9th Paratroopers Assault Regiment

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9th Paratroopers Assault Regiment "Col Moschin"
CoA mil ITA rgt paracadutisti 009.png
Coat of Arms of the 9° Airborne Regiment
Active1953 - present
Country Italy
BranchCoat of arms of the Esercito Italiano.svg Italian Army
TypeSpecial Forces
RoleSpecial Operations
Direct action
Guerilla
Counter Terrorism
Vip Protection
SizeClassified
Garrison/HQLivorno, Toscana
Nickname(s)Il Nono (The ninth)
Motto(s)Della folgore l'impeto - "Of the thunderbolt, the source / momentum"
MarchCome Folgore dal Cielo
EngagementsLebanese Civil War
UNOSOM II
Operation Alba
Iraq War
Operation Ancient Babylon
War in Afghanistan
Commanders
Current
commander
Colonel Paolo Fortezza

The 9º Reggimento d'Assalto Paracadutisti (9th Paratroopers Assault Regiment) Col Moschin ("Moschin Hill") is a Special Forces unit of the current Italian Army — in part due to its distinguished history, but also due to the arduous training which members must undertake. Training takes no less than two years for long-term members, and five months for short-term volunteers (with 1–2 years total military service).

The department has been the protagonist of numerous military and anti-terrorist operations all over the world and is the only one to have participated in all the missions abroad of the Italian Army from the post-war period until today.

The regiment, framed in the Italian Army Special Forces Command, for operational activity depends on the COFS, (Interforces Command for Special Forces Operations). Since 2016, it has also been working, at the request of the intelligence services of AISE, for individual missions reserved abroad, filling a gap with respect to the services of other countries.[1] A notable former member is the Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli.

Role[edit]

Roughly equivalent in number, tasking and quality to the world-famous British Army SAS, the 9th — or il nono as it is known in Italian military circles — is capable of operating in all environments. The roughly 300 members train in mountainous, wooded, desert, and amphibious terrain. The 9th's speciality is operating independently of outside support and far from friendly lines. From 2004, "Col Moschin" is integrated inside the Comando Forze Speciali Interarma (C.O.F.S.), Italy's special operations command.

History[edit]

The origins of the 9th Parachutist Assault Regiment can be found in the World War I. Among its precursors is the IX Reparto d'Assalto ("9th Assault Section"), known as the Arditi ('Brave or Bold / Tough Ones' - but the verb "ardire" or "to dare" suggests "The Daring" as a more proper translation), who were often tasked with preempting infantry assaults on the Italo-Austrian front lines. It was during this period that the 9th earned its reputation as a fierce fighting force. 'Going over the top', followed by the launch of hand-grenades deep into enemy territory, was commonplace. The 9th was responsible for the capture of numerous Austrian positions on Monte Grappa, including Col Moschin, and the Col della Beretta.

The inter-war years saw the demise of the 9th Section, and a similar unit was not reestablished until 20 July 1942, when World War II was in full swing. Dubbed the X Reggimento "Arditi" ('10th Regiment' "The Bold"), they conducted operations behind the enemy lines in Tunisia, Algeria and in Sicily after its allied occupation. After 8 September 1943 — the surrender of Italy to the Allies — the 1st Battalion of the 10th Regiment spent the next few years fighting its way up the Italian Peninsula in the Italian War of Liberation.

Disbanded in 1946, the 9th was reassembled as a company-level unit at the Cesano Infantry School in 1953. On 1 June 1954, the unit became the Reparto Sabotatori Paracadutisti ('Saboteur Parachute Section'), and in 1961, it mutated once more into the Battaglione Sabotatori Paracadutisti ('Saboteur Parachute Battalion'). Fourteen years later, it received the standard of the X Reggimento "Arditi", and became the 9º Battaglione d'Assalto Paracadutisti "Col Moschin" ('9th Parachute Assault Battalion' "Peak Moschin"). In June, 1995 the unit expanded into a regiment. In 2004, it was integrated into the COFSI - Comando Operativo Forze Operazioni Speciali ("Operational Command for Special Operations Forces").

