By Andrew Brookes
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Extra info for Air War over Italy 1943-1945
However, Mezzacapo was much exercised by command competence. 48 Mezzacapo also earned the wrath of the conservative military establishment by challenging the sacred prindple of seniority which had governed promotion in the upper reaches of the officer corps. As well as sacking twelve lieutenant-generals - the highest rank in the peacetime army - he had promoted 14 major-generals and 31 colonels, all chosen by selection, over the heads of senior colleagues. In so doing he had reinterpreted an 1853 law on promotion which had in theory allowed for choice but in practice made seniority the most important factor.
This third tier of the Italian military structure came into formal existence as a result of a law passed by Ricotti's successor on 30 June 1876, but lacked real substance. Ricotti also strove to speed up Italian mobilisation. He wanted an army like that of Prussia, where it was enough to send a telegram for the troops to move on to a war footing, instead of having to begin by sacking or promoting thousands of officers. to La Marmora, ever an obstruction to reform, denied that military science had yet been reduced - as he termed it - to moving faster than an adversary and with more men, but Farini reminded him that time had become a much more important factor in warfare now that railway engines had speeded up the movement of armies.
45 A shortage of officers meant that the mobile militia was capable only of garrisoning forts in the interior. Wartime staffs were nonexistent and wartime commanders for reserve divisions had not been appointed. All in all, Italy was clearly far from being ready for war. Mezzacapo's policy was to improve the quality of the troops at the cost of quantity. Thirty-six thousand category II troops were left untrained, and the money saved was used to hold 12000 category I troops for an extra four months.
Air War over Italy 1943-1945 by Andrew Brookes