The Carabinieri Corps was founded on July 13th, 1814. As an Armed Force, it reports, through the Chief of Defence, directly to the Ministry of Defence for its military tasks. It concurs, together with the other Armed Forces, to the integrated defence of the Italian Homeland and to the safeguard of the Italian institutions. It is the sole Military Police Force for the Army, Navy and Air Force.
As a Police Force, it reports to the Ministry of Interior for whatever concerns homeland public order and security and it has a nation-wide responsibility in enforcing Law and Order and in fighting all forms of crime. In accordance with the criminal procedural code, when dealing with investigations and judiciary tasks, the Carabinieri Corps works under the direction of the Judiciary Authority. Furthermore, in case of natural disasters, the Carabinieri Corps supports civilian agencies in relief and in public safety operations.
The Carabinieri General Headquarters, located in Rome, is the Central Organization, where the Carabinieri General Commander manages, coordinates and controls all the activities. The Corps is manned by about one hundred and ten-thousand (110,000) Carabinieri, allotted to the four remaining organizations, namely the Territorial, the Training, the Mobile and the Specialized one.
The Carabinieri are engaged in several missions led by different International Organizations, such as NATO, EU, UN and other coalitions of willing. Their task vary from the area of peacekeeping to peace-building and reconstruction support in post-conflict contexts, with particular reference to the restructuring of local police. In most of the Peace Support Operations, carried out by Italy, the Carabinieri Corps implemented a specific model, tailoring its framework to the different given scenarios. up to 5,000 Carabinieri can be deployed overseas throughout a year.
It is worth mentioning that the Multinational Specialised Unit (MSU) is a model and a concept which has been created and applied first by the Carabinieri Corps.
The Centre of Excellence for Stability Police Units (CoESPU) is also worthy of special mention. It was founded on March 1st, 2005 on the wake of a commitment between the G8 Nations, during the Sea Island Summit in June 2004, which agreed on training some 75,000 troops, mainly coming from Africa, for the deployment in peace-keeping missions, with a component of 7,500 Carabinieri/Gendarmerie-like forces (10%) of the total number.
Co-located along with the European Gendarmerie Force Head Quarters (EGF HQ) and the NATO Stability Policing Centre of Excellence (NATO SPCOE) in the Caserma Chinotto barracks, in Vicenza, Italy, CoESPU is part of what is now considered the international doctrinal hub for “Stability Policing”.
The Carabinieri’s international commitment is a fundamental part of the Corps’ institutional mission. In 1855, the Carabinieri participated in the Crimean war with a contingent of 52 servicemen, carrying out police duties, especially in the city of Constantinople. From then on, the institutional engagement continued in Crete, Macedonia, Albania, Chile, Greece, Palestine, Somalia and Lebanon. Since the early ‘90s the Corps has expanded its commitment to maintaining international peace and security through peacekeeping missions led by relevant international organizations, thus experimenting an operational formula that today is commonly known by the acronym of MSU. (Multinational Specialized Unit). The need to deploy gendarmerie-type police forces in a theatre of operations, to bridge the security gap between the capabilities of military forces – not specifically trained to uphold public safety with a preventative approach – and the local security structures’ lack of capacity, was first felt in 1997 by the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe (SACEUR) who was responsible for the implementation of the Dayton accords.
It was then that, in August 1998, the Corps, after the approval by the North Atlantic Council, deployed the MSU. Regiment in Bosnia, with the aim of enforcing public order and security, assisting the return of refugees, supporting the establishment of the local government and contributing to crisis management, in coordination with the UN led – International Police Task Force (IPTF). That formula proved to be very effective and was to be replicated in other similar scenarios: from the NATO operation in Albania, to Kosovo, a region where there is still an MSU regiment, to Iraq, in Nassiriya, where on November 12, 2003, during the attack against the «Mistral» base, the MSU headquartered 19 Italians lost their life, including 12 Carabinieri members. In the same year, during an informal meeting of the EU Defence Ministers held in Rome on October 8th, 2003, the Carabinieri, building on the expertise gained by MSU, launched an initiative aimed at establishing a European Gendarmerie Force (EUROGENDFOR). This force was planned in order to be made available to the EU and to the main international organisations, and able to perform a set of activities, in Crisis Management Operations (CMO), to replace or strengthen local, non-existent police forces incapable of effectively carrying out their tasks due to lack of capacity. The importance attributed by the Carabinieri to EUROGENDFOR is testified by the continuing support provided for the initiative since the early stages of the project development, and by the willingness to host the Permanent Headquarters (PHQ) of the Force in Vicenza inside the Stability Policing international hub where both the Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units (COESPU) and the NATO Stability Policing Centre of Excellence (NATO SP CoE) co-exist.
The placement of the EGF PHQ in the same seat where two other Centres of Excellence operate ensures a continuous exchange of expertise and knowhow, thus enhancing the specificity and efficiency of EUROGENDFOR and its significant contribution to the European Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). This promotes the additional value provided by police forces with military status which, since the early phases of an operation, can intervene with full police powers in destabilized scenarios and under the military chain of command and control in line with stability policing principles.
The Corps contributes to the EGF PHQ with 11 representatives, five officers and six warrant officers, In 2019, the Carabinieri will cover the position of EGF commander for the second time.