Italian Africa Police

The Italian Africa Police, (IT: Polizia dell'Africa Italiana, or PAI, and also known as Police of Italian Africa) were originally called the "Colonial Police Force." The force was instituted in 1936 as a result of the reorganization of public safety units operating in Italian North Africa (Africa Settentrionale Italiana, or ASI) and to garrison Ethiopia and the rest of Italian East Africa (Africa Orientale Italiana, or AOI). The new corps was first subordinated to the Ministry of the Colonies and then to the Ministry of Italian Africa (then resisted by Alexander Lessona). This was the first case in Italy of an Armed Forces employee coming from a civil ministry.

The PAI had a reputation for discipline and high training levels with good equipment. Even after the collapse of AOI, the PAI were able to keep the peace in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.


The Royal Decree of 10 June 1937, n. 1211, established its organic regulations, for which it was a militarily organized civil body and making it part of the Armed Forces of the state, with the functions of political police, judicial police, and administrative police.


The force was a racially mixed organization made up of Italian agents and native askaris, and it was located on the territory of the police headquarters in the larger cities like Tripoli, Bengasi, Asmara, Addis Ababa, Mogadishu, Gondar, or barracked under orders in small commissariats.

The PAI training school was centered in Tivoli.

Many PAI personnel were mounted on Moto-Guzzi motorcycles, with many armed with the Beretta M1938A 9mm sub-machine gun.


At the outbreak of WW2 the PAI had 7,672 men, of which 6,345 were in AOI and 1,327 were in ASI. The bulk of the force consisted of indigenous personnel who were trained and equipped to the same standard as Italian personnel. There were 5,142 indigenous personnel, 4,414 from AOI and 732 from ASI.

World War 2


During the Second World War, the PAI fought side by side with the Italian Army and was a combat unit. For the garrison of the Libyan litoranea way, to the explosion of the conflict 2 companies on motorcycles and on armored car were sent, assigned in force to the Exploring Unit of the CAM (Corpo armato di manovra) Battalion “Romolo Chalks”, but they had little fortune since after an immediate enemy attack, many men were hit by friendly fire of German aircraft. The battalion repaired in Tripolitania and was converted to a mixed company. Various units participated to various war actions, to Tripoli, Bengasi, Barce, but the details reached approximately the effective employment are insufficient.

Defense of Italy

After the Armistice of Cassibile, the evening of 8 September 1943 the PAI participated to the defense of Rome engaging the first conflict with the Germans at Mezzocammino, near Castelfusano, with troops of Carabinieri, in aid to a garrison of Grenadiers of Sardinia. From the other part of Rome, at the same time, some troops protected the escape of the King Vittorio Emanuele III along the via Tiburtina, the King and the Prime Minister of Italy Pietro Badoglio, and finished this supply was assembled in direction of the Laurentina. On 9 September the PAIRS, with the Bersaglieri and students police officers, obtained some result to Magliana, forcing German to temporarily retreat, but after some time they had to withdraw in direction of Ostiense, then bloody stormed from the Germans who reached until to Montagnola, bench mark of the 1st Grenadiers.

The commander and founder of the PAI, General Marraffa, like the head of the Senise Police, was captured by the nazis and deported to the Dachau concentration camp, where he died.

Salo Republic

In the northern territories, there was a reorganization attempt, with the opening of a PAI school at Busto Arsizio in the autumn of 1943, but later on it was absorbed by the Republican Police Force of the Italian Social Republic, and lastly by the Republican National Guard.


Ranks were as for the Italian Army with enlisted rank being the older style larger pattern of red chevrons worn on both upper sleeves.

PAI Rank

  • Allievo guardia
  • Guardia di Polizia
  • Guardia scelta
  • Vice brigadiere
  • Brigadiere
  • Aspirante ispettore
  • Ispettore aggiunto
  • Ispettore
  • Primo ispettore
  • Ispettore capo
  • Vice questore
  • Questore
  • Ispettore generale
  • Capo della polizia dell'Al

Italian Army Rank

  • Soldato
  • Caporale
  • Caporale maggiore
  • Sergente
  • Sergente maggiore
  • Aspirante
  • Sottotenente
  • Tenente
  • Capitano
  • Maggiore
  • Tenente Colonnello
  • Colonnello
  • Generale di Brigata
  • Generale di Divisione


Personnel wore the standard Italian khaki tropical uniform but with a blue aiguilette fixed from the right shoulder strap to the second button down the front of his tunic. Personnel also wore a small gold PAI badge on the front of their headgear and small brass fasces pinned directly to their collars. Motorcycle mounted personnel wore a brown leather crash helmet, light khaki breeches with brown leather boots and leather leggings to protect the lower legs.


  • "Le Uniformi dell" AOI (Somalia 1889-1941)" Priero Crocaini and Andrea Viotti.

See also

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