ROME - Adm. Giampaolo Di Paola, the former Italian military chief of staff, has been named Italy's new defense minister, replacing Ignazio La Russa.
Di Paola will form part of a Cabinet named on Nov. 16 by Mario Monti, the former EU commissioner who has been tasked with forming a new Italian government after the resignation over the weekend of Silvio Berlusconi.
Berlusconi was forced to stand down after losing his parliamentary majority, but before doing so he passed a package of economic cuts and stimulus measures designed to calm market fears about Italy's massive public debt. Monti's Cabinet of so-called technocrats, or nonpolitical appointees, will now have the tough task of implementing those reforms before elections are held in 2013.
Currently serving as the chairman of NATO's military committee, Naples-born Di Paola commanded Italian Navy submarines and the aircraft carrier Garibaldi before being seconded to NATO in Norfolk, Va., for three years before returning to the Navy General Staff.
In 2001, he was appointed Italy's procurement chief before becoming Italian chief of staff in 2004, a post he held for four years when he ran Italy's contribution to missions in the Balkans and Afghanistan and oversaw Italy's military presence in southern Iraq.
Di Paola backed the introduction of net-centric capabilities and jointness in the Italian military, strengthening the General Staff and launching joint commands for special and amphibious forces.
Italian media had speculated that the Defense Ministry would be handed by Monti to Gen. Rolando Mosca Moschini, the military adviser to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.