Alpine Brigade Julia

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This article is about the currently active Italian Army Alpine Brigade Julia. For for the historic Italian Alpine Division, see 3 Alpine Division Julia.
Brigata Alpina "Julia"
CoA mil ITA brg Julia.jpg
Coat of Arms Julia Alpine Brigade
Active 15 October 1949 – present
Alpine Brigade Julia
Allegiance Italian Army
Branch Army
Type Brigade
Role Alpini
Part of Tridentina Division Command
Garrison/HQ Udine
Colors green
Engagements Bosnia SFOR
Kosovo KFOR
Afghanistan ISAF

The Alpini Brigade Julia is a light Infantry brigade of the Italian Army, specializing in Mountain Combat. Its core units are the Alpini, the mountain infantry corps of the Italian Army, that distinguished itself in combat during World War I and World War II. The brigade’s name Julia alludes to the Julian Alps were the brigade is based. The Brigade carries on the name and traditions of the 3rd Alpine Division Julia.

The Brigade supplies the headquarters and most units to the Italian/Slovenian/Hungarian Battle Group. Component parts from the other two countries are the Slovenian 10th Motorized Battalion and the Hungarian 1st Light Infantry Battalion.

History[edit]

Constitution[edit]

The Julia was constituted on 15 October 1949 in the city of Udine. The brigade was the biggest in the Italian Army with around 10,000 men and was tasked to stop Warsaw Pact forces attacking through Austria over the Plöcken and Naßfeld passes, thus securing the Northern flank of the Italian 5th Army Corps, which formed the main line of defense against an enemy breakthrough into the Northern Italian plain. Initially the brigade was composed of the:

  • CoA mil ITA rgt alpini 008.png 8th Alpini Regiment with
    • Nappina blu - Regimental supports.png Headquarter Platoon
    • Nappina bianca.png Feltre Alpini Battalion (ceded to the Alpine Brigade Cadore on 1 June 1956)
    • Nappina rossa.png Tolmezzo Alpini Battalion
    • Nappina verde.png Cividale Alpini Battalion
    • Nappina blu.png L'Aquila Alpini Battalion
    • Nappina blu - Regimental supports.png 8th Mortar Company
  • Belluno Mountain Artillery Group
  • Anti-tank Artillery Group
  • 108th Field Hospital
  • 58th Kitchen Platoon

In the following years the brigade was augmented with further units:

  • Nappina amarante.png Julia Signal Company (1950)
  • CoA 3 Artimon Rgt.png 3rd Mountain Artillery Regiment with Conegliano Mountain Artillery Group and Light Air-defense Group (1 February 1951)
  • Nappina amarante.png Julia Engineer Company (1951)
  • 11th Frontier Defense Regiment (May 1954) (renamed 11th Alpini Position Regiment on 1 January 1957 ) with the battalions
    • XII° Battalion (renamed Nappina rossa.png Val Fella Alpini Battalion on 1 July 1963)
    • XIII° Battalion (created in 1959 and renamed Nappina verde.png Val Natisone Alpini Battalion on 1 July 1963)
    • XIV Battalion (dissolved in 1962)
    • XV° Battalion (renamed Nappina bianca.png Val Tagliamento Alpini Battalion on 1 July 1963)
    • XVI° Battalion (dissolved in 1962)
  • Nappina viola.png Julia Logistic Battalion (1955)
  • Light Army Aviation Company (1956)
  • Osoppo Mountain Artillery Group and Julia Logistic Support Battalion (1961)

On 26 October 1962 with transfer of the Mondovì Alpini Battalion and Pinerolo Mountain Artillery Group from the Alpine Brigade Taurinense the Julia reached its peak strength in men, units and equipment. For the next 30 years the Julia remained the largest brigade of the Italian Army. It was now composed of:

