In the wake of Tito Boeri's statements on military privileges: how information can be misleading!


Dear director, I listened with bitterness to the words of Dr. Tito Boeri during the Rai3 broadcast "Che Tempo Che Fa" in response to the question of the host Fabio Fazio on how the government can reach the threshold of 2% of GDP to be allocated to military spending , based on the (non-binding, but renewed) commitment between NATO countries. I would have expected a comparative analysis, linked to the need to maintain the military instrument at certain standards, but Dr. Boeri, economist and former president of the National Institute of Social Security (INPS), whose military history is not known to me, yes is expressed with a laconic “If we could take away a few privileges…”, revealing a superficiality of analysis that cannot be justified with simple percentages.

What strikes me most is the use of the word "privileges", particularly hateful in any context and absolutely inappropriate in the military one. Although in the post-war period a part of the population enlisted to look for a secure job, the trend has definitely changed over time. The increasing professionalism of the staff and the contacts with other operating realities have led to the creation of increasingly motivated staff, grown in the tradition of their departments but projected towards the future. From this marriage, tradition and innovation, the current Armed Forces and Police were born, men and women strongly motivated to serve the country. Hearing the word privileges of state servants, in a public sphere such as television, is therefore out of place.

As a soldier's son, I grew up in a rented house where you barely made ends meet, the only privilege of the time was a discount on trains that the family members shared during my father's leave (a privilege which, don't worry, hasn't existed for over 40 years). A hard life that I decided to follow, as an officer, attending the Naval Academy, to then serve for almost 15 years on ships and another 22 in assignments both in Italy and abroad... a difficult life, which I shared with many colleagues, of any rank and armed force, spending long periods away from personal affections, carrying out complex and sometimes risky missions. Italians in uniform who make our country great, carrying out activities where there are no privileges of any kind; I saw officers and sailors sharing the same ship, the same food, the same watch shifts, in days that seemed endless, marked by sunrises and sunsets, where the sea was not always a postcard and reminded us of our human frailty. Allow me now to address the person concerned directly.

Dear Doctor Boeri,

in the show “Che tempo che fa?” of January 29, you mentioned the privileges of the military. As a military man who served nearly 40 years in the Navy, I was nothing short of embittered by her statements. I am not referring to your assessments of military spending, which denote your lack of knowledge of the mechanism of planning armaments in the national and NATO spheres, but to some statements about what you consider privileges of the military and their actual commitment in conflict zones .

Evidently she does not know their life and that of their families. As a sailor, I would have liked to share with you so many of those days spent at sea during delicate maritime safety missions for the protection of our commercial traffic, or even in areas of war like in Afghanistan where, between one mission and another, we rested in tents of 80 people, piled on dirty mattresses that we passed in rotation among colleagues from different nations; it would have been interesting for her to spend a day amidst the sirens of the ambulances carrying the wounded from Kabul's helicopter pads and in the evening anxiously look for friends who sometimes didn't return; live the reality that is not the glossy, radical chic one shown by certain television shows, full of fine words and intentions, but the real one where Man, in spite of himself, out of a sense of duty and dedication to our country, is called to face daily risks. If you have it confirmed by the journalists of war, who shared those days with us, between the dust and the sweat. But maybe even these are privileges for her. Out of respect for all the servants of the State, instead of free doing good, we should have the ethical and moral courage to recognize these Italians for their sacrifice and remember that conflicts, although fought by the military, are always the result of a political decision .

Last but not least, you said the military, fortunately without having done any war, one finds very rich pensions. This statement is disconcerting and offensive ... first of all, it should tell the families of the over 180 soldiers who died in combat after the second war worldwide in carrying out operations on foreign theaters and to those of those who died from serious illnesses contracted for reasons of service. Do you think a privileged pension is enough to ease their pain?

