The Special Forces

(To Tiziano Ciocchetti)

“We are not a special unit just because we have a glorious, epic past, nor can the adjective special be enough to justify the allocation of huge economic resources that see us, within the national military sector, as the first users. We are not better because we can access the most efficient and technologically advanced material. This presumed superiority cannot be motivated by the unconventional procedures employed, nor is it enhanced in the tremendously selective psycho-physical tests or tests.

Our essence finds profound and concrete fulfillment only if the aspects just mentioned are shaped on aware, mature men, proud of being part of a community with an authoritative leadership that creates a sense of belonging. Otherwise there is only failure. Only in this way is it possible to fully indulge in a professional idea aimed at a higher goal. Only in this way is it possible to expect the most extreme sacrifice from these young people ”.

(Extract from the book by Mario Chima, Caimano 69. Sand and dust)


The second topic that we necessarily face in our examination of the "special" world are the units, the forces, the men who are appointed to conduct this type of operations. In part we introduced the theme when we described the special operations but here we propose to deepen it by touching on areas, details and details that, although not always widespread and popular, seem indispensable to us to make a difference and not to remain in the vague, nebulous and superficial context of many articles and books already published and known.

Surely, in fact, we are not original because rivers of ink have been spilled on the unconventional units and fascinating and captivating films have been made that, especially in recent years, have invaded the world of the big and small screen, without forgetting the electronic games of astounding realism that, perhaps for reasons of marketing, refer more and more to this now over-exploited sector. Everyone knows almost everything and even the kids who compete online in grueling matches of "Call of Duty" (frame) or "Special Forces Group 2", they choose the tactics, procedures and weapons of their contests with more wealth, precision and awareness than a professional in the field.

Therefore, aware of the ambitious expectations of the public, we are going to describe and comment on our opinions, confirming immediately, and in line with what has already been published, the selective, elitist and exclusive nature of what we are going to exhibit. Deference, in fact, is not part of our nature and we believe that in this, as in other areas of primary importance, having aroused the indignation of some readers is part of a game that, if it is to be sincere and correct, cannot please everyone.

The Special Forces

Special Forces are those specifically organized, selected, trained, equipped, motivated and gifted forces that, using specific techniques and innovative procedures, conduct special operations. A definition that is found in every military publication or similar and which, in itself, means almost nothing and does nothing but resume and re-propose, in a vicious cycle, the definition of special operations1.

However, what immediately transpires is that the definition immediately puts special forces in direct and one-to-one correlation with special operations. Forces are seen as a "tool", as a "means", as a necessary and indispensable expedient for carrying out a specific action.

Another factor that emerges immediately is the specific, dedicated, convergent and univocal nature of these units. They are not taken at random; they come from nothing; they are of no use for anything else e are not dual use, as much would like some personalities who have also assumed prominent positions in the defense panorama and who dream of disarming those who, on the other hand, have made a profession of weapons and who, due to their peculiar ability to use them, even if only potentially, perform an irreplaceable service to favor of the state.

There is no doubt that without these dedicated and specific handpieces special operations would not exist and could not be carried out. And this should already open a reflection on those units which, while defining themselves Special forces, are used in totally conventional situations, contexts and missions. But this topic, already mentioned in our precedents Articles, will be deepened when we deal with the national panorama.

Therefore, the raiders are born as such, they are selected and trained to perform those tasks and for those tasks they train and prepare themselves throughout their operational life. Contrary to what some may think, they are extremely specialized assets and, as such, they must be employed in accordance with their preparation and vocation. What they prepare for, and the way in which they do it, differs substantially and profoundly from what other soldiers do who, not surprisingly, are not considered as the main actors in the implementation of special operations. Nobody would dream of employing a diver or a fighter pilot, both in operational service, for anything other than for the specific assignment to which they are dedicated, but when it comes to Special Forces the idea of ​​being able to use them with the tactics of "parsley “That is, a little everywhere and for everything - so it never hurts - it is a temptation that has already captivated many military leaders of the highest rank.

