(Italian for Carabiniers
) are the national-level gendarmerie
who also perform military police
duties. They police both the military and civilian populations. Their Italian name has become the common name for this force in English. The full official title of the force is Arma dei Carabinieri
(literally Arm of Carabinieri
); it was formerly called the Corpo dei Carabinieri
when it was a branch of the Italian Army
Historically, a Carabiniere was a cavalryman or soldier armed with a carbine. Their motto is Nei Secoli Fedele ("Faithful throughout the Centuries" but usually translated as "Always Faithful"). Their mission was to control crime and to serve the community through respect for the law.
The corps was created by King Victor Emmanuel I of Savoy, with the aim of providing Piedmont with a police corps similar to the French Gendarmerie. Previously, police duties were managed by the Dragoni di Sardegna corps, created in 1726 and composed of volunteers.
After French soldiers had occupied Turin at the end of the 18th century and later abandoned it to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Savoy, the corps of Carabinieri Reali (Royal Carabinieri) was instituted under the Regie Patenti (Royal Patents) of July 13, 1814.
Both a military and a police corps, the Carabinieri have fought in every conflict in which Italy has been involved, suffering heavy losses and being awarded many decorations for gallantry.
The Carabinieri are particularly proud of the memory of Brigadier Salvo D'Acquisto, who was executed by the Nazis in Palidoro, near Rome, in World War II, having exchanged his life for the lives of innocent citizens due to be executed in retaliation for the killing of a German soldier. Brigadier D'Acquisto falsely claimed responsibility and was shot for the offence.
The history of the Carabinieri recounts many such actions and the corps is nicknamed La Benemerita (the Meritorious).
The Carabinieri is a branch of armed forces (alongside the Army, Navy and Air Force), thus ending their long standing role as the first corps (Arma) of the Army (Esercito). It is likely that the antonomasia for the Carabinieri will continue to be the Arma.
In recent years Carabinieri units have been dispatched on peacekeeping missions, including Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. In 2003 twelve Carabinieri were killed in a suicide bomb attack on their base in Nasiriyah, near Basra, in southern Iraq, in the largest Italian military loss of life in a single action since the Second World War (see 2003 Nasiriyah bombing).
At the Sea Island Conference of the G8 in 2004, the Carabinieri were given the mandate to establish a Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units (CoESPU) to spearhead the development of training and doctrinal standards for civilian police units attached to international peacekeeping missions.
Chain of command
The corps is headed by the Comando
, consisting of the Comandante Generale (a General
), the Vice-Comandante Generale
(a Lieutenant General
) and the Headquarters Staff, all located in Rome
. At the top is the Headquarters which directs, coordinates and supervises all activities of the force. It directly supervises the Directors of Administration, Health, Engineering, motor pool, and Veterinary Commission. Since the Chief of Staff depends on the CNSR (Centro Nazionale di Selezione e Reclutamento) of the C.N.A. (Centro Nazionale Amministrativo) (National Center for Recruitment and Selection) of the (National Administrative Center) and Legislation.
The staff is divided about 6 Departments:
- I Department - Force Organization: responsible for training of government personnel, discipline.
- II Department - "Operations" responsible for day-to-day command and control through the Operations Room.
- III Division - Information Technology oversees information technology and telecommunications.
- IV Department - "Logistics" - provides equipment and supplies in support of the force.
- V Department - "Communication and General Affairs" - external relations, publicity and assistance.
- VI Department - "Programming Planning Budget and Control" - the corps' financial apparatus.
The Directorate of Administration reports directly to the Commandant-General and gives juridical advice, administers financial resources, and reviews financial records and assets of organizations and peripheral detachments.
are organised on a territorial basis for law enforcement missions. The territorial organization represents the core of the institution, because it contains 80% of the force, and is organized hierarchically:
- 5 Interregional Commands each headed by a lieutenant general, contolling a number of regional Commands:
- 19 Regional commands each headed by a major general or Brigadier-General, controlling a number of provincial commands
- The Calabria and Sardinia Regional Commands depend on two highly specialized units in the fight against organized crime and banditry. The Hunters belonging to 1st Operations Group "Calabria" and Heliportable Hunter Squadron "Sardinia" para-military (with the characteristic Basque red beret) are specially trained in the repression of particular forms of crime in the mountainous areas of the two regions in which they are stationed, like kidnapping for ransom.