  • CoA mil ITA rgt alpini 008.png 8th Alpini Regiment with
    • Nappina blu - Regimental supports.png Headquarter Company
    • Nappina bianca.png Gemona Alpini Battalion
    • Nappina rossa.png Tolmezzo Alpini Battalion
    • Nappina verde.png Cividale Alpini Battalion
    • Nappina blu.png L'Aquila Alpini Battalion
    • Nappina bianca.png Mondovì Alpini Battalion (dissolved in 1975, name used to create the Alpini Training Battalion Mondovì in Cuneo as part of the Alpine Brigade Taurinense)
    • Nappina blu - Regimental supports.png 8th Mortar Company (dissolved on 31 December 1964)
  • 11th Alpini Position Regiment
    • Nappina bianca.png Val Tagliamento Alpini Battalion
    • Nappina rossa.png Val Fella Alpini Battalion
    • Nappina verde.png Val Natisone Alpini Battalion
  • CoA 3 Artimon Rgt.png 3rd Mountain Artillery Regiment with
    • Headquarter Group
    • Belluno Artillery Group
    • Conegliano Artillery Group
    • Udine Artillery Group
    • Osoppo Artillery Group
    • Pinerolo Artillery Group
  • Nappina viola.png Julia Logistic Battalion
  • Nappina amarante.png Julia Engineer Company
  • Nappina blu - Brigade supports.png Alpini Parachutist Platoon
  • Light Army Aviation Company

The Alpini Parachutist Platoon merged with the other four Alpini Brigades Parachutist Platoons on 1 April 1964 to form an Alpini Parachutist Company under direct command of the 4th Alpine Army Corps.

1975 Reorganization[edit]

In 1975 the regimental level was abolished by the Italian Army. The remaining units came under direct control of the Julia Brigade. Each Alpini battalion had 5 companies and an organic strength of around 1,000 men, with the exception of the Val Tagliamento Alpini Battalion, which was tasked to defend the lower Canal valley. The Val Tagliamento fielded no less than 16 full strength companies for an organic strength of almost 2,500 men. The new composition was:

  • Nappina blu - Brigade supports.png Julia Command and Signal Battalion in Udine
  • Nappina bianca.png Gemona Alpini Battalion in Tarvisio
    • Nappina bianca.png Headquarters and Service Company
    • Nappina bianca.png 69th Alpini Company
    • Nappina bianca.png 70th Alpini Company
    • Nappina bianca.png 71st Alpini Company
    • Nappina bianca.png 155th Heavy Mortar Company
  • Nappina rossa.png Tolmezzo Alpini Battalion in Paluzza
    • Nappina rossa.png Headquarters and Service Company
    • Nappina rossa.png 6th Alpini Company in Forni Avoltri
    • Nappina rossa.png 12th Alpini Company
    • Nappina rossa.png 72nd Alpini Company
    • Nappina rossa.png 114th Heavy Mortar Company
  • Nappina verde.png Cividale Alpini Battalion in Chiusaforte
    • Nappina verde.png Headquarters and Service Company
    • Nappina verde.png 16th Alpini Company
    • Nappina verde.png 20th Alpini Company
    • Nappina verde.png 76th Alpini Company
    • Nappina verde.png 115th Heavy Mortar Company
  • Nappina blu.png L'Aquila Alpini Battalion (moved in 1975 from Tarvisio to L'Aquila in central Italy)
    • Nappina blu.png Headquarters and Service Company
    • Nappina blu.png 93rd Alpini Company
    • Nappina blu.png 108th Alpini Company
    • Nappina blu.png 143rd Alpini Company
    • Nappina blu.png 119th Heavy Mortar Company
  • Nappina bianca.png Val Tagliamento Alpini Battalion in Tolmezzo
    • Nappina bianca.png Headquarters and Service Company
    • Nappina bianca.png 212th Alpini Company
    • Nappina verde.png 216th Alpini Company (former Val Natisone Battalion company)
    • Nappina verde.png 220th Alpini Company (former Val Natisone Battalion company)
    • Nappina rossa.png 269th Alpini Company (former Val Fella Battalion company)
    • Nappina rossa.png 270th Alpini Company (former Val Fella Battalion company)
    • Nappina rossa.png 271st Alpini Company (former Val Fella Battalion company)
    • Nappina bianca.png 272nd Alpini Company
    • Nappina rossa.png 273rd Alpini Company (former Val Fella Battalion company)
    • Nappina bianca.png 278th Alpini Company
    • Nappina verde.png 288th Alpini Company (former Val Natisone Battalion company)
    • Nappina rossa.png 306th Alpini Company (former Val Fella Battalion company)
    • Nappina rossa.png 307th Alpini Company (former Val Fella Battalion company)
    • Nappina rossa.png 308th Alpini Company (former Val Fella Battalion company)
    • Nappina rossa.png 312th Alpini Company (former Val Fella Battalion company)
    • Nappina rossa.png 313th Alpini Company (former Val Fella Battalion company)
    • Nappina rossa.png 314th Alpini Company (former Val Fella Battalion company)
  • Nappina rossa.png Vicenza Alpini (Training) Battalion in Codroipo
    • Nappina rossa.png Headquarters and Service Company
    • Nappina rossa.png 59th Alpini (Training) Company
    • Nappina rossa.png 60th Alpini (Training) Company
    • Nappina rossa.png 61st Alpini (Training) Company in Teramo
    • Nappina rossa.png 117th Alpini (Training) Company
  • Nappina artiglieria.png Belluno Mountain Artillery Group (dissolved 31 October 1989) in Pontebba
    • Nappina artiglieria CG.png Headquarters and Service Battery
    • Nappina artiglieria 22 btr.png 22nd Mountain Artillery Battery
    • Nappina artiglieria 23 btr.png 23rd Mountain Artillery Battery
    • Nappina artiglieria 24 btr.png 24th Mountain Artillery Battery
  • Nappina artiglieria.png Conegliano Mountain Artillery Group in Udine
    • Nappina artiglieria CG.png Headquarters and Service Battery
    • Nappina artiglieria 13 btr.png 13th Mountain Artillery Battery
    • Nappina artiglieria 14 btr.png 14th Mountain Artillery Battery
    • Nappina artiglieria 15 btr.png 15th Mountain Artillery Battery in L'Aquila
  • Nappina artiglieria.png Udine Artillery Group (renamed "Light Anti-aircraft Artillery Group Udine" on 6 December 1991) in Tolmezzo
    • Nappina artiglieria CG.png Headquarters and Service Battery
    • Nappina artiglieria 17 btr.png 17th Mountain Artillery Battery
    • Nappina artiglieria 18 btr.png 18th Mountain Artillery Battery
    • Nappina artiglieria 34 btr.png 34th Mountain Artillery Battery
  • Nappina viola.png Julia Logistic Battalion in Udine
  • Nappina blu compagnia controcarri.png Julia Anti-tank Company in Cavazzo Carnico
  • Nappina amarante.png Julia Engineer Company in Gemona

