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Italy Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Italian Armed Forces (Forze Armate Italiane): Army (Esercito Italiano, EI), Navy (Marina Militare Italiana, MMI; includes aviation, marines), Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana, AMI); Carabinieri Corps (Arma dei Carabinieri, CC) (2024)

note 1: the National Police and Carabinieri (gendarmerie or military police) maintain internal security; the National Police reports to the Ministry of Interior while the Carabinieri reports to the Ministry of Defense but is also under the coordination of the Ministry of Interior; the Carabinieri is primarily a domestic police force organized along military lines, with some overseas responsibilities

note 2: the Financial Guard (Guardia di Finanza) under the Ministry of Economy and Finance is a force with military status and nationwide remit for financial crime investigations, including narcotics trafficking, smuggling, and illegal immigration

Military expenditures

1.5% of GDP (2023 est.)
1.5% of GDP (2022)
1.5% of GDP (2021)
1.6% of GDP (2020)
1.2% of GDP (2019)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 170,000 active personnel (100,000 Army; 30,000 Navy; 40,000 Air Force); approximately 108,000 Carabinieri (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military's inventory includes a mix of domestically manufactured, imported, and jointly produced weapons systems, mostly from Europe and the US; in recent years, the US has been the lead supplier of military hardware to Italy; the Italian defense industry is capable of producing equipment across all the military domains with particular strengths in aircraft, armored vehicles, and naval vessels; it also participates in joint development and production of advanced weapons systems with other European countries and the US (2023)

Military service age and obligation

17-25 years of age for voluntary military service for men and women (some variations on age depending on the military branch); voluntary service is a minimum of 12 months with the option to extend in the Armed Forces or compete for positions in the Military Corps of the Italian Red Cross, the State Police, the Carabinieri, the Guardia di Finanza, the Penitentiary Police, or the National Fire Brigade; recruits can also volunteer for 4 years military service; conscription abolished 2004 (2024)

note: women may serve in any military branch; as of 2020, women made up about 6% of the military's full-time personnel

Military deployments

120 Djibouti; approximately 750 Bulgaria (NATO); approximately 1,000 Middle East (NATO, European Assistance Mission Iraq); 850 Kosovo (NATO/KFOR); 250 Latvia (NATO); 1,000 Lebanon (UNIFIL); 400 Libya; 350 Niger; 250 Romania (NATO); 150 Somalia (EUTM) (2023)

note: in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, some NATO countries, including Italy, have sent additional troops and equipment to the battlegroups deployed in NATO territory in eastern Europe

Military - note

the Italian military is responsible for Italy’s national defense and security and fulfilling the country’s commitments to the EU, NATO, and the UN; it also has some domestic security duties; for example, the Army has provided troops for guarding public buildings and for more than a decade several thousand Army and Carabinieri personnel have been deployed domestically to support the National Police as part of a government effort to curb crime in various Italian cities 

Italy has been an active member of NATO since its founding in 1948, and the Alliance is a cornerstone of Rome’s national security strategy; it is a strong supporter of European/EU defense cooperation and integration; Italy is an active participant in EU, NATO, UN, and other multinational military, security, and humanitarian operations; key areas of emphasis for Italy’s security policy and multinational cooperation are NATO/Europe’s eastern and southern flanks, including the Mediterranean Sea, East and North Africa, and the Middle East and its adjacent waters; Italy is one of NATO’s leading contributors of military forces and participates in such missions as NATO’s Air Policing in the Baltics, the Enhanced Forward Presence in Eastern Europe, and maritime patrols in the Mediterranean and beyond; it hosts NATO’s Joint Force Command in Naples and a NATO Rapid Deployable Corps headquarters in Milan, as well as the headquarters for the EU’s Mediterranean naval operations force in Rome; since 1960, Italy has committed more than 60,000 troops to UN missions, and it hosts a training center in Vicenza for police personnel destined for peacekeeping missions; in addition, Italy has close defense ties with the US and hosts several US military air, army, and naval bases and facilities

the Italian Army has participated in many colonial engagements, conflicts, major wars, and peacekeeping missions since its establishment in the 1850s and 1860s during Italian unification, from African colonization in the late 1800s to both World Wars and more recently, Afghanistan and Iraq; the current Italian Army is equipped largely with domestically manufactured weapons systems and organized into functional areas (operational, logistic, infrastructural, training, and territorial); the combat forces are under the operational commands, which include the Alpine Command (one divisional headquarters and two alpine/mountain brigades), the Southern Operational Forces Command (five mechanized brigades), the Northern Operational Forces Command (armored, cavalry, and airborne brigades), the Operational Land Forces Support Command (commands for artillery, air defense, engineers, etc), and the Operational Land Forces Command and Army Operational Command (two divisional headquarters, an aviation command with an air mobile brigade, and a special forces command)

the Navy was officially established in 1860; as a country with seas on three sides, naval power has long been a key component of Italy’s national security; today, it maintains one of the largest navies in NATO with several functional and regionally based commands and operates globally; in addition to maritime defense, the Navy’s missions include countering illegal trafficking, protecting the marine environment, and assisting with humanitarian and disaster assistance, as well as contributing to civil projects, such as scientific research; its principal warships include two aircraft carriers, four destroyers, 13 frigates, and eight attack submarines, as well as several large amphibious assault ships and a large inventory of patrol vessels; it also has a marine amphibious force, a special operations force, and operates a diverse array of naval fixed-wing, rotary-wing, and unmanned aircraft, including naval fighters and anti-submarine warfare helicopters; the Air Force was established in 1923, but the first air unit was established in 1884; today, it has nearly 500 total aircraft, including around 200 fighters and multirole fighter aircraft; to coordinate the different services, the military has several joint commands, including for operations, space, and special operations (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Italy on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Italy 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Italy 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.