As the accessible doctrine of the Alliance states, the SF are strategic assets2 and no one who had read this definition could even imagine using such an important tool for purposes that are not also strategic. And precisely because they do different things with equally different procedures, they are inserted in a dedicated and separate chain of command, as far as the term is concerned, from the conventional one.3

But leaving the purely doctrinal sphere and examining those particularly structured and efficient realities in the sphere of special operations, we have stigmatized what seem to us to be the main characteristics of this unit.

First of all i USEFULL. The units of raiders are by definition small4 and the requirements for joining are extremely selective. They are not used "massively" or for conventional activities, they do not guard the territory or sensitive objectives and there is therefore no need to dispose of them in significant quantities, much less as Quick Reaction Force and there is therefore no need to scatter them in the various contingents hoping that they can act as a panacea for any unpleasant situation.

These departments are also particularly expensive and burdensome, the individuals who are part of them need a long and dedicated period of training.5, constant training and special and dedicated structures, garrisons and training areas that also perform the function of protection, guaranteeing their isolation, confidentiality and discretion. They are equipped and equipped with the state of the art of war instruments and armaments available and, for this reason, they require constant, demanding and burdensome attention, including financial. No nation has the capacity and resources to produce in quantity, as long as it wants to count on the best that training techniques, technology, science and innovation can guarantee, without ever lowering the bar and be seduced by numbers rather than quality. They are like a formula one team: two cars on the track are more than enough if, at each Grand Prix, at least one of them gets on the podium.

Another reason for being very few is dictated by the efficiency of the instrument: as we have already underlined in the article dedicated to Special Operations, in a " work"Effective and efficient special operations, for each raider, 3 to 6 soldiers must be dedicated to work for him in terms of command and control, logistics, tactical support, flight support and airspace control, space support, transmission support and electronic warfare, projection support etc… So, if the total force of raiders I can count on is 700 men, I will have to have 2100 to 4200 dedicated to support them. These numbers are already eloquent in themselves and explain, in a rational and pragmatic way, why the Special Forces must be very small. Provided that, in the hypothetical Grand Prix, the goal is to get on the podium and not to be content with just making so much unnecessary noise on the track.

In order to corroborate what has been asserted with practical and real examples that make the entity of the quantities involved really understand, let's go for a quick examination of some very famous Special Operations.

On the night between 18 and 19 December 1941, raiders of the Navy carried out the Alexandria Enterprise, to the detriment of the British fleet in the Mediterranean, writing a culminating finale for the GA3 operation.6 In support of them, however, there was a submarine with its crew, facilities and Navy intelligence men, who had begun their studies and analyzes 6 months prior to the action, and all men and technical facilities. , logistic, training that allowed to prepare the raid.

In February 1943 about ten raiders of the 10th regiment arditi under the command of Lieutenant Bartolini blew up the objective of primary importance that had been assigned to them (railway viaduct over the Wadi Boudo-vaou in Algeria). In their support, in addition to the men and the intelligence and logistic training structures, the submarine Malachite and all its crew which was sunk on the way back a few miles off Cagliari.

The "Thalatine" operation conducted by the French COS in Somalia in 2008 as a retaliation following the seizure (with ransom payment) of the luxury sailing ship "Ponent" involved the use of a total of approximately 20 raiders in the face of a support of the whole Commendement des Opérations Spéciales, 2 frigates, a helicopter carrier, 4 helicopters, 2 Transall aircraft and 2 Atlantique aircraft, SIGINT and COMINT satellite assets7 not to mention the arrangements for diplomatic relations and with the armory.

Operation Tunderbolt conducted by the Israelis in Entebbe.

Also in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2014 the Special Forces task groups employed by the various contributing nations had a number of raiders ranging from a few dozen to a maximum of 50-60. Even in that context, there was a dedicated Command that supported these units and the structured countries deployed, in support of these TFs, tactical support units, dedicated flight assets, intelligence units (also creating specific intelligence fusion cells) and also specifically oriented ISR arrangements (including structures for the interpretation of the products provided by the sensors).

We could continue with similar examples but we believe we have comprehensively covered the sector. We therefore ask ourselves what are the operational motivations that in some countries, including ours, push the race to multiply the departments of Special Forces or similar without, however, simultaneously and proportionally strengthening the departments and support structures that, instead, from a objective analysis, would seem the truly essential and discriminating element. What, if we were Anglo-Saxon doctrinals, we would define the "Critical Capability" of the special operations system.

