Some "clarifications" regarding the article on the economic treatment of Special Forces

(To Tiziano Ciocchetti)
18/06/21

The recently published article concerning the "economic treatment of the Special Forces departments" (v.articolo) has aroused a lot of interest, judging by the comments and observations that are often constructive, and at times exclusively sterile and controversial, sent to the editorial office or posted on social networks.

The magazine's goal is to properly inform readers. Therefore confirming immediately and in full the contents of the article in question we want to provide, with this further text, an informative supplement that cites official and normative sources from which it was possible to draw the information published.

Generally speaking, we can affirm that much of the information provided in the piece in question was taken from a video - available online - about the hearing of the COFS commander at the Defense Commission on the "economic treatment of the special forces of the Armed Forces" (https://webtv.camera.it/evento/17964). The vision will already be able to answer in a predominant way to the questions, doubts and comments of the readers.

However, for a more organic and structured treatment of the issue we will proceed briefly to respond to the criticisms and constructive observations that have been received in the editorial office (ignoring the disrespectful and controversial ones because they are not worthy of consideration).

"The Authority that issues Missions to Special Forces Departments"

One of the observations received is that the units of the Tier 2 they already have a mission assigned by the Army Chief of Staff and therefore do not require further interventions to define their use.

The laws of the state and the descending regulations are very clear in defining the responsibilities of the defense leaders. The Chief of Staff of Defense is responsible for the deployment of the Armed Forces as a whole and exercises operational command of the forces deployed in operations while the Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces are responsible for the readiness and training of the instrument component military employee1. In this capacity, or that of the sole responsible for the use of forces, it can only be the Chief of Defense Staff who assigns the Operational missions (or Employment missions) to the departments of Special Forces2.

This statement is not only theoretical but is proven by reality. In fact, as early as December 2007, the raiding departments (Tier 1) have been assigned the joint missions by the chief of staff of the defense protempore Admiral Di Paola. Such Mission Statements, the only ones in force at the present time, have become an integral part of the SMD FS 01 publication “Strategic Directive for Special Forces”.

Allow, demand or admit that the missions to the departments of Tier 2 to be assigned by the Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Force would be a measure not only illegitimate, as the Chiefs of the Armed Force are not responsible for the use of forces, but moreover certainly discriminating against these highly respectable units.

"The subdivision into Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 does not exist because it is not foreseen by the NATO doctrine"

The Special Forces are a very important strategic tool and, as such, purely national and not "NATO". The missions of a purely strategic and, occasionally operational and tactical character of the FS, must mainly safeguard national interests that do not necessarily have to participate in NATO. It is therefore clear that there are integrations and characteristics in the national doctrine that cannot be merged or shared with the doctrine of the Covenant. The NATO doctrine aims to make the Special Forces of the various countries integrable when they are deployed within the Alliance.

This possibility in no way excludes the possibility that the Special Forces can be employed exclusively on a national basis. In a sense, NATO publications define what must be the "lowest common denominator" (in jargon called "Minumum military requirement") of the Alliance Special Forces to enable their integrated and efficient use in NATO operations.

The national legislation, although perfectly aligned with the NATO one, introduces a further categorization of forces that refers precisely to Tiers. In particular, the "Directive for the strengthening of Special Forces" of 2018 identifies two levels of specialization for the Special Forces (Tier 1 e Tier 2) which correspond to two different areas of use and therefore of expressible abilities and levels of readiness required.

Al Tier 1 the tasks identified by NATO are assigned (Direct Actions, Military Assistance, Special Reconnaissance) plus two tasks of an exclusive national scope: Hostage Release Operations e the integration of law enforcement intelligence.

Al Tier 2 instead, only the tasks identified by NATO are assigned (Direct Actions, Military Assistance, Special Reconnaissance).

It is clear, therefore, that the departments belonging to the two levels of specialization are both capable of carrying out NATO tasks (minimum common denominator), while at the national level the Tier 1 it has exclusive tasks that increase the quality and quantity of the work performed as well as the risk and availability that follows.

This difference in tasks also determines a substantial difference in training and a substantial difference in the rates in operational readiness that the departments must provide.

