Exercise Report : Italian Army APT II/2020
Italian Army Airmobile Training exercise 2020
The Brigata Aeromobile “FRIULI” concluded the Airmobile Permanent Training II/2020 exercise with a tactical operation in late September 2020 at the Rivoli Bianchi range. Report and photos by Renzo Del Bianco
Airmobile Permanent Training in 2020
The Airmobile Permanent Training (APT) is a specific exercise of the Brigata Aeromobile (Airmobile Brigade) “Friuli”, one of the brigades belonging the Divisione “Vittorio Veneto” of the Esercito Italiano (Italian Army). The exercise is conducted twice a year and represents the peak of the training course for the units assigned to operate as the “FENICE” Task Group in Herat, Afghanistan, and the “GRIFFON” Task Group in Erbil, Iraq, for which the airmobile components constitute the main operational element.
Due to the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic this year, the APT I that usually takes place in spring did not involve any live operational activities this year and was carried out by means of virtual simulations and briefings using video conference. APT II on the other hand was able to run the complete program with all operational activities with a stringent and meticulous use of all health measures aimed at preventing potential spread of the virus among the participants.
The preparatory work of the APT begins some months in advance of the operational phases when the superior authority in command has determined the exercise scenario. The Brigade’s Command analyzes the assigned scenario and issues a set of orders to the future commanders of the Task Groups. Based on the orders, the Task Group’s commanders define and plan the necessary training activities to achieve the level required in each of the theaters. They are assisted by the regiment’s commanders of the Brigata Aeromobile “Friuli”, who are also the key providers of personnel to form the Task Groups. They will keep verifying the training progression, and also identify any gaps that have to be filled in the next operational phase of the exercise.
Upon deployment of the involved assets at the Forward Operation Base (FOB), for this edition the homebase of the 5° Reggimento AVES “Rigel” at Casarsa della Delizia, the operational phase took place from September 21st to October 2nd at various ranges and training areas situated in the west territory of the Friuli region. The exercise involved about 300 officers, non-commissioned officers, graduates and soldiers belonging to the 7° Reggimento AVES "Vega", 5° Reggimento AVES "Rigel", 3° Reggimento Operazioni Speciali ( Special Operation Regiment) AVES "Aldebaran" and airmobile infantry of the 66° Reggimento Fanteria Aeromobile "Trieste”. The helicopter support provided by the Aviazione dell’Esercito (AVES) regiments consisted of seven UH-90A ETT (Elicottero da Trasporto Tattico / Tactical Transport Helicopter), six AH-129D Mangusta EES (Elicottero da Esplorazione e Scorta / Scout and Escort Helicopter) and one UH-205 ESC-3 (Elicottero da Sostegno al Combattimento / Combat Support Helicopter).
The Brigata Aeromobile “Friuli” Commander , assisted by the Aviazione dell’Esercito (AVES) Command from Viterbo for the flight safety and flight procedures aspects, is the Training Authority of the exercise and responsible to evaluate and certify the achievement of the training levels required for the Task Group. It is a comprehensive assessment that includes the planning and conduct of close air support missions, aircraft assault, aircraft raid, recovery of injured personnel – MEDEVAC (Medical Evacuation) / NEO (Noncombatant Evacuation Operation) or IP (Isolated Personnel), as well as reconnaissance and surveillance missions in the area of deployment and key objectives.
This year the Airmobile Permanent Training saw a further expansion with the inclusion of the federated exercise “Dagger Resolve 2020”, in order to include the specific training purposes of the airmobile brigade (interoperability, ability to conduct airmobile operations and development of command and control procedures) in the broader context of Battlespace Management (BSM). As a result, the APT II/2020 integrated also assets from different brigades of the Divisione (Division) “Vittorio Veneto”, like the 8° Reggimento Genio Guastatori Paracadutisti "Folgore", the Reggimento Logistico “Ariete” and 132° Reggimento Artiglieria Terrestre “Ariete”. This last unit deployed a self-propelled artillery PzH-2000s to adjacent training area and added another dimension for the airmobile components in the operational theater having to coordinate and take into account the artillery’s actions.
The Tactical Operation
The tactical operation to conclude APT II/2020 took place on September 30th at the Rivoli Bianchi range, near the town of Venzone. After the briefing at the Casarsa della Delizia FOB, the Brigata Aeromobile “Friuli” Command repositioned for the exercise and were flown to the range by the UH-205. The Divisione “Vittorio Veneto” Commander, Division General Angelo Michele Ristuccia, and the Brigata Aeromobile “Friuli” Commander, Brigadier General Stefano Lagorio, attended the exercise.
The action started with a mortar attack on a logistical convoy, which was blocked at a dangerous position. One UAV monitoring the surrounding area identified the site from where the hostile group had fired, as well as its composition. The information was shared in real time with the Task Group’s Command, which immediately planned a mission and sent two AH-129Ds to neutralize the threat. The scenario chosen for the exercise, however, also involved one helicopter having been hit and forced to make a hard impact emergency landing that damaged the helicopter and prevented one of the pilots from exiting the cockpit. As a consequence, the Task Group’s command activated a personnel recovery patrol, that is also able to carry out a medical evacuation of the injured pilot, and one airmobile infantry platoon to secure the area around the crash site and convoy. All infantry components were transported by UH-90As, while AH-129Ds covered and monitored the surrounding area for protection, ready to intervene if necessary.
The tactical operation lasted about 35 minutes, during which we had the privilege to document the action being able to take splendid photos from a great position.
Ultimately, the Brigata Aeromobile “Friuli” must maintain a constant high level of readiness to meet the operational commitments in international theaters (currently Iraq and Afghanistan) and in the national territory as required by the Government Authority, such as for the “Strade Sicure” (Safe Streets) mission that makes it possible for military personnel of the Italian Armed Forces to be called upon for specific and exceptional crime prevention needs in metropolitan or densely populated areas. A new challenge for the Brigade, in coordination with the AVES Command in Viterbo, is the commitment to supply airmobile components to operate on board of the San Giusto or San Giorgio class LPD (Landing Platform Dock) ships of the Italian Navy, implementing the Joint Rapid Response Force (JRRF) concept.
I would like to thank Lt. Col. P. di Bisceglie PI of the Brigata Aeromobile “Friuli”, the Command of the Brigata Aeromobile, 1° Lgt. A. Zanot and the Command of the 5° Reggimento AVES for the opportunity granted me to be able to document the event in total safety and in accordance with all health measures in light of Covid-19.
Last Modified: 31 December 2020