Italian Armed Forces

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Italian Armed Forces
Forze armate italiane (FF.AA.)
Stemma araldico e distintivo dello Stato Maggiore Difesa.svg
Coat of Arms of the Italian Defence Staff
Founded4 May 1861
Service branches Coat of arms of the Esercito Italiano.svg Italian Army

Coat of arms of Marina Militare.svg Italian Navy
Coat of arms of the Italian Air Force.svg Italian Air Force

Coat of arms of the Carabinieri.svg Carabinieri
Headquarters Rome [1]
President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte
Minister of Defence Lorenzo Guerini
Chief of the Defence Staff General Enzo Vecciarelli
Active personnel171,050 (2018) [2]
Reserve personnel18,300 (2018) [2]
Budget US$27.8 billion(2018) (SIPRI)
(ranked 11th) [3]
Percent of GDP1.3% (2018) [3]
Domestic suppliers Avio
CNH Industrial
Fiocchi Munizioni
Piaggio Aerospace
Foreign suppliersFlag of Europe.svg  European Union
Flag of the United States.svg  United States
Annual imports€2.202 billion (2017) [4]
Annual exports€3.060 billion (2017) [4]
Related articles
History Military history of Italy
Regio Esercito
Regia Marina
Regia Aeronautica
Ranks Italian Army ranks
Italian Navy ranks
Italian Air Force ranks
Carabinieri Ranks

The Italian Armed Forces (Italian : Forze armate italiane) encompass the Italian Army, the Italian Navy and the Italian Air Force. A fourth branch of the armed forces, known as the Carabinieri, take on the role as the nation's military police and are also involved in missions and operations abroad as a combat force. Despite not being a branch of the armed forces, the Guardia di Finanza is part of the military and operates a large fleet of ships, aircraft and helicopters, enabling it to patrol Italy's waters and to eventually participate in warfare scenarios. These five forces have military status and are all organized along military lines, comprising a total of 346,800 men and women with the official status of active military personnel, of which 171,050 are in the Army, Navy and Air Force. [2] [1] [5] [6] The President of the Italian Republic heads the armed forces as the President of the High Council of Defence established by article 87 of the Constitution of Italy. According to article 78, the Parliament has the authority to declare a state of war and vest the necessary powers in the Government. The Italian Armed Forces are in eighth place as the best armed forces. [7]

Italian language Romance language

Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire and, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to it of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it still plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Italian is included under the languages covered by the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Romania, although Italian is neither a co-official nor a protected language in these countries. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian and other regional languages.

Italian Army land warfare branch of Italys military forces

The Italian Army is the land-based component of the Italian Armed Forces of the Italian Republic. The army's history dates back to the unification of Italy in the 1850s and 1860s. The army fought in colonial engagements in China, Libya, Northern Italy against the Austro-Hungarian Empire during World War I, Abyssinia before World War II and in World War II in Albania, Balkans, North Africa, Russia and Italy itself. During the Cold War, the army prepared itself to defend against a Warsaw Pact invasion from the east. Since the end of the Cold War, the army has seen extensive peacekeeping service and combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank and among its aircraft the Mangusta attack helicopter, recently deployed in UN missions. The headquarters of the Army General Staff are located in Rome opposite the Quirinal Palace, where the president of Italy resides. The army is an all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel.

Italian Navy maritime warfare branch of Italys military

The Italian Navy is the Navy of the Italian Republic. It is one of the four branches of Italian Armed Forces and was formed in 1946 from what remained of the Regia Marina after World War II. As of August 2014, the Italian Navy had a strength of 30,923 active personnel with approximately 184 vessels in service, including minor auxiliary vessels. It is considered a multiregional and a blue-water navy.



The office of the Chief of Defence is organised as follows: [8]

Italian Defence organisation chart.jpg

PositionItalian titleRankIncumbent
Chief of the Defence StaffIl Capo di Stato Maggiore della DifesaGenerale Enzo Vecciarelli
Deputy Chief of the Defence StaffSottocapo di Stato Maggiore della DifesaGenerale di Squadra Aerea Luigi Francesco De Leverano [9]
Chief of Joint OperationsIl Comandante del Comando Operativo di Vertice Interforze Generale di Corpo d'Armata Luciano Portolano [10]

The four branches of Italian Armed Forces

Esercito Italiano

The ground force of Italy, the Regio Esercito dates back to the unification of Italy in the 1850s and 1860s. It fought in colonial engagements in China during the Boxer Rebellion, against the Ottoman Empire in Libya (1911-1912), on the Alps against the Austro-Hungarian Empire during World War I, in Abyssinia during the Interwar period, and in World War II in Albania, Greece, North Africa and Russia, as well as in the Italian Civil War. During the Cold War the Army prepared itself to defend against a Warsaw Pact invasion from the east. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it has seen extensive peacekeeping service in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq. On 29 July 2004 it became a professional all-volunteer force when conscription was finally ended.

