|Paratroopers Brigade "Folgore"|
|Brigata Paracadutisti "Folgore"|
Coat of Arms the Paratroopers Brigade "Folgore"
|Active||1 January 1963 - Today|
|Part of||Division "Vittorio Veneto"|
|March||Come Folgore dal Cielo (Like lightning from the sky)|
|Anniversaries||23 October (Second Battle of El Alamein)|
Kurdistan Operation Provide Comfort
East Timor INTERFET
Lebanon UNIFIL II
|Brigadier General Beniamino Vergori|
The Paratroopers Brigade "Folgore" is an airborne brigade of the Italian Army. Its core units are three battalions of paratroopers (paracadutisti). The name "Folgore" is Italian for lightning. The Folgore is one of three light infantry brigades of the Italian Army. While the Folgore specializes in parachute operations its sister brigade in the Division "Vittorio Veneto" the Airmobile Brigade Friuli specializes in helicopter assault operations. The Folgore and its units are based in Tuscany, Veneto and Lazio.
The first Italian paratrooper units were trained and formed shortly before World War II in Castel Benito, near Tripoli in Libya, where the first Military Parachuting School was located. Later the school was moved to Tarquinia in Italy.
For reasons of order of precedence the title I Paratroopers Battalion was reserved for the I Carabinieri Paratroopers Battalion. The division was intended to be used in Operation Hercules - the planned Axis invasion of Malta. On 30 April 1941 the Italian paratroopers were deployed for the first time when the II Paratroopers Battalion jumped onto Cephalonia.
In 1942 the division was further augmented: on 15 January the II Paratroopers Artillery Group was raised, followed by the III Paratroopers Artillery Group on 10 March. On the same date the Paratroopers Division Artillery Regiment was activated. The regiment took command of the three paratroopers artillery groups, which each fielded two batteries with four 47/32 cannons per battery. On 15 March 1942 the 3rd Paratroopers Infantry Regiment with the battalions VIII, IX, and X was raised in Tarquinia.
On 27 July 1942 the division's name was changed to 185th Infantry Division "Folgore" and its regiments were renumbered and renamed as well. The new structure was as follows:
The division was then sent to Italian Libya to bolster Axis forces in the Western Desert campaign. Before the departing for North Africa the 185th Infantry Regiment "Folgore" and 187th Infantry Regiment "Folgore" switched units: the 185th ceded the more experienced II and IV to 187th, which in turn ceded the VIII and X to the 185th. When the division arrived in Africa the three artillery groups of the 185th Artillery Regiment "Folgore" were merged into two artillery groups of three batteries each, thus providing one group for each infantry regiment, which in turn could now provide one battery to each battalion of a regiment. Additionally a seventh battery was formed with surplus materiel found by the division during its transfer to the front.
On 15 September the 185th Infantry Regiment "Folgore", which had remained in Italy, left the division and changed its name to 185th Infantry Regiment "Nembo" and became the basis for the 184th Infantry Division "Nembo" (Nemo Italian for Nimbus). To aid in the raising of the 183rd Infantry Regiment "Nembo" the 185th ceded its X Paratroopers Battalion to the 183rd and raised the XI Paratroopers Battalion in its stead.
In North Africa the division participated in the First and Second Battle of El Alamein. During the latter division put up a fierce defense against attacking Commonwealth forces, managing to drive repeated attacks conducted by tanks and infantry. However in the course of the battle the division was annihilated and declared lost on 23 November 1942.
After the Armistice of Cassibile between the Allies and Italy most of the troops of the "Nembo" stationed on Sardinia decided to side with Italian King Victor Emmanuel III and began to fight the retreating German troops. Subsequently the remnants of the "Nembo" were used to form the Combat Group "Folgore" of the Italian Co-Belligerent Army in 1944. The combat group was equipped with British materiel and uniforms and fought as part of the British XIII Corps in Italian Campaign.
After World War II the Combat Group "Folgore" became one of the Italian Army's first divisions and by 1954 one of the strongest. The Infantry Division "Folgore" was mechanized infantry unit based in the North-eastern Italian city of Treviso. Airborne troops and operations were to be performed by the Military Parachuting Centre in Pisa.
On 1 January 1963 the army raised an airborne brigade in Pisa. The brigade was named I Paratroopers Brigade and fielded the 1st Paratroopers Regiment with the II and V Paratroopers battalions, a Paratroopers Saboteurs Battalion, a Carabinieri Paratroopers Company, which was augmented to battalion on 15 July 1963 and a Paratroopers Field Artillery Battery, which was augmented to group on 1 June 1963 and armed with Mod56 105mm howitzers. On 1 April 1964 the brigade lost the Military Parachuting School in Pisa to the army's Infantry and Cavalry Inspectorate. On 10 June 1967 the I Paratroopers Brigade was allowed to add "Folgore" to its name and was now named Paratroopers Brigade "Folgore".
