Who is Colonel Stefano Fedele?
Seven questions to an officer of the Italian Carabinieri helping to preserve a secure environment in Kosovo, as part of the NATO-led KFOR mission.
What do you do?
I am a colonel in the Italian Carabinieri and I am currently the Commander of NATO’s Multinational Specialized Unit (MSU) based in Pristina, Kosovo. I have been a Carabinieri officer for over 35 years, so I have been part of a gendarmerie-type force, performing both military and police tasks for a long time. And now I am commanding an MSU, which is a regiment-sized military unit that performs police tasks – a perfect match!
What makes your job unique?
I suppose the duality of a military unit performing civil police tasks makes the MSU in Kosovo unique. We help to establish a safe and secure environment for all local communities and rebuild local police forces. This is really important to achieve long-term security in post-conflict regions.
Achieving stabilisation through police-related activities is what we call in the jargon “Stability Policing”. Stability Policing relies on gendarmerie-type forces, i.e. military forces that have civilian police tasks at the core of their functions. Some of these tasks (e.g. managing public order and security, police intelligence, terrorism and organised crime investigations) require specific civil police expertise and a civil-oriented mind-set that is typical of gendarmerie-type forces; other tasks (e.g. election security and critical site security) require dedicated training and specific equipment that can be performed by different military actors. In sum, Stability Policing helps to fight crime and restore reliable law enforcement structures to support durable local governance and, in the long run, strengthen society.
What does your daily work involve?
Since the Kosovo Police (KP) took over the primary responsibility for preserving law and order in Kosovo years ago, today the MSU serves as the tactical reserve of the KFOR Commander. As such, we are responsible for quickly deploying a Ready on Call sub-unit to manage public order and conduct crowd and riot control. We also conduct patrols in Mitrovica and its most sensitive point, the Austerlitz Bridge on the Ibar River, which has been a recurrent scene of interethnic clashes.
We also liaise with the Kosovo Police and can provide support through specialised training, and as the MSU Commander I assist and advise the KFOR Commander on all civil police matters and provide analyses on both terrorist and criminal activities being carried out in Kosovo.
What is the most recent achievement of the unit you command?
The work undergone in the field of gender-related domestic violence deserves, for me, a special mention. This crime has dramatically increased over the last few years, leading to a rise in the number of depositions made to the Kosovo Police. The MSU has helped to establish “friendly rooms” in Kosovo Police stations, allowing officers to take up complaints of domestic violence in an appropriate environment. It has also contributed food and clothing for women and children living in safe houses.
What exactly are the Carabinieri?
Well, first of all, the Carabinieri are the fourth branch of the Italian Armed Forces; at the same time, they serve as a national police force, with a full competence in civil policing. In a nutshell, the Arma dei Carabinieri is a 110,000-strong gendarmerie-type force, performing both military and police tasks.
In its military capacity, it contributes to national defence and to the Italian operational deployments with NATO, the European Union and the United Nations. It also provides military police service to the Italian Army, Navy and Air Force. In its capacity as a national police force, it provides a regular police service to the population. For instance, it is specialised in the police aspects of cultural property protection, safeguarding wildlife and the environment, organised crime investigations, and crowd and riot control. The Carabinieri can also be responsible for the protection of Italian diplomatic offices and personnel posted abroad, a duty executed by the 1st Carabinieri Parachute Regiment “Tuscania” for high-risk assignments.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Working in an international environment is surely the best part of my job, because I believe in the benefit of understanding the different cultural approaches to solve problems and overcome challenges. This is definitely an opportunity for professional growth, but also for personal growth; it greatly enlarges one’s horizons.
What don’t your colleagues know about you?
Most of my colleagues don’t know about my passion for the sea and for sailing. I often apply the principles necessary to manage a boat crew in my day-to-day work as a commander; this means that all crew members – regardless of their rank and role – need to know exactly which route to follow and the final destination, in order for everyone to operate autonomously and be able to take initiative. It also means that everyone feels they have responsibilities and are an indispensable part of a team that has common objectives.