By Jason Tudor
Special to American Forces Press Service
April 9, 2009 - A "comprehensive approach" to regional stability and military planning is both historical and prudent to a continued peace, the military leader of Italy's armed forces said here yesterday. Italian Gen. Vicenzo Camporini, chief of the Italian defense general staff, spoke to about 100 students from various European and Eurasian nations attending the Program in Advanced Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.
The general said he wants students to understand his message about a comprehensive approach to stability and military planning, while knowning that history is on their side.
"Some things have been true through history," he said. "So, don't jump out and say, 'We've discovered a new world!' The essence is that nothing has changed, but everything is changing."
The general's discussion highlighted works from Machiavelli, as well as touching on historical examples such as the creation of "war cabinets" by the United Kingdom during World Wars I and II.
"How the old principles can be implemented today is important," Camporini said. "That is the essence of my message."
Camporini also talked about Italy's bolstering of troops in Afghanistan. Italy pledged to grow its presence there by more than 20 percent, from about 2,300 soldiers to about 2,800.
"We believe Afghanistan is the top priority for the Western world," Camporini said. "Afghanistan is the place where the threat to our societies has grown. We cannot afford to have parts of the world where those who hate our way of life can nurture activities against us."
Meanwhile, Afghanistan earned discussion and action during the NATO summit at Strasbourg, France. As the organization celebrated its 60th anniversary, Camporini said, the alliance's existence never has been more important, and he reminded his audience why.
"When I talk to young students who start complaining about things in their life, I have to remind them that we are living in a golden age in a small part of the world where everybody is free, everybody is fed, everybody has the right to be educated and life is easy," he said. "This has been possible because of the peace that has been kept in Europe and the Euro-Atlantic area by NATO.
"I do not believe that this is something is just acquired and set for the rest of history," he continued. "You have to conquer it day by day. That's why we need NATO today and for the future. We cannot afford a future without this kind of political-military alliance."
The general also addressed recovery efforts following the April 6 magnitude 6.3 earthquake centered at L'Aquila, Italy, that killed as many as 270 people. He said Italian officials sent 3,000 soldiers and equipment to aid civil protection authorities with medical evacuation and search-and-rescue efforts.
"I am very pleased with the reaction of our military to this effort," he said.
The Marshall Center is one of five regional centers for security studies belonging to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, based in Washington, D.C.
(Jason Tudor works in the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies public affairs office.)