What is a Special Operation

(To Tiziano Ciocchetti)

With this article we open a chain of services dedicated to Special Operations. The choice might seem like a marketing since the theme is popular, it is liked, involves, attracts and is also inclusive because we all feel “special”. Instead, it purpose it's surprisingly different. What we propose, in fact, is deepen the subject in the most pragmatic way possible, offering a certainly narrow overview - as testimonials and original documents in the industry are scarce for obvious reasons of confidentiality - but realistic, verifiable, objective and, for this reason, we hope also interesting for the readers.

For a few readers!

Yes, because what we will write will risk being exclusive instead of inclusive, that is, narrowing the field of what has often been considered special or specialist and which, on the basis of the considerations we will make, will probably have to take on another connotation. We also want to provide you with a qualified opinion free from internal guidelines, directives, language standards and partisan interests.

For this piece we will cite official references but we will deliberately broaden the spectrum of the analysis - which absolutely does not want to present itself as a "Bignami" of the legislation in force - to testimonies, analogies, true stories, comparisons, and to what it will seem more appropriate to give tangibility and concreteness to the writings always trying to impress a flowing style, and we hope also compelling, to the article.

Finally, we turn to those who work in the sector and to those who will have to decide their future, hoping to provide them with a contribution, certainly critical and often vibrant and pungent, but equally certainly in good faith. Not written only for specialists but also for those who approach this ocean to make them take to the sea with the right sail. We will often refer to the national situation which will be the fulcrum of the considerations we will make.

What we will say will be anything but "politically "correct. We are sure that we will again attract bitter reactions. But the criticisms, when constructive, referenced ed authoritative, are always welcome and will certainly help us achieve the goal we set ourselves. On the other hand, recent articles on the economic treatment of special forces have already raised quite a fuss, which is an incontrovertible indicator of interest. Many testimonies of applause for what has been published and, inevitably, also several "reproaches".

The only regret is that the disapproval that has come, in addition to being mostly anonymous or, in any case, covered by the pseudonymity stratagem, have not in the least affected the regulatory and justificatory system at the basis above all of the second article, but have limited themselves to generic, self-referential, totally questionable theses and, at times, even disrespectful if not downright offensive. But that's okay. We like to think that the truth is not always easy to accept!

Clearly, our articles are based on our personal experience as journalists and disseminators and on the testimonies that we have managed to gather among experts, insiders and some authoritative voices who have also recently expressed on our platform.

The Alphabet of Special Operations

Defining, recognizing and characterizing a special operation is part of the abc, of those who delight, even amateurs, in the sector. Concepts that you learn in the first, maximum in the second grade of the schools of the insiders and that, if you do not buy, lead to the rejection without appeal from the training institutes - the real ones.

As you can see, it immediately begins to be "exclusive"!

The first feature of Special Operations is theobiettivo, that is the purpose they propose, which must be of great importance. In jargon it is called "strategic", as the use of special operations to achieve operational or tactical objectives is considered only exceptionally1. In short, special operations are carried out only if objectives of very high value are to be achieved for the purposes of the military campaign, or of significant political value and which therefore also imply a high political risk.

As can be seen from these initial considerations, the word risk has forcefully appeared and the use of the special operation is also chosen because, often, there is no other "acceptable" way to achieve the same goal.

From this first characteristic derive many consequences and considerations.

Being the objective of a strategic-political level, it is assigned by the highest leaders of the political-military organization. Furthermore, precisely because of the importance of the objective and the consequent sensitivity of the same, there are no intermediaries between who assigns the mission and who is in charge of planning and executing the special operation. This is why in the “evolved” world the Commands or Directorates of the Special Forces are placed directly under the commander in chief (Chief of Defense Staff) or even the Minister of Defense2. For the same reason these commands dedicated to the OS are armored, reserved, not very accessible, and composed only by highly selected and expert experts.

Curiously, this consideration is in stark contrast to the very recent national decision to implement the Interoperable Summit Operations Command (COVI) which introduces a further command step that separates the Command for Special Forces Operations (COFS) from commander In chief.

