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]

  • 9th Parachute Assault Regiment "Col Moschin", a SAS-like force trained for special operations in all kinds of environments. They are the legacy of the Arditi ("The Daring") units that operated on the Italian-Austrian Front during World War I.
  • 4th Alpini Paratroopers Regiment, a Ranger type infantry alpini regiment, specializing in mountain combat, and special force trained for special operations in all kinds of environments, with special skills in skiing and climbing and resistance to cold, stress and fatigue. The 4th is best suited for high-altitude operations. It inherits the name from the Battaglione Alpini Sciatori "Monte Cervino" (Alpine Skiers Battalion "Monte Cervino"), an elite battalion of the Alpini Corps, that distinguished itself during World War I and World War II.
  • 185th Target Paratroopers Acquisition Regiment "Folgore"" (185° Reggimento paracadutisti Acquisizione Obiettivi "Folgore" ), a paratroopers regiment for special operations. They are the legacy of the 185th Paratroopers Division Folgore. 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.

Special Operations Forces[edit]

Italian Navy special units[edit]

Special Forces[edit]

The Italian Navy special forces unit is the Italian commando frogmen COMSUBIN (Raggruppamento Subacquei ed Incursori "Teseo Tesei") - the Raiders & Divers Group. Specifically the 250-350 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/land operation are also trained for special operations in all kinds of environments like British SBS, forward air controller, counter terrorism ...(but are also used on the mountains of Afghanistan in operation ISAF), are also equipped with special weapons 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 commandos 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.).

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

Special Operations Forces[edit]

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.).

  • Reparto Eliassalto (Heliborne Assault Unit) - special helicopters unit trained to support, supply, infiltrate/exfiltrate SF amphibious units in enemy territory.

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[3]. The only well-known mission reported the destruction with explosive charges of 25 B-24s & other airplanes and the killing of some bomber crew members.

Special Operations Forces[edit]

  • 9° Gruppo "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;

References[edit]