The Italian reserve: an underutilized resource?

(To Gianluca Celentano)
15/01/20

Could getting back into the game by dressing the stars after years from leave could be a healthy and useful alternative to get away from the daily routine? For some countries it is the norm, see Switzerland, but clearly the choice should not be opportunistic but rather dictated by a deep determination and a strong motivation.

I already hear your comments, in particular from those who want a reintroduction of the draft, but also from those who consider the military reserve a highly justified stratagem to get away from their wife for a few months ...

A context, that of the completion forces, fairly well-established even if little publicized in Italy and considered more as a special niche rather than a concrete advantage for the country. The selected reserve - reserved for officers - still assumes a predominant role compared to the simple one, open to other categories, but for both the means to return to active service in the Armed Forces, in addition to a regular request, often occurs through associations of a weapon rather than a fiduciary relationship with some commander. But how are things really?

The reserve, useful but underutilized?

The discussion is complex and to clarify some more practical aspects on the economic benefits of the "professional on call" we should probably also analyze the welfare of a country with questionable ability to give answers to its citizens, also taking into account the long precariousness - even ten years - voluntary graduates of the armed forces.

A member of a military union confides to me that he is very skeptical about the reserve, posing me a very felt problem within the Defense. This would involve the need for a drastic staff cut to optimize it to 150 thousand units, pushing it towards a retirement favored by a multiplier to earn five years during the last year of active service. However, the lack of certainty of this incentive would prevent older people from hanging on their uniform.

For the record, I report that the personal feeling after the words of the military representative is quite controversial. In fact, it does not seem to leak, at least from his point of view, an aspect of economic convenience that would free up resources for the staff.

So what are other soldiers for?

It is no secret that in some ways the completion forces represent a direct saving and an appreciable advantage for the administration of the Defense, even if the Palazzo in via XX Settembre is currently oriented towards lowering the age of the chosen ones in continuous service. A line that would favor the precariousness of the prolonged detention, placing marshals and sergeants in the corner also of the reserve.

It is therefore not very clear, but it is worth reporting, if someone in the barracks can actually feel evicted from his military history to make room for those called back, who would willingly accept the current conditions. However, having taken note of the tight Defense budgets of 1,3% of GDP (v.articolo) but also of the declarations of authoritative editors of newspapers, see Sallusti "Il Giornale", a sort of will emerges in breaking down the army and the armed forces that currently would not yet be at an appreciable synergy regime to speak concretely of European armed force. Besides, I think no other state is.

Probably, the finger should also point to a certain incapacity or "political will" in analyzing the reality of the military world, considering the concept of "voluntary service on call" as a real opportunity if the amount of work requires it.

Try to think, and here comes welfare, to the professional training that a modern armed force could transmit to an unemployed person who clearly has the qualifications and the right motivation to engage in uniformed work for a few months. Or the appreciation of a professional soldier in receiving the long-awaited holiday license knowing that his post will be temporarily covered by another soldier; a reservist volunteer, although older.

An added value

Compared to certain training internships, perhaps financed in a closed box by the European Social Fund and proposed by schools, the armed forces could offer without a real commitment, training in exchange for services to the structure.

A super reservist

I thought it interesting to insert the story of a reserve sergeant. I met Roberto Lala in the cold western suburbs of Milan (photo), of which I was impressed by his human qualities even before the operational ones. He has a calm attitude despite being surrounded by numerous operational certificates and, if I do not interrupt him, the chat is likely to move towards the drama of child malnutrition in Africa.

Roberto Lala is 46 years old and comes from the Army like me; he too enlisted as a vfp with the canons of the law of 24 December 1986, n. 958 an opportunity that actually gave a limited number of passes into permanent service.

Before noting his high-level preparation, my eye falls on a book written by Colonel Francesco Cardullo, "Method and Soul" which describes Roberto's skills and attitudes in detail in his over two hundred recall days.

In his postcards of precept, the references in artillery, tank and cavalry and many others stand out; among these there is even a reference to the CIMIC "Milites civisque alacrites", department of civil and military cooperation. In addition to countless courses and patents, some organized by AESOR (European Reserve Non-commissioned Officers Association) and carried out at NATO in the Rapid Reaction Dept. - Rapid Deployable Corps - NRDC-ITA, there is also the go-ahead for a recall in 4 ° regiment Cleaning alpine paratroopers.

Reservists: the analysis of a president

I also wanted to listen to the opinion of Lieutenant Fabio Bulfoni, entrepreneur and president of the National Reservists Federation. Reserve officer with numerous references including the dependence of the 1st FOD, Fabio shows an evident pessimism but above all he is critical of a system that would not properly and voluntarily enhance the already existing military base on leave. In fact, although NATO has always shown the green disk to the reserve, Italy would prefer new enlistments in the RFC - Recruitment of Completion Forces - despite having large numbers of citizens discharged and available; graduate and former AUC.

On this occasion, we cannot shun a good luck at the 33rd Course of the Selected Reserve which on 6 December swore in Turin at the Army Application School (photo).

Photo: author / ministry of defense