By Andrea Bonetti
A bright conversation about the Italian role in Libya, the future of NATO and the Italian Air Force operativity with Gen. (ret.) Leonardo Tricarico, former head of the Italian Air Force, former Deputy Commander of the Multinational Coalition Force in the Balkans and former military advisor of three Italian Prime Ministers (1999-2004)
Which strategies Italy and the international community will have to decide to reconcile Libya?
From a strategic view, it is obvious that you need a deeper reconciliation in Libya, extended to many other parts of the process in which is divided the Libyan area, made by actors as armed gangs, tribes and powerful local families. To all this, we must add a confusing power geometry that is very difficult to understand because it is a very changeable geometry.
The reunification process is not simple, but it is the final goal.
A significant help to reach this final objective is represented by external sponsors, among which someone should be noted that behaves hypocritically: France. Because there is a big difference between what is officially declared during the negotiations and what it does on the ground especially in Cyrenaica. For a true Libyan reconciliation, with the support of the international community, we should create a common plan and vision for this country.
Now also the Russian Federation is approaching this issue, it has other intentions, but you have to activate a dialogue with Moscow and to other partners.
Meanwhile, Italy has taken the lead that everyone hoped for, but we are doing it with a great difficulty.
In Libya, when there was a government in its full capacity and without internal legitimacy, approved a draft of border control accorded with the Italian one. Of course, the latter concerned the south of Libya, Fezzan. Because if we not close the migratory flow in that area, we will not solve the problem of migrants and they will remain on Libyan soil, with all the chaos situation that you can imagine.
Today that plan, subject to a formal agreement signed between the Italian Government and the Libyan one, is still valid. There aren’t, however, the right conditions to implement it in full, because in some of its parts provides a control of an area that is now much more difficult, if not impossible, to control for the current government.
Today, you could just put a limited operational capability but very important, at least in part to monitor and contrast the migration flow from southern Libya borders.
Thanks to your military experience in the international arena as NATO should be updated?
The US President called NATO an obsolete instrument, strong adjective, perhaps too much, but it gives a good idea of the Alliance’s condition today. It needs a serious reassessment of its raison d’etre, so we are not talking about platitudes. Unfortunately, the counterterrorism activities, find a small space within the Alliance, which should be the main activity of NATO today.
With more energy, we must continue in the process of renovation because it is a reflection that the Alliance has begun for years and unfortunately did not give great results, so if there will be a “Trump effect” this will be welcome. Today, NATO must move towards a new life, because is still introverted on rituals now moldy and have no real valid reasons.
A first step has been taken, namely to create a Hub in Naples, within NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples, of a task force of a few dozen terrorism experts that can monitor and provide the Alliance, in one of its major commands, an important technical support.
But is not enough, it does not involve any significant change in the ability to fight terrorism, and I hope it is just the beginning for a new NATO’s structure.
Despite the heavy budget cuts to the Italian Air Force, how do you see its operativity in the modern theaters?
Thanks to smart choices made in the past, the Italian Air Force has a really important operational capacity , although a niche capacity, namely you have not neglected all the technicalities in asymmetrical conflicts, despite the budgetary austerity which for more than 10 years is inflicting not only the Air Force but all the Italian Armed Forces.
Today we can say that the Italian Air Force is always first and always present, with a limited capacity, in all most important modern war theaters.
Regarding drones, Italy can count a superior professionalism, to any other European Armed Force, to use and control the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
Now, there is a great excitement around the drones, especially in non-military use. This is something that will explode in size in the coming years, hoping that growth will be orderly and will not be going to affect the side of safety, with a special regard to terrorism issue.