ROME — NATO said Monday it is moving its run-down southern command in Italy to a new (EURO)164-million ($212 million) high-tech campus 20 kilometers (10 miles) away.
The alliance said it would leave its base of nearly 60 years, located in the Naples neighborhood of Bagnoli, on Dec. 3 and move to the new campus at Lake Patria, in farmland up the coast.
The new base will help give NATO greater operational flexibility, said U.S. Navy Capt. Ike Skelton, spokesman for the Joint Force Command. The base coordinated NATO action in the Balkans, and more recently in Libya.
NATO is looking to reform and streamline its command structure, still partially based on Cold War requirements, in response to declining defense budgets in most member nations. This is in keeping with NATO's new philosophy of "smart defense," allowing members to combine resources and reduce duplication.
Plans for the move began some 25 years ago, yet Italian promises for a new highway and rail link to the new site haven't yet materialized. Italy provided the land for the new campus and NATO funds covered construction costs, Skelton said.
There's no housing at the base; NATO and the base's civilian staff will live off-site as they do at Bagnoli. Plans for an international school for children of base staff were scrapped because of budget constraints, according to the Joint Force Command website.