Italian paratroopers train at U.S. Army complex in Vicenza as part of exchange program

Feb. 4, 2013

By David Ruderman, U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza Public Affairs Office

Italian paratroopers train in Vicenza.

VICENZA, Italy -- Noncommissioned Officers (left to right) Ivan Costantini, Rosario Fazzone and Simone Rafaelli monitor operations during Command Post Exercise training at the Vicenza Mission Training Complex on Caserma Ederle here, Jan. 29. The Italian paratroopers, from the 186th Regiment, Folgore Brigade in Pisa and Livorno, Italy, traveled to Vicenza to conduct the regimental-level CPX. The group represented the latest rotation in an ongoing series of joint training exchanges between U.S. Army Europe's 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and its partners. (Photo by David Ruderman)

VICENZA, Italy - Approximately 60 Italian parachutists of the 186th Regiment, Folgore Brigade, took part in a Command Post Exercise at Caserma Ederle here during January.

The regiment's advance party began setting up its operating environment in the middle of the month for the CPX that lasted until Jan. 31. During the CPX in the Vicenza Mission Training Complex, the 186th soldiers simulated a Wide Area Security mission to stabilize a rear area, ensure ground routes remained open and secure, and undertake host nation support roles.

While the regiment's use of the training center is is not out of the ordinary, this particular CPX came together quickly, said VMTC officials.

"This is something the regiment requested," said VMTC chief James Beverly. "We actually put it together in less than 30 days."

It was important for the regiment to train in a hybrid environment, said Lt. Col. Sergio Cardea, the Folgore Brigade operations officer and a 20-year airborne veteran who acted as the head of the higher headquarters in the exercise.

"It is exactly as with the other regiment last October," said Cardea, referring to similar scenario training last fall in which the Folgore Brigade headquarters section participated as part of USAREUR's Saber Junction exercise at the Joint Multinational Training Center in Germany.

"Just like last time, we had mission command program come down from Germany to teach the science portion," said VMTC simulation specialist Paul Toombs. "The biggest difference is that last time the (higher headquarters) was in Germany." This time he said all that support was internal, with the 173rd ABCT rear detachment commander providing personnel to act as a joint higher headquarters and role-play all its command functions.

The 186th parachutists have trained on Caserma Ederle before.

"We did a similar exercise in 2010 and the 186th was involved. This particular training at the moment is not tied to deployment, it is general training," Cardea said.

Deployment is a regular part of the brigade's battle rhythm. It deployed to Afghanistan as recently as 2011. Building its partnership with the 173rd is key to its mission and part of its routine as well.

"We have many exchanges with the 173rd in many activities," Cardea said.

The scenarios for the CPX challenged the paratroopers to plan and execute logistical tasks and manage incidents, including enemy contact and dealing with casualties. Col. Roberto Angius, the 186th Regiment commander, said working through the CPX gave the U.S. and Italian Soldiers plenty of chances to share skills and knowledge.

"We have the opportunity to have here an exchange of experience, from the U.S. Soldiers to us, but also from us to them, from experience of other theaters," Angius said. "It is especially Afghanistan now, but other theaters as well."

Both nations bring a variety of experiences to the event that offer unique and valuable lessons, said Angius, who has personally served in Lebanon, Somalia and Kosovo. The Folgore Brigade's experience has made its soldiers particularly knowledgeable about the cultures of the Mediterranean region and North Africa, he said.

"Each nation is different. It's important in this kind of operation. It is interesting to know their experience, perhaps in Central America. It's important to put together these experiences," said Angius. "Every nation is different. Every nation has a different approach to the same reality. Therefore it is important among different nations to see the approach each may have and determine which one is the best."

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