Italy Armed Forces

By | February 26, 2022

Historical background . – Right from the beginning of the unification of Italy and then, more and more, as it proceeded and completed, the need arose to build a strong “Italian” army. Numerous but disparate elements of varying efficiency were available for this constitution; however, there was a solid, reliable, excellent nucleus around which it was possible to group the other elements: the Sardinian army, which possessed traditions, modern orders, sound administrative systems, proven devotion to the Italian cause. The system was therefore adopted to subsequently merge the armed forces of the individual states or parts of state into the Sardinian army that became provinces of the new kingdom: contingents that is Lombard, Tuscan, Emilian, Bourbon, to which Garibaldi elements were added.

The Sardinian nucleus had been completely reorganized between 1849 and 1859. On the eve of the 1859 campaign, the recruitment was national, except for the Savoy brigade. There were two detentions: an ordinance for some categories of career soldiers, lasting 8 years, to be passed entirely in the army; a provincial one, for all the others (two categories, determined by drawing lots: 1st category, 5 years in arms and 6 on unlimited leave, 2nd category, 5 years available and 6 weeks education). The army included: 91 infantry battalions, 9 cavalry regiments, 3 artillery regiments, 1 engineering regiment. The state was divided into 5 territorial divisions (Turin, Alessandria, Liguria, Savoy, Sardinia) and 2 subdivisions (Novara and Nice). The two campaigns of 1848 and 1849 had allowed a large selection of general and senior officers, which, on the whole, had given good results; the officers came, for two thirds, from the military academy of Turin, for the remaining third from the non-commissioned officers; their career was well regulated by special laws. In the campaign of 1859 the army had been constituted on 5 divisions; the regular army had been joined by many volunteers, some of whom had been incorporated into the Sardinian regiments and some had formed 4 hunting regiments; with Hungarian deserters and volunteers a Hungarian legion was formed.

The Lombard contingent (partly voluntary, partly coming from the Austrian army) was the first to increase the Sardinian army immediately after the 1859 campaign. It was mainly made up of disciplined and carefully educated elements, but scarcely equipped with officers. His admission allowed the new formation of 6 infantry brigades, 6 bersaglieri battalions, 3 cavalry regiments, 12 campaign batteries. At the end of 1859 the Italian army was thus brought to 8 divisions.

The Tuscan army had been reorganized on the Austrian type in 1853, in terms of recruitment, disciplinary and administrative systems and even the shape of the uniform. It was to form, in the event of a war against Piedmont, the left wing of the Austrian army. The stop was 8 years; replacement was mandatory for non-Catholics. It included: 1 veliti battalion (guards), 1 hunter battalion, 10 line infantry battalions; 2 hunting squadrons on horseback; 2 campaign batteries; 1 squad artillery company; 5 coastguard gunner companies (customs officers). For the eventuality of war, a doubling of the units was foreseen (which partly took place during the 1859 campaign). After the campaign of 1859, Colonel Raffaele Cadorna, from Piedmont, who became Minister of War in Tuscany, he had the task of preparing the merger of the Tuscan army with that of northern Italy. He organized the Tuscan troops into 4 infantry brigades, 2 bersaglieri battalions, 2 cavalry regiments, 1 field artillery regiment, 6 square artillery companies. The greatest qualitative deficiencies existed in the cadres of the officers, who were very young even in the highest grades, as a consequence of hasty promotions, rather than due to the recognition of special merits. Placed in the national army, they therefore constituted a not very homogeneous element.

The Modenese troops, after the 1859 campaign, had followed their duke to Mantua. The Emilian army was therefore constituted with only Parma troops (1 infantry regiment, 2 cavalry squadrons, 1 artillery company), as well as with pontifical units that had joined the Romagna revolution and with volunteer corps from various regions. The general of the Sardinian army Manfredo Fanti, from Modena, was entrusted with this constitution, who formed 7 infantry brigades, 9 bersaglieri battalions, 2 cavalry regiments, 9 field artillery batteries, 9 square artillery companies. The Emilian official status was of very different character; fiery, with good military aptitudes, but not very malleable. Thus reorganized the two central armies, the merger between them and the Sardinian army was carried out by General Fanti,

The Bourbon army, during the 1860 campaign, included: infantry, 18 regiments, plus 19 battalions; cavalry, 9 regiments; artillery, 2 foot regiments, 1 workers and bridges battalion, 1 horse battery; genius, 2 battalions; bodyguards; marine infantry; provincial veteran companies; numerous gendarmerie. The army was recruited with conscription on the continent, with voluntary enlistments in Sicily. The duty of service was for 10 years, of which 5 years; but, in practice, the government, making use of its own faculty, kept the soldiers in arms for 8 years, then dismissed them definitively. The officers came, for the most part, from the sub-officers; few – and these were excellent – of artillery and engineering weapons came out of the military college of the Nunziatella; the sovereign also had the faculty to confer the rank of officer on bodyguards and pages. After the campaign of 1860 the Bourbon army partly accepted the new state of affairs, partly took refuge in papal territory; the remaining part capitulated upon annexation. All classes; minus the 4 youngest, they were discharged. Of the officers, most preferred to retire, the remainder were admitted to the national army with the rank they covered in the Bourbon army before September 1860.