"It's not true that raiders do different things than rangers and acquirers because their training is common."

Having already clarified in the previous paragraph what are the different levels of specialization of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 the differences within the assigned tasks were also highlighted, in the sense that the Tier 1 has two incremental tasks to perform with respect to the Tier 2. It follows that training must also reflect this peculiarity.

The commander of the COFS, in the video, asserts promptly "Due to these 2 further missions (national ones) that characterize thetraining and capacity only of the raiding departments (Tier 1) its departments ensure daily basis a rate of staff in high readiness ". It is clear, if not dogmatic, that the training of a department is a function of the tasks to be performed.

"The training process of the FS units of the Army, including the 9th regiment, has been common since 2005"

Furthermore, as regards the training of the Army Special Forces units, it provides for a single phase in common which is the initial one of the OBOS course (Basic Operator Special Operations) lasting 12 weeks (a course that represents little more than a patrol course during which the learning subjects are represented by topography, individual combat training and weapons. The reference objective of the course, in fact, is the combat parachute patrol with the execution of the final tactical acts of the "coup de hand" and of the "ambush").

The rest of the training is subsequently conducted in the departments to which they belong and leads to the achievement of different patents / qualifications both formally and substantially, otherwise it would be absurd, controversial and misleading to assign them different names. Furthermore, as further proof of what has been stated, there are operational environments and specific activities that, within the context of the Army Special Forces, characterize only the 9th regiment Col Moschin. We mention, for example, the underwater operating environment in which the raiders have always expressed relevant operational skills (the raiders are the only ones in the OS sector of the EI to attend the course for Special Forces for the use of ARO / ARA equipment at the COMSUBIN and to have a base dedicated to logistics, preparation, recharging, and study of underwater equipment, equipment and equipment); the naval assault activity, which the raiders practice in customary training using special boats and equipment supplied to the 9th regiment only; high altitude aviation activity, of which the 9th regiment Col Moschin he is the only keeper within the Armed Forces and the only one authorized to carry the relevant qualification.

In addition, the 9th Reg. Col Moschin is the only one to carry out specific training on a daily basis with the K-9 component, having such a "special" unit that he also employs following an air launch using his own raiders who are simultaneously also conductors of assault dogs and who follow a specific and peculiar training path.

Finally, in the basic training of the raiders only, which we recall derives from the old 80 / B course (paratrooper spoiler), there is always a thorough and specific preparation in the field of explosives and in the most advanced techniques to use them. It is no coincidence, in fact, that the raiders were called in to help blow up the Morandi Bridge in Genoa as national excellence in the sector, recognized even at the highest levels of the entrepreneurial sector.

Moreover, continuing to argue that the training procedures are the same, in addition to mystifying the reality, disqualifies these departments Tier 2 that instead should aim to characterize and distinguish themselves through both a typical training and a peculiar job instead of always trying to assimilate their essence to that of the 9th regiment Col Moschin.

Also as regards the indemnities, the aim of obtaining that of "raider", or to equate one's own with that of the raider, is certainly an unpleasant and perhaps childish maneuver! It would be better to argue for an indemnity of its own, characteristic, unique, perhaps even more substantial than that of the raider (if the reasons exist) but essentially and formally DIFFERENT!

"It is not true that the raiders carry out training in common"

Since the creation of the COFS, in December 2004, one of the tasks that the newly created command has carried out is precisely that of inter-force preparation and operational preparation of the Special Forces. This task was carried out both by organizing exercises that, until 2014, were exclusive to the raiding departments ("Dark Night" and "Gazza Ladra" series) and by organizing "Force Integration Training" activities among the raiding departments . Also through these activities, the COFS has validated the complete interoperability of the raiding departments.

The COFS periodically published the directives for the operational preparation of the Special Forces through which it also established what were the common activities that the raiding departments should carry out to ensure interoperability, optimization and efficiency.

From an employment point of view, moreover, since 2006 the raiding departments have been constantly working together on missions, organized in Task Forces joint forces whose framework it has always been insured by a raiding department.

"The exclusively national tasks, assigned only to the Tier 1 departments, derive from a will and not from a limitation of the other Tier 2 departments"

For the purposes of the payment of indemnity, it is irrelevant where and what the assignment of tasks to the units of the FS derives from.

In fact, exclusively national tasks are assigned only to the wards Tier 1. Moreover, if a department not assigned a specific task were to train and prepare itself to perform it anyway, it would be, in some way, squandering the taxpayer's money and wasting the resources of the Defense. Nor can an activity that is carried out only in cases of emergency or in situations of absolute necessity and urgency be considered as an assigned task: all citizens have the duty to defend their homeland in arms but not for this reason they receive the emoluments of the military. that they do this work on a daily basis as a primary task of the organization to which they belong.

Moreover, it does not appear that in the use of the units exclusively national tasks (which characterize the raiding departments) have ever been assigned to the departments belonging to the Tier 2.

"Two of the 4 raiding departments are unable to ensure Special Operations Task Groups, therefore they are not assessable by NATO"

The first NATO validation of the national Special Forces component took place in 2008 and is contained in the document "Exercise Steadfast Juncture 2008 Final Evaluation Report". With this document, the SHAPE Operational Preparation Directorate communicates the results of the certification of the Joint Command Lisbon and the Component Commands for the NRF 11 in which the COFS supplied the Special Operations component (CJFSOCC).

Specifically, the two fundamental steps for certification were:

  • Loyal Sword / Dark Night 07

  • Steadfast Juncture 08 tutorial

With NATO certification, the Alliance confirms the achievement of the minimum military requirements envisaged both at the level of Special Operations Task Groups / Task Units and at the level of Component Command for Special Operations (CJFSOCC). So all the FS component has been validated (and all the raiding departments). But remember that the validation only refers to the “minimum military requirements” or, to that minimum common denominator, to which we have already mentioned, which guarantees the Alliance the interoperability of the units of the special component.

By Special Forces Tier 1 much more is expected of the “lowest common denominator” sanctioned by NATO and that is why these departments have also been entrusted with additional tasks in the exclusive national context. Moreover, it is no secret that the exclusively national task of counter-terrorism was carried out by the 9th regiment Col Moschin and by the GOI of COMSUBIN since the beginning of the 80s when, due to political will and due to the internal situation, the first Special Intervention Units (UNIS) were created

"There are Incursor departments that do not have the ability to originate Special Operations Task Groups while the Ranger and Acquisition departments have this ability "

The disbursement of indemnity is not linked to particular staff levels. It would be like saying that within a Division or an Army Corps, given the high organic level, more substantial allowances must be received than those who serve at Brigade or Regiment level (lower organic level). The incremental capabilities required in setting up a Special Operations Task Group, compared to those required for a Special Operations Task Unit, are mainly related to planning skills which, in themselves, do not involve greater risks, dangers or availability. The Italian Constitution clearly delineates the principle that the remuneration must be proportional to the "quantity and quality of the work performed" which is not relevant to the organic level that the department is able to generate.

"There is a doctrine of Armed Force that goes beyond the inter-force doctrine and the Special Forces of the Army refer precisely to the doctrine of Armed Force"

The SMD Directive SMD-G-025 establishes that the doctrinal publications of the Armed force are subordinated to the joint doctrine to which they must be aligned by incorporating the peculiar aspects of the domain they belong to. Still in the doctrinal field, the publications SMD DAS-001 and SMD-G-025 confer the role of Competent Body / National Guardian to the COFS which is to monitor the doctrinal production of a single Armed Force pertaining to the Special Forces and align it to the superordinate interforce doctrine . On the basis of what has been illustrated, there cannot be an Armed Force doctrine that can diverge from the joint one. Furthermore, the responsibility of the Defense is to define the use of the Special Forces Departments and the relative levels of operational capabilities that the departments will have to express for the employment that has been determined. The publications of the Armed Forces, on the other hand, will be able, quite independently, to deal with the preparation and training of components, or rather the procedures with which the Armed Force intends to reach, with the resources assigned to it, the operational capacity levels decided by the Defense for the consequent use.