Also on the international scene, and taking the USA, UK and France as an example, the Commands for Special Operations refer directly to the commander in chief despite having been confronted for years, all these nations, with the operations Multidomain from which the creation of COVI originates. This measure, which we hope will soon be rethought, would push the national special sector even further into African dimension of the SOF where numbers count rather than quality and where loyalty to the regime rather than professionalism, competence and effectiveness rewards. Some innovative and highly experienced countries in the sector have made Special Operations a separate "service" (a separate armed force) directly dependent on the Chief of Defense (CHOD) or even the Ministry Of Defense (MOD). Italy, with the introduction of an additional level of command, would seem to be going in the opposite direction.

To give a tangible value to what we have just stated, we want to give some practical examples that highlight the importance of the objective in the best known special operations.

To begin with one of the first operations considered "special" we cite the goal of the reconquest of the Col Moschin by the daredians of the major Messe in June 1918. If the Col had not been resumed, in fact, the Austro-German forces would have spread across the plain Padana probably overturning the results of the First World War on the Italian front.

Another historical and known example is the sinking of the Valiant and Queen Elizabeth in Alexandria by the navy raiders in December 1941. This action in fact resulted in the reversal of the naval power relationship in the Mediterranean.

Also in the same period, the capture of the fort of Eben Emael by Student's paratroopers. Without that pivot, the invasion of Belgium and then of France would have been impossible or would have cost, in terms of human lives and equipment, much more.

The release of Mussolini in Campo Imperatore by the German command of Harald-Otto Mors serves to explain the high value of the objective. The aim, in fact, was of the highest political level: in the aftermath of September 8, 1943, Germany wanted to put a friendly government back on its feet in Italy that would help oppose and delay the advance of the Allies and the guerrilla war.

Also the release of the hostages in Entebbe, in 1976, by the Sayeret Matkal (comparable to the 22 ° SAS and the Nono) Israeli (together with the Sayeret Golani and Tzanhanim), had a purpose of the highest political value as the widespread terrorism against the Jewish people put the very existence of the state of Israel at stake.

But to refer to more recent periods we can consider the task given to the special forces in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2014, namely the disruption of the leadership of the insurgency. This objective was among the most important of the entire US and NATO campaign in Afghanistan as it was considered fundamental to decapitate, and therefore deprive of decision-making capacity, the various insurgent groups that opposed the troops, mostly Western, operating in support to the Afghan Government.

The latest example is the capture and, subsequently, the neutralization of Osama bin Laden by a large team of SEALs. We believe there is nothing to add to underline the importance that this objective had both from a strategic point of view, but above all from a political point of view, for the US political leadership. In addition, it was the president of the United States who, from the oval room, followed the event in direct contact with the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command in charge of the operation, there was no other intermediary or COVI that separated them!

Another feature of special operations is that they are performed by specifically designated, selected, trained, equipped and organized units employing peculiar and specific techniques and procedures3Also from this simple and perhaps banal phrase derive many consequences that we will try to summarize below.

Special forces are neither improvised nor created at the last moment4. They are units that are born different, precisely because they must employ, right from the planning stage, peculiar, typical and distinct techniques and procedures. This does not mean that the raiders are Martians with antennas or a version (again) with the stars of James Bond, but it means that they have always and forever been trained to perform activities and procedures that are distinguished, sometimes even substantially and sometimes even only for some details, from those normally used by conventional forces.

Most of the time of their operational life they spend training and repeat and repeat, and repeat again precisely these techniques and procedures until, only rarely, are they called to use them. And this also explains why many conventional they consider the raiders to be "resource consuming" and privileged who spend their time doing only horny activities such as throwing, diving and demolition, alternating exercises with intense shooting in the gym supported perhaps by some personal trainer. What these extroverted critics often forget is that those rare times that the raiders are called to operate, the minimum margin of error is no longer granted! There is no way to put things right if they go wrong. There is no reinforcement! And if a worker who works in a factory, even if with regret, I can afford to make some resources lack, I cannot do the same lightness with the firefighters who have to intervene when the factory is on fire, if I do not want to take the risk. to irremediably lose everything and subsequently to dismiss all the workers!

These techniques and procedures often - if not invariably, on some occasions - involve the use of innovative and not very widespread equipment which, if it does not constitute a scientific discovery of great technological value and absolute secrecy, in any case represents a novelty, an evolution, a change in the equipment normally used for war purposes.

