By Ms. Anna Ciccotti (IMCOM)September 21, 2017
Udine, Italy — “In Friuli Venezia Giulia, we have shown that we must and can find a positive synthesis between environmental interests and defense needs,” said the region’s councilor for Infrastructure and Urban Planning, Mariagrazia Santoro, in her opening remarks at the third annual U.S.-Italy Sustainable Training Management Areas held here Sept. 12.
Organized by the U.S. Armed Forces Europe Command, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, the one-day workshop brought together officials from the FVG regional government, along with environmental experts and senior leaders from the U.S. and Italian armies operating in the northeast region of Italy.
The topic of the workshop was to foster the ongoing partnership between military and civilians to find a balance between meeting training needs and the required safeguard of the environment. Since some training sites host protected habitat, the challenge was to ensure that all stakeholders– Italian and U.S., military and civilians alike– remain proactively engaged and further sustain military readiness requirements.
Addressing the 70-person audience, Brig. Gen. Dwaine E. Drummond, Maine National Guard, said that: “Protecting our shared ability to train together requires deep respect for the biodiversity of the areas entrusted to us, and respect of the laws in force in the host country.”
Drummond, an expert on training and environmental protection, expressed appreciation for great work of dialogue with Italian authorities, emphasizing that the balance achieved in some areas of the region represents “a model of effective partnership between civil and military, Italian and U.S. operators on the territory.
“Therefore,” he said, “It is our responsibility to keep earning that trust.”
Santoro said the close partnership has allowed implementation of integrated, strict monitoring that has resulted in renewal of the legislation that regulates military exercises in protected sites.
“Many of these areas have a high naturalistic value exactly because they are military areas, a factor which has preserved them from other types of land speculation,” Santoro said.
Also in attendance at the conference were Milan Consul General Philip T. Reeker, representatives from the U.S. Embassy, and leaders of the U.S. Army Europe Training and Doctrine Command.
Reeker thanked the Italian authorities, particularly those of Friuli Venezia Giulia, for collaboration shown in the shared commitment to protect the environment and guarantee conditions for continued training of Italian and American soldiers. “I am gratified to see Italian and American environmental experts working together today in Udine for the achievement of these goals.”
Brig. Gen. Bruno Morace, FVG Region Italian Army commander, underlined the importance of the workshop, saying it is “indispensable to get to know each other better and, ultimately, to operate together in a supportive environment based on constant and productive collaboration.”
The workshop addressed other issues affecting the region, to include management of training infrastructure, including new uses for dismantled military areas; and management of Codroipo and Racchiuso’s former powder kegs. Participants also received a positive report on the latest environmental monitoring done to assess effects of training with heavy equipment launches, as well as that of all-terrain vehicles in the Dandolo range at the town of Maniago.
The activity in recent years has seen an increased collaboration between military and regional government. That collaboration is expected to grow in view of the increasing interest of the U.S. Army in training locations along the Tagliamento River and Cellina Meduna area.
Asked why training in FVG is important for the U.S. Army in Italy, and especially for the Vicenza-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, James V. Matheson, chief, Regional Training Support Division South, said, “Friuli is a critical training location for 173rd Brigade because it affords a wide variety of training options. We can conduct airborne training, live-fire training on ranges for both individual Soldiers and squads of Soldiers, urban operations training, and fixed and rotary wing aircraft training.”
He added that the military air bases at Aviano and Rivolto can be used to support all of these activities. Furthermore, the geographic diversity in FVG allows to train in mountain conditions, flat open areas, forests, and riverbeds in all kinds of weather from rain to snow to sun.
“A commander developing a training plan literally has a menu of options at his disposal all in one region of Italy,” Matheson said.