The military of modern day Italy. A (brief) history Italy has a mixed record on warfare since its unification. While they did a good job during the Crimean War (1856) and in Libya, fighting the Ottomans during the Turkish-Italian War (1911) - where the first aerial bombing in history took place - Italy was humiliated at the battle of Adowa, in Ethiopia (1896), a loss they would later avenge in 1935 under the rule of Mussolini. Italy won the First World War or, at least, won on its front by defeating Austria-Hungary, completely destroying the Austro-Hungarian (and German) armies after three years (1915-1918) of bloody fighting over the Alpine arch; this triggered the collapse of the multi-ethnic Austrian-Hungarian Empire. However, Italy - due to a combination of factors such as lack of resources, scarce indutrial production, inadequate equipment, poor training, inept officers, poor logistics and coordination, mutual distrust between allies and... fighting a war it didn't want against an ex-ally it din't want to fight, all while being forcibly allied to Germany, which most Italians despised - did not, as you may have guessed, fare so well in World War Two (1940-1945); it was occupied by both the Germans and the Allies, lost all its overseas possessions and some of its Italian territories. Nowadays, Italy's military consists of the standard features - namely, an Army (Esercito), a Navy (Marina Militare), an Air Force (Aeronautica Militare) and the Carabinieri, military police who also do domestic law enforcement; Italy is a NATO member and its forces have seen combat action in Lebanon, Somalia, Rwanda, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
Italian Law EnforcementItaly has EIGHT police forces, but... we'll only see those with some military relevance. 1) Carabinieri (Carabineers) - Formed in 1815 (before the Unification of Italy: they served in the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont and were inspired by the French Gendarmerie), their names coming from the carbines they used as a weapon. The Carabinieri have been historically the First Corps of the Army, and they were upgraded to full branch (alongside Army, Navy and Air Force) in 2000. The Carabinieri handle serious cases of law-enforcement in Italy, by conducting operations against the mafias and organized crime. During World War II, after the fall of Mussolini, many carabinieri joined the Resistenza, or the Allied forces and fought bravely against the Germans. In more recent times, Carabinieri are often emplyed in peace-keeping operations (Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq). They are also are the butt of many jokes in Italy, which portray them as Book Dumb and simple-minded. ("Why do carabinieri always go around in pairs? Because one can read but can't write and the other can write but can't read!"). This is probably because in the past many lower-class citizens enlisted in order to earn some money for their families; despite this, they are still nicknamed respectfully "L'Arma" ("the Corps") or "La Benemerita" ("the Meritorous") and are well-respected. The ordinary carabiniere uniform is black with a white sash and a red stripe on the trousers; it comes with a black Commissar Cap with a heraldic grenade (with a spread-out flame) in silver on it, definitely a Nice Hat. In the past, their hats were even nicer◊. Of course, when employed in war zones and peacekeeping operations they wear sensible camouflage. The Carabinieri also have a paratrooper regiment and a special honor guard regiment called Corazzieri ("Cuirassiers"), who are quite◊ blinged out and whose duty's to protect the President or - before 1946 - the King of Italy. Finally, we've got the the G.I.S. (Gruppo di Intervento Speciale, "Special Intervention Group"), an élite counterterrorism force. 2) Guardia di Finanza - (Customs Guard) Also known as the Fiamme Gialle ("Yellow Flames"), from the golden color of their uniform's collar patches, they are in charge of financial crimes: smuggling, money laundring, drug trafficking, frauds and such. They depend from the Minister of Economy and Finance, but they're still technically a military corps (like the Carabinieri, although they don't count as a full service branch), so, in the unlikely event of a full-scale war, might well still be employed on the front. They have a Commissar Cap like the Carabinieri, but it's grey instead of black (like the uniform), and with a golden grenade with an upright flame instead of a silver one with a spread-out flame. (The female version of the hat is flat on top but looks to be some odd combination of a bowler hat, cowboy hat with the sides pushed up to the crown, and top hat. Here's a look at the female version of the uniform.◊) 3) Corpo Forestale dello Stato - (State Forestry Department) Similar to the American Park Rangers, they're responsible for law enforcement in national parks and forests. Poachers, safeguard of protected animal species, and fighting Captain Planet villains. Their uniform is grey, the insignia is a golden flying eagle and yes, they also have the Commissar Cap. They work for the Ministry of Agriculture. 4) Guardia Costiera - (Coast Guard) They guard the metric fuckton of coastline Italy has, obviously. It works for the Ministry of Transports and, despite being a police force, is technically part of the Navy. Oddly enough, they seem to prefer the baseball cap. ...can you say "Interservice Rivalry"?
