Italy decided to put battle dress clad troops on its streets to help maintain law and order just before the summer this year.
Aside from a few soldiers hovering around Milan’s central station, I had yet to see much evidence of the military on the streets here in Milan, until recently.
On our recent trips to the the hospital in which my son is being treated, I have spotted an army Landrover and two solders clad in full battle dress. The solders were guarding one of Milan’s main synagogues. Well, one solder was guarding, the other was sitting in the Landrover.
Now, yesterday was the second or third time I had seen these guys. What struck me was the weapons they were hefting. Full blown assault rifles – Beretta AR70s I believe. Indeed, they certainly looked like the rifle in the picture below.
Stop reading, start speaking
Stop translating in your head and start speaking Italian for real with the only audio course that prompt you to speak.
OK, so soldiers often carry assault rifles in war zones. However these weapons, 5.56mm calibre, are perhaps just a little too powerful for a central urban area. Specialist police units usually carry 9mm calibre weapons – semi auto pistols and sub machine guns. This is because 9mm bullets are unlikely to go through walls. 5.56mm calibre ammunition is generally reserved to sharp shooters who do not have a tendency to spray areas with bullets.
All I can hope is that Italy’s street patrolling soldiers never have to shoot. For if they do, the consequences may well be frightening. While it is possible that the rifles are loaded with low power ammunition, I doubt it.
When I asked one of the solders what calibre his rifle was, he said he could not tell me. Orders I guess. Or perhaps someone is aware that putting such powerful weapons on the streets of Italy is a potential liability, and does not want this to become public knowledge.
A case of too much power possibly?