The government chaired by Mario Draghi is about to revolutionize the defense leaders. In fact, it finds most of them expiring. He has already appointed General Luciano Portolano general secretary of defense – national director of armaments in place of Nicolò Falsaperna at the end of the post. But in early November, the Chief of Defense Staff, Enzo Vecciarelli, and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Alberto Rosso, expire. All four-star assignments as from August also that of the Covi-operational command of the joint top forces, left by Portolano. Another appointment to make. But since yesterday there is a big news.
New rules for the appointment to the Smd top
The most coveted and prestigious post, the most powerful and highest in the hierarchy, is the Chief of Defense Staff (Smd). Under him are the leaders of the Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Air Force and Arma dei Carabinieri. The head of Smd is in direct line with the Minister of Defense Lorenzo Guerini. Both, in their respective roles, do not fail to interact with the President of the Republic, supreme head of the Armed Forces, who has his own military adviser plus the Supreme Defense Council. Lorenzo Guerini must propose the new number one of Smd to the Council of Ministers. But the range of choices appeared to be limited by the legislation in place. Thus, an amendment was introduced in the decree law on justice and defense dismissed by the Council of Ministers on 29 September. From last night in the Official Gazette.
The Navy at the top of the Defense
According to a consolidated practice in the political choice of the Smd summit, a rotation between the Armed Forces follows. It is indicated by the acronym EMA: Army, Navy, Air Force. The alternation has always been respected with one exception a few years ago. The Air Force skipped the turn, the government then led by Matteo Renzi preferred the then Chief of Staff of the Army, Claudio Graziano, now president of the Military Committee of the European Union, to the number one of the Blue Army, Pasquale Preziosa. This time there was a risk of blowing up the Navy. Because its chief of staff, Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, is over 64 years old: he has therefore exceeded 63 years, the limit of the so-called “effective permanent service”. According to the COM-code of the military order, article 1094 paragraph 4, “the military leaders, if reached by the age limits, are recalled by authority until the end of the mandate”. Then they retire “with no possibility of extension or renewal,” says the code.
Practice and freedom of political choice
But the rule for appointing the head of Smd (art. 25 of the COM) provides for the choice “among officers in permanent service of a rank not lower than that of general of the army corps of the Italian Army, of squad admiral of the Navy military and air squad general of the Air Force ». The indication “in permanent service” cut out, therefore, the current Chief of Staff of the Navy “recalled”. In theory, it should be added, a “three stars” would suffice and not the “four stars” shining only on the epaulettes of the heads of the Armed Forces and the Secretary General of Defense. But practice has always seen the arrival of a “four-star” officer at Smd. And the practice is often stronger than the law. Thus, when the defense circulated the hypothesis of appointing a “only” three-star admiral to Smd, crooked faces, stomach ache, complaints and protests took off. In short, it had never happened: according to some it could not and should not have happened.
A political, institutional, economic strategy
But the push to bring the Navy back to the helm of the Defense Staff was very strong. Right from the highest political-institutional levels. The most informed had discovered it about six months ago. Compliance with the alternation criterion and the need to put the head of a strategic armed force for the national defense industry, from Leonardo to Fincantieri, at the top of the Smd, have done the rest. hypothesis of appointing the current number one of the Navy, Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, to Smd. A recognized “four star”. The hypothesis, as a theorist, became concrete. The necessary norm, however, came up at the last minute. The release of this choice lies in article 2 “Urgent provisions on defense” of the decree law “Provisions on the acquisition of telephone and electronic traffic data for criminal investigation purposes”, which was fired on the Cdm last Wednesday.