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The Lagunari (from the Italian "laguna" = lagoon) are an amphibious speciality of the infantry corps of the Italian Army. Today's Lagunari Regiment Serenissima is an amphibious assault regiment with headquarters in Mestre, a borough of Venice, and in the present day they are still subordinate to the Pozzuolo del Friuli Cavalry Brigade. The lagunari tend to be a very mobile attack force, high-powered weaponry, and tactical skills. They are trained to attack from the water (by sea, land or air) and to establish a beachhead, which is an area of control on foreign territory. They are the Italian Army Marines. With the San Marco Marine Brigade form the Italian Forza di protezione dal mare (National Sea-based Protection Capability), reporting to the Chief of the Defence Staff.
During the Cold War, the regiment was stationed in the lagoon-rich south flank of the northeast Italian front. The Lagunari Regiment focused more on high intensity, conventional battlefields, such as those expected during the Cold War. Nowadays, its focus is on the more probable mid- and low intensity conflicts. The Lagunari have the ability to be projected to any hostile area around the globe due to their maneuverability. The Lagunari Regiment is versatile enough to be capable in conducting special operations under 'unconventional' methods while engaging on a 'conventional' battlefield. Today the Lagunari are intended for international missions, particularly in coastal regions and in areas rich in inland waterways.
The Lagunari Regiment is a littoral focused, amphibious, specialised light - medium force capable of deploying at short notice in support of the Italian military and diplomatic objectives overseas and is optimised for expeditionary warfare: operational situations requiring highly manoeuvrable, normally amphibious, forces. As the Italian Army's specialists in riverine operations the regiment provides assets and expertise for these operations. Held at a very high readiness they can respond quickly to events anywhere around the globe.
Italian National Sea-based Projection Capability
The Italian National Sea-based Projection Capability must allow the military Forces to conduct operations such as initial entry of a Landing Force into a hostile or uncertain environment as part of a "Forcible Entry" with the goal of carrying out the assigned mission. Such a Landing Force can also constitute an enabling factor for the entry of additional sea-based assets, according to the concept of "sea-basing". This concept, to be developed in a multinational or coalition context ("coalition sea-basing"), provides for the establishment at sea of the resources necessary to sustain an operation outside the area, in order not to have to depend on the consensus and/or support of third Countries. The development of a Sea-based Projection Capability requires a joint preparation and a joint training of units belonging to different services, in particular the Land Component and the Naval Component. The cornerstone of the operation is a Landing Force at the Brigade level, capable of carrying out the full spectrum of the operations requested for projected Amphibian Forces, as well as of developing the capacity to operate as "Entry Force Battlegroup". An expeditionary force, in addition to the capability to deploy complete packages of units to distant areas on short notice, must the capable to sustain them in the theatre ensuring personnel rotation, equipment efficiency, and communication, intelligence, C2, logistic and in-theatre mobility support. The expeditionary nature of a force is traditionally associated with amphibious units but it has now become a prerequisite for the entire military instrument. The core of the Italian "Joint Expeditionary Force" consists of a "Landing Force" (based on "San Marco" and "Serenissima" regiments) able to activate all the functions of Combat, Combat Support and Combat Service Support, thanks to the integration of existing capacity within the national military instrument. This endowed the Italian Armed Forces with a disembarkation force at the level of a light infantry Brigade.
Organization and equipment
The regiment is structured as follows:
- Regimental Headquarters
- Command and Logistic Support Company
- Maneuver Support Company
- 1st Amphibious Battalion
- 1st Amphibious Assault Company
- 2nd Amphibious Assault Company
- 3rd Amphibious Assault Company
- Amphibious Tactical Support Company
- Regimental Headquarters
The Amphibious Battalion is organized and equipped like an infantry battalions of the Italian Army with in addition amphibious combat vehicles (AAVs) and combat boats (rubber boats and rigid crafts). It fields Lince light multirole vehicles. The maneuver supporrt company is equipped with 120mm Mortars and Spike MR anti-tank guided missiles. The Amphibious Tactical Support Company ensures the amphibious capability of the regiment and is equipped with AAV7-A1 amphibious assault vehicles, landing boats and small speedboats. The primary role of Landing craft is to transfer personnel, vehicles, and equipment onto potentially hostile shores. The Italian AAV7 Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) is used as the Italian Lagunari primary amphibious platform to move Army Marines (and cargo) from military ship to shore. The Italian Lagunari use the AAV7 also for the shore to shore amphibious assault. The AAV7 uses a boat-like hull design and powerful water jets to make it one of the world's best amphibious assault vehicles.
