Gruppo di intervento speciale

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Gruppo di Intervento Speciale
G.I.S. - Gruppo di Intervento Speciale - Stemma.png
Gruppo di Intervento Speciale Official Insignia
Active 1977–present
Country Italy
Branch Carabinieri
Type Special Forces
Nickname(s) GIS, Teste di cuoio ("Leatherheads")
Colonel Gianluca Feroce

Gruppo di Intervento Speciale (GIS, in English "Special Intervention Group") is an elite airborne special operations counter-terrorism tactical response unit inside the Italian Carabinieri military police, first formed in 1977. In 2004 the GIS evolved into a special forces unit.

The unit has taken part in counter-terrorism operations and VIP, executive and dignitary protection security details ever since the inception of the GIS.


Counter terrorism The Italian Republic uses GIS to save hostages and to assure the protection of dangerous places. Because they are part of an independent armed force, they don't operate only in Italy but also in foreign states. Sometimes they also train other police forces around the world,

Special operations From 2004 GIS officially become a Special Force unit, with special consideration to foreign operation, to preserve Italian interests around the globe. They are under administration of the " "COFS" (Comando interforze per le Operazioni delle Forze Speciali) which seat is in the airport "Francesco Baracca" near Rome.


In the fall of 1977, the Carabinieri's HQ decided to establish a CT Unit to counter the growing terrorist phenomena. Few months later, the GIS "Gruppo Intervento Speciale" was born. GIS is the Carabinieri CT unit and it responds directly to the Carabinieri HQ and to the Ministry of Interior. The focus of GIS has always been on very high risk CT operations, such as the storming of hijacked aircraft. Despite the fact that GIS was born as a SWAT unit, their actions aren't relegated only on italian territories, they saw action during The Gulf Wars, Operation Antica Babilonia (Iraq), Invasion of Afghanistan, Nato operations in Libya and anti-drug raids in Albania and Kosovo.


The GIS headquarters is in Livorno.

The exact number of operating personnel is a confidential information, but the Group is organized at company level.

The GIS is divided into:

  • A command section
  • An administrative section
  • A training and exercise section
  • A section of exploration, reconnaissance, and target acquisition
  • A combat section
  • A section of selected shooters

The largest combat section, in turn, is divided into three detachments consisting of teams of four men: a commander, an explosive specialist, a climbing specialist and a equipment specialist.

At any moment there is a detachment ready to leave the base in 30 minutes. For this purpose, there are always some Agusta-Bell AB 412 supplied with the Carabinieri and a 46th Air Force Aircraft of the Air Force that is located in nearby Pisa, which can supply the C-130 Hercules when needed. The remaining can be used within three and twenty four hours of the alarm. In the most urgent cases, an advanced core precedes the operating section in order to plan the intervention strategy based on first-hand information.

The exploration, reconnaissance and scouting section is in turn made up of teams of three men: two fighters armed with Mauser 86 SR and an explorer equipped with a semiautomatic HK PSG-1. During longer actions, men can become the explorer.

Reaction to a threat[edit]

  • Alarm (ordered from the Operational Room of the General Command of the Armed Force)
  • Staffing (structured on a modular system: a first share of operators is in immediate preparation, a second is operational within 3 hours, while the entire department is active within 24 hours)
  • Transfer to a working area (can be carried out with fast and special cars with helicopters AB 412 of the Elinucleo Carabinieri of Pisa or with aircraft C 130 and G 222 of the 46th aerobigate stationed in Pisa)
  • Device deployment
  • intervention
  • evacuation

Publicly known missions[edit]

