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The 9º Reggimento d'Assalto Paracadutisti (9th Parachutist Assault Regiment) Col Moschin ("Peak Moschin") is the fiore all'occhiello or proudest unit of the current Italian Army — in part due to its distinguished history, but also due to the arduous training which members must undertake. Its motto is Della folgore l'impeto — which roughly translated is Of the thunderbolt, The source / momentum. Training takes no less than two years for long-term members, and five months for short-term volunteers (with 1–2 years total military service).

Roughly equivalent in number, tasking and quality to the world-famous British Army SAS, the 9th — or il nono as it is known in Italian military circles — is capable of operating in all environments. The roughly 700 members train in mountainous, wooded, desert, and amphibious terrain. The 9th's specialty is operating independently of outside support and far from friendly lines. From 2004, "Col Moschin" is integrated inside the Comando Forze Speciali Interarma (C.O.F.S.), Italy's special operations command.


History

The origins of the 9th Parachutist Assault Regiment can be found in the World War I. Among its precursors is the IX Reparto d'Assalto ("9th Assault Section"), known as the Arditi ('Brave or Bold / Tough Ones'), who were often tasked with preempting infantry assaults on the Italo-Austrian frontlines (which is currently the border between Italy and Slovenia). It was during this period that the 9th earned its reputation as a fierce fighting force. 'Going over the top', followed by the launch of hand-grenades deep into enemy territory, was commonplace. The 9th was responsible for the capture of numerous Austrian positions on Monte Grappa, including Col Moschin (or "Peak [of the flies?]"), and the Col della Beretta ("Peak of the Cap").

The inter-war years saw the demise of the 9th Section, and a similar unit was not reestablished until 20 July 1942, when World War II was in full swing. Dubbed the X Reggimento "Arditi" ('10th Regiment' "The Bold"), they conducted patrols in Tunisia; and occupied Sicily, and Algeria under the orders of Mussolini. After 8 September, 1943 — the surrender of Italy to the Allies — the 1st Battalion of the 10th Regiment spent the next few years fighting its way up the Italian Peninsula in the Italian War of Liberation.

Disbanded in 1946, the 9th was reassembled as a company-level unit at the Cesano Infantry School in 1953. On 1 June, 1954, the unit became the Reparto Sabotatori Paracadutisti ('Saboteur Parachute Section'), and in 1961, it mutated once more into the Battaglione Sabotatori Paracadutisti ('Saboteur Parachute Battalion'). Fourteen years later, it received the standard of the X Reggimento "Arditi", and became the 9º Battaglione d'Assalto Paracadutisti "Col Moschin" ('9th Parachute Assault Battalion' "Peak Moschin". In June, 1995 the unit expanded into a Regiment. In 2004, it was integrated into the COFSI - Comando Operativo Forze Operazioni Speciali ("Operational Command for Special Operations Forces").

As part of the Brigata Paracadutisti "Folgore" ('Parachutist Brigade' "Thunderbolt") — which distinguished itself in World War II by defending of Italian positions in North Africa so heroically that Winston Churchill dubbed them 'as fierce as lions' — the 9th Regiment has engaged in numerous post-WWII exploits.

As part of the peace treaty signed by Italy following WWII, Italy could not deploy armed forces outside of Italy for 25 years, except, of course, the destruction of Nazi Germany and her allies. This restriction expired in 1970, but circumstances did not call upon Italian military participation in foreign missions until 1982. Since that time, the 9th has been engaged throughout the world.

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