...A domain of one's impulses that derives from high moral qualities, refined by frequent and realistic training during which they were subjected to even greater difficulties than those expected to encounter in action against the enemy ... ("Decima Flottiglia Mas: from the origins to the armistice" by Junio Valerio Borghese)
Although this sentence was written 66 years ago perfectly represents, even today, the characteristics possessed by an Ardito Incursor of the Navy.
Hand strikes, ability to intervene at sea and from the sea (unique in the Italian Armed Forces), deep raids into enemy territory, but also blitzes against terrorists to free hostages or naval units, long-range missions to recover compatriots in difficulty: these are the specialties of the men of the Raiders Operational Group (GOI) placed under the control of the “Teseo Tesei” Underwater and Raider Group.
Established in the 1952, the Arditi Incursori Group, renamed GOI in the 1957 (photo below), has its roots in the heroic deeds accomplished by the men of the Navy Assault during the two world wars, feats that have obtained the applause and the recognition also by our adversaries, so much so that Winston Churchill, after the night of Alexandria in December of 1941, had to write: "..The Italians equipped with materials of ridiculous cost have shaken the military balance in the Mediterranean for the benefit of the Axis".
Ithe list of operations that the Incursori have been called to conduct in recent years is impressive, even if the greatest operational commitment is represented by the overseas missions that have seen and see the Italian Armed Forces involved. Somalia, Rwanda, East Timor (photo on the right), Afghanistan and Iraq are the operational theaters in which they acted thanks to the wide margins of capacity, flexibility and operational and logistic autonomy. These elements make the Arditi Incursori a unique instrument of their kind that is highly effective in managing critical situations in unconventional asymmetric threat scenarios.
In fact, the current scenarios of international conflict and the continuing terrorist threat require the intervention of small unconventional units, particularly trained and equipped. In this difficult context, the Raiding Operative Group is an agile tool, particularly suitable for facing the changing challenges of the moment because it is able to propose concrete solutions capable of satisfying political, military, economic and psychological requirements.
This is possible because the men of the GOI know how to operate in hiding or in conditions of isolation, in tactical units of reduced numerical entity and in non-permissive or even hostile contexts. They are able to move in any operating environment, using the equipment and weapon systems necessary to fulfill their mission.
In principle, the tasks assigned to the Raiders, generally pertaining to the strategic level, include:
- attack on naval and merchant units in port or at anchor with the use of different weapon systems;
- attacks on port / coastal installations and civil and military infrastructures within the 40 Km strip from the coast;
- naval counter-terrorism operations for the release of hostages on passenger or merchant ships and on maritime installations;
- infiltration and stay in hostile territory for informative and / or naval fire support missions.
To this end, the staff is entirely professional and the training is very hard, selective and thorough, so as to guarantee high operating standards.
From here derive the peculiar individual abilities of the operators who must be able to:
- conducting vessels and vehicles of various types and performances;
- occultly diving to attack naval units in port, at anchor and in movement;
- be released from helicopters using various techniques;
- to know how to move on the ground in a nocturnal and diurnal environment, overcoming any rocky walls, succeeding in remaining hidden in the opponent's territory;
- make the submerged spill during a dive;
- relying on automatic and controlled opening parachutes;
- use any type of weapon, explosive and special charges;
These peculiarities have made the GOI a primary element in the panorama of the Italian Armed Forces, above all because through the experience gained from the Assault Vehicles it has acquired the ability to adapt to the situation to fulfill the missions that the country, from time to time, the He assigned. An example of this was the use of the Department during years of lead and the fight against national and international terrorism, such as the abduction of the Achille Lauro, or when in fact it succeeded in a very short time to broaden its operational horizons by implementing a capacity for global projection following the upheaval of the world dictated by the attacks of 11 September 2001.
The means and armaments used
In order to be able to carry out the missions assigned to it, the GOI pays particular attention to the constant search for the best equipment and means existing on the market, in order to allow its personnel to operate in the best possible conditions.
Equal attention is paid to technological research and to the development of exclusive weapons and systems, necessary to satisfy the operational needs of the Department; some of these, however, constitute a jealously guarded secret, such as the special underwater vehicles, the current technological evolution of the slow-running World War II torpedoes.
The equipment, weapons and vehicles fleet, supplied, consists of all that is necessary for the conduct of special operations in the three dimensions: sea, land and sky, with obvious specialization in sea and sea operations.
Therefore, in addition to the rotated vehicles for the conduct of motorized terrestrial or amphibious operations, such as the VTLMs (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol Vehicle), the attention of the GOI is particularly directed to fast assault boats, some of which were conceived, designed and set up on specifications of the Department itself or others, even aviolanciabili, necessary for the conduct of special operations against targets on the high seas, such as Off Shore Oil Platforms or Merchant-Passenger Ships, as well as for ground infiltration and to operate on coastal targets.
