Italy Military

Italy is a country located in the southern region of Europe. With a population of over 60 million people, it is the fifth most populous country in the European Union (EU). Italy is a parliamentary republic and its military consists of three branches: the Army, Navy and Air Force. The Armed Forces are responsible for defending the country’s borders and sovereignty, as well as providing security to its citizens. In terms of defense spending, Italy spends approximately $25 billion annually on its military, making it one of the highest defense spending nations in Europe. The country also participates in several NATO operations such as those in Afghanistan, as well as United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions such as those in Lebanon and Syria. Italy is also a member of both NATO and the EU, and has close ties with other NATO members such as France and Germany. See naturegnosis to learn more about the country of Italy.


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 Army

Land area 301,340 km²
Total population 62,402,659
Residents per km² 207.1
Capital Rome
Official language Italian
Income per capita $ 38,200
Currency Euro
ISO 3166 code IT
Internet TLD .it
License plate I.
Telephone code +39
Time zone UTC UTC + 1, daylight saving time UTC + 2
Geographic coordinates 42 50 N, 12 50 O

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 Frontex.

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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, prepared-for-granted units.

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 efforts.

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.

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 Defense.

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.

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.

Air Force

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 drones.

The Navy

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 vessels.

The Navy’s aircraft have 16 Harrier II fighter aircraft, three maritime patrol aircraft, and 70 helicopters.

Semi-military forces


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.

Foreign operations

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.