Friuli Air Assault Brigade
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|Brigata Aeromobile "Friuli"|
Coat of Arms Friuli Air Assault Brigade
|Active||1 November 1884 - 28 December 1926
Friuli Infantry Brigade
15 April 1960 - 23 September 1975
Friuli Infantry Brigade
24 September 1975 - 1 June 1991
Friuli Motorized Brigade
2 June 1991 - 1 May 2000
Friuli Mechanized Brigade
2 May 2000 - 16 July 2013
Friuli Air Assault Brigade
|Part of||Friuli Division Command|
|Engagements||World War I
|Brigadier Luigi Francavilla|
The Friuli Air Assault Brigade was an Air Assault brigade of the Italian Army, based mainly in the north-east of the country. The brigade was part of the 1st Defence Forces Command until it was merged with the Pozzuolo del Friuli Cavalry Brigade in fall of 2013.
The Friuli Infantry Brigade was formed on 1 November 1884, in Milan and consisted of the 87th Infantry Regiment Friuli and the 88th Infantry Regiment Friuli. At the outbreak of hostilities between Kingdom of Italy and the Austrian Empire in 1915 the Friuli along with the Cremona Brigade formed the 16th Division of the Line. The brigade fought bravely in World War I but was dissolved after the war on 28 December 1926.
World War II
The 20th Infantry Division Friuli was formed on 24 August 1939 by renaming the existing 20th Infantry Division Curtatone e Montanara in Livorno. The division was immediately split to create the 44th Infantry Division Cremona, but it retained its traditional regiments: the 87th and 88th infantry regiments.
After World War II the division was the only division of the IV Military Territorial Command and based in the city of Bolzano. In 1949 the division moved to Florence were it joined the VII Military Territorial Command. There the division was augmented with the 78th Infantry Regiment Lupi di Toscana, 8th Field Artillery Regiment and 3rd Light Anti-Air Artillery Regiment. Later the 3rd Light Anti-Air Artillery Regiment was replaced by the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment Piemonte Cavalleria.
In September 1956 the Friuli and the Trieste Motorised Infantry Division entered the newly raised VI Army Corps. On 15 April 1960, the Friuli Infantry Division was reduced to brigade, losing all its traditional regiments. The brigade was headquartered in Florence and most of its units stationed in the surrounding region of Tuscany. By 1964 the structure of the Infantry Brigade Friuli was:
- Infantry Brigade Friuli:
- 78th Infantry Regiment Lupi di Toscana with three infantry battalions
- XIX Armored Battalion with M26 Pershing
- Field Artillery Group Friuli with M114 155/23 towed howitzers
- Light Anti-Air Artillery Group Friuli with M1 40/56
- Engineer Company Friuli
- Signal Company Friuli
- Light aeroplane section Friuli with L-21A Super Cub
With the abolishment of the regimental level in Italy on 23 September 1975, the brigade changed name and became the Motorized Brigade Friuli. The new structure was:
- Motorized Brigade Friuli:
- Friuli Command and Signal Battalion in Florence
- 19th Armored Battalion M.O. Butera in Florence, with a mix of M47 Patton main battle tanks and M113 armoured personnel carriers
- 35th Motorized (Reserve) Infantry Battalion Pistoia in Pistoia
- 78th Motorized Infantry Battalion Lupi di Toscana in Scandicci
- 87th Motorized Infantry Battalion Senio in Pistoia
- 225th Motorized Infantry Battalion Arezzo in Arezzo
- 35th Field Artillery Group Riolo in Pistoia, with M114 155/23 towed howitzers
- Friuli Logistic Battalion in Coverciano
- Friuli Anti-tank Company in Scandicci
- Friuli Engineer Company in Florence
On 1 January 1986, the Friuli Brigade and the Folgore Parachute Brigade, in conjunction with some units of the Army's Light Army Aviation and the Navy's San Marco Regiment, became the Rapid Intervention Forces of the Italian Military, deployable on short notice for out of area missions.
After the end of the Cold War and the subsequent reduction of the Italian Army the Friuli merged on 1 June 1991 with the Trieste Mechanized Brigade. Although the new brigade was named Friuli Mechanized Brigade, it was headquartered in Bologna in the HQ building of the Trieste brigade. Before the merger the 87th Motorized Infantry Battalion Senio had been disbanded on 31 January 1991 and the 35th Field Artillery Group Riolo and 19th Armored Battalion on 6 May 1991.