Another feature that instantly catches the eye are the allocations. The equipment constitutes a unicum with the operator. In fact, the ability to conduct missions to the limit of the impossible is conferred by the extreme preparation and professionalism of the individuals developed in synergetic harmony with the state of the art of the equipment and endowments. Often the units are directly connected with avant-garde industrial realities that produce, covered by a bed of secrecy and researching and experimenting in synergy with the raiders, the equipment that will have to employ the unconventional units. Often the equipment is only suitable for certain environments, for specific operational tactical situations and for single types of mission and the operators must therefore have it available in numbers proportional to their flexibility and ductility of use.

If you want to aim for levels of excellence, there is no solution "One size fits all". As in Formula One, the same car must be able to be coupled with dozens of different tires depending on atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity, track type and hundreds of other variables. And it is the tires that often make the difference. Show up at the Grand Prix with a "Rubber good for any eventuality" because you do not have the resources for an adequate tire park - because perhaps they were spent to put 4 or 6 cars on the track in addition to the canonical 2 racing cars - it means lose inevitably! And hence the insult, as well as the damage: not only do you spend enormously to put 4 or 6 cars in the circuit, but you are also sure of losing. Of course, if the aim is not to win but to make unnecessary noise on the track, the problem changes perspective.

Another distinctive sign compared to conventional units is the remuneration. As in any sector of excellence, the salary follows the law of the market: the lower the number of people able to carry out a task in the presence of an ever-increasing demand for this professionalism, the greater the remuneration for these few experts. Moreover, given the narrowness of the numbers (provided that the policy of limited numbers is followed), the high emoluments do not involve a particular outlay for the state coffers in the face of the elitist service provided. On the other hand, generous disbursements by the Public Administration for the benefit of certain categories considered indispensable have also characterized the recent past, as demonstrated by the so-called “pilots decree”.

The adequately high salary is an incentive for continuity. Whoever makes the raid finds work without difficulty in a thousand other structures for a remuneration that is often much more conspicuous. The training of the raider costs a lot in economic terms, resources and time and, once formed, the Armed Force must ensure that the investment made can adequately yield, absolutely avoiding constraints and constraints, such as mandatory stops or similar, which would go to undermine the reliability of the operator. The pay also compensates for the constant risk and permanent availability typical of raiding departments. The constant commitment in the period of operation involves heavy inconveniences such as the impossibility (or almost) to have a family, to enjoy a holiday when desired and to devote oneself to passions and hobbies personal. In addition, the fee also covers, although only partially, the constant risk to which personnel are exposed during training and operations.

Another factor that is not negligible and well implemented by many nations that attribute wages to members of the Special Forces that often exceed the pay of conventional comrades by 30%, is the factor of minimum requirements: those who do not adapt to the standards of the department are immediately dismissed in awareness that the exit from the sector also implies the definitive loss of significant emoluments. This procedure constitutes a motivator, although not the only one, for aspirants and a stimulus for those who are already operational in order to always maintain physical and professional requirements up to the task.

In addition to the purely economic factor, in many nations the raiders also benefit from a much more generous and comprehensive treatment as regards the possibility, for themselves and their families, of health assistance, of access to higher and university studies, of re-employment in the civil life, the usufruct of military accommodation in the service centers, access to sports, cultural and recreational facilities, and to be able to benefit from a privileged and early pension.

The constant, hard, realistic training it is also the reason for living of the raiding departments. There is no room for anything else! Either you are in operations or you are in training! And any other activity diverts time and resources from these two irreplaceable and necessary occupations. Movements to and from the training areas, technical breaks, interruptions for license periods of employees and / or managers, ceremonies, unavailability of aircraft or supports, family or ordinary life needs are coarse-grained sand in the gears of the raiding departments.