"The Incursor's license is the same as that of Acquisitor and Ranger"

We start from the premise that the mere fact that the two qualifications have distinct names is an important factor that distinguishes their diversity. From this banal and equally unequivocal concept, we argue that the substantial difference between the two "qualifications" is precisely the existence of a Ministerial Decree that outlines the essence of "joint forces" and a large series of laws that associates the possession of the patent of raider and belonging to a specific type of department (whose characterization is common for all the Armed Forces - the raiders) the payment of an indemnity.

The ranger / acquirer qualification / license (the COFS commander in the video keeps calling her qualification but the Armed Forces Army insists on defining it patent) is characteristic only of a single Armed Force (there are no rangers / acquirers of the Navy, the Air Force and / or the Carabinieri) and is not supported by any ministerial decision as well as not being combined with a joint vision of the Special Operations sector which must to be joint by design.

The current disbursement of the indemnities already foreseen for rangers and acquirers and linked to the possession of the qualification of ranger and acquirer (20% of the basic operational allowance) - therefore limited to the respective departments and to the respective permanent offices and to the corresponding qualifications present only in an Armed Force - does not allow to ensure even the granting of the specific indemnity (from ranger / acquirer) when the same rangers / acquirers are assigned to a joint command such as the COFS or when they are sent in operations. The rangers who worked in Afghanistan in support of Task Force 45 in the years 2006 - 2014 have even lost an administrative appeal on this important issue.

The substantiality of the difference between an incursor patent and a patent / qualification of acquirer / ranger, beyond the convention linked to the name, is widely and thoroughly demonstrated. Furthermore, the naming convention is only exquisitely fatuous and inconsistent: it is not calling hare a snail that the same snail begins to run!

"News covered by ranking was disclosed in the article"

The news disclosed in the article was all drawn from open sources. Moreover, not all the contents of publications covered by the ranking are to be considered "confidential".

The “Directive for the strengthening of the Special Forces”, 2018 edition, is a confidential publication but part of its contents were freely disclosed by the commander of the COFS during the hearing before the Defense Commission.

Furthermore, the confidentiality of the information in no way compromises its veracity! Eventually they are those who profit and speculate on information that cannot be disclosed (because it is confidential) who provide a distorted image of reality by boasting non-existent tasks, or only desired and imaginative, and pursuing goals and objectives that are difficult for us to understand..

"But then a boy who takes courses and arrives among the first in the ranking at the OBOS and chooses to go to the 4th Alpine Parachute Regiment Cleaning automatically is not more deserving? "

In the article we are not talking about merits but about the economic treatment of the FS departments. And as far as we are concerned, voluntariness, in the context of the Special Forces, is perhaps the most important motivating element for which, beyond the organic constraints of the departments, those who pass the courses should always be free to choose the department in which to serve. .

However, a parallelism can be drawn between the reader's question and other situations that are certainly simpler and more evident in approach. A student pilot who finishes the piloting course first and decides, for the reasons he deems appropriate, to fly an EH-101 in a helicopter department will certainly receive a lower allowance than the student pilot, second in the ranking, but who will go to fly a Euro Fighter in an interceptor fighter unit. Both fly and both are subjected to dangers but the quality and quantity of the work performed is different as well as the training and operational readiness required.

"The will to do to conduct and not support Special Operations at 4th Ranger and 185th was born a long time ago from gen. Monticone even before the birth of the COFS and some raiding departments "

General Monticone, at the end of the nineties, was in charge of the Coordination Unit of the Special Forces created within the General Staff of the Army. Under his guidance, the publication SME 21 R was written and disseminated. This doctrinal work, however now obsolete, provided only the FOS (the term FS is never used in the publication) which were divided into "strategic level" and "operational level ". The raiders were part of the first (strategic level) while the rangers of the operational level. Specifically, for the then "ranger battalion" the publication provided "the use at an operational level for offensive missions and for particular tasks similar to those of light infantry ". So neither more nor less than light infantry!

The 185th was not covered by SME 21 R.

The publication was a publication exclusively by the Armed Force and therefore was not harmonized with the doctrines existing at the time in the Navy (referred to the GOI of COMSUBIN) and in the Carabinieri (referred to the GIS).