The GOI armory provides operators with a wide range of weapons, diversified in calibres, such as pistols, machine guns, assault rifles in different barrel configurations, semi-automatic sniper rifles and bolt action, manual grenades or seeds. -Automatic, 12 caliber rifles, rockets, etc.
Each weapon can be configured with a wide range of accessories such as: silencers, fixed and variable optics, visible and invisible laser sights, light intensification and thermal pointing systems and therefore each individual operator has the possibility to configure his own armament according to your specific needs.
Similar attention is paid to individual equipment and operational clothing, where innovative fabrics and high-tech materials are combined and used in the best operating equipment available on the market, as well as in increasingly high-performance bullet-proof vests rather than in lightweight helmets, supplemented by sophisticated systems night vision and communication.
Equal attention is paid to the choice of equipment and diving equipment, some of which are designed and developed within COMSUBIN itself, such as the modern closed-circuit oxygen breathing apparatus (ARO) "Caimano" currently adopted by all the national Special Forces Departments .
Arditi Incursori, a story that has lasted from 64 years
Today the Navy Raiders are trained to work best in any environment, in relation to the operating theaters where their use is required.
Since the Arditi Incursori Group was established, following the extraordinary exploits of the men of the Assault Vehicles, the operational capabilities of these men have increased tenfold, so much so that they have been able to obtain numerous awards both from the Nation and from the Navy. Two honors of the Italian Military Order, a Gold Medal, two Silver and six Bronze for Valor of Marina, a Gold Medal for Merit of Marina and two Gold medals for Victims of Terrorism are the rewards attributed to these men in the last ten years only for the contribution offered in the Afghan theater.
Formed according to what the Gold Medal for Military Valor Admiral Gino Birindelli defined as "Spirit of the Serchio", The Raiders have made of their country's love, of the spirit of body and dedication to service their lifestyle. An adrenaline-filled life, full of professional satisfactions, which is lived in the name of action in the operational scenarios around the world.
These men who have learned to improve themselves every day from the exploits of their predecessors, today represent one of the most renowned Special Forces Departments in the world and, above all, an irreplaceable military instrument for our Nation.
The "Spirit of the Serchio"
... We went to sea very early in the morning and in the evening in dense darkness, dedicating the work during the hours of light to the continuous improvement of each instrument and the nocturnal one to training the real war operations, of which we studied the tactics. ... Al Serchio had created, in a true, profound and sincere way, that "band of brothers which constituted an ideal of the young students of the Naval Academy" and being united as blood relatives was not rhetoric, just as it was not wanting to give in every possible way all that could be done to an Italy that we loved above all else. There was created that "spirit of the Serchio" that none of us have ever been able to forget. ("Life of a Sailor" by Gino Birindelli).
How to become a Raider
- a dive of feet from a trampoline of 5 meters
- a freestyle swimming test
- a race of 300 meters to be covered in less than 47 seconds
- carrying out pull-ups
- performing push-ups and abdominals
- a climb on a rope of height 5 meters
- a high jump test.
Safter passing the entry test, in the second half of January of each year the Ordinary Raiders course begins, divided into four phases (land combat, water combat, amphibious phase, conduct of complex operations), which will provide future Arditi with a preparation of base that will enable them to enter the operational teams of the GOI where they will integrate their knowledge and skills to those possessed by the Department to acquire the "combat readiness".
Second phase - water combat. It is the hardest and most selective phase. It lasts thirteen weeks. The activity is mainly dedicated to surface swimming and diving, both day and night. In this phase, the students must demonstrate that they are comfortable underwater and that they can cover long distances by swimming with their own equipment. The student also acquires the ability to drive fast dinghies and is subjected to a practical and theoretical exam during which he will have to demonstrate that he has learned, among other things, notions of boating and aerial photography.
Third stage - amphibious phase. Lasting twelve weeks. This is the period in which students have to learn the tactics and techniques to transit from sea to land and vice versa, also improving their knowledge of the use of the different types of special weapons supplied and finally acquiring experience both in targeted shooting and in the instinctive / operational one. In this phase, course attendees learn to use explosives and demolition charges, as well as to operate from and with helicopters. This formative moment ends with three nocturnal reconnaissance or amphibious attack exercises against coastal targets and / or naval units.
Fourth phase - conduct of operations. For 15 weeks the students will have to demonstrate that they have acquired the ability to integrate what they have learned during the course by putting it into practice in every operational environment, demonstrating that they know how to plan a special operation and know how to manage the means necessary for it. The last tests consist of a complex final exercise and a written and oral test on what has been learned throughout the course. During a solemn ceremony, whoever is deemed suitable is given the patent and the coveted green beret as a raider, then passing through the ranks of the prestigious Group Operational Raiders.
(photo: Navy, text: Newsletter of the Navy)