As part of the Brigata Paracadutisti "Folgore" ('Parachutist Brigade' "Thunderbolt") — which distinguished itself in World War II by defending of Italian positions in North Africa so heroically that Winston Churchill dubbed them 'as fierce as lions' — the 9th Regiment has engaged in numerous post-World War II exploits.

As part of the peace treaty signed by Italy following World War II, Italy could not deploy armed forces outside of Italy for 25 years, except, of course, for the destruction of Nazi Germany and her allies. This restriction expired in 1970, but circumstances did not call upon Italian military participation in foreign missions until 1982. Since that time, the 9th has been engaged throughout the world.

Col Moschin members in Rome, Republic Day parade of 2013

Modern operational history[edit]

Lebanese Civil War[edit]

On March 15, 1983, at 9:00 pm, a patrol of the 1st San Marco Regiment fell into an ambush near the Sabra camp, in Lebanon, and four marines 'were injured, one of them seriously. That same night the Brigadier General Franco Angioni, commander of the Italcon mission and former commander of the Col Moschin, decided to go out with the raiders to intercept the assailants, who had not yet left the area. At the contact with the enemy began a violent firefight, in which the Lebanese fought with heavier weaponry and anti-tank rockets. In the fight three raiders were wounded and it was decided to suspend the action. One of the Italians lost a leg.

The following day, March 16, the Italian contingent received a radio message from the command of the Israeli army:

"Communicate to your commander that we are impressed, because in the Middle East nobody fights at night."[2]

On 18 March, the commander of the 1st San Marco Regiment Filippo Montesi, 20 years old, wounded in ambush, was transferred to Italy to be operated at the Celio military hospital. Despite the intervention of the doctors, he died on March 22.

Gulf War[edit]

In May 1991, the humanitarian crisis precipitated by Saddam Hussein led to hundreds of thousands of Kurd refugees in northern Iraq. The 9th was deployed to assist the people fleeing Saddam, following his defeat in the 1990–91 Persian Gulf War.

Achille Lauro[edit]

Monday, October 7, 1985, the day of the kidnapping on the Achille Lauro (occurred at 13:15), already late in the evening 60 Col Moschin raiders arrived at the military base of Akrotiri, on the island of Cyprus, made available by the British government , ready to intervene following a plan developed together with the COMSUBIN. The sixty operators should have carried out a "saturation like wildfire" and the rescue of the hostages, while COMSUBIN operators would have carried out the initial raid. The situation evolved differently and the diplomatic line prevailed.

Counter Mafia Operation[edit]

Mafia assassinations of top Italian magistrates in 1992 resulted in the deployment of military forces to Sicily, including the 9th.

Somalia[edit]

On December 13, 1992,following the beginning the Restore Hope operation in Somalia, a C-130 Hercules of the 46th Aerobrigata (Italian Air Force) arrived in Mogadishu with on board a team of raiders from the 9th "Col Moschin" Regiment. The operators occupied the building of the Italian embassy, left abandoned after the outbreak of the civil war in 1991.[3]

On June 5, 1993, at 09:30 a flash of the ANSA press agency Remigio Benni, the only journalist present in Mogadishu, speaks of "dramatic situation, riots and shootings". A unit of Pakistani blue helmets is ambushed by Mohammed Farah Aidid's Somali militia near Radio Mogadishu: 24 soldiers are slaughtered with Kalashnikov and machine guns. The intervention of about 20 raiders, led by Lieutenant Colonel Marco Bertolini, avoided a massacre of even greater proportions. The Italian special forces, fighting hand to hand, brought to safety around 80 Pakistanis from the UN forces.

Four weeks later, on July 2, 1993, the Battle of Check Point Pasta took place. An Italian intervention group, made up of Folgore paratroopers, armored cars and infantry, manages to rescue many Italian soldiers trapped in an ambush organized by Somali militiamen, suffering serious losses: 3 dead and 26 wounded. Among the dead one of the raiders, the sergeant major Stefano Paolicchi, 30 years old, hit on the right side of the spleen, in the only part not protected by the bulletproof vest. For his contribution to the battle he was decorate with the gold medal for military valor (in memory).

Rwanda[edit]

In 1994, in Rwanda, the Raiders had the task of evacuating Italian civilians from the African land destroyed by war. The operation, called Operation Ippocampo, ended on November 19 with the recovery of the Italians.

