Italian special forces

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Assault Paratroopers of the Col Moschin

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 (Gendarmerie).

Italian Armed Forces special units are divided into Special Forces (TIER 1)[citation needed] 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

Tier 1[edit]

Tier 2[edit]

Italian Navy special units[edit]

Frogmen of the COMSUBIN

Special Forces[edit]

The Italian Navy special forces unit is the Divers and Raiders Grouping "Teseo Tesei" (Comando Raggruppamento Subacquei e Incursori Teseo Tesei - COMSUBIN). 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. They're even specialized as underwater E.O.D.[3]

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.).

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 REA (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.[4] 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]

  • 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 corp of Gendarmerie with both (civil and military) law-and-order police duties, military police, 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 "1st Company" of the 1st Carabinieri Airborne Regiment Tuscania. It is a regiment of paratroopers for military police and 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-16. Retrieved 2013-03-16.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Joint Special Forces Operations Headquarters -".
  3. ^ "Il Gruppo Operativo Subacquei - Marina Militare".
  4. ^ Arditi attack on Benghazi in June 1943