And here we give some examples because otherwise we risk being confused and opening the field to the most varied interpretations.

These particular techniques are sometimes daring and amazing, such as parachuting from very high altitudes or the use of insidious underwater means. Other times they are almost on the verge of banality, such as the ability, developed at the time of the Cold War, when a Soviet invasion was feared, to hole up for a month in a hole of one meter by one meter without ever getting out and without being identified for provide information whose importance was proven, in a territory that was previously friendly but which, due to the sudden advance of the Red Army, would have become hostile (climb over technique).

The innovations associated with these techniques must be considered in the context of the historical period in which they were used. If the parachute and the glider are the innovations that allowed the capture of the Fort of Eben Emael in 1940 by Student's raiders today, the same techniques and the same equipment could no longer be defined as innovative. And the same goes for the Slow-Stroke Torpedo of the second lieutenant Durand de la Penne or of the night visors used in 1976 by the Israelis during the operation Thunderbolt (later renamed operation Yonatan) in Entebbe. Furthermore, the peculiar procedures once employed become almost immediately usual because the enemy studies them, learns them and the use of them no longer ensures the surprise that is a fundamental requirement of any special operation. Therefore, these particular procedures and techniques must be innovative and secret and we can only spend them once because "Made the first" innovation and secrecy are permanently lost.

Often, secrecy does not refer to the technique itself but to the details, the specifics, the way in which it is applied. The fact that a naval target can be attacked from underwater using specially designed underwater means is now well known, and was also known in 1941. What guarantees the surprise, and therefore must be kept secret is, for example, the distance. of engagement, the guidance and discovery system, the characteristics that guarantee its invisibility, the techniques used for the approach, etc.

The same goes for a break-in. Everyone knows that a building can break into but the specific techniques concern, for example, the ability to pass through breaches in the walls instead of using the openings already present, to enter from the floor slab, from a hole made in the roof or the use of paralyzing nerve gases that neutralize, as a premise, all the personnel inside the building while keeping it alive. Even the technique of using flash bang or other artifices gives specificity to the tactics employed and constitutes the highly reserved patrimony of the department that studied and conceived it and can make the difference between the most sensational of successes and the most total and dramatic defeat!

Another feature of one Special Operation is to be "Special" from the beginning - that is, since its conception and planning - until the end - or at the moment of hot wash up (activity that is carried out when everything is finished, all the assets are safe in place and the whole operation is summarized to see to draw all the necessary lessons). Nothing could be more wrong than relegating the special operation to the material freeing of hostages, to intervention on the target or to the capture or neutralization of the personality. That is only a small phase of a complex complex of peculiar activities which, taken together, constitute the special operation.

That is why special operations can only be conceived by special men. And that is why conventional commands do not plan or conduct or coordinate special operations. It would be like having the Fiat board of directors plan and conduct a Grand Prix instead of the Scuderia Ferrari!

Even this peculiarity is little accepted by the multi-starred officers coming from the conventional forces who consider a special operation a simple infantry activity conducted by some sparafucile more trained and better equipped. As if John Elkann considered the ultimate red racing car from the prancing Horse like a Doblò that simply runs faster!

They have heard of all colors. Especially in the context of the Army, in fact, it is very difficult not to assimilate the raiding unit to a normal infantry unit. Also because, when you are faced with a novelty that you can not or, even worse, you don't want to explain, our brains work by analogies. And then the "conventional" sees that, all in all, a raiding department is essentially made up of men (they have neither tanks, nor helicopters, nor jets, nor radar, nor means of incredible sophistication) is divided into companies (or stuff similar), he undergoes a thorough training, but which all in all can be traced back to that of the infantry, and assimilates the unit to the many he knows.

An eloquent example are the organic tables of the 9th regiment Collar Moschin that, for the most disparate rules of armed force they must refer to the canons of the Army which includes companies, battalions, periods of command and so on and so forth instead of being able to really adapt to the actual needs of the department.

More difficult in the Navy or in the Air Force where, indeed, it is problematic to assimilate a raiding department to a ship or an airplane, there are no propellers, engines, radars, engine room, cockpit ... and therefore the assimilation process is more arduous and the conventional are more likely to "handle with Care" an instrument they do not know and to be much more flexible and adaptable when it comes to organic tables.

