Italy's security policy is focused on terrorism, refugees
and migration flows as well as security problems in northern
Africa, the Middle East and the Balkan Peninsula. Defense
and security policy rests on membership of the UN, NATO and
the EU. Italy was one of the original members of NATO when
the organization was formed in 1949 and the defense is
integrated with the joint defense of NATO.
Italy is active in the development of the EU's common
border and coastal surveillance and in the operational
cooperation of the European Union's border control authority
for external borders; European Border and Coast Guard Agency
The country regularly contributes to crisis management
efforts led by NATO, the EU and the UN. After the end of the
Cold War, the defense has, like many Western defense forces,
focused on being able to carry out crisis management
operations outside its own territory with easy-moving,
The country is an important base area for the United
States, which has a relatively large troop presence,
including the headquarters of the US Navy in Europe and
Africa (Sixth Fleet) as well as combat aircraft and one of
three US brigades in Europe. The defense is integrated with
NATO's joint defense. One of NATO's two operational
headquarters is in Naples. Italy is also responsible for one
of NATO's nine corps headquarters. Italy regularly
contributes to NATO, the EU and the UN crisis management
In 2005, 10,000 people were in international crisis
management operations. In 2016, defense costs accounted for
about 1.1 percent of GDP, which is equivalent to about US $
22 billion. Italy has the fifth largest defense budget among
NATO countries by
The Italian defense force consists of the army, navy, air
force and Carabinieri. The latter is a militarily
organized police force mainly operating in the Italian
countryside, which is operationally under the Ministry of
the Interior but organizationally under the Ministry of
Guardia di Finanza is a police force organized
according to military patterns that deal with drug
trafficking, smuggling and financial crime, among other
things. Altogether, the military defense comprises 350,000
people, of which more than 100,000 in Carabinieri and 68,000
in Guardia di Finanza. Italy, like most Western defense
forces, has discontinued military service and all personnel
have been recruited since 2005 on a voluntary basis.
In 1999, Italy, as the last NATO country, decided to
allow women in defense. In 2011, women still accounted for
only 3 percent of the total workforce.
The army comprises three divisional commanders, nine
brigades (two of which are heavy and one airborne) with
approximately 90,000 military personnel (2016). Of the stock
can be mentioned about 200 tanks, 380 heavy armored
vehicles, 550 tanks, over 60 band artillery pieces and some
50 drawn artillery pieces as well as 59 attack and over 100
transport helicopters. The Navy, which is one of the largest
in Europe, has two smaller aircraft carriers, seven
submarines, four fighters, 13 frigates, four corvettes, 10
patrol vessels and a number of patrol boats and support
vessels. A naval brigade of 3,800 people is supported by
three land-based vessels. The Navy also has around 50
helicopters and 14 Harrier II fighter aircraft. The latter
will eventually be replaced by 15 modern F35Bs.
The Air Force consists of approximately 70 Tornado and 50
AMX attack planes. 96 Eurofighter hunting and attack plans
have been ordered, of which 82 have been delivered (2016).
In addition, 75 F35A/B hunting and attack plans have been
ordered to replace Tornado and AMX during the 2020s. For
tactical air transport there are about 30 C130 Hercules and
C27 Spartan. In addition, there are helicopters, air
refueling, sea surveillance and electronic surveillance
planes as well as unmanned remote controlled reconnaissance
planes, so-called drones.
Italy has an extensive defense industry and the majority
of the equipment is manufactured wholly or partly in the
country. Italy participates in several international defense
industry projects, such as Eurofighter and F35.
Italy's defense overview
General military service was abolished in Italy in 2005.
All defense service is now voluntary for both men and women
from the age of 18; the initial service is 10 months in all
branches of defense. Italy is a member of NATO. The total
force figures for Italy's armed forces are 171,050 active
personnel, a reserve of 18,300 personnel, and 175,750
semi-military personnel (2018, IISS). The United States has
a total of 12,750 personnel in Italy.
The Army has a workforce of 99,950 active personnel, and
a reserve of 13,400 personnel. Heavy equipment includes 200
Ariete- type tanks, 428 storm- armored vehicles, and 828
armored personnel vehicles. The Army also has six light
transport aircraft and 193 helicopters, including 36 combat
helicopters of the AW129 Mangusta type.
The Air Force has a staff strength of 41,400 active
personnel. Material comprising 86 fighters central
Eurofighter Typhoon, 97 fighter aircraft (34 Tornado IDS, 15
Tornado ECR, 39 AMX Ghibli and nine F-35 Lightning II), two
maritime patrol aircraft, six tanker, 74 transport aircraft,
109 trainers, and 104 helicopters, and 14 heavy armed
The naval personnel has 30,000 active personnel,
including 3,000 marines. The fleet includes eight tactical
submarines, two light aircraft carriers, 11 fighters, five
frigates, 15 patrol vessels, 10 minesweepers, three dock
landing vessels, 24 landings, and 63 logistics and auxiliary
The Navy's aircraft have 16 Harrier II fighter aircraft,
three maritime patrol aircraft, and 70 helicopters.
Carabinieri is a semi-military weaponry of its own and
has a personnel strength of 107,650. Materials include three
armored personnel vehicles, one aircraft, 43 helicopters and
69 patrol vessels.
The semi-military Customs Service is subordinate to the
Ministry of Defense and has a staff of 68 100, 179 patrol
vessels and one aid vessel.
In 2018, Italy participated in NATO operations in
Afghanistan (Operation Resolute Support) with 800
personnel, and in Serbia (KFOR) with 538 personnel.
Italy participated in UN operations in Lebanon (UNIFIL)
with 1043 personnel, in Mali (MINUSMA) with two personnel,
and in Western Sahara (MINURSO) with two observers.
In addition, the country participated in Operation
Inherent Resolve with 845 personnel and four
helicopters in Iraq and 255 personnel, four fighter aircraft
and two combat drones in Kuwait.