Italian and German defense policy during the Cold War shared several features, from the legacies of WWII defeat, to pacifism as a key in strategic narratives, limited military expenditures and non-use of armed force in international arena. Just after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, however, Italy provided its military contribution to "Desert Storm" and adopted a "Nee Defense Model", while Germany refused to deploy armed forces in Iraq. This represented a symbol of a broader phenomenon: while occupying an ever larger role in regional and international politics Germany has been limiting its military contribution to global security, only slowly modifying the core of its strategic approach. On the contrary, despite domestic and economic limitations, since the end of the bipolar era the Italian troops have been engaged in operations abroad and several defense reforms (suspension of conscription, jointness of the Chiefs of Staff, etc.) have been approved. Limited attention has been devoted to the comparison between the defense policy reforms adopted in Italy and Germany after the end of the bipolar era. What are the explaining factors of different pace and timing of defense policy change in the cases of Italy and Germany? Through primary and secondary sources, the paper focuses on different institutional constraints that played a crucial role in shaping the two outcomes.