- 102 Provincial commands each headed by a brigadier general, colonel or lieutenant colonel (depending on the province's importance) established in the capital of each Italian province (except Aosta where there is a territorial command) with managerial functions, coordination and control department employees (one or more territorial departments, possible Services Department and the Judiciary; Operating Department; Radiomobile Corps ; Sections Judicial Police, a variable number of groups and companies).
- 18 Department or territorial commands each headed by a lieutenant colonel exist in some large or important provinces such as Milan, Rome, Naples and Palermo, and are a subdivision of the provincial command,
- The territorial department of Aosta performs the function of a provincial command.
- 539 groups or companies - headed by a lieutenant colonel, major or captain with management function of a variable number of lieutenancies, mobile units and its organs (Central and Core Operating and Radiomobile).
- one Captaincy commanded by a captain responsible for the town of Campione d'Italia;
- 19 Lieutenancies commanded by first and second lieutenants responsible for a single densely populated town. They are able to intervene 24 hours a day and have an autonomous judiciary policing role being directly responsible for the territory and related institutional activities.
- 4625 stations - Each headed by a Maresciallo or a Second Lieutenant and disseminated at the local level throughout the country with direct responsibility for supervising the territory.
Within the area, men are increasingly allocated to Neighborhood or Community Policing.
Specialist & Mobile Unit Command
Outside the territorial organisation, the Specialist Mobile Unit Command Palidoro based in Rome controls the Mobile Unit Division, Specialist Unit Division and the ROS.
The Mobile Unit Division
The Mobile Unit Division is located in Treviso
has two brigades with the tasks of mass maneuvering events to cope with emergencies, to perform military tasks associated with the defense of the national territory and participation in military operations abroad, provides support activities in the area of public order
and control of the territory in large urban areas and in the most sensitive areas in terms of public safety and contributes to the operations of the civil authorities.
- 1st Mobile Brigade (Rome) with the following 12 units:
- 1st Carabinieri Battalion "Piedmont" (Moncalieri)
- 2nd Carabinieri Battalion "Liguria" (Genoa)
- 3rd Carabinieri Battalion "Lombardy" (Milan)
- 4th Carabinieri Battalion "Veneto" (Mestre)
- 5th Carabinieri Battalion "Emilia Romagna" (Bologna)
- 6th Carabinieri Battalion "Tuscany" (Florence)
- 8th Carabinieri Battalion "Lazio" (Rome)
- 9th Carabinieri Battalion "Sardinia" (Cagliari)
- 10th Carabinieri Battalion "Campania" (Naples)
- 11th Carabinieri Battalion "Puglia" (Bari)
- 12th Carabinieri Battalion "Sicily" (Palermo)
- Carabinieri Cavalry Regiment (Rome) - a separate unit from the Corazzieri.
- 2nd Mobile Brigade (Livorno), the special operations brigade with 4 units:
Also, depending in terms of logistical support and training, II Mobile Brigade, the unit contains detachments deployed out of area:
- Multinational Specialized Unit or MSU , used in theaters like the Balkans and Iraq (Italian troops returned at home on December 1, 2006), the
- Integrated Police Unit or IPU , which since December 2004 replaced the MSU Regiment in Bosnia-Herzegovina with a mandate to support the local police; with companies, platoons, teams and teams of military police inside the camps of other Italian Armed Forces.
Specialist Unit Division
The Specialist Unit Division located in Rome consists of highly qualified personnel working for ministries to scrutinize socially sensitive issues.
- Comando Carabinieri Ministero Affari Esteri provides security for the Foreign Affairs Ministry plus Italian and overseas diplomats.
- Comando Carabinieri Banca d'Italia (Bank of Italy Command) is responsible for the escort of money transports and security and surveillance in all branches of the bank. Currency Anti-Counterfeiting Command is integrated into the Bank of Italy to identify and investigate the circulation of forged banknotes.
- Comando Carabinieri Politiche Agricole
- Comando Carabinieri per la tutela del lavoro
- Raggruppamento Carabinieri per le Investigazioni Scientifiche (Ra.C.I.S.), with 4 R.I.S. - Reparti Investigazioni Scientifiche (main forensic centres) in Rome, Parma, Cagliari and Messina and 29 S.I.S., Sezioni Investigative Scientifiche or regional forensic centres. The Scientific Investigation Department conducts forensic investigation and research and develops modern techniques for investigative purposes.
- Comando Carabinieri Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale or TCP protects Italy's cultural heritage and the Nucleo Tutela Patrimonio Artistico specialises in the protection of artwork and in the recovery of stolen paintings.
