Wednesday, 28 July 2021 19:25

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Vecciarelli, at #Giffoni50plus: "The role of the Armed Forces today? We are an instrument of peace"

The human face of Defence and its ability to evolve, sniffing out the future, sometimes anticipating it, as well as important signs of openness towards the new, always with the ultimate goal of self-realisation and community, peace and international balance. This is what emerges from the meeting with General Enzo Vecciarelli, Chief of Defence Staff, who today was the guest of #Giffoni50Plus.

The arrival at the Cittadella was welcomed by Claudio Gubitosi, founder and director of Giffoni, and Antonio Giuliano, mayor of Giffoni Valle Piana. Then the visit to the Multimedia Valley , followed by the discussion with the young people of the IMPACT! section, a meeting rich in content and ideas that prompted the answers of General Vecciarelli, who did not shy away, not even when faced with sensitive issues.

"For our history," Director Gubitosi announced in the hall, "for all the path we have taken, there is another important sign that comes into our lives. Today I can finally thank a person who represents all the Armed Forces and I do so with unchanged affection, since Giffoni has grown thanks to them. From the beginning the Armed Forces have always responded to our call. I am proud to have known General Vecciarelli and to have him here with us today".

The role of Defence today within the international geopolitical context. The comparison starts from here: "Our reference point," began General Vecciarelli, "is always the Constitution, which I believe to be among the most advanced, including Article 11, which says that Italy repudiates war. I believe that today Italian Defence is the highest expression of this. At present, we have 42 missions designed specifically to create conditions of peace and security and to help create the conditions in which the ambitions of many people can be developed in a civilised manner. And it is in this sense that I direct my daily commitment". "With the collapse of the Berlin Wall," continued the Chief of Defence Staff, "many ambitions have been freed, even many selfishnesses have been able to emerge, and we must never take this cortege of civilisation that we have built for granted. Today, Italy has the country, we want to be an element of stability. If we think of the Balkans, of the Arab Springs, of what is happening today in Libya or Tunisia, it is clear that Italy continues to pursue a policy of balance and dialogue. Africa is an issue that we must necessarily deal with because it is our backyard. It is certainly not a problem that can be solved by the Armed Forces alone, but one that requires the contribution of several institutions. We need to play a more incisive role and take more care of what happens to our neighbours in the Mediterranean".

There is also the issue of Europe’s role, on which General Vecciarelli focused his analysis: “Even the European Union has not achieved all the goals it had planned”, he said. “My hope is that it can become a reality with regard to Defence, too. The EU certainly has its own defence and security policy with a series of missions that are geared towards this, but we could do more. I, for one, would be willing to contribute to the creation of this European defence”. He was then asked about the role of non-governmental organisations. His answer was straightforward: “I consider NGOs as a resource – he said – because we share the same purposes and I really like working with them when our objectives coincide. The protection of human rights is at the basis of the way we always act”.

How is Defence seen today, also following the pandemic? General Vecciarelli's analysis was broad: “One of my personal satisfactions – he said – is to read the figures on Italians' trust in the armed forces, which stands at 72%. It is clear that there is no rift between us and the citizens. I feel loved and I believe in this. Moreover, during the pandemic we made a great contribution to managing the emergency. We did our best. In general, we are called upon when the system cannot find solutions.  We succeed in finding them not because we have the tools, but because we are passionate about our country.  I remember when I sent six of our doctors and ten nurses to a residential care home that was in need of them because all the staff had contracted the virus. I saw in those people the same desire I had to contribute to solving the emergency”.

His eyes were filled with emotion as he recalled the events in Bergamo: “I can't tell you how painful it was that morning with the trucks”, he explained. “We did everything we could to fight the pandemic: field hospitals, quarantine rooms, logistics and then the swab and vaccine hubs, as well as the large hub at Pratica di Mare, which is managing the distribution of vaccines. The work of General Figliuolo was also mentioned: “He is an outstanding officer – said Vecciarelli – and was the head of logistics for the army. Military logistics differs from civilian logistics in that it involves the maintenance and restoration of the equipment. In this case, we are working on getting people back on their feet and I think we are doing it very well”.

The future, technological innovation, new domains and the new nature of Defence were also discussed: “There are new domains that need to be addressed – concluded the Chief of the Defence Staff – I am thinking of the space and the cyber field. I am convinced that we cannot build the future on the basis of our current tools. There is a world waiting to be discovered, and those who will be willing to get involved will be the happiest of all, because the desire that drives us all is always to have a happy life. There are also values that do not change, but need to be reinterpreted in the light of these developments. We must know how to manage change and then have the ability to lead and plan strategically. I have faith in the new generations because I have seen in each of you here today the wish to improve yourselves and the world”. To round off the meeting, Pietro Rinaldi, president of the Ente Autonomo Giffoni Experience, presented the general with the traditional Riggiola di Giffoni (a precious decorative painted tile) and a plaque to commemorate the day.