2015-10-19 In an article by Pietro Batacchi published today on the website of Rivista Italiana Difesa, Batacchi looks at the implications of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and President Obama’s decision to stay longer in Afghanistan for Italy.
With the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan, there is the question of maintaining the security of the Italian forces as they conduct their training mission.
The Italian troops (with 700 men concentrated in the large base of Camp Arena at Herat Airport) are part of TAAC-W, which is one of the NATO commands in Afghanistan.
Force protection for the base is provided by the 5th Infantry Regiment which consists of two companies of riflemen along with a Quick Reaction Force as well.
There is also Task Force Phoenix, which includes Italian NH-90 helicopters used to transport personnel, and supplies and Augusta AW-129 Mongustas for escort as well as Special Forces to provide intelligence and assistance to the Afghan forces.
With Obama’s decision, Italy will have to determine its role going ahead. The earlier decision was to reduce from July 2016 the presence until withdrawal.
Task Force Phoenix, or more properly known as Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix (CJTF Phoenix), is an international military formation.
It was organized by the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) in 2003-2004 to train and mentor the newly created Afghan National Army/Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to establish and maintain law and order throughout Afghanistan using Embedded Training Teams or ETTs.
Editor’s Note: The plan as of March was to withdraw at the end of the current deployment cycle.
Crack Italian Alpine troops from the Julia regiment began Italy’s final tour of peace-keeping duty in western Afghanistan Wednesday after relieving a contingent of plume-helmeted Bersaglieri.
The hand-over as Italy’s mission ‘Resolute Support’ approaches its end in October comes after 10 years of Italian peacekeeping in the war-torn country that has cost 54 Italian lives and wounded many others.
After October Italy will retain only around 70 soldiers in the Kabul area, military sources said. At a handover ceremony Gen. Maurizio Scardino, commanding officer of the Garibaldi regiment of Bersaglieri, passed the baton to Gen. Michele Risi of the Julia regiment, meaning some 500 Italian troops will be in Afghanistan over the next six months compared to as many as 4,200 deployed in Afghanistan at the height of the Italian deployment.