For the first time ever, Sant’Anna School participated in “Mare Aperto”, the most important military exercise conducted by the Italian Navy. A delegation of Honors Students embarked on the flagship of the Italian Fleet, the aircraft carrier “Nave Cavour”. The team was composed by: Zahra Bel Arache (Honors Student, Master in International Security Studies); Anna Pagnacco (Honors Student, Political Science); and Alberto Baldini (Honors Student, Law) and it was coordinated by Alessandro Mario Amoroso, PhD student in Human Rights and Global Politics at the Dirpolis Institute (Law, Policy and Development) of Sant’Anna School. During three weeks on board, the group had the opportunity to implement their academic knowledge in such fields as the Law of the Sea, International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights and International Politics. The team was involved in advising the exercise’s Staff on political matters and legal issues connected to the development of the scenario.
The Mare Aperto military exercise is organised once every six months in order to improve the efficacy and operational readiness of all the components of the Navy, as well as to foster further integration with the other Armed Forces. It also represents an opportunity to raise awareness on maritime issues in the public debate. In this framework, the collaboration with Universities of excellence such as Sant’Anna School gives students the opportunity both to experience the daily realities of the Navy and to bring about innovation in the unfolding of the exercise itself, contributing with the expertise acquired during their studies.
More than 4000 Armed Forces personnel, 21 naval units, 4 airplanes, 17 helicopters and 3 submarines took part in the exercise, plus aircrafts of the Italian Air Force. The exercise had an aeronaval-amphibious connotation, due to the presence of a landing force of about 400 marines belonging to the San Marco Marine Brigade. The certification of the Third Naval Division as Commander Amphibious Task Force and of the San Marco Marine Brigade as Commander Landing Force was among the main objectives of the Mare Aperto 2021, in preparation for the NATO Response Force - NRF 2022.
During the exercise, the team from Sant’Anna School contributed as Political Advisers (POLAD) and Legal Advisers (LEGAD).
The POLAD team contributed to the creation of a political framework aimed at legitimizing decisions taken by the Commanders at sea, through the drafting of documents such as policy briefs, diplomatic notes and Memorandums of Understanding. A fundamental task entrusted to the team was to build respect, at the international level, for a nation that the scenario of the exercise portrayed as a rogue State. The goal was achieved by promoting a policy of detente towards the enemy State, while at the same time showing openness towards the international community, as well as strengthening diplomatic, economic and commercial relations with the third neutral State.
The LEGAD team was responsible for providing a legal framework for the conduct of Commanders at sea. The core of their work was the ROE game, the rules of engagement that the LEGAD team helped drafting, integrating and delegating to the distinct levels of the chain of command. Acting at a strategic level, the team from Sant’Anna School also took on the role of legislative advisers, promoting relevant legislation in order to place the State they represented in a favourable position. This happened, in particular, through the establishment of an Exclusive Economic Zone and the declaration of a state of emergency. On some occasions, legal advice aimed at solving practical problems, such as preventing the boarding of a merchant vessel.
Participation in the “Mare Aperto” exercise allowed a fruitful collaboration with the Staff of the Navy and in particular with the Staff of the Commander in Chief Naval Fleet (CINCNAV), allowing students to appreciate their decision-making process and operational capabilities in situations of great complexity. “Being embedded in a civilian and military team of the Navy engaged every day in the direction of the exercise - as underlined by the students upon return - was an extraordinary opportunity to implement our knowledge of international law and international relations acquired at Sant'Anna School. It was also an occasion to put into practice the multidisciplinary approach that distinguishes our courses at Sant’Anna School. Participating in the ‘Mare Aperto’ pushed us to work effectively under stress, to be extremely reactive, to think creatively and to be concise and efficient”.
A video testimony recorded by the team of Sant'Anna School is available HERE.
Cover photo: Anna Pagnacco, Alberto Baldini, Zahra Bel Arache , Alessandro Mario Amoroso.