The Army on 2 wheels: logistical roles for motorcycles

(To Gianluca Celentano)

As we have seen over the years, the motorcycle as an individual means of tactical transport has been massively supplanted by motor vehicles, certainly more versatile and with greater loading possibilities, as well as safer. However, the two wheels were not completely discharged from the armed force, but used for specific tasks not strictly warlike and theassignment 48, motorcyclist moviere, appears in the long list of the duties of the military.

The Cagiva T4 and w12 arrive

Currently on the army website the motorcycle is no longer displayed among the logistic vehicles, but the Cagivas are still present in some barracks. In reality, the militarization project of the civilian Cagiva Ala Rossa 350 dates back to 1983. At that time the Cagiva motorcycle company founded in Varese in the 50s was already famous for the quality of its motorcycles which became even more famous with the countless victories in competitions. and for participation in the Paris-Dakar.

The name Cagiva comes from the union of three acronyms, the name of the founder and the location of the company, that is, Castiglioni Giovanni Varese. His T4 produced since 1987 was the first enduro reserved for the military world extrapolated from the E version, the most rustic of Red Wing, but it was its w12 evolution developed from 1991 that was marketed in several armies, including the Armée Française (photo below).

Its layout and structure were modern and extremely elastic and robust and, as propulsion, the choice fell on the super-square 4-valve single cylinder of 343 cc with a bore of 82 mm and a stroke of 65. It arrived in the regiments in the mid-90s. as a vehicle assigned to the command teams and for exploratory tasks in the logistics departments.

The scarce news that can be had on the w12 would still see it chosen in the cavalry and paratroop regiments as it is equipped with supports for the air-launch. Undoubtedly a means of exploration with very few demands and ideal for inaccessible areas.

From the trenches to the logistic and emergency service

After the fall of the Berlin wall and with the out-of-area mission in Bosnia in 1995, the Italian Army was forced to drastically change its organization.

Even with investments not up to the needs it is (and it will be) called to intervene, the vehicle sector has always been among those most in the spotlight of a renewal: it must be updated and made more efficient, specific and professional, with a more flexible and less formal mentality.

These are the needs to adapt to the international framework, while at the national level training and updating are increasing becoming essential for the specific culture and safety of the operators.

A video of the 6th Alpine Regiment shot in 2019 shows us the training steps for running the Cagiva T4 which initially include lessons in compliance with the highway code to understand the familiarity of the students with the two-wheeled vehicle especially thanks to the repeated slalom between skittles closer and closer. Then the stakes are raised and we move on to the dirt road and to driving standing on the platforms in flat and then inclined paths.

Along with the paths full of boulders comes the mud and the soldiers wear camouflage, helmet and reflective orange jacket followed a short distance by the VM90 with the instructor on board in radio contact with them.

But that's not all, there is also driving at night, even more careful in theoff-road. It is important to know how to fall in these conditions without getting hurt and to know how to get the bike back on its feet with the least effort. Finally, the long-awaited examination that will sanction which Alpine will be licensed or not.

The Alpini are testers and precursors of other innovations towards two wheels which, as we will see, in the tactical field still seem to have something to offer.

Even before the beginning of the new millennium, the use of the post office or the dispatch holder has mostly given way to the internet, while the logistics sector has seen (perhaps to test a new method) the use of the Cagiva 350. as a technical escort vehicle to support the road travel of heavy tactical and logistic vehicles. A concept that correlatively highlighted how the characteristics of an enduro motorcycle can be suitable for reaching homes and people after major natural disasters, on a par with air service.

A driver tells

The family of drivers is also among the most active on social networks where I have the opportunity to meet corporal Alberto Piccinini ex vfp1 of the 3rd blc 2006.

Alberto, now 35, is from Tortona and is willing to tell me about his interesting military experience as a motorcyclist in the barracks. After the RAV at the 85th of Verona at the age of 19, he was assigned to the 1st transport regiment of Bellinzago Novarese and precisely in the 2nd transport btg in the CT company, traffic control. A perfect destination for Alberto and a consistent professional identification by the Army in terms of duties and motivation.

Alberto comes from a family of truck drivers, he is used to working with vehicles and is happy to continue the tradition. The 1st regiment is the right place to obtain the license mod. 3 after assignment toassignment 48, motorcyclist moviere. He tells me that he spent most of the service doing "scouting" and argues that the figure of the moviere is a sort of special policeman of the army.

Organization of the service

In a specialized department of Tramat, the procedure provides that, before ordering the movement of a heavy convoy, the marshal in charge of the CT orders the movieri motorcyclists to make an inspection along the route, also reporting via radio all the variables of the journey, reporting any dangers such as architectural boundaries, bridges, power lines or waterways. There is no single route but several variants for the safety of residents and the goods transported. For example, when transporting dangerous goods in ADR (as required by the CdS and ADR directives) the itinerary undergoes changes or is escorted, having instead to transfer a bulky trailer (tanks) or Shelter, it is essential to understand in addition to obstacles, the possibilities of maneuvering but also the conditions of the road surface, as Alberto tells me. For example, in the presence of swampy areas, it is essential to insert one or more vehicles with a winch in advance in the transfer.

Equipment and activities

Alberto tells me that the uniform of the moviere was not the classic camouflage, but green trousers with suspenders and a jacket with a helmet and intercom to which were added (at least in 2006) goggles, a kit very similar to that of the tankers, but with the addition of reflective handguards. He confesses that the helmet and intercom are not comfortable at all, but he hopes that since 2006 the equipment has been updated.

When there is a green light from the command, the convoy leaves; here the role of the moviere is to supervise the advancement of the vehicles or the column if authorized by means of a technical escort. In some cases one is armed with a Beretta SC70 / 90 shotgun and a white / red paddle badge. You travel on a Cagiva w12 equipped with a yellow flashing light and a radio holder plate. The movieri motorcyclists are also trained to carry out alternating one-way streets in case of need by promptly alerting the drivers of heavy vehicles such as ACTL SM 44.30 BAD.

Even today, the Transport and Materials School is responsible for educating and training the personnel responsible for the use and use of vehicles, dangerous goods and materials. For this reason the appellation of "autiere" (specific assignment) is still used, but the members of Tramat can also be called "logisticians".

A praise and an opinion

Corporal Alberto Piccinini proudly shows me the beret that has kept the fold and the pin of autiere and also shares with me a eulogy from September 2007 signed by the then ten. with the. Tramat C. Sirocchi. Another competence of Piccinini emerges, that of radio amateur carried out for a long time in his past in civil protection. In his he battalion, at the request of the company commander he had assisted, he suggested an optimization for the department's communications in the era of system update Su 06 of the projection logistics brigade.

Being an expert truck driver aboard his Volvo FH, before saying goodbye he wants to release his opinion on the type of service in force in those years, promoting the bike and showing himself skeptical about Quad 4x4s. “The Quad, even on 4 wheels, is not as safe as a motorcycle. In fact, at the start it tears and it is not difficult for it to wheelies also, where a motorcycle passes, the Quad does not go. I believe that a movieri team should have a motorcycle and a Side by Side (mini 4x4 protected with a winch) that is much more versatile in off-road operations ".

Will there be a new role for two wheels in the Army?

Read the first part "The Army on two wheels: from bicycles to motorcycles"

Read second part "The Army on 2 wheels: motorization expands"

Read the second part (bis) "The Army on 2 wheels: The success of motorbikes “Throbbing Irrrompo"

(Fourth and last part follows)

Photo: Italian Army