With the Italian Army 1975 reform the army abolished the regimental level and re-organised its brigades. Therefore, the "Folgore" brigade's 1st Paratroopers Regiment disbanded on 1 October 1975 and its two battalions became the 2nd Paratroopers Battalion "Tarquinia'" and the 5th Paratroopers Battalion "El Alamein". After the reform the brigade was structured as follows:
In 1982 the brigade deployed in Italy's first international mission abroad since World War II, when it joined the Multinational Force in Lebanon and on 1 January 1983 the Military Parachuting School in Pisa with the 3rd Paratroopers (Recruits Training) Battalion "Poggio Rusco" returned to the brigade .
On 1 January 1986, the "Folgore" brigade and the Motorized Brigade "Friuli", in conjunction with some units of the Army's Light Army Aviation and the Navy's San Marco Regiment, became the Rapid Intervention Forces of the Italian Military, deployable on short notice for out of area missions. On 31 October of the same year the army disbanded the Mechanized Division "Folgore", leaving the Paratroopers Brigade "Folgore" as only heir of the name and traditions associated with the name "Folgore".
In 1991 tactical group of the brigade was sent to Kurdistan as part of the Operation Provide Comfort. The same year the army disbanded seven combat brigades as the Cold War had ended. On 31 May 1991 the "Folgore" received the 183rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion "Nembo" from the Mechanized Brigade "Gorizia", which subsequently was re-roled as a paratroopers battalion. Beginning in 1992 the battalions returned to their regimental names. The brigade's new structure was as follows:
On 3 December 1992 the brigade deployed for a year to Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope (later Unified Task Force). There the brigade was engaged in a battle on 2 July 1993 where it lost three men and a further 36 were injured. The three deceased soldiers were each awarded the Gold Medal of Military Valor for their conduct during the battle.
On 1 October 1997 the brigades passed to the Projection Forces Command (Comando Forze di Proiezione or COMFOP), which commanded all rapid-deployable units of the Italian Army. However on 1 December 2000 the brigade passed to the 1st Defence Forces Command (1° Comando Forze di Difesa or COMFOD 1°) and received the 5th Engineer Battalion "Bolsena" in Legnano, which was renamed as 8th Engineer Regiment "Folgore" and incorporated the brigade's Paratroopers Engineer Company "Folgore". The same year on 31 August the 185th Paratroopers Artillery Regiment "Folgore" retired its howitzers and began its conversion to a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol Special Operations unit.
In March 2001 the brigade lost its logistic battalion and the 26th Light Airplanes and Helicopters Squadron "Giove" and when in 2002 the Carabinieri were separated from the Army to become the Fourth Armed Force of Italy the 1st Carabinieri Paratroopers Regiment "Tuscania" left the brigade. From April to September 2005 the brigade was employed in Iraq as part of the Multi-National Force - Iraq. In 2007 the brigade sent a task force to East Timor as part of International Force for East Timor, while the majority of its units deployed to Lebanon as part of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon II. The brigade deployed twice to Afghanistan in support of ISAF - once in 2009 and once in 2011
With the 2013 reform the "Folgore" changed its composition significantly. The brigade lost its two special forces units which both passed to the Army Special Forces Command (COMFOSE) in Pisa. In return the brigade received the Regiment "Savoia Cavalleria" (3rd) from the Airmobile Brigade "Friuli", the 33rd Self-propelled Field Artillery Regiment "Acqui" from the Mechanized Brigade "Granatieri di Sardegna" and the 6th Logistic Regiment from the disbanded Logistic Projection Command. Upon entering the brigade the 33rd Artillery Regiment was renamed as 185th Paratroopers Artillery Regiment "Folgore", while the 6th Logistic Regiment was renamed as Logistic Regiment "Folgore". Thus the current composition of the brigade is:
The paratrooper regiments are equipped with Lince light multirole vehicles. The maneuver support companies of the paratrooper regiments are equipped with 120mm mortars and Spike anti-tank guided missile systems. The cavalry regiment is equipped with Centauro tank destroyers and VTLM Lince vehicles. The brigade's artillery regiment is equipped with 18x 120mm mortars.
The personnel of the brigade's units wears the following gorget patches: