Paratroopers Brigade Folgore

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Paratroopers Brigade "Folgore"
Brigata paracadutisti "Folgore"
CoA of the Folgore Brigade.svg
Coat of Arms the Paratroopers Brigade "Folgore"
Active1 January 1963 – Today
Country Italy
BranchCoat of arms of the Esercito Italiano.svg Italian Army
Light Infantry
Part ofDivision "Vittorio Veneto"
Nickname(s)"La Folgore"
Colorslight blue
MarchCome Folgore dal Cielo (like lightning from the sky)
Mascot(s)Archangel Michael
Anniversaries23 October (Second Battle of El Alamein)
EngagementsLebanon MNF
Kurdistan Operation Provide Comfort
Somalia UNITAF
Kosovo KFOR
Iraq MNF-I
Afghanistan ISAF
Brigadier General Beniamino Vergori
183rd Regiment parading in Rome on 2 June 2006

The Paratroopers Brigade "Folgore" is an airborne brigade of the Italian Army. Its core units are three battalions of paratroopers (paracadutisti). The name "Folgore" is Italian for lightning. The Folgore is one of three light infantry brigades of the Italian Army. While the Folgore specializes in parachute operations its sister brigade in the Division "Vittorio Veneto" the Airmobile Brigade Friuli specializes in helicopter assault operations. The Folgore and its units are based in Tuscany, Veneto and Lazio.


World War II[edit]

The first units of Italian parachutists were trained and formed shortly before World War II in Castel Benito, near Tripoli in Libya, where the first Military Parachuting School was located. Later the school was moved to Tarquinia in Italy.

On 1 September 1941 the Royal Italian Army raised the 1st Parachute Division in Tarquinia. The division was intended to be used in Operation Hercules – the planned Axis invasion of Malta. In June 1942 the divisions name was changed to 185th Airborne Division "Folgore" and its regiments renumbered and renamed as well. In North Africa the division participated in the Battles of El Alamein, where the division was the protagonist of a strong resistance against the attacking Commonwealth forces, managing also to drive off some attacks conducted by tanks and heavy infantry. In the course of the Second Battle of El Alamein the division was completely destroyed and therefore officially disbanded on 23 November 1942.

Before embarking for Africa the 185th Parachute Infantry Regiment was detached from the "Folgore" and remained in Italy with one its battalions to help raise the 184th Airborne Division "Nembo" (Italian for Nimbus). After the Armistice of Cassibile between the Allies and Italy most of the troops of the "Nembo" stationed on Sardinia decided to side with Italian King Victor Emmanuel III and began to fight the retreating German troops.

Subsequently the remnants of the "Nembo" were used to form the "Folgore" Combat Group of the Italian Co-Belligerent Army in 1944. The combat group was equipped with British materiel and uniforms and fought as part of the British XIII Corps in Italian Campaign.

During the war the fascist regime in Northern Italy fielded the 1st Parachute Arditi Regiment "Folgore", which also fielded a "Nembo" and a "Folgore" battalion.

Cold War[edit]

After World War II the Combat Group "Folgore" became one of the Italian Army's first divisions and by 1954 one of the strongest. The Motorized Infantry Division "Folgore" was not an airborne capable unit, but a mechanized infantry unit based in the North-eastern Italian city of Treviso. Airborne troops and operations were to be performed by the Military Parachute Centre in Pisa.

On 1 January 1963 the army raised a new airborne brigade in the Tuscan city of Pisa. The brigade was named I Paratroopers Brigade and fielded the 1st Paratroopers Regiment with the II and V Paratroopers battalions, a Paratroopers Special Forces Battalion, a Carabinieri Paratroopers Company, which was augmented to battalion on 15 July 1963 and a Paratroopers Field Artillery Battery, which was augmented to group on 1 June 1963 and armed with Mod56 105mm howitzers. On 1 April 1964 the brigade lost the Military Parachute School in Pisa to the army's Infantry Inspectorate. On 10 June 1967 the I Paratroopers Brigade was allowed to add "Folgore" to its name and was now named "Folgore" Paratroopers Brigade.

