Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola is an Italian naval officer who served in the government of Italy as minister of defence from November 2011 to April 2013. He was the Italian military’s Chief of Staff from 10 March 2004 to 8 February 2008 and served as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee from 2008 to 2011.
As a Rear Admiral (lower half) he was assigned to the Defence Staff in 1994, at the Ministry of Defence. There he served as chief of the Directorate of Defence Policy between 1994 and 1998. In this position he took an active part in the planning of the Italian contribution to the NATO effort for the stabilization of the Balkans and for the Italian-led Operation in support of Albania in 1997. As advisor to the Minister of Defence and to the Italian Chod he was actively engaged in NATO PfP initiative and in the Mediterranean Dialogue. He was also the Italian representative to the HLG on nuclear and proliferation issues.
From 1998 to 2001, with the rank of divisional admiral (rear admiral; promoted 31 December 1997), he assumed the position of Chief of the Cabinet Office of the Ministry of Defence. On 1 January 1999 he was promoted to squadron vice-admiral (vice admiral). In this position he took active part in supporting the political decision making for the Italian contribution to the NATO initiative in Kosovo, the NATO enlargement process and outreach policy and in the development of the ESDP and NATO-EU relationship.
In March 2001 he was appointed Secretary General of Defence/National Armaments Director. In this capacity he held national responsibility for major NATO programmes such as AGS, ALTBMD, NATO Airlift Capability, NATO SATCOM Post 2000 and MEADS. He was promoted Admiral on 10 March 2004 on becoming Chief of Defence. In this capacity he had the overall responsibility for the policy and planning of the Italian Armed Forces and – as CINCFOR – he did hold planning and command responsibility for Italian Forces participation in NATO, EU and Coalition operations conducted in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans, the Mediterranean, Pakistan and in the United Nations Operation in Lebanon. From 27 June 2008 to 15 November 2011, he was the chairman of the NATO Military Committee.
On 16 November 2011, he was appointed to serve in Mario Monti’s cabinet as minister of defence. His tenure ended in April 2013. He is presently Chairman of the boards of AEREA Spa and FINCANTIERI USA. He is also a Visiting Professor on International Organizations at Sciences Po Paris.