After the reintroduction of the regimental level in 1992 the brigade was then composed of the following units as of 1 January 1993:
- Command and Signal Battalion (later renamed Command and Tactical Support Battalion)
- 4th Tank Regiment (later renamed 33rd Tank Regiment)
- 6th Mechanized Bersaglieri Regiment
- 66th Mechanized Battalion Valtellina (later renamed 66th Infantry Regiment Trieste)
- 78th Infantry Regiment Lupi di Toscana
- 225th Infantry Regiment Arezzo (later replaced by the 121st Infantry Regiment Macerata)
- 21st Self-propelled Artillery Group Romagna (later renamed 21st Self-propelled Field Artillery Regiment Trieste)
- Friuli Logistic Battalion
- Engineer Company (merged in September 1993 into the Command and Signal Battalion)
During the late 1990ties the brigade was reorganized to become Italy's first and only Air Assault Brigade. The 33rd Tank and 121st Infantry regiments were dissolved; the 21st Self-propelled Artillery Regiment was transferred to the Pinerolo Armored Brigade in Southern Italy. In 1995 the brigade received the 4th Army Corps' 3rd Cavalry Regiment Savoia Cavalleria, which was transferred from Meran in South Tyrol to Grosseto in Tuscany. On 5 September of the same year the 78th Infantry Regiment Lupi di Toscana left the brigade to become a basic training regiment. On 1 January 1999, the 7th Army Aviation Regiment Vega and on 1 May 2000, the 5th Army Aviation Regiment Rigel were transferred to the brigade, which on the second date changed its name to Friuli Air Assault Brigade. On 27 June 2001 the Friuli Logistic Battalion became the 6th Transport Regiment and was transferred to the Logistic Projection Brigade. On 1 January 2005, the 6th Bersaglieri Regiment was transferred to the Aosta Mechanized Brigade on Sicily.
During the 2013 reform the Friuli ceded the 3rd Cavalry Regiment Savoia Cavalleria to the Folgore Parachute Brigade. In turn the Friuli received the remnants of the Pozzuolo del Friuli Cavalry Brigade: adding the Lagunari Amphibious Assault Infantry Regiment Serenissima, the Horse Artillery Regiment Volòire and the 3rd Engineer Regiment to the new brigade. Furthermore from the disbanded Logistic Projection Command the 6th Transport Regiment was transferred to the brigade and became the Friuli Logistic Regiment. After the Friuli brigade had ceded its name and traditions on 16 July 2013 to the Friuli Division Command in Florence, the Italian Army General Staff announced that after the disbandment of the staff and command battalion of the Pozzuolo del Friuli Cavalry Brigade were completed in fall of 2013, the name and traditions of the Pozzuolo del Friuli Cavalry Brigade would pass to the former Friuli Air Assault Brigade. Thus in January 2014 the brigade officially received its new name: Pozzuolo del Friuli Brigade.
On 16 July 2013, when the Friuli brigade transferred its name to the Friuli Division Command the structure of the brigade was as follows:
- Command and Tactical Support Battalion in Bologna (Emilia-Romagna)
- 4th Cavalry Regiment Genova Cavalleria in Palmanova (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
- 66th Air Assault Infantry Regiment Trieste in Forlì (Emilia-Romagna)
- Lagunari Amphibious Assault Infantry Regiment "Serenissima" in Venice (Veneto) with AAV7-A1 and Puma 4x4
- 5th Army Aviation Regiment Rigel in Casarsa della Delizia (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
- 7th Army Aviation Regiment Vega in Rimini (Romagna)
- Horse Artillery Regiment "Volòire" in Milan (Lombardy) with 24 FH-70
- 3rd Engineer Regiment in Udine (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
- Friuli Logistic Regiment in Budrio (Romagna)
The Trieste infantry regiment was equipped with Puma 6x6 armored personnel carriers. The regiments mortar company was equipped with 120mm mortars, while the anti-tank company fielded Spike anti-tank guided missile systems. The Lagunari regiment was equipped with AAV7-A1 amphibious assault vehicles and Puma 4x4; the regiments mortar company and anti-tank company were identical to the mortar and anti-tank company of the Trieste. The Rigel aviation regiment fielded six A129 Mangusta attack helicopter and one AB 205A-1 utility helicopter squadron. The Vega aviation regiment fielded two A129 Mangusta attack helicopter, three AB 205A-1 utility helicopter, three AB 412 utility transport helicopter and a mixed A129 Mangusta and A109A EOA reconnaissance helicopter squadron. The artillery regiment of the brigade fielded FH-70 towed howitzers.