Following the tribal clashes that destroyed the Central African country, the "Col Moschin" returned several times to Rwanda, bringing many compatriots to safety and evacuating many local children. During the operations, the sergeant Major Marco Di Sarra was killed by a severe form of malaria.

The Italian Government to allow the evacuation of its compatriots sent a detachment composed of operators of the "Col Moschin" and from the Comsubin raiders carried by airplanes of the Italian Air Force.[4] Once in Kigali,[5] the capital, the group began its activity in an atmosphere of tragedy moving between bodies left at street corners; it was necessary to recover people several kilometers from the airport and the detachment could not bring transport vehicles with them, the operators decided to requisition civil pick-ups at the airport and, after having dismantled the doors and adapted them to their needs, they reached places where civilian where hiding. Always moving with the weapons ready, the operators managed to evacuate everyone, also facing many resistances by local population.[6]

Bosnia and Herzegovina[edit]

The 9th was deployed within the IFOR to keep the peace in Bosnia following the Dayton Peace Accords of 1995. They served numerous tours of duty. They were also dispatched several times to Kosovo, following the NATO-Serbian War in 1999.

Albania and East Timor[edit]

Additional recent operations include an intervention in Albania, following the near-collapse of the Albanian government in 1997, and an operation in East Timor, following that country's referendum for independence from Indonesia.

Iraq War[edit]

In Iraq, Operation Ancient Babylon (Italian contingent of Multinational force 2003 - 2006) includes a section of special forces operatives, from the 9th, the Carabinieri's GIS and the Navy's COMSUBIN, mostly deployed for patrol missions, training local police and Army, and to arrest suspects of terrorism. On April 11, 2004, operators from the unit carried out the rescue of British citizen Gary Teeley, who was being held hostage by an insurgent group in Nasirihya [7]

Afghanistan[edit]

In September 2007, the Regiment took part, along with the British SBS, in a blitz to free two agents of the Italian security service, the AISE, kidnapped a few days earlier in the province of Farah, in the west of Afghanistan. The Italian raiders provided security coverage, while the final assault was carried out by British soldiers equipped with appropriate all-wheel drive vehicles. The operation had no planning possibilities, as the terrorists suddenly tried to transfer the prisoners and the raiders had to intervene immediately. In the ensuing battle, the two AISE agents were seriously injured, and one of them died a few days later.

Iraq 2015[edit]

30 Col Moschin raiders in 2015 operated with US special forces against ISIS in a new military base created in Taqaddum, between Falluja and Ramadi.[8]

Libya[edit]

During 2011 military intervention in Libya, at least 40 commandos (maybe more) were sent on the ground to train, coordinate, assist in fighting alongside the rebels and for illuminating targets for NATO aircraft.

Libya 2016[edit]

In March 2016 it was reported that units have joined other western special forces in Libya to train, coordinate, and assist in fighting against local IS militias.

Organization[edit]

Structure of the Regiment

The 9th Parachute Assault Regiment "Col Moschin" is part of the Italian Army's Folgore Parachute Brigade, which is part of the 1st Defence Forces Command — composed of the front-line units of the new professional Italian Army.

The 9th itself is made up of the following subunits:

  • Compagnia Comando e Supporto Logistico (Command & Logistic Support Company)
  • Compagnia Trasmissioni (Signal Company)
  • Base Addestramento Incursori (Raider Training Base)
  • 1° Battaglione Incursori (1st Raider Battalion)
    • 110ª Compagnia Incursori (110th Raider Company)
    • 120ª Compagnia Incursori (120th Raider Company)
    • 130ª Compagnia Incursori (130th Raider Company)
    • 140ª Compagnia Incursori (140th Raider Company)
  • Reparto Addestramento Forze per Operazioni Speciali (Special Operations Forces Training Unit)
    • 101ª Compagnia Allievi (101st Cadet Company)
    • 102ª Compagnia Allievi (102nd Cadet Company)

Operational Detachment[edit]

An operational detachment of Col Moschin (usually six for each company) is composed of: an Incursor with specialization Combat Medic, a Breacher (explosive handling), an EOD-IEDD deactivator, a SF JTAC - Special Forces Joint Terminal Attack Controller (advanced air control), an information collector and one or two snipers.