Boxer Rebellion anti-imperialist uprising which took place in China

The Boxer Rebellion (拳亂), Boxer Uprising, or Yihetuan Movement (義和團運動) was an anti-imperialist, anti-foreign, and anti-Christian uprising that took place in China between 1899 and 1901, toward the end of the Qing dynasty. It was initiated by the Militia United in Righteousness (Yihetuan), known in English as the Boxers, for many of their members had been practitioners of Chinese martial arts, also referred to in the west as Chinese Boxing. The uprising took place against a background that included severe drought and disruption caused by the growth of foreign spheres of influence in China. After several months of growing violence in Shandong and the North China plain against the foreign and Christian presence in June 1900, Boxer fighters, convinced they were invulnerable to foreign weapons, converged on Beijing with the slogan Support the Qing government and exterminate the foreigners. Foreigners and Chinese Christians sought refuge in the Legation Quarter.

Ottoman Empire Former empire in Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa

The Ottoman Empire, historically known to its inhabitants and the Eastern world as Rome (Rûm), and known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. Although initially the dynasty was of Turkic origin, it was thoroughly Persianised in terms of language, culture, literature and habits. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.

Italo-Turkish War 1911–12 war between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Italy

The Italo-Turkish or Turco-Italian War was fought between the Kingdom of Italy and the Ottoman Empire from September 29, 1911, to October 18, 1912. As a result of this conflict, Italy captured the Ottoman Tripolitania Vilayet (province), of which the main sub-provinces (sanjaks) were Fezzan, Cyrenaica, and Tripoli itself. These territories together formed what became known as Italian Libya.

Marina Militare

The navy of Italy was created in 1861, following the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy, as the Regia Marina . The new navy's baptism of fire came during the Third Italian War of Independence against the Austrian Empire. During the First World War, it spent its major efforts in the Adriatic Sea, fighting the Austro-Hungarian Navy. In the Second World War, it engaged the Royal Navy in a two-and-a-half-year struggle for the control of the Mediterranean Sea. After the war, the new Marina Militare, being a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), has taken part in many coalition peacekeeping operations.It is a blue-water navy. The Guardia Costiera (Coast Guard) is a component of the navy.

Proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy

The proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy was the formal act that sanctioned the birth of the unified Kingdom of Italy. It happened with a normative act of the Kingdom of Sardinia - the law 17 March 1861, n. 4761 - with which Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy assumed for himself and for his successors the title of King of Italy. March 17 is commemorated annually by the "Anniversary of the Unification of Italy", a national holiday established in 1911 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary, and also celebrated, in the Republican era, in 1961 and 2011.

Regia Marina 1861–1946 maritime warfare branch of Italys military; predecessor of the Italian Navy

The Regia Marina was the navy of the Kingdom of Italy from 1861 to 1946. In 1946, with the birth of the Italian Republic, the Regia Marina changed its name to Marina Militare.

Third Italian War of Independence War in Italy

The Third Italian War of Independence was a war between the Kingdom of Italy and the Austrian Empire fought between June and August 1866. The conflict paralleled the Austro-Prussian War and, like that war, ended in an Austrian defeat, with Austria conceding the region of Venetia to Italy. Italy's acquisition of this wealthy and populous territory represented a major step in the process of Italian unification.

Aeronautica Militare

The air force of Italy was founded as an independent service arm on 28 March 1923, by King Vittorio Emanuele III as the Regia Aeronautica (which equates to "Royal Air Force"). During the 1930s, it was involved in its first military operations in Ethiopia in 1935, and later in the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939. Eventually, Italy entered World War II alongside Germany. After the armistice of 8 September 1943, Italy was divided into two sides, and the same fate befell the Regia Aeronautica. The Air Force was split into the Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force in the south aligned with the Allies, and the pro-Axis Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana in the north until the end of the war. When Italy was made a republic by referendum, the air force was given its current name Aeronautica Militare.

Air force military branch of service primarily concerned with aerial warfare

An air force or air army, is in the broadest sense, the national military branch that primarily conducts aerial warfare. More specifically, it is the branch of a nation's armed services that is responsible for aerial warfare as distinct from an army or navy. Typically, air forces are responsible for gaining control of the air, carrying out strategic and tactical bombing missions, and providing support to land and naval forces often in the form of aerial reconnaissance and close air support.

Victor Emmanuel III of Italy King of Italy from 1900–1946

Victor Emmanuel III was the King of Italy from 29 July 1900 until his abdication on 9 May 1946. In addition, he held the thrones of Ethiopia and Albania as Emperor of Ethiopia (1936–1941) and King of the Albanians (1939–1943). During his reign of nearly 46 years, which began after the assassination of his father Umberto I, the Kingdom of Italy became involved in two world wars. His reign also encompassed the birth, rise, and fall of Italian Fascism and its regime.

The Italian Royal Air Force was the name of the air force of the Kingdom of Italy. It was established as a service independent of the Royal Italian Army from 1923 until 1946. In 1946, the monarchy was abolished and the Kingdom of Italy became the Italian Republic, whereupon the name of the air force changed to Aeronautica Militare.