This reality was immediately noticed by the visionary Admiral McRaven who, in his "USSOCOM Posture statement"Of 2012, already provided for the construction of training areas adjacent to the garrisons of the raiders and a whole series of measures to support of families and specific professional paths of the staff of the sector8 (especially of the "leaders") With the ultimate aim of having greater availability of their men, freeing them from concerns, obligations, courses, needs, not directly connected to those strictly professional. If, in fact, the state of the art of the equipment is a necessary compendium for victory, the key to success lies in the individual and in his qualities and preparation.9.

also the standards conventional ones constitute a constraint and a brake. Exceptional performance in operations cannot be claimed based on conventional training rules. As if Hamilton were asked to win the Grand Prix, however, limiting him to train, like the aspiring driver of a taxi, in an urban route open to traffic and in full compliance with the highway code. Not that the taxi, with its driver, is not an indispensable means of city life - it is certainly more so than Hamilton and his custom-built cars - but the two "drivers", although both with a steering wheel in hand, do a job different and must therefore be trained according to distinct and separate rules and principles.

Another milestone in all countries of the world to become part of the Special Forces and a serious one, careful and merciless selection. Taking up the job of the raider is not something for everyone and not all soldiers have the characteristics to do so precisely because the activity to which they are dedicated in these departments is substantially different from that of the conventional world. Often, commitment and will are not enough, but qualities are needed that either one has or is difficult to achieve. The selection, therefore, is very accurate also because it avoids unnecessary waste of resources and is an indispensable guarantee of safety.10.

Each raider puts his life in the hands of his comrade on a daily basis and we must ensure, with all reasonable certainty, that those are clearly "good hands".

The selective path must be based on access requirements which must include the physical, aptitude and professional aspect. If the first and the last are easy enough to measure why they are based on performances objective the attitude always remains a problematic bed to be evaluated. The raiders, in fact, must demonstrate stability, adaptability, tenacity, ease of learning, ability to withstand physical and psychological stress, acceptance of risk, willingness to live in extremely disadvantaged conditions and willful predisposition to change and innovation.

The selection, precisely because it is complex, articulated and also aimed at evaluating qualities that are not easy to measure, must be long. It cannot therefore be reduced only to the initial stages of education but must continue throughout the training period to guarantee a product that is certainly adequate for the needs. This also excludes that a patent as a raider, unlike other qualifications, can be considered as the sum of various qualifications taken in an indefinite period of time. A corset today, one in two or three years, a qualification in five and, in the end, after 10-15 years the patent is delivered because the expected curriculum It is completed. If this method can be suitable for a university of the third age, it is certainly not compatible with the world of those who make special operations a profession.

In many countries the selection is certainly faster than the national reality but, generally speaking, they are nations based on Armed Forces that guarantee average quality levels of the highest level. To enter the Italian Army as VFP1, for example, the physical tests are not invalidating but only give an incremental score. That is, a fat man who does not pass even one of the 4 very mild physical tests provided can still wear the stars if he perhaps recites Dante, knows how to calculate or remembers the day, month and year in which Napoleon died. And we are so convinced of this practice that, only a few years ago, by ministerial decision, all the directives and provisions that allowed serious measures to be taken against military personnel who exceeded the weight were suspended and, finally, substantially resized. If we then think that the transition from VFP1 to VFP4, in the Italian reality, is essentially based on the ability to respond to a quizzone rather than on the physical, professional and experiential skills acquired, we realize that the winners of the competition will mainly be those who have had time to study the thesaurus questions rather than athletes, shooters, daredevils or technicians of specific sectors. And this is also why in Italy a good 30-35% of the volunteers for the special forces sector leave the selections in the first 3-4 days when the tests, the real ones, have yet to begin. On the sole announcement that they will have to spend 2 weeks without a watch or a mobile phone, 20% of the brave aspiring raiders abandon the selective path. This is the basic level of the Italian soldier and, from this, it is necessary to start.

Selection also implies the concept of Voluntariness as it must be applied to absolutely and convinced voluntary subjects. Even the daring ones of 1917 were, just as they are all over the world! Curious and controversial, in this regard, the legislation on recruitment in the Army which places the "Power module”To the wishes of the aspirant. In a nutshell, if during a selection there were 10 candidates and all passed all the tests and requested to be a raider, their voluntariness would be overridden by the criteria for filling the staff - the so-called "feeding module"11. A principle that would seem to have been studied at the table by strategists of generalized weakness and an equally yielding front on all its breadth and which helps to demotivate those who have the qualities and potential to aspire to the best. Moreover, this principle has led in the past to voluntary renunciations of personnel who, despite having passed the selections, preferred to return to the original department rather than be assigned to a unit not to their liking.