It is from the beginning, therefore, that special men conceive special activities. Special men organized in dedicated commands under whose dependencies are the units that then have to carry out the operation and who contribute to its planning. The chain of command and control of the OS is in fact "flat" that is devoid of the various levels of command typical of articulated hierarchical chains, just to facilitate a very rapid decision making.

The way it is conceived, organized and executed gives the specific characteristic to the special operation. The way in which the indispensable supports are used, the succession of timing and phases, the techniques to bring the device home and the use of those typical tactics and procedures, as well as innovative equipment, all together give the characterization of “Special” to an operation.

The break-in phase, the action on the target is probably the least significant moment! The one on which the Third World countries are focused, which continue to produce stalwart and highly trained soldiers with a turtle on their stomach and perfect knowledge of unlikely martial arts. Units that advertise their existence and virility on the internet, without however developing planning skills, insertion and extraction techniques, the ability to collaborate with dedicated assets, an unconventional mentality. In jargon they are called i "Keeking doors", that is, those who know how to kick doors. In 6 months, brigades are produced without great difficulty ... but go and call them Special Forces! In a few years, badass-looking regiments are produced, however in history, these units have often collected dramatic and often tragic fiascos!

Special Operations are invariably joint by nature, that is, they are joint forces by nature5. These activities, in fact, are developed in all components air, land, water, space and electromagnetic dimension using the assets of all the Armed Forces for insertions / extractions but also for the necessary intelligence, logistic, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnasissance (ISR), communications and tactical.

This is also why the connotation of a single armed force has an extremely limited horizon in both special forces and special operations. And it is also for this reason that the validation and preparation of the Special Forces units for possible use cannot be separated from a consistent and intensive inter-force phase.

The phase of single armed force serves only to guarantee the base, the substratum, the minimum wage to be ready for employment, which must then be completed and integrated by a substantial joint force phase that must be evaluated by the Command responsible for employment. Indeed, joint training must characterize the continuum training of such units according to the principle train as you fight.

The ambition of the individual armed forces to have independent and self-sufficient units is therefore a mere chimera that would be the case as soon as possible in favor of a more joint which would save time and both human and material resources and would allow the existence of a more reliable and effective tool.

A special operation cannot be conceived in the absence of an assiduous, effective and protracted one intelligence support6. And this feature, some might argue, is common to any operation ... That's not exactly the case. What the raiders need is one actionable intelligence or a concrete information support that gives the possibility of being able to act promptly. And even here we manage, to explain this concept, with an example ...

Knowing that a dangerous opposing leader is in a town controlled by enemy forces is important information, but not enough to conduct a special operation. The same information can instead be sufficient to conduct a conventional activity during which, by concentrating a preponderant amount of forces for a prolonged period of time and enjoying the air and land superiority, the inhabited area is isolated and raked house by house up to find the dangerous leader. It is also true that probably with such an operation the dangerous leader will never be caught as he has a network of early warning which allows him to escape before the mammoth device is put in place.

For a special operation it is necessary to know in which house and at what time the target is located, how the roof of the house is made, the thickness of the walls, the habits of those who live nearby and the habits of the target itself (what in jargon it is called pattern of life) to be able to conduct, with a handful of highly trained men and with innovative means, a punctual and circumscribed operation that neutralizes the target in a few minutes without touching the rest of the town and without causing (or almost) collateral damage.

It is clear that the assets of intelligence and their ability to provide such details will have to be different. This explains why OSes need dedicated intelligence assets. On the other hand, if Durand de la Penne and Emilio Bianchi had found two ramshackle fishing boats in the port of Alexandria instead of the Queen Elisabeth (photo) and del Valiant what special operation would they conduct?

Special Operations, in almost all cases, cannot be carried out without assets and support men. If it is true that this support can be conventional, and often it was, it is equally true that for the more complex and even successful unconventional actions the raiders benefited from dedicated, specific and oriented support. Support assets are often aircraft (fixed and rotary wing) with their crews, drones, surface or underwater naval units, ISR assets (also humint), units of conventional forces, often of robust infantry, transmission or electronic warfare units, assets for the control of airspace, assets of particular technological value and the list does not end here.