  • 28 December 1980, prison of Trani (BT): Blitz inside the prison where some communist brigades members were barricaded. At the end of violent gunfights and grenade launches, 18 police members were liberated. Many wounded among special forces, prisoners and terrorists, but no victims.[1]
  • 25 August 1987, Elba Island, Porto Azzurro Prison (Livorno): 6 life sentenced men, among them the terrorist Nero Mario Tuti, take 11 prisoners as hostages, 17 prison guards and 5 civilians. After few hours members of GIS and Nocs entered in the building, and injured all six terrorists.
  • 24 June 1989, Oria (Brindisi): Roberto Di Giovanni,26 years old, affected from a mental disease and under control of a medic team which condition become even worst after his mother died, barricaded himself in a house with a pistol and a couple hunting rifles and shot 200 rounds at civilians and later against the police, killing one person and injuring 10, among them 4 Carabinieri and a policeman. Any negotiation was useless, because he shot at everything that moved. When the night came, GIS entered the house with the use of gas and after a hand to hand combat arrested Roberto.
  • December 1989, San Luca (Reggio Calabria): capture of the 'ndrangheta member Strangio, during invastigation on the seizure of Cesare Casella.
  • 17 April 1990, Santa Margherita Ligure (Genova): Liberation of Patrizia Tacchella.
  • 16 January 1995, Segrate (Milano): Liberation of Raffaele Alessi.
  • 9 May 1997, Venice: Liberation of the San Marco bell tower from Militia of the Republic of Venice, mass media "Serenissimi", that reached San Marco square with a home made armored vehicle and a camper.
  • 18 December 1999, Alicudi Island (Messina): Antidrugs operation at sea.
  • 7 June 2000, Torino: liberation of Rosa Laura Spadafora.
  • 10 June 2000, Torre Annunziata (Naples): capture of the absconding camorrista Ferdinando Cesarano.
  • 18 April 2002, Kabul, Afghanistan: escort for the former Afghan King Mohammed Zahir Shah.
  • 30 November 2002, Ostia (Rome):capture of the absconding tunisian Faid Isa Kamalfa, barricated in a Villa.
  • 13 November 2003, Nāṣiriya: Iraq Support to the operation after the attack against the Italian army base that caused 28 death.
  • 6 April 2004, Nāṣiriya: Iraq some members of the GIS take part to the battle of the bridges against Mahdi soldiers.
  • 14 March 2005, Corato, (Bari): An arsenal, used probably by a gang specialized to assault bank truks, was impound by Carabinieri. The GIS made an incurson inside an abbandoned country house where there were 6 people within them an absconding, all of them were native of Calabria specialized in guns, drug and estorsions.Militaries found ten kalashnikov, body armors, camos, lights. Near the building were parked some sports cars.During the operation one of the criminals tried to shoot but was stopped by a member of the special forces.[2]
  • 28 June 2005, Bogogno, Novara: night blitz to capture Angelo Sacco, that the previous day killed 3 people and injured 8.
  • February 2006, security during the Torino Winter Olimpic Games.
  • 27 April 2006, Nāṣiriya: Iraq new attack against an italian military base 5 death.Security operation assured GIS
  • 5 June 2006, Nāṣiriya: Iraq attack against Italian armored vehicles one death, GIS is called to investigate.
  • 22 August 2008, Antidrug operation in Poggiomarino (Napoli) against Camorra Narcos. Impounded 100 KGS of pure cocaine.
  • 18 July 2009, fraction Bosco di Nanto, Vicenza: blitz to capture Battista Zanellato, 84 years old, that barricated in his house, that few hours before killed a police officer.[3]
  • 1º October 2009, Neaples: blitz to capture the Mafia boss, 34 years old, supposed to be the Lord of the Camorra clan Gionta of Torre Annunziata. The fast raid of the Special Forces in the house of the absconding in front of Palazzo Fienga, stronghold of the clan, allowed to secure the zone before the beginning of a firefight.
  • 6 November 2009, Città di Castello: blitz to capture a southafrican citizen, that few hours before killed a Polish man. During the raid one GIS member was slightly injured.
  • 10 December 2009, Mestre: blitz to free a chinese citizen that dissappeared a couple days before. He was captured by a chinese gang and imprisoned in a loft in Piave Street.
  • 29 May 2010, Comacchio: blitz to capture Mario Cavalieri, barricated in his home. During the previous day punched a female officer. After a siege of 30 hours around his home in Spina street in Comacchio, Mario Cavalieri surrendered to the GIS at 16:45, that breached in his bedroom.
  • 23 October 2010, Agrigento: blitz to capture the Mafia boss Gerlandino Messina, wanted from 1999. At the moment of the arrest, he was in possession of weapons.
  • 30 June 2011, Collegno (TO):blitz in the loft of Santo Guglielmino (85 years old), that barricated himself for 15 hours, with hostage: the cohabitant Rosa Colusso and an 86 years old woman. During the blitz he killed Rosa and committed suicide.[4]
  • 7 December 2011, Vandoies di Sopra (BZ): blitz in the Villa of Erwin Heinrich Purer, to arrest "King of Evasions" Max Leitner.[5]
  • 3 May 2012, Romano di Lombardia, near Bergamo:An armed man barricated himself in the main seat of the Italian Tax office taking hostages.After 30 minutes the man freed all the hostages except one. At 17:30 GIS arrived and started to deal.[6]
  • 2 November 2013, Rovigo Rim: with a night blitz of less than 3 minutes, Gis breached in the home of Costa di Rovigo and capture three people, two men and a woman, that for 33 hours were barricated swearing to burn the building.No deal was archived. The action saw 2 GIS teams (15 operators).
  • 9 February 2014, Inveruno, near Milan:a joint action between GIS, Lombardy Federal Police and ROS to capture Domenico Cutrì, boss of 'Ndrangheta gang condemned to life sentence for murder and evaded 5 days before from Gallarate, during the transport with the help of other members of the gang. The action was the fastes in Italian History just eight seconds were neded to arrest the criminal.
  • 7 - 9 January 2015 :Paris, collaboration with the french police and protection of the most important sites after the terrorist attack in France.
  • 26-27 May 2017: Taormina (Sicily): GIS in service to assure the security of World Leaders during the G7 Italian Presidency.

Organization and recruitment[edit]

GIS operators marching in public on the Rome Parade in 2006.

The 150-man GIS has three operational sections and one sniper/reconnaissance team. Every section is divided into a detachment of four men. In every moment there is a section ready to leave the base in 30 min. The sniper team is usually formed by two snipers, equipped with Mauser 86SRs, and by a scout, usually with a semi-automatic H&K PSG/1. During action men alternate in the scout role. Every GIS soldier is a volunteer from the 1st Carabinieri Airborne Regiment "Tuscania". During first selection, all candidates go to an interview with a GIS high officer to verify their motivation, which is a key element. The soldiers who pass the first selections go to a basic course which lasts five months. A great amount of time is devolved to martial arts (Wushu and Thai boxing), explosives, tactics, English language, topography, terrorist ideology, and photography as well as combat shooting. They use FATS (Fire Arms Training System), a laser-system which project on a screen interactive images and can record all students' reactions. Usually during this first course 50% drop out. From those who pass, only the best ones are selected to progress to a six-month-long Specialization Course, after which they become operative members. They are also trained in combat driving (reportedly held at Ferrari's famed factory and speed roadway).

Commander Alfa[edit]

Commander Alfa is a key figure for the GIS history. He was one of the founding members, his nick was given to him by his recruits. The 66 years old operator is the only one allowed to talk in public and represents the link between mass media and the group. He is also famous for his books that explain what mean to be part of a special group and all the public operations that GIS saw by the time of his foundation. The two books are Swallow Heart and I live in the darkness. Alfa is also the only italian special force operator to have officially remove his mephisto during an operation, to calm down a child.


GIS has very good relations with others top class CT units in the world, amongst these are Great Britain's SAS, Ireland's ARW & ERU, Spain's GEO and UEI, France's GIGN, American Hostage Rescue Team, Germany's GSG 9 and SEK, Belgium's ESI, Austria's GEK and the Netherlands's DSI.[7][8]


In popular culture[edit]

  • In the movie Angels and Demons, Robert Langdon is escorted by some members of the GIS during the research of the bomb.
  • In Marvel comics Earth-616, Michele Argento one of the two italian members of the supeheroes group Euroforce is part of the GIS, this also means that is one of the few superheroes to be part of an official governmental organization.
  • In Rainbow Six saga (Rainbow Six Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield)Antonio Maldini is an italian operator coming from the GIS.
  • In Tom Clancy End War the same Antonio Maldini, after have leave the Rainbow Battalion become a colonel in the United Europe army commanding the EFEC Battlegroup 4 (Airborne).


External links[edit]