• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Italian boot camp trains soldiers from Libya

AFP · 19 Jan 2014, 12:23

Published: 19 Jan 2014 12:23 GMT+01:00

Some of them are former rebels who fought to oust Qaddafi as part of ragtag opposition forces and the training is taking place at an Italian army base in Cassino, 100 kilometres (62 miles) south of Rome.

In one part of the base a soldier could be seen applying camouflage face paint, while in another soldiers trained on monkey bars and obstacle courses.

An imam in army fatigues calls the soldiers to prayer in a special room fitted out for the purpose and the menus at the canteen have been changed to halal.

The new soldiers "support a free Libya", Lieutenant General Claudio Graziano, chief of staff of the Italian army, said Saturday during a visit to the base -- near the site of the famous World War II battle of Monte Cassino.

"A strong army will become a reference point for democracy and security," Graziano told a small group of reporters, as the 341 mostly young infantrymen
around him got trained on weapons handling and camouflage.

Britain, Turkey and the United States are all taking part in the initiative to train up a total of 15,000 troops but Graziano said that Italy -- Libya's former colonial master -- was "taking the lead".

Two thousand Libyan soldiers -- most of them from Benghazi, Misrata and Tripoli -- will be trained in Italy and the first group arrived on January 10.

"We are learning to train together, to be one entity. It's very important for us to learn how to stay united," said one soldier from Libya, where there have been deep tensions between different cities and regions.

One of the Italian trainers is Captain Francesca Giardulli, who went on an intensive six-month language course, and shouted out her orders in Arabic.

"These are young civilians with no experience in the military and so we really have to train them as if they were newbies," Giardulli told AFP.

Graziano said some of the soldiers fought in the rebellion but others had no experience of combat.

"None of them were in Colonel Kadhafi's army," he said.

Colonel Mohammed Badi leads the Libyan contingent and one of 34 officers and sub-officers in the first group.

Story continues below…

"Our mission is the same as it is for all the armies in the world, to guard our borders and to ensure protection and security for our population, as well as collaborating with other countries," he said.

Graziano, a former head of the United Nations monitoring force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, and a commander in Afghanistan, said this type of co-operation was "a
cultural challenge, but it's nothing new for us".

"At the end of the training, the Libyans will speak a bit more Italian... and as for us, we will speak a bit more Arabic," the general said with a smile.
 

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
What we learned from Theresa May’s first visit to Italy as PM
UK PM Theresa May met Italian PM Matteo Renzi in Rome on Wednesday, Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

UK Prime Minister Theresa May was in Rome on Wednesday for a lunch meeting her Italian counterpart, Matteo Renzi, at which the pair discussed Brexit, the migrant crisis and the terrorist threat facing Europe.

20 KG ice 'meteorite' destroys car in central Rome
Experts think the ice fell from the undercarridge of a jet. Photo: Olivier Cabaret

Investigators say the huge piece of ice probably fell from a passing jet plane.

Two arrested over WhatsApp terrorism probe
The two men had been living in Italy for years. Photo: Raffaele Esposito/Flickr

A WhatsApp message mistakenly sent to a woman in Liguria sparked a full-blown terror probe.

Italian team finds vaccine against western diet's ills
An Italian team have discovered a vaccine that could protect against illnesses caused by the typical western diet. Photo: Alpha/Joe Flintham/Flickr

The vaccine could reduce incidences of type 2 diabetes and heart problems commonly associated with obesity.

The Local List
12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Italy
Photo: Alberto Fava/Flickr

When you move to Italy, you're bound to make a few mistakes before you settle into la dolce vita. Here are a few to look out for...

Higuain goes from hero to zero after big-money Juve deal
The striker moved to Juventus on Monday for €90 million.Photo: Carlo Hermann/AFP

Napoli fans are furious with their former Argentinian talisman after his big-money move to rivals Juventus.

Fiat Chrysler revises 'doctored' sales figures amid probe
Fiat Chrysler is being investigated over allegations it doctored US sales figures. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

The company now says it did not really celebrate a streak of monthly year-over-year sales gains going back to April 2010.

Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain joins Juventus: official
Gonzalo Higuain is now a Juventus player. Photo: Nelson Almedia/AFP

Gonzalo Higuain completed his move to Juventus after the Italian champions reportedly agreed to pay a €94.7 million buyout clause to wrest the Argentine striker from Napoli on Tuesday.

Italy's government nets €759 million in air traffic sale
Italy has sold part of its air traffic service company Enav. Photo: Luigi Rosa/Flickr

The Italian government on Tuesday sold part of air traffic service company Enav on the stock exchange, netting €759 million.

After Brexit, keep a close eye on Italy's Five Star Movement
Italy's Five Star Movement (MS5) is now the country's most popular political party. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The political pulse of Italy has changed its rhythm.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Italian hotspots struggling with 'too many tourists'
Culture
Meet the Italian chef behind the world's best restaurant
Travel
Escape the heat at one of these beautiful Italian lakes
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Why the UK is now officially crazier than Italy
Culture
How you can stay cool like an ancient Roman
Lifestyle
Food for thought: fight on to save Med diet from extinction
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
From asylum seeker in Italy to organic yoghurt entrepreneur
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Fifteen maps that tell the story of Italy
National
Why Italy might be the next big threat to the EU's future
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Politics
Post Brexit, less than a third of Italians want to leave EU
Politics
The bright side of Brexit: the 'good news' for Brits in Italy
Culture
Eight wonderful things to do in Italy in July
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Six of the best places to visit within easy reach of Rome
British business owners in Italy feel Brexit jitters
National
How to get Italian citizenship (or at least stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Where does Britain's exit from the EU leave Italy?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Politics
Has the time come for Italy’s Five Star Movement to shine?
Society
Why Italy must change after young woman’s brutal murder
Politics
Is Italy's Five Star up to the challenge of running Rome?
Culture
Six of the most bizarre Italian foods everyone should try
2,581
jobs available