The Garibaldi army, after the 1860 campaign, included, nominally, 7,000 officers and a force of about 50,000 men; but only nominal force and, in reality, lower. After some hesitation, the Garibaldi army was dissolved. The troop was given the right to choose between being sent on leave with 6 months’ pay and a stay of 2 years in a special corps of volunteers. Most asked to be discharged; the special volunteer corps had an ephemeral existence. Of the officers, about 1500 were admitted into the national army, subject to the judgment of a mixed commission of generals and volunteers. From the concurrence of the Bourbon and Garibaldi contingents, the Italian army resulted in a new increase of 3 divisions and 1 army corps.

The rapid process of this merger was not without drawbacks: especially the officer corps was and remained for a long time heterogeneous. However, having formed in a short time a strong army capable of entering the countryside, was a remarkable work, the success of which should be honored to the solidity of the Sardinian fundamental nucleus and to the patriotism of the Italians.

Organic evolution up to the world war. – In the campaign of 1866 the army reached a considerable strength (20 infantry divisions, united in 4 corps, 1 cavalry division). From 1866 to 1870 difficult financial conditions led to the reduction of expenses for the army to a minimum, leaving the necessary reforms pending. From 1870 to August 1914 the army was profoundly transformed and increased with successive orders, the main ones being Ricotti 1872-1873; Mezzacapo 1877; Ferrero 1882-83; Bertolè-Viale 1887, Mocenni 1894; Pelloux 1897; Ottolenghi 1902; Spingardi 1909-1910. From August 1914 to May 1915 there was an intensive preparation, filling the main gaps still existing with respect to the Spingardi system and implementing subsequent measures of hidden mobilization. The Italian army thus entered the countryside about 23 strong. 000 officers and 852,000 men in the composition indicated under World War, XVIII, p. 144. During the war the following were mobilized in all: in the active army about 4,200,000 men; in the territory about 840,000, for industries about 860,000; in total, about 5,900,000 men.

Organic evolution after the world war. – Pending the definitive settlement of the army, a provisional arrangement (Albricci) was approved in November 1919, inspired by the concept of carrying out the transformations suggested by the war experience and all the reductions possible at that time, dividing the army into a number of large territorial units somewhat higher than the pre-war one (15 army corps, 30 infantry divisions and 2 cavalry divisions); balanced force 210,000 men (less than pre-war). Further reductions were implemented in April 1920 with a new “provisional order” (Bonomi), intended to bring the army back to proportions and shapes almost equal to those of the pre-war period (10 army corps, 27 infantry divisions, 3 divisions alpine, 1 cavalry division; balanced force 175,000 men). The 1923 order (Diaz) followed, intended to give the army a definitive structure and a solid framework. With this arrangement the large territorial units were little changed (10 army corps, 30 infantry divisions), but inspectorates, commands, troops and services underwent considerable changes in number and organic composition, especially in relation to the foreseeable needs of mobilization . In 1926, as Benito Mussolini was the holder of the Ministry of War, a complete draft order was approved (law no. 396 of 11 March) which, not substantially changed, is currently in force.

Organization 1930 . – According to Itypetravel, Supreme Commander is the king who delegates, in peace, the command of the army to the Minister of War. The Minister of War is a member of the government and the highest hierarchical authority in the army. He has under his command the Undersecretary of State for War, to whom he confers the attributions he deems appropriate. For the exercise of his high tasks, the Minister of War uses the Ministry of War, a complex central body, composed of: 1 cabinet of the minister, 1 coordination office, 1 office of generals, 11 services (general directorates, inspectorates, etc. .).

High technical advisor to the Minister of War, he is the Chief of Staff of the army, who, under the authority of the Minister himself, directs the studies and preparations for preparing for war. He is the head of the command of the Staff Corps, made up of various offices, where he is assisted by the 2nd Commander of the Staff Corps and by a general in charge. As an advisory body, for the purposes of the most important questions relating to the organization, operation, mobilization of the army and national defense, the Minister of War has the Army Council. Finally, they depend directly on the Minister of War and, on his assignment, receive directives from the Chief of Staff of the army, the weapon inspectors (of the rapid troops, of the Alpine troops, of the artillery, of the engineers), who supervise education, studies, experiences relating to the weapon or respective specialties; the designated army commanders who carry out the studies and direct the arrangements for the organization of the area of ​​territory assigned to them and for the preparation of an army for war.

Italy Armed Forces