Another observation that often escapes the less experienced is that precisely these support structures are the ones that make the difference and those that allow, more than any other factor, the execution of the special operation. Just to refer to examples and analogies, denying support to a special operation would be like showing up at the Grand Prix with a flaming Ferrari, a screaming driver but then not having the team that changes the tires or the groups and teams of meteorologists who are able to tell us at what time and how intense it will rain during the race! Who would do it? And as can be easily deduced, those tire specialists are not those in the garage under the house but are "dedicated": they always train, and not part-time, in groups and teams inseparable and close-knit with the drivers, mechanics and the team. Meteorologists, on the other hand, could be those of any meteorological institute, as long as they can provide reliable data. Of course, if they were dedicated, perhaps, some advice or some more opinion in case of uncertainty, imponderability and uncertainty of the situation could provide it ... stuff that would earn a few hundredths of a second, insignificant for a taxi, but that can guarantee the podium in a Grand Prix. But often you don't have the resources to have everything dedicated.

Special operations are almost always conducted by the weak to strong. This characteristic confers some essential properties to special operations such as those of necessarily taking advantage of the principles of surprise and speed to achieve superiority limited to a very short period of time and to a very limited portion of space (in jargon called relative superiority)7 and to overcome forces that are far more numerous, better armed and better organized in defense8. And here the examples are simple and straightforward.

A handful of men with little means won over two massive ships and an impressive defensive organization in the port of Alexandria in December 1941. The same goes for the taking of the Eben Emael fort and the Israeli release of hostages. in Entebbe.

In the same conditions were the small teams of raiders who entered Afghanistan in territory controlled by the insurgents for the neutralization of the leaders of the rioters who often took refuge in agglomerations manned by the Taliban. The fact of being few allows, in fact, to move quickly, to avoid hysteresis due to the issuing and receiving of orders, to be all focused on the goal precisely because they are all part of very small, highly selected and closely knit nuclei9.

The small size eliminates, or at least minimizes, what Clausewitz called the "Frictions of war". For "less is more" raiders! This is why the Special Forces cannot stay on the target, they cannot hold positions, they cannot control the territory. These activities all need time and mass, and time and mass are just two factors that the raiders never have!

Again to be precise, special operations are conducted in hostile, non-permissive or politically sensitive and risky environments10. It would not make sense to plan daring advertisements, to carry out movements in hiding, to resort to dissimulation with the surrounding environment if then the conditions of the moment allow much safer and easier to implement procedures. What need is there for highly trained men, peculiar tactics and innovative equipment if I can then reach the target without any problem, whistling with my hands in my pockets because the environment allows it?

Some important considerations stem from this feature.

The first is that raiders exist to operate in hostile environments. All their training and their preparation is aimed at this type of territory and all their tactical automatisms are marked by this reality. And therefore they must enjoy very wide autonomy and the ability to use the tools of the trade of circumstance. Yes, because in a hostile environment they cannot supply you when you want. If you lose the explosive underwater or the torpedo does not work the motors, if the breathing apparatus leaks or if the visors or radios break when you land after a launch, you must still have the ability to provide with materials and equipment for the occasion. In any case, the objective must be achieved.

If something goes wrong you must know how to exfiltrate, even alone, even for hundreds of kilometers, without getting caught and without compromising the activity of other fellow soldiers who, perhaps, are operating a few miles away. You must possibly know the language of the country where you work, the customs, the customs. You often have to rely only on your own strength without being able to call on anyone's help. And the training of the raider is based all about this feature.

In 1987, the non-commissioned officers of the 9th Regiment Tiberi and Pisanu died, while the sergeant major De Roma lost the legs and fingers of one hand, while practicing with explosives and artifices of circumstance. Not because they did not have the "ordinance" ones but because you have to know how to get by even when the orthodox and supplied means do not work and are not available. This skill and competence characterizes the continuum training of the raider.

The second is that, although a plethora of "super experts" continue to classify them as such, no one will convince us that the typical activities of the police forces, including military ones, which take place in "metropolitan" territory, intended as a friend, behind the security framework offered by the predominant territorial units that have isolated the place of activity, they can even remotely approach special operations. I refer explicitly to the typical activities of SWAT units.

