"Videre nec videri", behind the work of the acquirer

(To Denise Serangelo)

When you arrive in Livorno and go into the brigade command district thunderbolt it seems that any military that crosses is the same as the previous one. 

The inhabitants of the area do not even make any more case, they live with two barracks and for them the shout "Folgore" marks the beginning of the morning. 
Some amaranth berets, however, have differences that are not perceptible to the lazy eyes of those who are used to seeing them every day. 

In front of the brigade command, like good barracks neighbors, stands the 185 regiment Recognition Acquisition Objectives little known often confused but never as essential now to the operational life of armed force.

RAO represents the eyes and ears of the Army Special Forces Command (COMFOSE), in operating theaters, performs delicate and often underestimated tasks by those who see the Army as a mere game of weapons and strategies.

From Afghanistan to modern operational scenarios, the regiment has always represented excellence and the will to represent this country as a symbol of professionalism and human understanding.

Colonel Maurizio Fronda, commander of the regiment, has agreed to talk to us about what a collector's life and history are like to finally make light and clarity.

Commander, the target acquisition regiment has a history full of events and important moments from which much of the regiment's modernity derives. Could you explain to us how you got to our day?

The 185 regiment has always been a special place, because throughout its history it has played an exclusive role in the armed forces.
From the 60 years after the reconstitution of the paratroopers, the 185 ° was to be considered "paratrooper artillery" with a role of unique union between infantry and artillery.
During the '90 years we have the transformation of the armed force in all its parts, we too are invested by the change and we begin to operate in an increasingly important sector for contemporary scenarios: the observation of the artillery sector.
This new discipline that was being formed was mainly composed of officers and troops whose task was to see where the shots fired by the artillery were going to fall and at a later stage to give indications to improve their efficiency.
These units dedicated to the observation of artillery strikes were given the name "detachment" with the ability to operate in semi-permissive zones and in any scenario practicable by man.
The task was not only to observe objectives and the goodness of the artillery shooting but became, over time, an observation dedicated to any type of target was assigned and that the armed force deemed appropriate to observe.
Today, with the evolution of the scenarios and with a climate of increasing conflict asymmetry, even our regiment is specializing in operations to be carried out in urban contexts.

Your command has recently passed under the COMFOSE, have you had a change in your daily work and in your way of managing the regiment?

Surely the transition under the COMFOSE is a big step forward for the regiment, the foresight of the armed force in merging those departments with particular tasks was important not only in order to amalgamate and better coordinate the work of all.
For example, ours was an important and particular role within any context.
We can work well with both special forces and conventional ones because our assets allow us to cover a wide range of high, medium and low risk operations.

Even in your case the economy is not a point to be underestimated, the transit has benefited the coffers of the regiment or you have not undergone any change?

The economic treatment that affects our regiment is certainly in a regime of specialties, not because there is something better in us but only because the operational needs require greater economic intervention.
Dedicating ourselves to operations of various kinds that are not contained in a single operational scenario, the regiment must have tools and technologies suitable to cover these needs.
Unfortunately, these instruments have a cost, sometimes burdensome, must have certain technological features and certain functions to make them efficient.
Since there is a joint command, expenditure for each regiment related to COMFOSE is spent and managed by those who have a more global vision of economic and operational needs, an advantage in optimizing expenses.

Commander, we talked about technology, who sees you from outside imagines the special departments filled with cutting-edge and complex instruments with which you can do almost anything. How is your relationship with technology and how has it influenced and influenced your work?

In our history we have always had a great union between past and present, what today distinguishes us from the past is above all the technology we use to perform the tasks that are required.
Although technology is increasingly present and insinuates itself in many aspects of the life of the soldier, for us Man always remains the point of contact and our greatest strength, if technology fails, it is the man who has to return home and to carry out the mission.
What is important to understand is that it is not through the technology that our operator can do his job, surely it is a valid help and an added value but we can not base everything on this aspect.
Our men have to make decisions, make assessments that a machine can not do except through cameras with which to forward the images.
Making a delicate decision through a screen is more complex and aseptic, while our operators can give that human contribution that reduces the risk of collateral damage almost to zero, a fundamental aspect in today's modernity.

Within the same armed force, many find it difficult to distinguish the "buyers" from the "explorers", above all because the difference between the two roles is not clear. Could you help us explain what one job consists of compared to the other?