Strategic plans in case of war[edit]

After the 1976 reform the 4th Alpine Army Corps was responsible to defend the Italian border along the main chain of the alps from the Swiss-Austrian-Italian border tripoint in the west to the Italian-Yugoslavian border in the east. In case of war with Yugoslavia the 4th Alpine Army Corps would remain static in its position guarding the left flank of the Italian V Corps, which would meet the enemy forces in the plains of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The only brigade which would have seen combat in such a case would have been the Julia.

In case of a war with the Warsaw Pact the 4th Alpine Army Corps had two war planes: one in the case the Soviet Southern Group of Forces and Hungarian Army would march through Yugoslavia and the other in case the Warsaw Pact would violate the Austrian neutrality and march through Austria. In case the enemy forces would come through Yugoslavia, the Julia would cover the mountainous left flank of the 5th Corps, which with its four armoured and five mechanized brigades would try to wear down the enemy before it could break out into the North Italian Padan plain. The other Alpini brigades would remain static.

In the more likely case the Soviet and Hungarian divisions would invade Austria and march through Southern Styria and through the Drava valley in Carinthia the Alpini brigades would have been the first front line units of the Italian Army. The Cadore would have defended the Piave valley and the Tridentina the Puster valley, while the Orobica had a special mission and the Taurinense would remain in reserve. The Julia Brigade however was expect to the first Italian unit to encounter enemy forces as it was based closest to the assumed line of advance of Warsaw Pact forces.