Finally, another worry and constant complaint in almost all the armed forces in the world is the opinion according to which the special forces would drain the other departments of all the best resources and the most trained men. And on this, if the recruiting system really worked, there would be nothing wrong with it. First of all, because if the requirement of very limited numbers that characterizes the raiding departments (which on average cover 03% - 04% of the total of the Armed Forces) were respected, this drainage would be marginal and would be justified by a prioritization of the needs. Furthermore, we do not share the concept of "best resources". Whoever makes the raid is not "better" than whoever engages in other activities, possibly he is peculiar. You can be excellent logisticians, exceptional naval mechanics, irreplaceable airspace controllers, incomparable Alpine and consolidated air axes without having the characteristics to overcome the selections as a raider.

Finally, since the raiding departments of "black holes" are not devouring everything, this incoming flow should be balanced by the equal outgoing flow of those who have finished their operational life and can pour valuable experience into other conventional departments that inevitably can take great advantage of these professionals. These flows, theoretically, should work very well, in reality, at least in the national panorama, there are various problems - such as the dragging of the allowance - which we intend to analyze in a future article.

As with operations, special forces must also be Joint, or organized by pre-selling all the components and domains of their use12. This does not exclude their garrison organization divided by armed force, but their use, and therefore also their training, must be mainly joint according to the principle "train as you fight". Furthermore, as I also had the opportunity to comment in one of the previous articles, all the most famous raiding departments on the international scene share a chromosomal aspect. These departments, and the men who are part of them, are united by a particular genome which has shaped itself with history, with the extraordinary operations conducted, with the dead in combat and in training, with the experiments gone bad, with the defeats suffered, with the frustrations deriving from being considered reckless, with the air of ironic superiority with which they are often treated ... we do not forget that the self-contained breathing apparatus and the slow-running torpedo designed and proposed by Teseo Tesei with very limited resources were deeply underestimated by the Regia Super Marina due to the decision of some know-it-all and conventional admiral who he believed more in battleships than in some fanciful, bizarre and unlikely frogman. So, whether it is the daring of Messe and Rizzo's torpedo boats, the men of Stirling or the commandos of Karl Student, these departments have their roots in history by descending directly from those who, for more than a century - or at least several dozen years - he has tried his hand at planning and carrying out actions at the limit of the reasonable.

Another characteristic that can be perceived by observing the panorama of structured countries is the size "digital"Of these units, in the" electronic "sense of the term: as in binary technology, in fact, either you are zero or you are one, zero point five does not pass! Here too, the NATO doctrine, which has always been forcibly and deliberately inclusive, introduces various levels of capabilities for SOF units which, while on the one hand are understandable in a perspective of combined use of forces coming from various national force providers, on the other hand, it is in contrast with the very definition of these assets. How can I consider a strategic asset if it only partially has the capabilities it should possess? But NATO is above all a political alliance and its first priority is not to dissociate, crumble and disarticulate the Alliance itself, which requires ainclusiveness a priori even at the expense of purely technical-military effectiveness and efficiency.

When, in 2007, the NATO SOF Coordination Center (which then evolved into NATO SOF Headquarter) employed by the charismatic Admiral McRaven, one of the first worries to be resolved was to find a way to include in the SOF circle all the members of the Alliance, without exception, also attracting the smaller countries with negligible armed forces and almost non-existent special forces capabilities. From a political point of view, this approach was successful but the contributions made by these realities in operations had very little relevance and could only be used in a context in which other formations provided the essential skills they lacked.

The main difference was seen in the first operational theater in which NATO SOF HQ played a role: Afghanistan. In this context, in fact, the nations structured from a Special Operations point of view such as the USA, UK, AUS and FRA, and which also had national interests and political will to achieve certain objectives, had already deployed their forces independently and autonomously. Task Forces acting under national aegis. The other timid nations, on the other hand, only later responded to the call of the Alliance by going to fill the Combined Joint Statement Of Requirement13 than in the various Force Generation Conference Brussels sponsored, each providing a small and often laughable slice of capacity. And in operations, without intelligence, the aircraft Rotary e Fixed Wings, the means for land mobility, the ISR assets and, often, also the QRF provided mainly by the USA, the small units supplied by these countries would have been essentially unusable. In reality, they operated marginally, almost as "workers" because no nation has ever sold the paying and value goals to others Task Forces that internally did not possess the skills to identify them, follow them and hit them. No fisherman tells you where to catch the best prey because it took years and time and resources to find those stalls, and so it works even in the unconventional world.

