Interview with the commander of COMSUBIN, c.amm. Massimiliano Rossi: "the standards are and must remain very high"

(To Andrea Cucco)

They are called to work in silence, to carry out the so-called unconventional operations with a strategic effect: the "special forces", military units trained to carry out special defense actions. The typologies vary significantly according to the historical moment and the state to which they refer.

We wonder how and what has changed for them and their departments today.

In the ancient fortress of Varignano, headquarters of the Underwater and Incursori Group of the Navy, to satisfy our question we met the commander of COMSUBIN, Rear Admiral Massimiliano Rossi.

In times of conventional war, does anything change for the Special Forces component?

Basically not.

In fact, special operations are highly risky and to lower this risk, training must be based on maximum realism. Departments which, for example, have always been accustomed to using war ammunition even in training activities, have very high standards of preparation in every phase of operations: from insertion, to action on the target, up to exfiltration.

So in consideration of what has been mentioned, there is no change, in my opinion. Of all the scenarios we consider, we always choose the worst: a hostile force with the best training and state-of-the-art equipment.

Assuming an enemy with a night vision or thermal camera is something we have always trained towards. This is even though, in the last twenty years, we have also been confronted with opponents with lesser fighting skills.

It is important to emphasize that in a conventional conflict, are the regular forces that need to be trained and trained? Special forces cannot fulfill a commitment in which numbers count…

Certainly, the special forces are a component of a larger maneuver. Conflicts of this kind obviously have a broad spectrum connotation with large numbers at stake in terms of men and means. The special departments can help determine strategic effects of a certain type but you cannot think of winning with them alone.

Artificial Intelligence is increasingly present on the battlefields.

Artificial intelligence is developing rapidly and will affect all domains. It is a technology that offers strategic advantages and there are systems that can carry out surveillance missions even autonomously by processing large quantities of data to obtain accurate information for the conduct of operations.

We grew up in the 80s… Could a “robotic raider” be conceivable within a decade? Combat in urban areas, for example, is still a "bloodbath" today.

Yes, but I think man is always and in any case central. Even if you will see more and more drones and special vehicles in every environment, including the underwater one, and with ever greater capabilities, there must always be a man behind it to provide the added value to the capabilities of the machine.

Artificial Intelligence will be increasingly able to make decisions more quickly, managing to learn from the mistakes made. However, human presence will be essential in my opinion.

"Learn from the mistakes made…”. Man is often not capable of this!

We too have systems for understanding the lessons received.

What are the needs at this moment in light of the events?

We are always attentive and also engaged in promotional activities aimed at enlistment, in a niche and excellent sector such as that of a special force such as the Navy Incursori. The standards are and must always remain very high for those who decide to undertake this type of career and we will have to try to improve from the point of view of personal gratification not only of an economic nature.

For example, knowledge of the English language is essential, as in the civilian sector: incentives are therefore needed to ensure that young people are in line with this requirement, which is also basic for a special forces soldier.

Photo: Online Defense / Navy