Hostages are taken in a European capital. The "ordinary" police encircle the area, isolate the building, deploy an impenetrable cordon, control the neighborhood with all the necessary arrangements. It intercepts any communication involving the area by preventing, through jamming, that the goal can be communicated to anyone. With monstrous thermal cameras and specific radars, flown on commercial wheeled vehicles using the city roads, so no one blows them up, they know exactly where the personnel are inside the target. When everything is done by the super-conventional cops and under a strict and rigid control, which would be the envy of the Stasi in East Berlin, there are about twenty dudes all equipped with bulletproof shields, helmets with miner's lanterns, shotguns and death-smashing clubs, with the inevitable mephisto black that is cool and that avoids that the brave agent is recognized by the ever attentive ranks of terrorists, they place the explosives, enter, neutralize the three / four unfortunates and free the hostages.

Very good! But everything is except a special operation. Where is the feature from weak to strong? Where that of hostile and non-permissive environments? Where the jointness by nature? We also have reservations about the importance of the goal, because if the greengrocer under the house is taken hostage by a deranged man who threatens to kill him with an ax or with his grandfather's shotgun, always the usual twenty dudes with mephisto black They are called. The same people who would operate if the most dangerous and powerful terrorist organization took the most important national political figure hostage!

We also have our personal opinion on typical and peculiar procedures. Those who use these particular and unusual procedures, techniques and tactics, in this type of action, are the conventional police experts, those who intercept, those who do jamming, those who recover the plans of the building, those who manage to send information from the cordon that is sometimes essential for the subsequent force action.

The dudes will certainly be excellent shooters and very agile athletes but up to a minute before going into action they could enjoy a nice iced drink inside the shelter used for the preparation of the activity. And at the end of the action, which generally lasts for a few minutes or, at most, a few hours, they quietly return to their homes to take a hot shower and shake off the adrenaline.

A hard, dangerous job, certainly not usual but light years away from that of the raider and from the context of special operations!

Special Operations can be Clandestine or use techniques and procedures Clandestine

NATO defines as illegal "An operation planned or conducted in such a way as to assure secrecy or concealment". In Italian it would translate into secret, reserved.

This approach goes in the direction politically correct of the Alliance. But we are also referring to employment here strictly national special operations, that intended to defend and preserve vital and non-negotiable national interests.

In these cases, the meaning given to clandestinity is that of non-recognition of the paternity of an operation or, if its involvement is recognized, never to reveal the identity of the forces employed or their type.

Who hasn't seen crowds of heavily armed and bearded Western thugs dressed as Panjshir Mujahideen in Afghanistan? And the international conventions? Why weren't they in uniform and they weren't wearing the national insignia?

To give an even more explicit example, you remember the Rainbow Warrior? The ship of Green Peace, sunk on 10 July 1985 in the port of Auckland, Australia. The French initially did not openly admit the operation nor were the identities of the underwater raiders who conducted the activity and who, probably, had been loaned by the Commando Hubert (navy raiders) to the Direction Générale de la Securité Exterieure. Later the New Zealand police and counterintelligence forces discovered much more.

Again to be explicit we could also mention the sabotage attack carried out on April 6, 1979 to blow up the steel hearts of 2 nuclear reactors destined for Iraq in the port of Brégaillon la Seyne. Attack attributed to Mossad which probably employed Israeli Special Forces operators.

If this characteristic can give goosebumps to the purists of correctness, to the orthodox of legality and to those obsessed with magistrates, for those who have a little knowledge, even historical, of Special Operations it is simple and ordinary everyday life. We could also mention "Gladio" and the whole organization stay behind set up after the Second World War but we would risk going too far.

Special Operations, therefore, must know and be able to evolve on the razor's edge, in the gray areas between what is allowed and what is not, between what can be said and what will be peremptorily denied and between the need to respect blindly the national and international laws and regulations and that of going a little further always to defend values ​​and interests that take on absolute priority. Another feature that, among other things, suggests an extremely reduced special device because you know, when more than one knows something, there are already too many!

As a last feature that seems to us to complete a fairly comprehensive picture on special operations, we argue that such activities necessarily involve the deployment of a force in the area of ​​operations to achieve the goal. Even this peculiarity may seem trivial, however, the more technology progresses, the more tempting it is to pass as “special” what is instead part of other, albeit very valuable, activities.

