Faced with numerous regional conflicts, Australia has decided to bring its 1st Brigade to 28 days readiness (i.e., it can deploy for combat in 28 days). Previously, only the 3rd Brigade (consisting of elite light infantry battalions) was maintained at this status. The 1st Brigade is regarded as the backbone of the Australian Army, with 90 Leopard-AS1 tanks, 80 M113 armored personnel carriers, and 90 ASLAV 8x8 armored cars.--Stephen V Cole
Bangladesh plans to form a new Army brigade on the Indian border. It will be based in the strategically important Sylhet region.--Stephen V Cole
September 1; Switzerland: Change in the Swiss Military System
For most of the post-World War II period the average Swiss man experienced some 331 days of military service between his 20th and 50th years. This was divided into:
17 weeks basic training at age 20, followed by
8 twenty day refresher courses between age 21 and 32
3 thirteen day refresher courses between age 32 and 42
1 thirteen day refresher course between age 42 and 50
The Army was divided into three classes. Men between 20 and 32 were in the Active Army, those between 32 and 42 in the Landwher, and those between 42 and 50 in the Landsturm. Men promoted to NCO and officer were required to serve additional periods of active duty training. Beginning in 1995 the terms of service have been revised. Men now serve 293 or 295 days on active duty between their 20th and 42nd years.
15 weeks basic training at age 20, followed by
10 fourteen day refresher courses until age 42, or
16 twelve day refresher courses until age 42.
Distinctions among the Active Army, the Landwher, and the Landsturm have been abolished. NCOs and officers are still required to serve additional periods of active duty training, and senior staff personnel are liable for service until age 52. In addition, women, formerly confined to civilian defense duties, may now volunteer to serve, with a service obligation similar to, but different from that impose on men.
The Swiss, long accustomed to being the most heavily armed nation in Europe, have lately been expressing a desire to reduce the burden of service. A campaign in 1989 for a referendum on the abolition of the armed forces took 18 months to gather the 111,000 signatures required by law. The measure failed, but the anti-army turnout was over 30-percent, probably due to low voter turnout. It's likely that pro-army voters took the matter lightly - In contrast, in 1972 430,000 signatures were gathered in only six months for a referendum to require the retention of horses on active duty. Despite this, the results certainly indicated dissatisfaction with military service. --A.A. Nofi
September 1;Italy: Principal Formations of the Italian Army
The post-Cold War draw-down has left the Italian Army the smallest it has ever been since the completion of Unification in 1871. However, the army has also reached a much higher degree of readiness, skill, discipline, and training. In the last decade Italian forces - including the Navy's San Marco Marine Regiment and elements of the Air Force - have performed effectively on peace keeping operations on numerous occasions.
In keeping with the NATO trend towards elimination of the division, Italian ground forces have been reorganized into independent brigades, grouped under several operational or territorial commands.
Ground Forces Operational Command (Verona)
Support Command (COMSUP) (Treviso):
Antiaircraft Artillery Command
Army Aviation Command
Logistical Support Command
Force Projection Command (Milan)
"Folgore" Parachute Brigade
"Garibaldi" Mechanized Brigade
"Friuli" Mechanized Brigade
Alpine Troops Command (Bolzano)
"Taurinense" Alpine Brigade
"Julia" Alpine Brigade
"Tridentina" Alpine Brigade
1st Defense Command(Vittorio Veneto)
"Ariete" Armored Brigade
"Centauro" Mechanized Brigade
"Pozzuolo del Friuli" Mechanized Cavalry Brigade
2nd Defense Command (Naples)
"Sassari" Mechanized Brigade
"Granatieri di Sardegna" Mechanized Brigade
"Pinerolo" Mechanized Brigade
"Aosta" Mechanized Brigade
The "Garibaldi" Brigade, which includes the 18th Bersaglieri Battalion and the 131st Tank Regiment, is currently in Kosovo, reinforced by the 700 troops of the 3rd Alpine Battalion.
The 3rd Alpine Battalion has had considerable experience in peacekeeping operations in recent years. It was in Mozambique during March-October 1993 and in Bosnia from August 1997 through February 1998. Although it may seem odd to send alpine troops on such missions, particularly to tropical jungles like Mozambique, in fact they are quite suited to such operations. The Alpini are relatively lightly equipped, and thus can be quickly moved by air. In addition, their training makes them effective in all sorts of irregular terrain, not merely in mountains. --A.A. Nofi