Wanting to close the article, it seems very objective, pragmatic and also clear to remember the organization that the Nation has, and therefore the Defense, within the Special Forces.

  1. A Joint Forces Command for Special Forces Operations: the only Command responsible for planning, preparation and conduct and for special operations as well as for national and multinational joint forces exercises;

  2. An aliquot of wards Tier 1: Able to perform all NATO duties and, in addition, national duties. These units are the raiding departments and, due to the quality and quantity of the work performed, the particular training and the level of operational readiness required, they must, in our opinion, be granted the highest emoluments.

  3. An aliquot of wards Tier 2: able to perform only the tasks envisaged by NATO, which will be entitled to a proportional level of remuneration (in our opinion lower than that of Tier 1);

  4. An aliquot of wards Tier 3, to support special operations which, when effectively employed in this role, will have to receive additional emoluments (in any case overall lower, in our opinion, than Tier 2)

The categorization of the departments highlighted above, which faithfully respects the provisions of the Special Forces Strengthening Directive, Ed.2018, does not hierarchize their value, efficiency, sex appeal, the quantity of decorations, the number of firefights or who knows what other characteristic, but faithfully reflects the "system" that the Defense wanted to create to have a "special tool" that is sustainable, efficient, effective and suitable for national interests to be stick up for.

Moreover, to respond to the ambitions of those who want and want to raise their level of specialization, the Armed Forces, and Defense in general, should facilitate and promote those who want to move from one level of specialization to the other, creating a real sector osmosis. In doing so, staff of the Tier 2 he should be absolutely free and encouraged to transit at any time to the Tier 1 (if judged suitable and if he passes the required tests and supplementary training) and could therefore fully express his skills by also receiving the corresponding emoluments.

Likewise, to the incursor staff of the Tier 1 should be allowed to transit to Tier 2 if their availability and ability no longer correspond to the level of specialization required by the department to which they belong. And what we are describing does not seem like our personal habit: it derives from the practice adopted by the Special Forces of many other extremely structured countries in the sector.

On the contrary, we understand that this practice and this freedom of choice is highly opposed by the Army which tends to favor the voluntariness and ability of the individual (a sacrosanct principle in all the Special Forces of the world) the maintenance of similar organic levels between units dedicated to tasks. different and belonging to different levels of specialization.

   

I conclude the article with an excerpt from the book "Caimano 69, sand and dust" by Mario Chima, pseudonym behind which a veteran raider of the GOI of the Navy is hidden..

"The needs, fueled by international strategic scenarios, together with the technological development that has taken an unexpected and surprising path, have determined a profound evolution of the modus operandi and, consequently, in the objectives on which a modern diving raid department such as the our. What remains unchanged is the need to maintain a highly trained elite military tool capable of adapting to today's changing needs. […] The underwater raid activity still remains the main one. However, the detachments, in rotation, deal with more specific scenarios, such as ground combat, amphibious and urban combat. Within these operational stages it is necessary to be able to perfectly manage the techniques of close dynamic shooting, those at long range, the procedures for the use of explosives as well as the use of sophisticated satellite communication and collection devices. of information.

[…] Urban realities, wooded ones, as well as desert ones, are the operational settings faced in the respective international missions that have made it necessary to centralize human resources and huge economic investments, in order to have the most efficient operating technology. These have been experiences that have completed and enriched the operational background of the GOI, which lays its solid foundations in the past to project them, with ever greater professionalism, towards a future strategic employment. We are an expensive machine and if you want to keep it efficient you need to continue to give it due attention "3.

1 Art 89 and art 95 of the DPR 15 March 2010 n. 90 and Article 26 of Legislative Decree 15 March 2010 n. 66.

2 The Chief of Defense Staff avails itself of the Joint Forces Command for Special Forces Operations (COFS) for this task in its function as the main staff body of the Chief of Defense Staff for the use of Special Forces (SMD publication- DAS-001 "Organization of the joint military summit for the planning and conduct of operations")

3 Caiman 69, sand and dust. Mario Chima, 2020, pp. 61-62-64-65.

Photo: US Army