Future Italian army officers train among U.S. troops on Caserma Ederle in Vicenza
June 6, 2014
VICENZA, Italy - With their distinctive uniforms and black berets, you couldn't miss seeing them parading around Caserma Ederle in the middle of May.
More than 100 officers of the Comando per la Formazione e Scuola di Applicazione dell'Esercito, the future cadres of the Italian army officer corps, spent two weeks in Vicenza beginning May 12, said Lt. Col. Antonio Landolfi, the unit commander.
The comando is based in Turin, but the officers-to-be began their five-year program by studying for two years in Modena before moving to their present location. During their first week at Caserma Ederle, 58 officers completed their training; 63 more followed in the second week, wrapping up May 23.
Already commissioned as lieutenants, the officers spent a week availing themselves of American training opportunities, said Landolfi.
"We chose Caserma Ederle because we have here some structures, from the point of view of training, that are very modern and up to date, particularly the range shooting simulator and the Army rollover training. They are both up to date and we can use the facilities and it hardly costs us anything," he said.
It was one of the very few opportunities any of his soldiers have had to work with the American military in the course of their career to date, he said. They are normally too busy with their university studies and their military training. Their experience working with the Americans, though rare, was a positive one, he said.
"From the very first day they had an excellent impression of Caserma Ederle, of the American structure," said Landolfi. "I have heard them every day, talking among themselves and to me as their commander, and they are all enthusiastic about it."
Landolfi wanted to extend his compliments to everyone at Caserma Ederle, because just by walking around he and his soldiers can see that everything works just fine here, he said.
"It's very well organized," he said.
And the exchanges among military professionals of the two NATO allies is beneficial for all concerned, Landolfi said.
"Whenever you have a joint training, there will be benefits on both sides. So, maybe the American Soldiers can see how Italian people face problems and they are able to solve them, just like we have learned from the Americans. Maybe some procedures will be different. Whenever we are here we want to make sure that we follow the NATO procedures so that in this way everything goes just fine. Because there are differences," he said.
"This is important, especially for the future, because for now there are training opportunities and we train together, but these are the same people who are the commanders, the future Italian commanders. They will be sent abroad and they will work together with the American commanders, and there of course the interaction will be even more important," he said.
"This training is important because it will be like a lesson learned from them, and also because they realize the American Soldiers have had more experience working abroad, so they try to get as much as possible from this interaction."
At the same time, individual friendships and collegial relationships grew during the time spent together, Landolfi noted.
"For my part I want to say thank you to Col. Menist (USAG Vicenza Commander, Col. Robert Menist Jr.) for giving us this great opportunity for my soldiers. It went very, very well and they really could enjoy it because they could use the PX, they could use the gym, they could go to the pool. And they were actually very happy to get up early and do the physical training together with the American Soldiers.
"I really hope that this chance will be given to us again next year, for the new officers coming from the school. And it's also very important to make sure that the relationships between the Italian and the American armies get better and better."
Landolfi regretted not meeting Menist and deputy garrison commander Chuck Walls, who were traveling elsewhere during the two weeks.
"But next year," he said.