VICENZA, Italy (March 23, 2018) -- A new group of approximately 12 Italian workers at USAG Italy are readying to enter a special workforce enrichment program focused on building their understanding of the U.S. Army and its mission in Italy.

Slated to start around mid-April, the American Military Italian Civilian Integration program, commonly known as "AMICI" which means "friends" in Italian, has become an increasingly popular workforce program since its debut in March 2017.

AMICI is a competitive program open to all permanently assigned, appropriated and non-appropriated funded host nation employees of the U.S. Army in Italy working within the Vicenza and Darby military communities, according to Anthony James, AMICI initiative coordinator for the garrison's directorate of Plans, Transportation, Mobility and Security.

"The intent is to allow the host nation workforce to develop a greater appreciation of the U.S. Army mission here, and gain a better understanding of how their individual role contributes/fits in the big picture," said James.

Garrison Commander Col. Erik M. Berdy endorses the program that was created for Italian employees.

"The installation team is comprised of Soldiers and civilian professionals, with the largest portion of the civilian workforce being Italian. They work for the U.S. government here on Italian soil in support of our Soldiers, Families and U.S. national security initiatives. It's an extremely unique and significant relationship that is the foundation for our team's success," Berdy said.

"The AMICI program was designed specifically for our Italian employees, so they can gain an appreciation for just how important they are to the U.S. Army's mission in Europe. I have high expectations for our AMICI graduates to take what they have learned and use it to inform others, to improve their part of our organization; all for the betterment of the team."

Once selected, participants receive a training calendar that will engage them in 10-15 days of knowledge-building activities spread out over four months, James said. The hands-on training and real-time understanding of the Army mission here requires participation in experiential and observational activities taking place on Caserma Ederle, Caserma Del Din, Longare, Aviano Air Base and Camp Darby.

In an effort to provide a well-rounded perspective, the activities have been grouped into four categories: Warfighter Training, Warfighter Readiness, Soldier and Family Support, and Community Connections.
"By getting out of one's comfort zone, AMICI members gain valuable insights on the daily routines of Soldiers and paratroopers as they train and work at the key locations that make Italy the Army's power projection platform in Europe," James said.

Having an opportunity to experience a "Day in the Life of a Soldier," participants leave the comfort of their respective offices and engage in tasks far outside their current job assignments.

"I had a chance to visit places where I had never been before, such as Camp Darby, the 173rd Airborne Brigade support facilities; and observe things I had never seen before, such as the operations for heavy vehicle drops at Aviano, and much more," said Mauro Fochesato, a Directorate of Public Works employee from the housing division. "This program also helped me understand the relationship between U.S. Army Africa and the garrison. Furthermore, it made me realize why what I do is important, and how what I do can help my organization achieve its mission."

AMICI graduate Silvia Pardini, executive assistant for the command group at Camp Darby, also gained some insight through participation in the program.

"The main thing I took out of AMICI was an appreciation for what these young men and women go through every day. It is not easy to be a Soldier, and I think I appreciate more now that I have seen first-hand all the training they go through," she said.

This initiative calls for support from several tenants units across the Army community in Italy, said Frank W. Lands, deputy to the garrison commander, and this makes the program even more valuable.

"In a time of less-with-less, this program has paid dividends," said Lands. "Two years of AMICI has resulted in developing a core of workforce 'ambassadors' that help us further our strategic goal and communication efforts internally at the garrison and externally within the greater Italian community. It also resulted in greater appreciation of the concerns of the host nation workforce that represent nearly 70 percent of our staff and are the backbone of our American military overseas."

Each AMICI class brings together a new group of Italian professionals chosen from a variety of organizations across the installations. Asked whether they would recommend it to a colleague, AMICI graduates offer nothing but praise.

"Yes, absolutely! It's a program that everyone should take part in, whether you have been working on post for five or 20 years. One never stops learning new things. I know people who were selected for the first and second AMICI classes who are veterans on post. Their overall perspective has significantly benefited from it. For those who are newer to the post, AMICI is even more interesting," Fochesato said.

Margherita Frasson, administrative assist, Child Youth Services, Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation also recommends the program to others.

"I couldn't be more enthusiastic about this program, and I really enjoyed the attention and the consideration received from our Army leaders across the board. In more than 30 years of career, this is the first time that I perceive a real and concrete interest in our host nation issues and on our opinions about the Army mission here," said Frasson.

Simone Palomba, a construction control inspector with nearly 18 years of experience at Camp Darby's Public Works shared his own feelings.

"It is an amazing experience that generates a lot of enthusiasm in the way we approach work after the program. In a way, it is like providing a worker bee with an insight on the significance of his/her function within the hive. Truly a game-changer."

The next USAG Italy AMICI class is scheduled to begin later this spring. Applications and specific information about AMICI can be found online at: www.italy.army.mil/amici.asp