On the "wealth" of the pensions you mentioned, it is, as you should well know, given by the contributions they pay directly to the source every month, based on salaries lower than the European and American continent averages. From direct experience I can tell you that NATO colleagues, in addition to having higher salaries, have social protection bodies that ensure them free medical care, VAT exemptions on all kinds, and assistance to families when employed in areas of war or conflict. It does not seem to me that this happens in Italy where every servant of the State sent on mission receives an allowance taxed at the highest rate and does not enjoy any privileges.

Let's go back to the personnel who work on the national territory; soldiers, sailors, airmen, carabinieri, policemen, financiers and firefighters (but also civil defence, Red Cross nurses, etc.) have served and serve our country daily in silence and self-sacrifice. A commitment they have always shown during natural disasters, where and when required, such as during the last pandemic. What privileges are you talking about?

I want to hope that your claims are based on the fact that they are experiences that you have never had. As a sailor, allow me to tell you that you probably don't know what it's like to go out at night on a bridge deck, with an icy wind that cuts your face, to try to identify shipwrecked people to save, spend days with stormy seas eating only dry bread and biscuits because it is impossible to cook, to live with the ice of the bridge and the hell of the engine rooms for days and nights. This certainly pays off less than a token for participating in a television program for a few minutes.

A constant commitment that these men and women, and their families, subjected to periodic transfers that are not always easy, certainly do not face due to the salaries they receive. They do it, as anachronistic as it may seem to you, because they decide to selflessly serve our country which, you will agree, every servant of the state, uniformed or otherwise, should do. A trend that may seem countercurrent in a society that prefers to "not look" at problems and let itself be carried away on the waves of gossip and bread and circuses. Maybe that's why the servants of the State are annoying: because they are transparent and show a clean face of Italy that doesn't need jokes and glitter to demonstrate its value. These men and women prove it every day, ensuring the defense and security of the state, while aware that the media often only remember them when they make the news.

Let us now move on to a field that is certainly more congenial to you. As a technician, you should know that state salaries are certainly not comparable to those of the private sector. The salaries of military and law enforcement executives are in line with those of other administrations (probably the percentage of first-tier military executives approaching the salaries of similar executives in other state administrations is quite low) … furthermore, the salary differences among active servicemen are no longer as significant as they were 50 years ago.

In practice, the pay packets are diversified by the activities carried out, so much so that most of the additional allowances, the ones that make the difference, are the extraordinary ones (such as, for example, allowances for war, boarding, flight, special forces, etc.). The end-of-the-month account also includes fees for services beyond normal working hours, such as on-call services and activities carried out for our safety (think of the carabinieri, policemen, firefighters and financiers), which cannot always be fully paid due to chronic lack of funds. Perhaps public opinion does not know how many of them work beyond their due despite knowing that they will not be paid in full. It's called professional conscience, the same that we find in other sectors of society such as hospitals, where nurses and doctors continue to work after hours for our well-being.

As you are well aware, military salaries and allowances are taxed according to precise state rules and are repaid at the end of their careers with a retirement allowance which is always commensurate with the personal activities of those entitled. Please note that I have used the term retirement and not pension, because the military, unlike other non-uniformed civil servants, leave effective service upon reaching the age limit but can always be recalled in case of emergency until late age. There are therefore no gifts of any kind, as each period of their retirement service is always redeemed at source. Instead, it would be interesting to understand how, from the moment of leave to definitive retirement, ten or more years can pass for the completion of the practice, which, allow me, should be the Institute's highest priority. Perhaps you have tried to improve the situation, but it seems to me that these problems still exist today which force those entitled to have to request the completion of their practices.

In summary, it would be nice if you no longer used the term "privileges" as your television statements have not only offended thousands of Italians but have hurt their spirit, their ideals, their motivations that make our country great, a vulnerability that a State Executive of his experience cannot ignore. I therefore believe that it would be appropriate for you to officially apologize to all State servants and their families, men and women who share the highest values ​​of our Constitution that cannot be vilified in a television studio.

rear admiral (reserve) Andrea Mucedola

Frame: RAI