So, for example, a hacker-attack against an objective of strategic value and carried with peculiar and unusual techniques, it could be assimilated to the capture action of Osama Bin Laden. This insidious and cybernetic offensive action often respects also other specific characteristics of the OS: from the weak to the strong, the hostile environment (if we think of the virtual one of the networks), the support of intelligence etc.

Observant readers will think we are joking. Instead, there are those who also try to argue with subtle and shrewd reasoning. The Italian Air Force, for example, we understand that a few years ago tried to pass precision bombing or aerial reconnaissance activities against specific targets as Special Operations, trying to frame them, to all intents and purposes, as Direct Actions o Special Reconnaissance. As always, the Italian Air Force itself tried to attribute the raid indemnity to those who carried out the "air raids", arousing the vibrant responses of the Military Personnel Directorate that he unequivocally specified, with a punctual and cazziante style, what is meant by raider, simultaneously underlining the very evident differences that distinguish such professionalism from that, always of the highest caliber, of the war pilot11.

An administrative document to which we will also use in the continuation of our dissertations to reiterate concepts and truths that often they are deliberately blurred by those who try to confuse because, perhaps, in the fog "All cats are gray"!

1 Special operations create strategic or operational level effects or are executed where significant political risk exists (AJP 3.5);

NATO SOF are strategic assets to be employed to help achieve strategic and specified operational level objectives (AJP 3.5);

2 SOF are commanded through a special operations component command (SOCC) which exist alongside other service or functional component commands with a joint staff to plan and direct special operations (AJP 3.5)

SOF organizational structures are characterized by flat hierarchies designed for rapid decision making (AJP 3.5)

3 Special operations are military activities conducted by specially designated, organized, trained, and equipped forces using distinct techniques and modes of employment. AJP 3.5

4 SOF cannot be mass produced. Competent SOF cannot be created after emergencies occur. www.soc.mil

5 Special operations are, by nature, joint (AJP 3.5)

6 Special operations differ from other operations in the degree of political or military risk, operational techniques, modes of employment, dependence on detailed operational intelligence (INT), and use of indigenous assets (AJP 3.5).

7 High tempo is normally essential to SOF's ability to conduct special operations. Rapid execution of a mission allows SOF to mass precisely tailored combat power at the critical place and time, accomplish the mission and withdraw before the adversary can react (AJP 3.5).

8 The successful conduct of special operations relies on individual and small unit proficiency in a multitude of specialized operational skills applied with adaptability, improvisation, innovation, and self-reliance. The small size, unique capabilities, and self-sufficiency (for limited periods of time) of SOF units provide the Alliance with additional options for a military response that may not entail the risk of escalation normally associated with employment of inherently larger or more visible conventional forces (AJP 3.5)

Special operations also rely on individual competencies / talents and small unit proficiency in a multitude of specialized operational skills such as adaptability, improvisation, innovation, self-reliance and their adaptable planning capabilities (AJP 3.5)

9 SOF personnel undergo a careful selection process and mission-specific training beyond basic military skills to achieve entry-level special operations skills (AJP 3.5).

10 Special operations are normally conducted in uncertain, hostile, or politically sensitive environments. These operations may be conducted using clandestine capabilities / techniques and require mature and highly trained operators (AJP 3.5).

11 A raider department is an operational unit responsible for training and employing raid cores or individual raiders. The Raider is a specially selected military, qualified and continuously trained to achieve a military objective in an area controlled by the opponent by covert infiltration on land, in / from the sea or from the air, with or without special means. He is an operator who is at the same time paratrooper, rock climber, diver, expert in weapons, underwater and surface vehicles, special neutralization tools, explosives, martial arts, electronic and communications tools. The training for the raider belonging to a raid department is daily, in rotation in one or more of the disciplines of which he must maintain full capacity. " (...)

"... You cannot include in the meaning of raiders - as it could be understood by a careless reading of the aforementioned rule - even personnel participating in an air raid". (...)

"The air raid, being an activity of penetration by air vehicles (real in enemy territory or training in an area classified as hostile) for the purpose of reconnaissance, offense or confusion, cannot be assimilated to the activity of the raider that takes place in the environment and with completely different means, purposes and preparation "(...)


Photo: Author / US Air Force / Bundesarchiv / US Navy / Italian Army / Royal Navy / US DoD / US Air National Guard