With the Italian Army 1975 reform the army abolished the regimental level and re-organised its brigades. Therefore, the "Folgore" brigade's 1st Paratroopers Regiment disbanded on 1 October 1975 and its two battalions became the 2nd Paratroopers Battalion Tarquinia and the 5th Paratroopers Battalion El Alamein. After the reform the brigade was structured as follows:

  • Paratroopers Brigade "Folgore", in Livorno
    • Command and Signal Unit "Folgore", in Livorno
    • 1st Carabinieri Paratroopers Battalion Tuscania, in Livorno
    • 2nd Paratroopers Battalion "Tarquinia", in Livorno
    • 3rd Paratroopers (Training) Battalion "Poggio Rusco", in Pisa
    • 5th Paratroopers Battalion "El Alamein", in Siena
    • 9th Paratroopers Assault Battalion "Col Moschin", in Livorno
    • 185th Paratroopers Field Artillery Group "Viterbo", in Livorno, with Mod56 105mm howitzers
    • Paratroopers Logistic Battalion "Folgore" , in Pisa
    • 26th Light Airplanes and Helicopters Squadron "Giove", at San Giusto Air Base
    • Paratroopers Reconnaissance Company "Folgore", in Siena
    • Paratroopers Engineer Company "Folgore", in Lucca

In 1982 the brigade deployed as first unit in Italy's first international mission abroad since World War II when it joined the Multinational Force in Lebanon and on 1 January 1983 the Military Parachute School in Pisa with the 3rd Paratroopers (Training) Battalion Poggio Rusco returned to the brigade .

On 1 January 1986, the "Folgore" Brigade and the Motorized Brigade "Friuli", 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. On 31 October of the same year the army disbanded the Mechanized Division "Folgore", leaving the 'Folgore Paratroopers Brigade as only unit with the name "Folgore".

In 1991 tactical group of the brigade was sent to Kurdistan as part of the Operation Provide Comfort. The same year the army decided to rename battalions as regiments for historic reasons and to disbanded seven combat brigades as the Cold War had ended. On 31 May 1991 the "Folgore" received the 183rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion "Nembo" from the Mechanized Brigade "Gorizia", which subsequently was re-roled as a paratroopers battalion. Beginning in 1992 the battalions returned to their regimental names. The new structure is listed below:

On 3 December 1992 the brigade deployed for a year to Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope (later Unified Task Force). There the brigade was engaged in a battle on 2 July 1993 where it lost three men and a further 36 were injured. The three deceased soldiers were awarded each the Gold Medal of Military Valor for their conduct during the battle.

After the Cold War[edit]

On 1 October 1997 the brigades passed to the Projection Forces Command (Comando Forze di Proiezione or COMFOP), which commanded all the rapid-deployable units of the Italia Army. However, with a new reform the brigade passed on 1 December 2000 to the 1st Defence Forces Command (1° Comando Forze di Difesa or COMFOD 1°) and received the 5th Engineer Regiment in Legnano, which was quickly renamed as 8th Engineer Regiment "Folgore" and incorporated the Paratroopers Engineer Company "Folgore". The same year on 31 August the 185th Paratroopers Artillery Regiment "Folgore" retired its howitzers and began its conversion to a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol Special Operations unit.

In March 2001 the brigade lost its logistic battalion and the 26th Light Airplanes and Helicopters Squadron Giove and when in 2002 the Carabinieri were separated from the Army to become the Fourth Armed Force of Italy the 1st Carabinieri Paratroopers Regiment Tuscania left the brigade. From April to September 2005 the brigade was employed in Iraq as part of the Multi-National Force – Iraq. In 2007 the brigade sent a task force to East Timor as part of International Force for East Timor, while the majority of its units deployed to Lebanon as part of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon II. The brigade deployed twice to Afghanistan in support of ISAF – once in 2009 and once in 2011


Structure of the brigade (click to enlarge)
3rd Cavalry Regiment Savoia Cavalleria Centauro on maneuver

With the 2013 reform the "Folgore" changed its composition significantly. The brigade lost its two special forces units which both passed to the Army Special Forces Command (COMFOSE) in Pisa. In return the brigade received the Cavalry Regiment Savoia Cavalleria (3rd) from the Air-assault Brigade, the 33rd Self-propelled Field Artillery Regiment Acqui from the Granatieri di Sardegna Mechanized Brigade and the 6th Logistic Regiment from the disbanded Logistic Projection Command. Upon entering the brigade the 33rd Artillery Regiment was renamed as 185th Paratroopers Artillery Regiment "Folgore", while the 6th Logistic Regiment was renamed as Logistic Regiment "Folgore". Thus the current composition of the brigade is:

The new composition of the brigade is identical to the composition of the Julia Alpine Brigade and the Taurinense Alpine Brigade, the other light brigades of the Italian Army.


The paratrooper regiments are equipped with Lince light multirole vehicles. The maneuver support companies of the paratrooper regiments are equipped with 120mm mortars and Spike anti-tank guided missile systems. The cavalry regiment is equipped with Centauro tank destroyers and VTLM Lince vehicles. The brigade's artillery regiment fields 18x M56 105mm pack howitzers.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]