- Comando Carabinieri per la Tutela della Salute (N.A.S.) or Sanitary Enforcement Task Force investigates hygiene violations in the processing, sale and distribution of foods and drinks.
- Comando Carabinieri per la Tutela dell'Ambiente (Environmental Protection Command) is involved in protecting land, water and air against pollution, monitoring hazardous materials and protecting endangered plants and wildlife.
- Comando Carabinieri Antifalsificazione Monetaria
- Raggruppamento Aeromobili Carabinieri with 15 helicopter units. The Helicopter Group guarantees national coverage with light and multi-purpose choppers with a response time of 30 minutes. At one time it also operated light aircraft.
The ROS (Raggruppamento Operativo Speciale
or Special Operational Group is an elite unit founded in 1990 to deal with organised crime
and others), subversive activities, terrorism
and the more complex types of crime. An anti-crime section is found in every city district public prosecutor's office.
Special Tasks Departments
Special Tasks Departments are outside the ordinary organisational framework and are used for special missions:
Corazzieri (Cuirassiers) are an elite corps and honour guard of the President of the Italian Republic located in the Quirinal Palace. They are distinguished by their uniforms and height (the minimum height for admission is 190cm, or 6 feet 3 inches). They have almost no other everyday duties, although they may be seen patrolling occasionally.
Other departments are in service to Constitutional Bodies such as the Presidency of the Republic, the Senate, Parliament, the Judiciary, the Prime Minister and the National Council of Economy and Labour.
Carabinieri also perform Military police and security duties for the Ministry of Defence, military high commands, offices of the military judiciary and allied military organisations in Italy and abroad. They also have personnel attached to the Department of Public Security in various departments as well as anti-mafia and anti-drug investigation task forces. Furthermore, Carabinieri officers are in charge of surveillance and security at Italian Embassies and Consulates abroad, performing the same services entrusted to the United States Marine Corps in US Diplomatic and Consular offices.
There are Carabinieri groups around the world including Australia and Canada.
The Training Organization consists of the departments of education in charge of training, personal development and specialization of officers, Warrant Officers, Brigadieri (sergeants), Appuntati and Carabinieri.
At the top is the Carabinieri Command School, established in Rome, governed by general corps, which coordinates the activities of various training institutes:
- Carabinieri Officers School (Rome);
- Warrant Officer and Brigadier Cadet School (Florence):
- 1st Warrant Officer and Brigadier Cadet Regiment (Velletri)
- 2nd Warrant Officer Cadet Regiment (Florence)
- Brigade Appointed and Carabinieri Schools (Benevento) which consists of:
- School for Advanced Shooting at (Rome),
- Center for Foreign Languages of the Carabinieri (Rome),
- Center for Applied Psychology Training (Rome)
The organization also includes centers for the training of specialists:
The Carabinieri contains about 110,000 people including 709 Women; 163 Officers, 201 Warrant Officers, 183 "Appuntati" (senior constables) and Carabinieri, and 162 Students in various schools. Data on women provided by the General Command of the Carabinieri January 22 2007
The main battles in which the Carabinieri took part before the world war are:
- Grenoble, July 5, 1815 (baptism by fire)
- 30 April 1848, flag dell'Arma awarded the first Silver Medal at the Military Valor.
- Verona, 6 May 1848, flag dell'Arma awarded the first Medal of Valor Bronze at Military.
- Custoza, Staffalo, Sommacampagna, Valeggio, Milan, Peschiera del Garda, from July 24 to August 4, 1848.
- Perugia, Garigliano, Mola di Gaeta, from September 14 to November 4, 1860.
- Monzambano, Villafranca, Custoza, 24 June 1866.
- Taking Rome, 20 September 1870, together with Bersaglieri.
- Sciara Sciat and Two Palms (Italo-Turkish War, 1911-1912).
In the First World War the Carabinieri served with distinction in the following at the Battle of Podgora, July 19, 1915
For its contributions during the First World War the force's flag dell'Arma was awarded the first Gold Medal at the Military Valor.
In World War II Carabinieri are distinguished in the following battles:
- Battle of Culqualber (Ethiopia), 6 August-21 November 1941, flag dell'Arma awarded the second Gold Medal at the Military Valor.
- Battle of Eluet El Asel (Libya), 19 December 1941.
- 16-30 December 1941, flag dell'Arma awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor to Military
Carabinieri made an appearance in Carlo Collodi
's 1882 Pinocchio
, when two officers arrest Pinocchio for a crime he has not committed.
