First launch for the GIS War Flag

(To Tiziano Ciocchetti)

Yesterday, a detachment of the GIS (Special Intervention Group) of the carabinieri carried out the first launch, from an AB-412 helicopter, with the War Flag.

Awarded by the President of the Republic Mattarella on 27 October 2020, as recognition for the great value shown by the department in the operating theaters in which it has been engaged in recent years.

Born in 1977 - on the initiative of the then Minister of the Interior Cossiga - to counter international terrorism (as well as domestic terrorism), the GIS drew its staff from the 1st parachute carabinieri battalion Tuscania (this procedure has not been used for some years). While for the specific training in counter-terrorism techniques, the contribution, at national level, of the GOI of the Navy and, at international level, of the German GSG-9 and of the British SAS was used.

The organization of the department was divided into a command core, a administrative section, a sharpshooters section (in his opinion divided into operational detachments) and an unspecified number of combat sections (each of which divided into three operational sections).

One of the most qualified components of the GIS is that of the chosen shooters, as the targeted shooting is essential in situations of hostage-taking or for the elimination of a target in an urban context.

Until the mid-90s the department carried out its activities exclusively on a national basis, the turning point came with the mission Alba in Albania in 1997, later some operators were joined to the MSUs that the Carabinieri deployed first in Bosnia and then, in 1999, in Kosovo. After the events of 11 September, the GIS ensured the escort of the Afghan king Zahir Shah (in exile in Rome) during his stay in Kabul in 2002.

However, Italy's growing commitment to asymmetric warfare required a greater role for GIS. In 2004, therefore, the command of the carabinieri decided to elevate the unit to a special force, establishing the status of raider for the GIS operators. Although administratively dependent on the 2nd mobile brigade of the carabinieri, from an operational point of view the GIS depends on CO.FS (Special Operations Coordination) of Rome.

Posted in Task Strength 45, GIS operators have conducted numerous missions in Afghanistan, together with other Italian and foreign special forces. Worthy of note is the intervention in 2011, together with the GOI raiders, to free a group of 18 aid workers kidnapped by the Taliban in a compound near Herat airport.

The hostages were all released unharmed while the kidnappers were eliminated. A GIS operator, during the attack, was injured, fortunately not seriously.

Currently the GIS is present, with some men, in the Task Strength 44 operating in Iraq against ISIS. Probably the department will soon be employed also in the mission Takuba, in the Sahel, to counter the jihadist militias active in the sub-Saharan region.

Images: Carabinieri weapon