Special Forces of the Italian ArmyBesides "ordinary" infantry, the Army has a few special corps: 1) "Folgore" ("Thunderbolt") Parachute Brigade - formed in 1941, they're an élite airborne unit (among the best in the world) that fought bravely at El Alamein. After the war, they were deployed in Lebanon, Kosovo, Somalia and Afghanistan. 2) Bersaglieri ("Marksmen") - founded in 1836, they're a high-mobility, light infantry Corps with a penchant for sharp-shooting (as the name suggests). They fought at the battle of Chernaya, during the Crimean War; they were also the first corps to enter Rome on September 20, 1870, thus ending the temporal rule of the Pope and completing the Unification of Italy. Being the shock troops of the Regio Esercito (Royal Italian Army), they suffered enormous casualties during WW 1. In WW 2, they fought in Africa (distinguishing themselves at the battle of Marsa Matruh and El Alamein), Greece and on the Eastern Front; after the war, they served in Yugoslavia, Somalia and Iraq. They're easily recognisable due to the wide hat decorated with black feathers and their fast pace they keep on parades (instead of marching) while playing trumpets. According to German general E. Rommel: "The German soldier has impressed the world; however, the Italian bersagliere has impressed the German soldier". 3) Alpini ("Alpines") - They are the mountain troops of the Italian Army; and, having been founded in 1872, they are the oldest active mountain infantry in the world (and, arguably, one of the best). They fought all over the Alpine arch during WW 1 and took part in some of the bloodiest battles of that war; during WW 2 the Corps fought in Greece, suffering heavy casualties due to the valiant resitance of the Greek soldiers. After the war, they served in Iraq and are currently stanced in Afghanistan. They can be recognised by their characteristic hat with a bird feather on it. 4) Sassari Mechanised Brigade - This Corps, composed mainly of Sardinian soldiers, dates back to WW 1; they were hastily called to the arms and suffered the highest casualties of all the Army. Nevertheless, they made it and they're one of the toughest Corps of the Army (they've been nicknamed dimonios, that is, "devils"); their anthem, written (and sung) entirely in the Sardinian language, is also called Dimonios.
Special Forces of the Italian Navy1) COM.SUB.IN. - Is the élite combat frogmen force of the Italian Navy; their origins go back to WW 1 (Italy developed the idea of modern combat frogmen forces). Their rooster: sinking of the Austrian-Hungarian warships Szent István and Viribus Unitis (1917, 1918); raids against the British naval bases of Souda Bay, Gibraltar and Alexandria (1940, 1941); sinking of the HMS Valiant, of the HMS Queen Elizabeth and of other Allied ships throughout WW 2. After the war, the early U.S. Navy SEA Ls were partially trained and advised by former Italian frogmen... 2) Reggimento San Marco - Is the Italian Navy's Marine corps; the so-called Lagunari (lit.: "lagoon troopers") are under its jurisdiction but, actually, they're the amphibious troops of the Italian Army. Their origins go back to the jolly good ol' times of the Venetian Republic, their "ancestors" being the 17th-century Fanti da Mar - that is, "Marine Infantry" in Venetian dialect. They're still based in Veneto, more precisely at Mestre (near Venice).
Equipment of the Italian Army- Beretta AR 70/90, standard issue assault rifle - Beretta ARX 160, standard issue assault rifle (which will soon replace the obsolescent AR 70/90) - M4 Carbine - 5.56 mm assault rifle - Beretta 92FS - 9 x 19 mm pistol - Minimi - ''5.56 mm light machine gun - MG 42/59 - MG 3 - 7.62 mm machine gun - Franchi SPAS-15 - Shotgun - Sako TGR-42 - .338 Lapua sniper rifle - Barrett M 82 A 1 - .50 BMG sniper rifle - OD-82 grenade - M203 - 40mm grenade grenade launcher - Breda Folgore - Recoilless Gun - Panzerfaust 3 - Anti-tank rocket launcher - MILAN 2T - Anti-tank guided missile - Spike MR/LR - Anti-tank guided missile - FIM-92 Stinger - Man-portable air-defense system Combat Vehicles: - Ariete ("Ram") Main Battle Tank - B1 Centauro ("Centaur"), Tank Destroyer - VBM Freccia, ("Arrow"), Infantry Fighting Vehicle - Puma 4x4/6x6 Wheeled Armoured Personnel Carrier/Recon Vehicle - VTLM Lince ("Lynx"), Infantry Mobility Vehicle Artillery - M 109 L, Self Propelled Howitzer - Pz H 2000, (same as above) - FH 70, Howitzer - SIDAM 25, Self Propelled AA weapon - 120mm F1, Mortar
Equipment of the Italian Navy/Air ForceItaly's upgrading navy possesses also: - Giuseppe Garibaldi STOVL aircraft carrier (it will be "soon" equipped with F-35Bs) - Cavour STOVL aircraft carrier (same as above) - AV-8B Harrier IIs The country's Air Force owns: - Tornado IDS - AMX International AMX Ghibli, ground-attack aircraft - Eurofighter Typhoon, multi-role fighter - A-129 Mangusta ("Mongoose",) attack helicopter - some MQ-9 "Reaper"
Conscription and other amenitiesConscription was mandatory for every able-bodied male who turned 18; it was established in 1846 and suspended (not abolished) in 2005. Since 1999, women are allowed serve in the Army.
The Forze Armate in fiction:
The Polizia in fiction: