As economies across the globe continue to contract, navies, armies, and air forces are being told, if not, “do more with less” to at least “do the same with less.” Proceedings thus asked sea-service commanders around the world: What innovative efficiencies and economies are you implementing, or considering implementing, to improve force readiness?
Vice Admiral Luigi Binelli Mantelli
Italy is undergoing a radical change of its armed forces organizational model and at the same time trying to maintain and further enhance current capabilities. In the process, defining a balance between cuts in the defense budget and the navy’s increasing requirements is not an easy task.
The Italian Navy’s main challenge is continuing to operate as effectively as in the past and, at the same time, move toward a more balanced and sustainable structure, especially in financial terms. Therefore, even with the budget shrinking we believe the solution lies in rebalancing available resources to contain expenditures for personnel, support more coherent research and development, and properly fund operation and maintenance—all according to the well-known formula of 50 percent/25 percent/25 percent.
Along those lines, a deep and concrete review of the entire navy at the operational, territorial and organizational levels is ongoing. The process will greatly help in speeding up the modernization process. The streamlining of central and peripheral structures, reduction of the overall personnel numbers, and the optimization of our territorial footprint are some of the actions already taken.
Additionally, we are downsizing the operational line through an anticipated phase-out of older units in favor of a reduced yet balanced navy that is modern and efficient. We also are working toward a concentration of operational, technical, and logistic functions in three naval hubs—La Spezia, Taranto, and Augusta—thus creating synergies and optimizing resources.
To summarize, in order to contend with current financial conditions while continuing to meet force-readiness requirements, the Italian Navy is proceeding threefold:
• Streamlining organizational structure from top to middlel to achieve a more responsive and effective decision-making process within the General Staff, while focusing on a clearer, more linear definition of executive responsibilities and related control.
• Continuing the existing fleet’s modernization program, aimed at maintaining balance in all components. Quality versus quantity is our focus, such as having fewer but more flexible platforms. Likewise, new technologies and new working methodologies will allow us to conserve resources while enhancing the required operational output.
• Facing personnel losses with an investment in attracting a new generation of open-minded sailors geared toward flexibility, cooperation, diplomacy, and leadership to better deal with future challenges.
All those efforts will allow the Italian Navy to remain, as we say, “Triple-A Rated”: Available (i.e., active), Adaptive, and Affordable.