MILITARY ENGINEERS IN THE ITALIAN ARMY
Despite the global restructuring of the Italian Army over the last decades, as a consequence of the change of the threats and the geopolitical situation which impacted the number of personnel and units in most of the traditional specialties (Infantry, Artillery, etc…), Engineers have kept the same level.
That happens because of the peculiarity of the Engr units (Engineers called "Genio" in Italian, literally "genius") and the great flexibility and capabilities native of this type of units being they able to act as normal maneuver units and, at the same time, to carry out specific tasks like:
- Breaching defences;
- Construction of bridges to overpass obstacles (anti-tank ditches, canals, rivers, lakes);
- Restore or interdict of passage along the main roads;
- Provision of logistic facilities necessary to the other units;
- Defensive works.
Their technical ability and great dedication have characterized the history of the ITA Engr Forces, always first in deployment on Missions abroad in support of the Alliance and different Coalitions and often vigilant and heavily engaged in interventions in support of the population when natural disasters occur.
Type, organization and structure of ITA MILENG
ITA MILENG units can be categorized by type in the following way:
- Combat Engr: directly in support of manoeuver units mainly for mobility and counter mobility tasks;
- Railway Engr: dealing with railway transportation and constructions, maintenance and management of railroad tracks;
- General Support Engr: capable of constructing/repairing infrastructures (both vertically and horizontally);
- Pontoon Engr: for overcoming unfordable water gaps for movement of troops and equipment.
Currently the Corps of Engineers has been structured in formations at Regimental level: among them there are nine combat Engineers Regiments directly in support of manoeuvre Brigades located all over the national soil (namely 2nd Mountain Regt. in Trento, 3rd Regt. in Udine, 4th Regt. in Palermo, 5th Regt. in Macomer - Sardinia, 8th Parachute Regt. in Legnago, 10th Regt in Cremona, 11th Regt. in Foggia, 21st Regt. in Caserta and 32nd Mountain Regt. in Turin) and some special units able to perform peculiar MILENG tasks (6th Construction Regt. in Rome, 2nd Pontoon Regt. in Piacenza and 1st Railway Regt. in Castel Maggiore). To the aforementioned Engr units, additionally, there are the Multinational CIMIC Group (Motta di Livenza), the national C-IED Centre of Excellence and the Engr Training Regt in Rome.
Given the difference and specificity of the units' tasks and structures, they have been organized following two different concepts: all combat units are placed under the direct authority of maneuver Brigades and all the other peculiar Formations are under the direct authority of ITA Engineer Command.
Italian Engineer Command
It has been created in ROME on the 10 September 2010 through the merge of the former Engineer School and the Engineer Brigade located in UDINE.
It has overarching responsibility over all the general support Engr units the specialized personnel of those units, when needed is detached and task organized to take part in all the operational contexts both on the national soil and abroad when deployed on Mission.
The Engineer Command plays several roles on the general support engineer regiments or the direct support engineer regiments, sappers belonging to Maneuver Brigades.
In particular it is:
• Engineer Inspectorate: it carries out studies, doctrine, analysis and lessons learned on all Engineer matters including those related to the Force Protection and the C-IED;
• Training Institute: is responsible for the management and conduct of training courses on engineer as well as EOD, IEDD, C-IED and FP related matters;
• Tactical Command: it can provide C2 of the general support Engineer units (pioneers, pontoneers and railway engineers) as well as Multinational CIMIC Group and C-IED CoE or can detach teams of specialists carrying out support to other military units in both Article 5 Operations and in Crisis Response Operations (CRO).
Worth mentioning the brand new "Engr Support to FP" Center (born in January 2016) which main aim of developing national doctrine and specific qualification courses on Force Protection Engineering. It also provides technical advice to the operational planning on FP and the development of the Armed Forces programs related to FP systems.
Experiences from deployments
Military Engineers have been deployed several times in support of Italian contingents and different coalitions during missions abroad under NATO, ONU, UE umbrella showing the high and sound level of interoperability with other Nations. Worth mentioning from the MILENG point of view are missions in Bosnia – Herczegovina, Pakistan, Haiti, Iraq, Lebanon and, Afghanistan.
In this theatres ITA MILENG has incredibly improved its already huge experience in demining, EOD, C-IED, RC Force Protection Engineering. Experience on the fields has been correctly used to drive the process of renovating equipment, deriving new procedures and processes with the final purpose of working making interoperability reality instead of a dream only. This has led to make MILENG becoming the "cutting edge" of the ITA Army.