Lagunari's RECON unit. The task of the Lagunari “Serenissima” Regiment RECON unit, is to accomplish shore reconnaissance, assault beaches shadowing, amphibious battle space shaping, deep ground reconnaissance and limited scale amphibious raids, in support of the regiment action. The main role of the RECON unit is to gather intelligence in support of operations. They also have a direct action function because are capable of independent action in support of the larger unit's mission. Lagunari’s RECON works usually focus on specific information requirements which cannot be obtained by other means:
- Amphibious reconnaissance;
- Beach/coastline reconnaissance;
- Raids and small boat operations;
- Deep reconnaissance;
- Direct action.
The Italian Lagunari (some times known as the 'Venetian Regiment') are the heirs to the embarked troops of the Republic of Venice. In 1964, the Head of the Italian Army entrusted to the "Serenissima" Lagunari Regiment the formal heritage of this centuries-old unit. The birth of the embarked troops of Venice goes back to the time of the fourth crusade when the Doge "Enrico Dandolo" put together one "Regiment " from ten companies distributed on the warships of the Venetian fleet, and then employed them in the two captures of Constantinople (Bisanzio - 1203/1204). The embarked troops of Venice had their final organisation in 1550 becoming the "Fanti da Mar" (Infantry of the sea) and they distinguished themselves during all the wars that the Republic of Venice fought against the Ottoman Empire, especially during the sieges of Famagosta and Candia, and in the great victory in the battle of Lepanto. Since then, Venetian Fanti da Mar have taken part in more battles on land and sea around the world than any other branch of the modern Italian Army.
In 1951, the Italian army raised the Lagunari as an amphibious infantry unit. The Italian V Army Corps realized the need to secure its right flank against amphibious landings and due to the nature of the marshy tidal terrain and many small islands on the Northern Adriatic coast an amphibious unit was deemed the best answer to the needs of the Italian Army. Up to the army reform in 1975, the Lagunari Regiment consisted of three amphibious infantry and one tank battalion. Afterwards, it was reduced to two battalions: the amphibious infantry battalion "Serenissima" and the amphibious vehicles battalion "Sile" under the Amphibious Troops Command, which carried on the traditions of the regiment. The Amphibious Troops Command came under the Folgore Mechanized Division in 1975. When the Folgore was disbanded in 1986 the Command returned to the 5th Army Corps. In 1992, regiment was re-instituted and the two battalions merged into one. The regiment remained subordinate to the 5th Army Corps. Afterwards it came under the "Projection Forces Command" in Milan and later it joined the Pozzuolo del Friuli Brigade.
Today the Lagunari are intended for Army amphibious operation (shore to shore), riverine operations and international missions as specialized assault infantry. Plans to integrate the Lagunari into an amphibious brigade containing all Italian naval infantry, including the Navy's 1st San Marco Regiment failed in the 1990s, partly because of the distance between the respective bases: Venice and Brindisi.
In 2006, to establish closer cooperation between the two regiments, a Joint operations staff ("Forza Nazionale di Proiezione dal Mare") was established. The Italian Defense can fall back on the Army Lagunari and other support forces of the Army in cooperation with Navy units. The Navy San Marco unit can operate under Army control, if needed. Both organizations were used together for the first time, with support forces, in the UNIFIL operations after the 2006 Lebanon war as part of the Early Entry Force in September 2006: the Lagunari launched theirs AAVs from the Italian ship.
Italian Lagunari have long provided the Italian Armed Forces with a broad spectrum of response options when Italian and NATO interests have been threatened and in non-combat situations that require instant response to crisis. The Lagunari operates in rivers, bays, lagoons, across the littorals and ashore. The primary mission is to operate combat missions in the green water to shore and in the inland waters. Today, the Lagunari are the Italian Army’s amphibious troops. An elite force held at very high readiness, they are trained for worldwide rapid response, able to deal with a wide spectrum of threats and security challenges.
Until 2011 the Lagunari Regiment wore the black Army beret of the Italian Army with their own traditional and distinctive badge (sea anchor above two rifles). On returning from service in Afghanistan during ISAF, they received a new beret in 'lagoon green' water color, retaining the same badge.
Lagunari are trained to improvise, adapt and overcome any obstacle in whatever situation they are needed. They have the willingness to engage and the determination to defeat the enemy until victory is seized. The kinds of battles Italian Lagunari fight range from traditional warfare to humanitarian and disaster relief missions. The fighting spirit that helps them win these battles extends beyond the scope of their military service, and many retired Lagunari continue to serve in the communities in the ALTA volunteer veteran organization.
Main Operations Abroad
- Operation "Constant Forge" Sarajevo –BOSNIA (September – December 1998);
- Operation "Joint Guardian" Dakovica – KOSSOVO ( November 1999 – March 2000);
- Operation "Consistent Effort" Pec / Klina – KOSSOVO ( February – June 2001);
- Operation "Decisive Endeavour" Pec/Klina/Gorazdevac – KOSSOVO (2002-2003);
- Operation "Antica Babilonia" IRAQ ( June 2003 – March 2005);
- Operation "LEONTE" LEBANON ( August 2006 – April 2007);
- Operation "LEONTE 5" LEBANON ( August 2008 – April 2009);
- Operation "ISAF 15" AFGHANISTAN ( October 2010 – April 2011);
- Operation "LEONTE 14" LEBANON (May 2013 – October 2013).
Lagunari are routinely put through their paces in preparation for commencing or returning to front line operations.
Gold Medal of Army Valour Per Decree of 26 April 2007 The Infantry Regiment participated in the “Ancient Babylon 4” operation in Iraq, included in the Italian Joint Task Force. In that violent theatre it showed military valour and generous altruism. With dedication and enthusiasm, along with ideals of human brotherhood, it carried out humanitarian and support activities in favour of the Iraqi population courageously opposing attacks by the enemy forces. Engaged in the activities for the foundation of the 604th Battalion of the Iraq National Guard, with dedication and determination it participated in the preparation and training of the units of the new Iraqi Army, reaching excellent results recognized by the coalition and local Authorities. In particular, it intervened in the revolts between 5th and 6th August 2004, after the attacks by militiamen along the Euphrates river in the city of Al-Nassiriyah, in order to defend the local Institutions. Extraordinary example of professional capabilities, courage, morality and military virtues, it contributed to increase the prestige of the Army on the international context. (Al-Nassiriyah – Iraq, 5–6 August 2004).
Silver Medal of Army Valour Decree of 13 March 2006 Reminding the traditions of the Marine soldiers, it was engaged in several rescue operations in favour of the civilian population hit by natural disasters but also in international rescue operations. In those circumstances, the personnel of the Regiment showed expertise, great sense of duty, spirit of sacrifice and courage in carrying out dangerous activities thanks to which it earned gratitude and admiration by the rescued operations and esteem by all the contingents of the other Nations that operated in international missions. Great example of civic and military virtues, courageous altruism and high professionalism that increased the prestige of the Italian Army on the international context. (National territory and Balkan theatre, 1951-2003).
Silver Cross of Army Merit Decree 27 July 2009 Included in the "Joint Task Force – Lebanon" and heir of the glorious traditions of the "Fanti da Mar" of the "Serenissima" Republic of Venice, the Infantry Regiment was employed in the Lebanese Operational Theatre, in a region characterized by continuous instability and conflict. With the determination and the enthusiasm of its soldiers, it gave important contribution in the peacekeeping operations. Thanks to its dedication and enthusiasm, supported by human brotherhood, it was a protagonist in the humanitarian and support activities in favour of the local population. Since the beginning of the operations, its marines have been the protagonist also in the construction of the "United Nations 2-1" base in Mara'ka, giving example of professionalism and sense of duty. The "Serenissima" Marines Regiment contributed to increase the prestige of Italy and of the Army on the international context. (Shama – Lebanon, 9 November 2006 – 13 April 2007).
- Lagunari association Italian only