Female Italian Alpine
troops in Rogatica
Lt. Antonio Ruiz González
First published in
SFOR Informer#142, July 4, 2002
For the first time, the Italian Army deployed female soldiers
within a combat unit on a mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There are twelve new soldiers in the 14th Alpine Regiment,
the main component of the Italian Battle Group (IBG). These
twelve 'riflewomen' (to use a very formal word) are in Rogatica
with the 72nd Coy.
Rogatica - The new barracks of Rogatica lays 60 kilometres
east of Sarajevo in the Republika Srpska. On the way to the
base there is a barracks of the Army of the Republika Srpska,
which is 300 metres from the Italian Coy base. For the company
these new soldiers will be the main people to work in this
Captain Paolo Sandri is the 72nd Rifle Coy Commander of the
IBG Task Force. "It was definitely an experience, because
we were the first ones to use female soldiers as riflewomen.
I am absolutely happy about how things are progressing because
I found out that they are very good for our controls in relationship
with people, especially in a rural environment. They are more
successful than most of the men," said Sandri. "Also
in the base we are in a very good mood. I think it is not
a problem but an advantage. I'm seeing more positive aspects
than negatives," he remarked.
The Italian Army calls these new soldiers VFB. That means
short time volunteer soldier. They will be working for the
army for a period of three to five years. After that, they
will choose either to stay in the army as a permanent troop
or to finish their contract.
These women are line infantry soldiers. As a riflewoman, as
a mortar crew, or as an operator of an antitank missile, they
perform exactly the same tasks as their male counterparts.
They have been on manoeuvres in Italy and in other countries,
such as Turkey, before coming here.
Corporal Alessandro Prudente is the squad leader for some
of the female soldiers: "They have been well trained,
so they are at the same level as riflemen. They are only another
member of the patrol," he said.
These female soldiers come from all around Italy, but at the
beginning they were all trained at the same place. "Training
was for three months at the 235th Regiment in Ascoli Piceno
near Ancona on the Adriatic coast. That is a training regiment
for women," said Lance Cpl. Giovanna Demaso.
They carry out the same tasks as their male colleagues. Lance
Cpl. Loredana Petito remarked: "We develop the same duties,
on patrol in our area, checkpoints, security services in the
barracks and logistics for the normal life in the base."
The hometowns of some of them are very far from the 14th Alpine
Regiment settlement in Italy. "I am from Naples and I
chose to be an Alpine. To be riflewomen in an Alpine Regiment
is the best chance to practise what I have learnt. We are
very proud of our capello alpino (the hat with the feather),"
said Lance Cpl. Pasqualina Lipiello.
New Rogatica Base
The IBG has been deployed in Rogatica for four years. However,
they will not use the old barracks any more. At the beginning
of their mission they occupied an old hotel downtown in the
village. At the present time they are living in a new base
near a former Yugoslavia Army barracks. The new facilities
have a capacity of 150 people and was inaugurated March 28,
2001. It has everything they need for working and living there.
Nations of SFOR: Italy
SFOR at Work