|The Italian Navy Aircraft Carrier CAVOUR Photo by Gaetano56 Wikipedia Commons|
Hundred of illegal immigrants attempt to cross over to Italy from parts of North Africa every year. This is just the tip of the ice burg of problems that will beset Italy if North Africa and the Middle East become littered with permanently failed states. Southern Europe can't be the lifeboat for the region. Those nations that don't want to swamped must maintain serious naval forces including coast guards. The Italian navy at 62 ships, 82 aircraft, and over 35,000 personnel is about the size of the U.S. Coast Guard but is equipped with an aircraft carrier, and other highly capable combattant vessels. The Italian coast guard titled the "Corps of the Port Captaincies" has another 11,000 uniformed personnel operating 6 large patrol vessels, 9 smaller patrol vessels, 272 6 to 50 ton motor boats, and 212 RIB type fast response boats, and 22 aircraft.
|Photo courtesy A. Deligiannis. Copyright © 2008|
|Photo courtesy "Roberto" via Wikipedia Commons learn more about Roberto at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:SCDBob|
Italy has opted to bite the bullet given their situation and maintain first class naval forces a bit out of proportion to her national size and economy. The legislators and people of Italy have weighed their situation and decided that such forces are a good investment. They have held on to that investment against all sorts of recurrent economic pressures to invest the funds elsewhere. Many nations in the region benefit from Italy's investment but few seem willing to match it even when they are not under a formal Italian defensive umbrella agreement. The United States also benefits especially in terms of our mostly notional 6th Fleet. Italy has put forth the effort and if she ever has to call on NATO for back up she has earned a right to such back up. Italy is carrying her naval weight. We wish we could say the same for everybody.