Enduring Freedom: nineteen years ago Nave Garibaldi left for the mission in the Middle East

(To Marina Militare)

“General maneuvering post”. The first ship to head out of the obstructions of the port of Taranto was Nave Zefiro. They followed her in line in a row Ship Aviere, Ship Etna and finally Nave Garibaldi. Their silhouettes became less and less clear until they disappeared on the horizon.

On November 18, 2001, the Navy officially took part in the international operation Enduring Freedom, with Italy joining a multinational coalition - formed after the attack on the Twin Towers on 11 September - which had as its main purpose the fight against terrorism by Al Qa'ida.

The use in Enduring Freedom of Nave Garibaldi together with Etna, Zephyr e Aviere it fully represented the multipurpose and "genetically projectable" nature of the Armed Force. The possibility of making use of military tools of this level, capable of expressing a wide spectrum of capabilities at short notice and for prolonged periods, even in basins very distant from those of normal gravitation, characterized by diversified and heterogeneous operational scenarios, tells in full the character expeditionary by nature of the Navy. On that mission, Nave Garibaldi he embarked men, vehicles and aircraft ready for action at any time and from any position, operating in unusual waters and building a real floating operational base at sea consisting of the complex of capabilities residing in the units of the Italian naval group engaged in the mission.

The expression of this characteristic during this first deployment in the Arabian Sea allowed the four units of the naval group, integrated into the US device, to carry out merchant traffic control and aerotactic support missions to the forces operating on the Afghan territory with the aircraft embarked on the Garibaldi. During the operation the AV8B of the Garibaldi they performed 288 missions for a total of 860 flight hours, Ship Etna made a total of 80 logistical supplies (fuel, ammunition and food) to the coalition's naval units, while Zephyr e Aviere they carried out 852 interrogations to merchant units in transit in that area and inspected 8, as well as conducting numerous escorts to coalition naval units. In what was born as "Global war against Terrorism", the Navy has guaranteed stability and security to the maritime communication routes in the entire Middle East region by implementing "Maritime Security Operations" to counter piracy, control merchant traffic in transit between the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean and escorting the coalition units, recording over 56 thousand engine hours for a total of 641.079 nautical miles.

The commitment and the value put in place during those operations were worth, on 26 October 2006, the conferral of the AV-8B aircraft to eight pilots Harrier of the US "Air Medal", approved by President Bush with the following motivation: for the effective and meritorious aerial activities carried out by Nave Garibaldi in support of the international coalition in the "Enduring Freedom" operation in Afghanistan in the period January - February 2002.

In the five years that followed, the Navy was continuously an active and fundamental part of the operation with the alternation of 14 other naval units. Almost twenty years after the start of the operation, the Navy continues to express its intrinsic capacity expeditionary in inter-force and international contexts, guaranteeing maritime safety with the means and professionalism of its crews.