The explorers are troops that act in the vanguard to the bulk of conventional forces, they are made to arrive shortly before the massive arrival of the units in charge of the operation so that they can give a clear idea of ​​how the situation on the ground when the colleagues arrive.
It is an important job that deals above all with tactical and operational objectives never of strategic objectives. We work well before the start of the handling, we have a careful and very long planning work, this does not exclude a collaboration between our parts and those exploring.
Both have a role of observation but with very different characteristics that must be developed at different times of the planning and operation phase.
The explorers can help us to have a more complete picture of the situation before sending the conventional rates, a chiselling job that increases the knowledge base of the territory and of the enemy forces that operate there.
The other aspect that should not be underestimated is that of training, which is diversified by intensity and tasks.
We are able to manage a constantly changing situation and with a generalized threat spectrum, we cover all operating environments and we have to do it at best.
Physical preparation must be continuous and willpower and resilience must not be lacking, these soldiers of the 185 ° must not only keep themselves physically active but once they have carried out the activity they must also make informed decisions for the required level of information.
Tiredness and decisional stress could affect if they were not properly trained.

On this last point I imagine you are aiming a lot, training is the key to your efficiency. Can you tell us about it, how is a acquirer formed?

The acquirer is formed in two phases.
The first one lasts from 14 to 15 weeks and takes place at RAFOS (Special Operations Forces Training Department) at the 9 barracks of the Parachute Assault Parachutists Col Moschin, here everyone is given a common starting point.
Activities are carried out at a tactical level not only to give concrete lessons but also to test the degree of motivation that must characterize future work.
The jump of the operator for special operations from the normal life to the more distinctly operative characterized by particular tasks must be a strongly desired and desired choice, something that emerges in these weeks to the rafos.
The specialization phase for our work takes about a year and a half and we move from the environmental training phase in almost all the conditions - permissive and not - to the activation of sources of fire of any kind.
It is a complete training that also concerns the third dimension with TCL launches and operations with airborne troops.
A new part concerns the activities of the sector that are characteristic of our acquisition activities.
These years of training are not only to make us understand what we are going to do in practice but it is also a moment of hard personal reflection.
Many leave because they realize that the required dedication is very high and the sacrifice also towards the family is important.
For us it is a necessary selection even if it lasts because in the end only those really brought and motivated arrive to get involved and work in the required way.

The psychoattitudinal conditions I imagine are essential for carrying out delicate tasks like yours.
What are the characteristics required of you and how do you feel to explain them to those who have never seen your work?

It must be premised that the work of the inquisitor is a labor of patience, so the psychoattitudinal conditions are fundamental in order to operate.
One of the aspects that must be taken into consideration is certainly the willpower and the passion that drives us to do this kind of work, we must understand intimately why we are doing it and what is the usefulness of this profession.
Usefulness towards the homeland, towards the mission or towards the companions is enough that we have a purpose and that we pursue it with all of ourselves.
Patience is the prince's chief virtue because it is a work of waiting and observation, we are not as dynamic as in the training phase, we observe and make decisions in operation.

We talked about how it worked if things go well but being a profession in close contact with the enemy you could be involved in a fight, how do you respond to the threat?

Also in this case the premise is necessary when the acquirer starts an activity there is a particularly accurate work that precedes it.
In the planning phase there are a whole series of concepts and information that are used to avoid the risk of being seen by the enemy once in the vicinity.
Obviously, even though we can plan a mission in detail, the case has its own important component, so we also operate with established contingency plans.
If it should happen that the observed counterpart becomes aware of our presence and decides to face us we have all the elements to respond to this threat, but more importantly we are able to exfiltrate quickly. If this happens, contingency plans specifically designed in the planning phase are in place to put them into practice when facing a threat or crisis of some kind.
Nevertheless, the abandonment of the mission and the direct engagement of the threat are options that we take into account that we are able to face but which we try to limit.
The fulfillment of the task is what we want to complete and before and during the operation we work to bring home the information that has been requested.

Those who act in the shadows seeing without being seen create a family around themselves, adapt to the most inaccessible places to be the eyes and ears of those who will come after them.
In the silence and darkness somewhere in the world an 185 ° operator target acquisition regiment is scrutinizing the next target that still does not know that it is.