American Military Bases Located on Italian Territory, Between Security and Concerns

Politics - November 25, 2023

The Presence of American Military Bases on Italian Soil is a Fundamental Aspect of Relations between Italy and the United States of America and Never as in this International Historic Period, Do They Play a Crucial Role in the Security and Defence of both Italy and Western Interests in Europe.

The military collaboration between Italy and the United States has deep roots that date back to the end of the Second World War and more precisely to 1951 when the two countries signed the “Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation”, which gave way to close cooperation in the military and logistic fields between two of the major protagonists of the conflict that has just ended. Already in 1954, then, a new and more complete treaty, defined as “Mutual Defence” was signed by the two nations, establishing a long-term partnership in the field of security and defence. Currently, the United States has several military bases located on Italian territory, among which the Aviano Air Base stands out, as an important operational centre of the US Air Force in Europe, the Sigonella Base in Sicily, which serves as a logistic and operational hub for military actions in the Mediterranean area and which in recent weeks has served as a support to the civilian airport of Catania, hit by a serious fire, and the Vicenza Base, which hosts US Army troops.

The American military bases in Italy have various strategic purposes, acting above all as important logistical and operational support bases for the American armed forces engaged in international peace and security missions, often assisted by Italian soldiers and vehicles. These bases allow for rapid positioning of troops and material in critical regions so that there is the necessary readiness for urgent interventions. Furthermore, the presence of military bases has always strengthened the bond between Italy and the United States, allowing greater interaction between the armed forces of the two countries, sharing tactics, strategies and skills with results often useful for all of Europe in the most important international operations.

However, the presence of American military bases has been the subject of controversy and debate within Italian society, often justified by political and social concerns. Supporters of the American bases in Italy identify them as a guarantee of security and a tangible demonstration of the United States’ commitment to protect its Western allies. The ever-present critical voices against the American military presence in Italy, on the other hand, argue that there may be a real risk that the bases become potential targets for attacks by hostile foreign forces against the United States of America, jeopardizing the security of local communities. Others express concern about national sovereignty and the environmental impact of such structures which are often located in tourist and scenic locations. The presence of American military bases has allowed Italy to play a leading role in international peace and security missions by providing logistical support, valid training and active participation in peacekeeping operations under the aegis of the UN and NATO.

The American military bases in Italy are a fundamental element of relations between the two countries and have contributed to the security and stability of the entire Atlantic alliance by allowing closer military cooperation between Italy, the neighbouring nations of Europe and the United States, facilitating participation in international peace and security missions. The future of US military bases in Italy will depend on maintaining close cooperation between the two countries, understanding each other’s security needs, and open dialogue with affected local communities. Only through a shared approach will it be possible to deal effectively with this complex issue.

Alessandro Fiorentino