Military News

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Italian Defense attaché stresses importance of coalition training

by 2nd Lt Meredith Hein
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

7/2/2013 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The defense attaché to the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C. emphasized the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program in building international partnerships during a visit to Sheppard AFB June 28.

Italian Air Force Maj. Gen. Giovannu Fantuzzi toured the 80th Flying Training Wing, which operates ENJJPT, and will speak at class 13-06's graduation June 28.

"It is important to train as an alliance," Fantuzzi said. "For our students, being here, learning about the United States, learning English and the culture is so important for our young officers."

He also presided over the change of command ceremony for the 80th Operations Group, in which Italian Air Force Col. Paolo Baldasso took command from German Air Force Col. Eberhard von Wintzingerode-Knorr. Baldasso will be the first non-German officer to command the operations group.

Fantuzzi stressed the importance of training as a coalition. Especially in an environment of fiscal constraints, he said, it is important to come together and work on finding the best solution to training.

The Italian Air Force, Fantuzzi said, sees the experience of pilot training as important for its young officers, especially by exposing them to different cultures, perspectives and ways of thinking. "There is a benefit to working together and leveraging on all of our different experiences."

The strategy of the Italian Air Force has been completely changed as a result of coalition war fighting, said Fantuzzi. "This has been a long process, starting from the end of the Cold War, as coalitions have become the norm."

In Libya, during Operation Unified Protector, coalition training enabled the NATO partner nations to be successful. "You need to start with coalition training like you have here at Sheppard to fight and win a war," he said.

"We'd like to keep investing to gain knowledge and capability in the pilot training area," Fantuzzi said. "Pulling and sharing efforts, as we've done in NATO's Smart Defense, shows that pilot training is something we can do together."

The concept of Smart Defense encourages the NATO partners to work together in "developing, acquiring and maintaining military capabilities to meet current security problems," according to NATO's website.

Fantuzzi noted that it is important to have a "niche" capability, so that nations have the capacity to "plug in" and fight in the coalition. "What you do here," he said, "is teach the fundamental beginning of the process, stressing it from day one."

"We will not fight the next conflict alone," Fantuzzi emphasized. "That doesn't come for free--you have to invest in your training to be successful."

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