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Italian Incursori train to maintain

by Capt. Arjan Hilaj

First published in SFOR Informer #30, February 25,1998

Sarajevo - On an unusually sunny day for a Balkan winter an Italian Army Aviation AB-205 helicopter skims in above the tree line. The doors are open revealing its cargo of Incursori ready to fast rope down to the roof of a six storey building.

Photo 1T.JPG (8070 bytes)The Incursori of Sarajevo, North Brigade is a highly trained command of 60 officers and NCOs headed by Lt. Col. Michele Brandonisio.

"Our main mission in Bosnia and Hercegovina is gathering information in our Area of Responsibility, and providing security for BiH Presidency meetings. We are also the reserve Quick Reaction Force of the Brigade, so we are one of the most flexible instruments in the Brigade commander’s hands. We are always ready to face unexpected situations," explained Lt. Col. Brandonisio.

The Incursori of the 9th Regiment Col. Moschin have been in Theatre since August, 1995. Along with Photo 2T.JPG (9805 bytes)the Forward Operative Base, they were the first Italians on the ground to prepare the terrain for the main force.

As the AB-205 circles the buildings, commander Brandonisio communicates by radio with the helicopter. Immediately from the helicopter’s belly, soldiers start fast roping to the roof and quickly move into position. "Secure" shouts the team leader. The fast roping to the rooftop position is the most important phase of the training. After securing the roof, they go on to "clear" the rooms.

"It is not easy to become a member of the Incursori," states Lt. Col. Brandonisio. "For a candidate to be accepted in this force they must complete several physically intensive training courses," he continued. "If the candidate passes all courses he becomes a part of the Italian Army’s elite."

Photo 3T.JPG (7385 bytes)"Other than our routine duties in Bosnia, we maintain and improve our skills through a lot of training. Because of the situation here, we do live fire exercises three times a week and if the weather permits we train with the helicopter. This way we are always ready for any situation," explained LT. Col. Brandonisio.

"In my opinion SFOR is fulfilling its mission step by step in accordance with the Dayton Peace Agreement. This is quite clear through the day to day normalisation of life here," said Brandonisio.

For NCO Simone Bruneti this is his second time in Theatre. "The most impressive thing was when I came into my first direct contact with the Entity Armies." Just knowing what they thought was helpful in understanding what happened here," he explained. "Multinational troops are necessary in BiH to maintain the balance between Entities, without SFOR’s presence I am not sure that this balance would exist."

[Italian soldier]

[Exercise and Training]