Italian special forces

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The Italian Special Forces include special forces units from several branches of the Italian Armed Forces:[1] the Esercito Italiano (Army), the Marina Militare (Navy), the Aeronautica Militare (Air force) and the Arma dei Carabinieri (Carabineers).

Italian Armed Forces special units are divided into Special Forces (TIER 1) and Special Operations Forces (TIER 2), and the Comando operativo interforze delle forze speciali (Joint Special Forces Operations Headquarters) is responsible for the operations carried out in response to Defense requirements [2].

Italian Army special units[edit]

Italian soldiers of the 4th Alpini Parachutist Regiment with ARX 160A2 rifles awaiting helicopter extraction

Special Forces[edit]

Special Operations Forces[edit]

  • 4th Alpini Parachutist Regiment "Monte Cervino" - a combination of elite mountain infantry and airborne troops. The 4th is best suited for high-altitude operations. It inherits the name from the Battaglione Alpini Sciatori (Alpine Skiers Battalion) "Monte Cervino", a battalion of "special operation forces" born during World War I and deployed in the eastern front in World War II. They were nicknamed Diavoli Bianchi (White Devils) for their white snow camouflage suits. Disbanded after World War II, in 1964 it became the Compagnia Alpini Paracadutisti (Alpini Parachute Company), in 1990 it gained the name of "Monte Cervino", and in 1996 it was reformed. In 1999, the battalion earned the qualification of "Ranger" (the only one amongst the Italian special forces). In 2004 it was elevated and took the name, flag and traditions of the 4th Alpini Regiment.
  • 185th Reconnaissance Target Acquisition Regiment "Folgore" (RAO - Reggimento Acquisizione Obiettivi) - its mission is to find and mark enemy objectives for bombers or artillery units. The regiment is divided into four batteries (BAOs), trained to operate in different environments:
    • 1st "Draghi" (Dragons) - desert environment;
    • 2nd "Aquile" (Eagles) mountainous and Arctic environment;
    • 3rd "Diavoli" (Devils) amphibious environment;
    • 4th for "special reconnaissance" and surveillance.
Every BAO is composed of several DAOs Distaccamenti Acquisizione Obbiettivi (detachments of eight men each). For every BAO there is a minimum of two DAOs specialized in amphibious ops, two in forward air control and one in advanced parachute usage.

Italian Navy special units[edit]

Special Forces[edit]

The Italian Navy special forces unit is the COMSUBIN (Comando Subacquei ed Incursori "Teseo Tesei") - the Raiders & Divers Group. Specifically the 150-200 men of the Operational Raiders Group are the special forces section of the elite unit.

  • GOI (Gruppo Operativo Incursori) - is the branch with raiders; they are trained for naval/coastal operations (but are also used on the mountains of Afghanistan in operation ISAF), are also equipped with special over/under water vehicles for silent insertions.
  • GOS (Gruppo Operativo Subacquei) - is the diver's branch for rescue tasks and damage inspection / repair of vessels and/or submarines.

COMSUBIN's origins lie with the famous Italian special units "X MAS" (Italian acronym for Anti Submarine Motorboats). The name referred to an early vehicle employed by the units, an explosive-laden crewless motorboat ("barchino") which was aimed and launched against enemy submersibles (keep in mind that until well after World War II subs were essentially surface ships with the capability of temporarily diving underwater for attacks). After World War I much study and development went into underwater raid techniques but the unit's name was never altered, leading to the false impression that Italian seafaring commandoes were still relegated to anti-submarine warfare only. Instead many flotillas were armed and equipped to direct raids on enemy ships using explosive head-charges in guided torpedoes with 2-man crews (Siluri a Lenta Corsa or S.L.C.), with hand explosive charges (by frogmen) or with small, fast, self-explosive boats (S.M.A.).

COMBUSIN GOI personnel are largely drawn from the ranks of the Navy's San Marco Marine Brigade.

Special Operations Forces[edit]

Sometimes called upon to intervene for special operations the Special Company of the 1° San Marco Marine Regiment.

Also the raiders approached the target by means of submarines with special tanks installed on the external bridge containing the special vehicles (S.L.C.).

Italian Air Force special units[edit]

Special Forces[edit]

  • 17º Stormo Incursori the raiders corp of Italian Air Force. Its primary missions: raids on aeronautical compounds, forward air control, combat controlling, and combat search and rescue. Its origins are in the A.D.R.A Arditi Distruttori Regia Aeronautica (Royal Air Force Brave Destroyers), a corp of World War II. They were used in not-well-known missions against bridges and allied airfields in North Africa after the fall of Tunisia. The only well-known mission reported the destruction with explosive charges of 25 B-17s and the killing of 50 bomber crew members.

Special Operations Forces[edit]

  • 9º Stormo "Francesco Baracca" - a special helicopters unit trained to support, supply, infiltrate/exfiltrate SF and SOF units in enemy territory.

Carabinieri Corps special units[edit]

Special Forces[edit]

The Carabinieri is a Gendarmerie (military police) with both (civil and military) law-and-order police duties and military peacekeeping and war-fighting capabilities.

  • The Carabinieri has its own special forces in the form of the Gruppo di Intervento Speciale or the Special Intervention Group. The GIS features some one hundred or so troops specially trained in counter-terrorism operations with a special emphasis on marksmanship.

Special Operation Forces[edit]

The special unit SOF is the 1° Reggimento Carabinieri Paracadutisti "Tuscania" (1st Carabinieri Airborne Regiment Tuscania). It is a regiment of paratroopers for military police/anti-terrorism. The usual roles:

  • military, common with all other airborne/special operation forces troops;
  • law-enforcement, supporting the Carabinieri law-enforcement units in dangerous areas (homeland security e.g. mafia-controlled zones, violent criminal confrontations and any operation in which, translating from the official Carabinieri website, "extremely violent firearm clashes are foreseen") and VIP escort and security service;
  • provide training for other Carabinieri special operation units. All the GIS operatives come from the "Tuscania" Regiment