At the end of this roundup in which we tried to highlight the qualities of the incursor units, we face the certainly important issue of resources. The problem of the funds available in the defense budgets and the now chronic underfunding of the Armed Forces, especially in the period of world crisis that characterized the post-2008, also affects the environments of the Special Forces. Here, too, the answers were different, depending on the various nations and their primary interests in terms of defense policy and strategy. In some, transversal cuts were made which inevitably also affected the raiding departments, in others, these same departments nevertheless saw their budgets, interest and overall resources made available grow.

Especially in Italy this issue is very heartfelt and the comments of many readers and many soldiers when it comes to raiding departments often focus on the consideration that, despite the generalized reductions in resources that has affected all the armed forces without distinction, the gap between what is allowed to the raiders and how little is left for the others is excessive. And this inevitably leads to a race to become all "special" or, if you like, "half raiders" in the hope that some remnants of big bucks can also be drawn for their own benefit.

If one can only express solidarity with this disconcerting reality, it is nevertheless necessary to underline the different approach that could and, in our opinion, should be adopted in these situations.

Always resorting to the metaphor with Formula One, to which we have assimilated the raiding departments, what stands out is the purpose for which racing cars are put on the track. In fact, there is no need for mere presence in the speed circuits but the main objective, and I would say unique and paying, for a formula one team is to get on the podium. Only this result guarantees "customer satisfaction" and therefore the returns on investment in terms of visibility, image, fame, ensuring the "loyalty" of the public: if Ferrari wins, some tycoons will buy the red racing cars but the mass of consumers he will buy caps, sweaters, pens, and various devilry items with the emblem of the prancing horse because this symbol represents a winning team, united, at the forefront from a technological point of view. This condition will also benefit the largest group that finances Ferrari but produces commercial vehicles for the sole purpose of creating profit.

So, if in case of resource scarcity I can afford to make sometimes dramatic choices in a large company that produces commercial cars, such as the dismissal of employees, the reduction of production lines and plants, the optimization of commercial networks. etc .... underfunding the Formula One team, thus inevitably precluding the achievement of the sole purpose that justifies its existence - the podium - would entirely frustrate its reason for existing.

Similarly, precisely because the raiding departments serve to protect the highest and most indispensable national interests and precisely because special operations do not grant the right of reply, having a special operations system with narrow gauge or only partial capacity because it is underfunded is absolutely useless. Indeed counterproductive! In addition to the damage, in fact, this absurd condition also generates insult. If the OS system is not always at 180% and able to conduct the activities to which it is assigned with the greatest probability of success, it loses the reason to exist and totally nullifies investments in the sector. Better not to have it then. Rather than spend a fortune to keep on track a hard-shelled custom-built car that never wins, it is better to leave it alone and dedicate yourself to something else. A principle which, on the other hand, does not apply to a large group that produces motor vehicles and which has profit motives that justify its existence.

Equip yourself with raiding departments, like racing in Formula 1, it is not mandatory and no doctor prescribes it. While renouncing the Armed Forces is impossible, at least for a state that wants to survive and does not want to totally abdicate its national sovereignty. The Baltic States are well aware of this and, not having adequate Air Forces, they have asked the Atlantic Alliance to take care of the defense of their skies, while at the same time giving up a good portion of sovereignty and control of their national spaces. And it is equally true that having these departments does not attribute either fame or reputation. Even in the automotive world, there are manufacturers that produce excellent cars and have a market that is more than appreciated even without seeing their racing cars represented in the various Grand Prix. So, if the decision is to have a system Special Operations the complex must reach the maximum possible expression.