The Arma dei Carabinieri is the gendarmerie and military police of Italy. The corps was instituted in 1814 by King Victor Emmanuel I of Savoy with the aim of providing the Kingdom of Sardinia with a police corps; it is therefore older than Italy itself. The new force was divided into divisions on the scale of one division for each province of Italy. The divisions were further divided into companies and subdivided into lieutenancies, which commanded and coordinated the local police stations and were distributed throughout the national territory in direct contact with the public. The Italian unification saw the number of divisions increased, and in 1861 the Carabinieri were appointed the "First Force" of the new national military organization. In recent years Carabinieri units have been dispatched on peacekeeping missions, including Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. At the Sea Islands Conference of the G8 in 2004, the Carabinieri were given the mandate to establish a Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units (CoESPU) to spearhead the development of training and doctrinal standards for civilian police units attached to international peacekeeping missions. [11]

Gendarmerie military force charged with police duties among civilian populations

A gendarmerie or gendarmery is a military component with jurisdiction in civil law enforcement. The term gendarme is derived from the medieval French expression gens d'armes, which translates to "armed people". In France and some Francophone nations, the gendarmerie is a branch of the armed forces responsible for internal security in parts of the territory with additional duties as a military police for the armed forces. This concept was introduced to several other Western European countries during the Napoleonic conquests. In the mid twentieth century, a number of former French mandates or colonial possessions such as Lebanon, Syria, and the Republic of the Congo adopted a gendarmerie after independence.

Military police Police organization part of the military of a state

Military police (MP) are law enforcement agencies connected with, or part of, the military of a state.

Kingdom of Sardinia former Italian state (1324–1861)

The Kingdom of Sardinia was a state in Southern Europe from the early 14th until the mid-19th century.

International stance

Alpini of the 4th Alpini Paratroopers Regiment in Afghanistan in 2007 Alpini ISAF.jpg
Alpini of the 4th Alpini Paratroopers Regiment in Afghanistan in 2007

Italy has joined in many UN, NATO and EU operations as well as with assistance to Russia and the other CIS nations, Middle East peace process, peacekeeping, and combating the illegal drug trade, human trafficking, piracy and terrorism.

Italy did take part in the 1982 Multinational Force in Lebanon along with US, French and British troops. Italy also participated in the 1990–91 Gulf War, with the deployment of eight Panavia Tornado IDS bomber jets; Italian Army troops were subsequently deployed to assist Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq following the conflict.

As part of Operation Enduring Freedom, Italy contributed to the international operation in Afghanistan. Italian forces have contributed to ISAF, the NATO force in Afghanistan, and to the Provincial reconstruction team. Italy has sent 3,800 troops, including one infantry company from the 2nd Alpini Regiment tasked to protect the ISAF HQ, one engineer company, one NBC platoon, one logistic unit, as well as liaison and staff elements integrated into the operation chain of command. Italian forces also command a multinational engineer task force and have deployed a platoon of Carabinieri military police.

The Italian Army did not take part in combat operations of the 2003 Iraq War, dispatching troops only when major combat operations were declared over by the U.S. President George W. Bush. Subsequently, Italian troops arrived in the late summer of 2003, and began patrolling Nasiriyah and the surrounding area. Italian participation in the military operations in Iraq was concluded by the end of 2006, with full withdrawal of Italian military personnel except for a small group of about 30 soldiers engaged in providing security for the Italian embassy in Baghdad. Italy played a major role in the 2004-2011 NATO Training Mission to assist in the development of Iraqi security forces training structures and institutions.


Current operations of Italian Armed Forces highlighted on a map of Afro-Eurasia Italian Armed Forces operations.png
Current operations of Italian Armed Forces highlighted on a map of Afro-Eurasia

Since the second post-war the Italian armed force has become more and more engaged in international peace support operations, mainly under the auspices of the United Nations. The Italian armed forces are currently participating in 26 missions. [1]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Documento Programmatico Pluriennale per la Difesa per il triennio 2014-16" (pdf) (in Italian). Italian Ministry of Defence. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 IISS 2019, p. 120.
  3. 1 2 Tian, Nan; Fleurant, Aude; Kuimova, Alexandra; Wezeman, Pieter D.; Wezeman, Siemon T. (28 April 2019). "Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2018" (PDF). Stockholm International Peace Research Institute . Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  4. 1 2 "Rapporto sui lineamenti di politica del Governo in materia di esportazione, importazione e transito dei materiali d'armamento" (pdf) (in Italian). Prime Minister of Italy. 23 April 2012. p. 25. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  5. Lioe, Kim Eduard (25 November 2010). "Armed Forces in Law Enforcement Operations? - The German and European Perspective". Springer Science & Business Media. Retrieved 28 March 2018 via Google Books.
  6. Schmitt, M. N.; Arimatsu, Louise; McCormack, Tim (5 August 2011). "Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law - 2010". Springer Science & Business Media. Retrieved 28 March 2018 via Google Books.
  7. "LE 20 FORZE ARMATE PIU' FORTI DEL MONDO – CLASSIFICA AGGIORNATA". (in Italian). 5 April 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  8. "Organigramma". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  9. "Sottocapo di Stato Maggiore della Difesa -". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  10. "Il Comandante del Comando Operativo di Vertice Interforze". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  11. G-8 Action Plan: Expanding global capability for peace support operations Archived 2010-10-09 at the Wayback Machine . Carabinieri, June 2004.

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