Arditi was the name adopted by Italian Army elite storm troops of World War I. The name derives from the Italian verb "Ardire" ("to dare") and translates as "the braves".

"Reparti d'assalto" (Assault Units) were formed in the summer of 1917 by Colonel Bassi, and were assigned the tactical role of shock troops, breaching enemy defenses in order to prepare the way for a broad infantry advance. The "Arditi" were not infantry troops, but were considered a separate combat arm, and can be considered as among the modern world's first true Special Forces.

The "Reparti d'assalto" were successful in bringing in a degree of movement to what had previously been a war of entrenched positions. Their exploits on the battlefield were exemplary and they gained an illustrious place in Italian military history. They were demobilized by 1920.

The name "Arditi" was also used by the supporters (often war veterans) of Gabriele D'Annunzio, during his occupation of Fiume in 1919-20. Their use of a uniform with black shirts and black fez was taken up by Benito Mussolini and his supporters. The word "Arditi" then became a synonym for fascist activists.

The name is sometimes misapplied as a general term for Italian special units such as Bersaglieri.

See also

*Arditi del Popolo, an antifascist organization created in 1921 by Argo Secondari

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