In a nutshell, either you have a special operation system that represents the state of the art of preparation, training, operation, technology, equipment and response capacity or, better not to have it and dedicate those precious resources to something else. Unfortunately, in the sector, as already illustrated when talking about the digital and binary dimension of the special forces, the middle paths produce nothing but disasters. Not having infinite resources, it is possible to think about the dimensions of the special instrument but not about its completeness, effectiveness and capacity in all its components. On the other hand, if the raiders are actually "very few" as they should actually be, the overall system will also be extremely limited and reasonably onerous.

National Panorama

In Italy, the special component is made up of 4 groups of units that are distinct from each other and characterized by different functions and tasks.

  1. a Joint Forces Command for Special Forces Operations (COFS): single command responsible for the conception, planning, readiness and conduct and special operations, training and joint national and multinational exercises of the special component and the definition of special forces standards. Furthermore, the COFS commander is the main interlocutor of the SMD chief for the use of the special component.

  2. a tax rate Tier 1 - raiding departments: specifically appointed to perform all tasks envisaged by NATO (Direct Actions, Special Reconnaissance e Military Assistance) is national tasks which, as far as we know, have recently increased since two new national tasks would have been added to those of Strategic Reconnaissance e Hostages Release Operations that we already knew.

  3. An aliquot of wards Tier 2: in charge of absolving only i tasks envisaged by NATO and support departments Tier 1;

  4. An aliquot of wards Tier 3, to support special operations.

The description above, which comes from an official publication to which we have already referred14, already provides some clarity in a rather confused national panorama fueled by stories, chatter, sites Internet of dubious origin and rumors that deviate from what is instead the objective reality. However, we intend to analyze in detail the special national component in a future article, hoping to update all readers also with details that arise from the novelization of some fundamental directives of the sector.

1 Special operations are those military activities conducted by specifically organized, selected, trained, equipped, motivated and gifted forces that use specific techniques and innovative procedures (see also our dedicated article)

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

3 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)

4 Excluding the reality of the USA, which is very complex and deserving of more in-depth considerations, the special forces tout court of many structured countries represent about 0,3-0,4% of the total number of FAs. If, on the other hand, the "sector" is taken into consideration, that is to say, supports the FS and the dedicated Commands are included, the numbers fluctuate between 1,4% and 2% of the total number of FAs (in reference to nations that have police forces in military organization such as gendarmerie, Guardia Civil, Koninklijke Marechaussee, carabinieri, etc ..., in the number of the FA these staff are not included as they are mainly dedicated and by statute to "internal" tasks).


7 Signal Intelligence and Communication Intelligence

8 Additionally, USSOCOM will continue to work with the Services to secure priority access to local ranges and training areas reducing SOF's need to "travel to train". (...)

USSOCOM is forging a comprehensive leadership development program designed to train, educate, and manage the career paths of future SOF leaders. We will develop tailored SOF professional military education to provide the tools required for today's complex environment, and will work with the Services to more effectively manage career progression of SOF leaders including key combined, joint and interactency assignments. "USSOCOM Posture statement 2012 - Adm. William H. McRaven ".

9 Although SOF often use sophisticated and unique methods and equipment, the key to success lies with the individual operator (AJP 3.5)

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

11 "However, it is specified that the aforementioned" preference "has the value of" desired "and, therefore, No.for the FA for the purposes of assigning the aspirant to the subsequent "Specialized Basic Training Phase", which is the main one for each FS department and, consequently, to the subsequent employment in the relative FS department. In fact, this "preference" will be taken into account subject to the application of the merit criterion represented by the priority of choice in relation to the position held by the candidate in the merit ranking, divided by categories, drawn up at the end of the OBOS Course, without prejudice to the priority application of the "Power Supply Module" established annually by DIPE in relation to organic deficiencies in the FS departments; "


12 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) special operations forces (SOF) are organized in a joint manner with land, maritime and air units from the troop-contributing nations (TCN) s, and other domain capabilities constituting a mission-specific special operations component ( AJP 3.5)

13 A sort of long list of capabilities that the Alliance lacks and that is required of the various contributing nations.

14 "Directive for the strengthening of the Special Forces" 2018 edition cited during the hearing of the COFS commander at the Defense Commission on the "economic treatment of the special forces of the Armed Forces" (

Photo: Italian Army / web / Online Defense / web / US Army