Italian special forces


Italian special forces

The Italian Special Forces include special forces units from several branches of the Italian Military: the Esercito Italiano or Army, the Marina Militare Italiana or Navy, the Aeronautica Militare Italiana or Air force and l'Arma dei Carabinieri. Each of these four branches has its own special forces unit, and other state bodies, such as the Italian State Police, have their own units.

Italian Army Special Units

The Italian Army operates three main special units:
* the 9th Parachute Assault Regiment ('Col Moschin'), a SAS-like force trained for special operations in all kinds of environments descended from the 'Arditi' units that operated on the Italo-Austrian Front of the First World War.

*4 Alpini Parachute Regiment - a combination of elite mountain infantry and airborne troops. The 4th is obviously best-suited for "high-altitude operations" (that need soldiers with a high level of red blood cells for a good level of oxygen and trained in mountain warfare).

* 185° Reg. R.A.O. "Reggimento Ricognizione Acquisizione Obbiettivi" (recognition/targeting reggiment). Its mission is to find and mark enemy objectives for bombers or artillery units. The regiment is divided in 4 batteries (BAOs), trained to operate in different environments:
** 1st "Draghi" (Drakes) - desert environment
** 2nd "Aquile" (Eagles) mountainous and Arctic environment
** 3rd "Diavoli" (Devils) amphibious environment
** 4th for "special reconnaissance" and surveillance.:Every BAO is composed by several DAOs "Distaccamenti Acquisizione Obbiettivi" (detachments of 8 men each). For every BAO there is a minimum of 2 DAOs specialized in amphibious ops, 2 in Forward Air Control and 1 in advanced parachute usage.

Italian Navy Special Units

* The sole Italian Navy special forces unit is the COMSUBIN - the Raiders & Divers Group. Specifically the 150-200 men of the Operational Raiders Group are the special forces section of the elite unit.G.O.I. (Gruppo Operativo Incursori) is the branch with raiders, they are trained for naval/coastal operations (but are also used on the mountains of Afghanistan in operation ISAF), are also equipped with special over/under water vehicles for silent isertions. G.O.S. (Gruppo Operativo Subacquei) id the sub branch for rescue and damage repair of vessels)The COM.SUB.IN has the origins in the famous WW2 Italian special corp "X M.A.S." ("X" is for "10th" "M.A.S." is for "Anti Submarine Vehicles" this name was used as a "cover" for the primary mission of these men: the direct raids on enemy ships using explosive head-charges in little guided torpedoes with 2-man crews ("Siluri a Lenta Corsa" or S.L.C.), with hand explosive charges (by frog-man) or with little, fast, self-explosive boats (S.M.A.). Sometimes the raiders approached the target by means of submarines with special tanks installed on the external bridge containing the special vehicles (S.L.C.). This corp damaged or sunk 50–60% of all the ships hit by Axis and Allied special forces.

Italian Air Forces Special Units

* 17° STORMO OPERAZIONI SPECIALI ( a.k.a. R.I.A.M.) the raiders corp of Italian Air Force. Its primary missions are: raid on aeronautical compounds, Forward Air Control, Combat Controlling, and Combat Search and Rescue. Its origins are in the "A.D.R.A Arditi Distruttori Regia Aeronautica" (Air Force Brave Destroyers), a corp of WW2. They were used in not well known missions against bridges and allied airfields in north-Africa after the fall of Tunisia. The only well-known mission reported the destruction with explosive charges of 25 B-17 and the killing of 50 bomber crew members.

*The Italian Air Force operates a special helicopter squadron (the 26th) dedicated to supporting the special operations conducted by the special forces units of other branches of the Armed Services.

Carabinieri Corps Special Units

The Carabinieri Corps is a Gendarmerie (military police) with both (civil and military) law and order police duties and military peacekeeping and war-fighting capabilities. The Carabinieri has its own special forces in the form of the GIS or the Special Intervention Group. The GIS features some one hundred or so troops specially trained in counter-terrorism operations with a special emphasis on marksmanship.

Other Special Units

The Italian State Police also operates its own counter-terrorism unit, called the NOCS or Central Security Operational Nucleus. It cross-trains with the Carabinieri Corps' GIS but is wholly independent of it both logistically and administratively.

There is talk of increasing cross-service training, especially in the field of special operations, with the possibility of forging a joint special operations command to facilitate operational flexibility and interoperability.


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