are gods experts and reliable people, who can also be assigned missions in the field, for example to assess the quality of specialized information and therefore the reliability of the source that supplies them.

Such delicate tasks require character and motivational requirements. At Ferrari the figures are varied: there is the mechanic, the engineer and the pilot: all, however, work for the team and in one way or another are united by a passion for speed.

Can there be disillusionment among the students?

We try to ensure that this does not happen. At the beginning, many people are still waiting for a veil to open up to show the whole world. But then they understand how much theintus legere, the "DNA of intelligence", is the result of experience and subsequent professional growth. The School offers the toolbox, the toolbox. Balance, professionalism and top management indications will give direction to action.

It disappoints those who have been misinformed and therefore carry wrong expectations. We strive to provide the clearest possible picture, including developments. A fundamental task: we train those who will support us and then have operational and managerial tasks. Intelligence has gained a growing trust among citizens, today we can do more because there is an awareness of "shared" security. The young people do not think they have arrived on Captain Hook's ship but at a place of high responsibility.

In the past, part of the "obscure" appeal of the Services was linked to the mystery, to the lack of knowledge.

When I tell the young people that they won't have the gun or the card, or maybe Ursula Andress in a bikini waiting for them on a Caribbean atoll, that they don't play baccarat in an exotic casino dressed in a tuxedo, I explain to the new recruits that they need adrenaline to the state pure, but of another type.

In offices with even very different people for background there is great attention and tension to the result. We are a niche: we must give clear and competitively meaningful results to policy makers, always having our function clear. Let me give you an example: in economic intelligence we are not the Revenue Agency or the Guardia di Finanza, we are not the Bank of Italy study office or the commercial representative of the X or Y embassy ... We are intelligence: we must provide something that is not otherwise available to our decision maker. Teaming up with all the possible entities that play in the field.

I have visited many special forces departments. The cinematic aspect of the secret agent seemed to me to belong more to these soldiers.

In our world there is a part of high specialization dedicated to difficult theaters, sometimes almost impossible.

Not everyone has to do everything. I do not ask one of the Comsubin to manage the budget, as I do not ask one of the budget to parachute among the mangroves to help contact local sources or free hostages. The component special forces it exists and it is important but it is part of another recruitment tank, moreover a niche.

The potential damage of a highly evolved hacker could be greater than that of an Islamic terrorist. Of course, the impact on the public opinion of an attack is terrible, but the damage resulting from the violation of an industrial secret - with the consequent bankruptcy of a company and the loss of the job by employees - is a real threat that profiles the risk of a downgrading structural of the country. The new operative can wear amphibians and Saharan or 'take up' a laptop to manage a computer network.

Today, terrorists are increasingly able to hack as well as shoot.

It is true, but while the hacker terrorist represents a highly evolved generation, the majority still wear explosive belts.

I personally feel that the threat cyber is that which requires the utmost attention, also because it is not widely perceived as a danger.

It's like AIDS a few years ago: people contracted it, got sick and spread it because they didn't share the information or even knew it.

Many national companies, in particular SME companies - for reticence or for fear of losing market share, or simply for lack of culture cyber - they underestimate the risk. It is a real problem: to reach the building we are in, we need to overcome various physical barriers, but a computer can also be violated by Timbuktù. Not to mention that each of us brings with it a smartphone that tells its own life: photos, appointments, passwords, contacts, social networks.

On this point it will be easier to work with the new generations.

The goal that we set ourselves in contacts with universities is to draw on qualified and virtuous energies, aware and prepared to bring them into our world. The 'new blood' regenerates the whole organism. Of course, we are talking about minimum numbers, almost "homeopathic", but it is an ongoing process.

We are trying to create a system by collaborating with higher education centers such as universities or academies, the industrial world and institutions such as the CNR or the Space Agency. Rightly, Undersecretary Marco Minniti, Delegated Authority for Security of the Republic talks about strategic alliance between Intelligence and academy.

The meeting continues, and young people are also encouraged with scholarships. Our committee has recently examined the theses, awarding 5 graduates of the same number of universities. In particular, I appeal the contribution of a student of the University of Cagliari who, starting from smartphone vulnerability, has developed strategies to attack the system Android . A study that highlighted a dynamic and creative mentality. We verified the proposed - "in vitro", respecting the limits of the law - and it works. The example applies as a figure: those who are able to innovate and bring new ideas certainly deserve to work with us.

When you look at these guys, remembering your training period, what do you think?

I think they're luckier. Every age has its own rules of social interaction and the "School" of my time was very different. When I started, there was the "Karate Kid" method: wax it, remove the wax ... Things were often done without immediately understanding its importance. Today the training is more inclusive and interactive.

Less ideologies ...

Above all an opening to the world. Today Intelligence is aware of the value of need to share rather than traditional need to know to the bitter end. Another aspect is the benefit of a world that, although hierarchical, has had to confront and adapt to a "liquid" threat that has overcome certain rigidities. Less hierarchy and more participation but also a lower 'hood' linked to secrecy and a remodulated security according to the actual need.

Twenty years ago it was forbidden to take photos from a plane. If I well remember even for a Royal Decree.

In my day it was forbidden to bring a camera here. There are still prohibition signs but it is obvious that the evolution of mobile phones has made the prescription obsolete. There are structures that considered operating success to go and photograph a tank in Russia during a military parade.

The work of "M" who assigns the task to Mr. Paolo Bond it is surpassed by what is available today on the net. Anyone with a mobile phone in their hands has become a reporter, photographer, journalist or spy.

Returning to the School, was the goal fully achieved?

There is still a lot of work to do. But my predecessor was able to set up a reality of great value. The School is now a mature structure to respond to the requests and priorities of the Agencies. Not only for young recruits but also for the periodic updating of us veterans. We all need to periodically updates, from executives to analysts. Here, three relational spheres with different magnitudes converge and meet: that of school, of public administration and of industry.

We try to be in contact with Italian and foreign industrial realities, from research centers like the Polytechnic of Turin, fromIntelligence Academy of the CIA to the High School of the Magistracy in Scandicci. The watchword is contamination.

We must strengthen an identity DNA that is already present but must be perfected. As at the time of the Savoy unification, everyone immediately felt like Italians, but everyone brought their different origins with them. In the same way we must overcome definitively thatio are of DIS, AISE, AISI. We are all men or women of the state, band players for the political decision maker.

How does recruitment happen?

The ways are self-nomination on the site and universities which - having found the requisites required - provide the curricula of those interested. You are then called for an informative interview and whoever shows promising characteristics continues the process.

And the career? The military model, for example, for recruitment prefigures a certain horizon.

It is not a military model. Each year, once or twice, the curricula are examined for access to the higher grade in a scientific manner. A commission made up of top grades decides - based on curriculum, quality of work, attitudes, and other characteristics - who to advance.

(also read: "Secret Services: growing confidence, new challenges and sought-after figures")