While the Carabinieri have been widely considered one of the most trusted and competent institutions by the Italian population , they are also the traditional butt of many jokes implying that they were stereotypically incompetent and unable to think beyond blind obedience
Many films and tv series have featured the Carabinieri, including as protagonists. Racconti del Maresciallo, La Tenda Nera, Il Maresciallo Rocca and Carabinieri are some of the titles that have been produced, mainly by the RAI fiction division.
In January 2005, the private television network Canale 5 introduced a Carabinieri-related drama series called R.I.S. based on the Ra.C.I.S. (Raggruppamento Carabinieri Investigazioni Scientifiche; Carabinieri Scientific Investigation Group) and modelled on the American CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
The Carabinieri are the military police in Ernest Hemmingway's A Farewell to Arms who are arresting higher ranking officers, giving them summary trials, and shooting them for desertion.
The Carabinieri appear in Ron Howard's 2009 film adaptation of Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, the prequel to The Da Vinci Code (film).
Although the Carabinieri have a very positive reputation among the Italian people , it is to be remembered that, in different historical periods, they may have been involved in some atrocities.
The Carabinieri served alongside the Italian Army during the Invasion of Ethiopia and In Addis Ababa, (captured in May, 1936) a bomb was thrown towards a table around which General Graziani and number of officers were seated. No one was killed but an unidentified officer fired his weapon into a group of Ethiopian civilians seated at a table nearby. Allegedly, a Carabinieri then followed suit and subsequently 300 Ethiopians were killed while their bodies were then allegedly stripped of all valuables and money. Fires burned well into the next day. Over the next three days at least three thousand Ethiopians were killed by rampaging Italian soldiers.
Individual Carabinieri served in the Italian Africa Police in occupied Ethiopia , in the late 1930s and early 1940s,
During the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini, the corps of Carabinieri cooperated with the regime by order of the King of Italy.
However, when King Victor Emmanuel III ordered the arrest of Mussolini on 25 July 1943, the Carabinieri were entrusted with this task.
When Mussolini was freed by the Germans in September 1943 (following Italy's armistice with the Allies) and became the head of the Italian Social Republic in October 1943, he decided to replace the Carabinieri with a new force, the (Republican National Guard (GNR). The GNR included former MVSN militiamen, Police officers, Carabinieri, and former members of the Italian Africa Police (the PAI). Shortly after its formation many of the Carabinieri were expelled due to their having been Carabinieri, this decision was probably due to the fact that the Carabinieri were traditionally considered as more loyal to the constitutional monarchy than to the fascist regime, and therefore they were not fully reliable after the King had switched over to the Allies' side.
Some senior Carabinieri were implicated in the controversies surrounding Operation Gladio, including the violent "strategy of tension" and an embryonic plan for a coup d'etat (in December 1970, an alleged coup attempt, dubbed the Golpe Borghese, failed). These allegations remain unproven.
The Carabinieri were criticised for their handling of the policing of the 2001 G8 Summit in Genoa and the killing of anarchist Carlo Giuliani during the demonstrations against the Group of Eight. A Carabinieri Land Rover Defender had become stuck and protesters wielding metal poles and wooden boards attacked it. In the midst of this clash a man wearing a blue ski mask, picked up a fire extinguisher and, apparently intending to throw it at the carabinieri inside, was shot in the face at point blank range by one of the officers, Mario Placanica. The man in the mask was later identified as Giuliani. The charges against Placanica were subsequently dropped when the presiding judge concluded that the bullet which struck Giuliani was not directly aimed at Giuliani and had "ricocheted off plaster", and ruled that the carabinieri had acted in self-defense, the case did not go to trial.
In response to the many and diverse needs of the Carabinieri, the service provides for the use of various types of weapons that are divided into ordinary weapons and special weapons, supplied to all staff is structured as follows:
Used only by certain departments and in certain circumstances:
Vehicles and equipment
Until very recently the Italian Police including the Carabinieri operated only Italian built vehicles but that has changed with the advent of Land Rover Defenders and Subarus into service. Normal Carabinieri patrol vehicles are very dark blue with a white roof, the blue has a red stripe along the side. Carabinieri license plates beginning with "CC" and for traditional reasons Carabinieri cars are called "Gazzella" (gazelle). Small or medium-sized cars are used for ordinary patrol work, with larger and more powerful vehicles being used for emergency response, traffic patrol and special services.