Italy Military ‘Absolutely Undersized,’ Below ‘Limit of Survival’: Officials

Italian leaders have sounded the alarm on the country’s worsening shortage of military personnel as other NATO members beef up numbers.

The Chief of the Defense Staff, Adm. Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, told parliament last week that the Italian armed forces are “absolutely undersized,” suggesting the problem may affect their ability to fulfill missions.

He disclosed that the current strength of the Italian military is 165,564, below the “limit of survival,” which is 170,000.

Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto echoed Dragone’s remarks, saying the current number of troops in the Italian military is not “at an acceptable level.”

The Italian Navy

The Italian Navy was among the services within the Italian armed forces most affected by shrinking numbers.

In its annual report, the service noted that it needed 39,000 sailors to address modern threats — a 34-percent increase from its current 29,000.

A new decree could increase its current strength to 30,500, still far lower than what the navy needs.

Typically, the service uses approximately 4,000 sailors daily in operations. The highest was in April 2023, when it needed to deploy 7,324 troops to support four submarines, dozens of maritime aircraft, and surface vessels.

To address this shortage, Dragone has called on Italian lawmakers to prioritize a significant boost in recruitment, not just in the navy but in the entire Italian military.

A Looming War?

Dragone’s statement about the current situation of the Italian military comes amid reports that Moscow may attack a Ukrainian backer in NATO after its ongoing invasion.

Though no specific country was mentioned, a startling German intelligence report claimed that the attack may happen by 2026 after Russia’s recovery from its war in Ukraine.

NATO has been preparing for the possible escalation of conflict, staging major military exercises and urging member states to increase defense spending.

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