Equipment[edit]

Name Caliber Type Nationality
Glock 17 9x19 mm Parabellum Semi-automatic pistol  Austria
Beretta 92 9x19 mm Parabellum Semi-automatic pistol  Italy
Beretta 8000 Cougar 9x19 mm Parabellum Semi-automatic pistol  Italy
FN Five-seveN 5,7x28 mm Semi-automatic pistol  Belgium
Heckler & Koch MP5 9x19 mm Parabellum Machine pistol  Germany
Heckler & Koch MP7 4,6x30 mm Machine pistol/PDW  Germany
FN P90 5,7x28 mm Machine pistol/PDW  Belgium
M4 carbine 5,56x45 mm NATO Assault rifle  United States
Beretta ARX-160 5,56x45 mm NATO Assault rifle  Italy
FN SCAR-L 5,56x45 mm NATO Assault rifle  Belgium
FN SCAR-H 7,62x51 mm NATO Battle rifle  Belgium
Heckler & Koch G36 5,56x45 mm NATO Assault rifle  Germany
Heckler & Koch HK416 5,56x45 mm NATO Assault rifle  Germany
Beretta AR70/90 5,56x45 mm NATO Assault rifle  Italy
Benelli M4 Super 90 12 Shotgun  Italy
Beretta RS202 12 Shotgun  Italy
Heckler & Koch MSG-90 7,62x51 mm NATO Sniper rifle  Germany
Accuracy International AWM .338 Lapua Magnum Sniper rifle  United Kingdom
CheyTac Intervention .408 Cheyenne Tactical Sniper rifle  United States
Sako TRG-42 .338 Lapua Magnum Sniper rifle  Finland
M107 12,7x99 mm NATO Sniper rifle  United States
GAC Grande Armeria Camuna THUNDER .408 Chey TAC Sniper rifle  Italy
Extrema Ratio Col Moschin Combat knife  Italy

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sole 24 Ore, 5 marzo 2016.
  2. ^ [unaacies.iobloggo.com/390/in-medio-oriente-nessuno-combatte-di-notte In Medio Oriente nessuno combatte di notte], unaacies.iobloggo.com, 4/3/2008.
  3. ^ "AGGIORNATO – Somalia 1992 -1994: un Incursore racconta | Corpi d' élite - Forze speciali italiane, antiterrorismo, intelligence". corpidelite.net. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  4. ^ "Operazione Ippocampo". Archived from the original on 2008-12-28. Retrieved 9 February 2009. «L'"operazione Ippocampo" in Costa d'Avorio, in gergo sinonimo di "operazione d'Evacuazione" - che ha impegnato i velivoli C130J dell'Aeronautica Militare, nel portare in salvo cittadini italiani e stranieri dalle zone in mano ai ribelli - si è conclusa definitivamente il 19 novembre, con il rientro dell'ultimo velivolo con a bordo una parte dei militari della task force, che ha assicurato lo svolgimento dell'operazione in sicurezza. Una task force, composta da personale delle quattro forze armate, che ha operato alle dipendenze del Comando operativo di vertice interforze (COI) in stretto coordinamento con l'Unità di Crisi del Ministero degli Esteri».
  5. ^ "OPERAZIONE IPPOCAMPO: UNA NUOVA MISSIONE PER I C-130J DELL'AERONAUTICA MILITARE". Retrieved 9 February 2009. «All'operazione partecipa anche l'Italia con un contingente formato da 112 uomini della "Folgore", 65 uomini del Comando Subacquei Incursori "Teseo Tesei" della Marina e 3 velivoli da trasporto della 46ª Brigata Aerea».
  6. ^ Official Site "Col Moschin" (ed.). "Ruanda". Archived from the original on 2014-08-08.
  7. ^ "Nassiriyah, 11 Aprile 2004 – Operazione "Uovo di Pasqua" | Corpi d' élite - Forze speciali italiane, antiterrorismo, intelligence". corpidelite.net. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  8. ^ infiltrato.it

External links[edit]