December 10, 2010:
Italy has rendered most of its armed forces much less effective by cutting its training budget by 69 percent over the last five years. The government has been having severe budget problems, and the defense budget, especially spending on training, was seen as a choice source for savings. The Cold War is over and there are no military threats to the country. But Italy has been sending troops to Lebanon and Afghanistan on peacekeeping missions. For that reason, the government scrounged up nearly a billion dollars recently to insure that these soldiers received adequate training before going overseas.
Attempts were made to maintain flying skills through the use of simulators (which cost 80 percent less than aircraft in the air). Sailors have no such luck. While there are a lot of simulators for shipboard equipment, the warships spend most of their time tied up in port. While most troops could spend time in the classroom and practicing individual skills, any training that cost a lot of money (operating aircraft, vehicles or warships) was cut way back. Since the Cold War ended, air force pilots flying time has declined 40 percent. Morale has suffered as well, but the major dose of pre-deployment training for troops headed overseas seems to have worked.