Coming up the Drava valley the Eastern bloc forces could turn left at Villach and try to cross the Alps through the Canal Valley, which was garrisoned by the units of the Julia Brigade: the Gemona Alpini battalion was located right at the border in Tarvisio, with the Cividale Alpini Battalion further down the valley in Chiusaforte. Both battalions were to be supported by the Belluno Mountain Artillery Group in Pontebba. The Gemona was tasked with blocking the Canal Valley right at the border, while the Cividale was tasked with defending the Naßfeld Pass and thus securing the left flank of the Gemona battalion. The biggest battalion of the Italian Army the Val Tagliamento Alpini Battalion was based in Tolmezzo shortly before the Southern end of the Canal Valley. The Val Tagliamento fielded 16 full strength companies and had an organic strength of over 2,500 men and was the last line of defence in the mountains before the plains of Friuli-Venezia Giulia where the 5th Army Corps awaited any enemy who would manage to break through. The Val Tagliamento was supported by the Conegliano Mountain Artillery Group and Udine Artillery (Air-Defence) Group based in Udine and Tolmezzo. The Tolmezzo Alpini Battalion was stationed to the North of Tolmezzo in Paluzza and tasked with defending the Plöcken Pass as a breakthrough there would have allowed enemy forces to march through the But valley into the rear of the other units of the Julia. An attack through the Canal valley was considered to be the most likely scenario and therefore the Julia was by far the strongest brigade of the Italian Army fielding almost 10,000 men.

In case the Julia would have failed to hold the Canal valley the Italian Army had a nuclear armed heavy artillery group stationed in the brigades rear: the 27th Heavy Artillery Group Marche in Udine armed with M110 howitzers. W33 Nuclear shells for the 27th group were stored in Reana del Rojale at the Italian Army ammunition depot "San Bernardo". The 27th group was ordered to turn the Canal valley into a fiery hell if the Julia would have been overrun. The group fielded two firing batteries with 4 artillery systems per battery and had 140 (!) nuclear artillery shells to fulfil its task. In the 1980ties the W33 nuclear artillery shells were replaced with fewer but more powerful W79 nuclear artillery shells.

To aid in the defence of the narrow mountain valleys the 4th Army Corps re-activated some fortifications of the World War II era Alpine Wall. In the area of operation of the Julia the task of maintaining and manning the fortifications fell to the Val Tagliamento Alpini Battalion. The fortified lines were at Plöcken Pass, Campiolo, Portis, Torre Moscarda, Stua di Ramaz, Cavazzo, Ugovizza, Malborghetto, Val d'Uque, Tratte, Sella Sompdogna, Sella Nevea, Sella Carnizza, Case Marco, Cereschiatis and Ponte del Cristo.

1990s reorganization[edit]

Alpini of the 7th Alpini Regiment during the Falzarego 2011 exercise

On 26 September 1992 the Val Tagliamento Battalion was dissolved. In August 1992 the battalions took the names of historical Alpini regiments to carry on the regimental traditions. Each regiment consisted of one of the brigades Alpini battalions and an additional support company. Furthermore the Anti-tank Company was dissolved and the Command and Signal Battalion was merged with the Engineer Company into the newly formed Command and Tactical Support Battalion. The new composition was:

With the suppression of the Alpine Brigade Cadore in 1997, the two remaining regiments of that brigade passed to the Julia:

With the suppression of the Alpine Brigade Tridentina in 2002, the last remaining regiment of that brigade passed to the Julia Brigade on 1 July 2002:

Furthermore the Julia received the CoA mil ITA rgt genio 02.png 2° Engineer Regiment Iseo Battalion from the Alpine Troops Command in 2002.

Today[edit]

The brigade is based in the eastern half of northern Italy. The headquarters is in the city of Udine. In 2013 the brigade received the 2nd Cavalry Regiment Piemonte Cavalleria from the disbanded Pozzuolo del Friuli Cavalry Brigade. Today the brigade consists of the following units:

Equipment[edit]

The Alpini companies of the Alpini regiments are equipped with Bv 206S tracked all-terrain carriers, Puma 6x6 wheeled armored personnel carriers and Lince light multirole vehicles. The mortar companies of the Alpini regiments are equipped with 120mm mortars, while the anti-tank companies field Spike anti-tank guided missile systems. The Cavalry regiment is equipped with a mix of Centauro tank destroyers and Puma 4x4 wheeled armored personnel carriers. The artillery regiment of the brigade fields 18x FH-70 towed howitzers.

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

Italian Army Homepage: Alpine Brigade Julia