Today’s SOF “Pic of the Day” highlights members of the Italian Gruppo di Intervento Speciale (GIS). This photo was taken near Herat, Afghanistan, in November 2011, over a decade ago. My, how time flies. These gentlemen were likely members of Task Force 45 (TF-45), operating as part of Operation Sarissa and part of the International Security Assistance Task Force (ISAF).

The existence of the task force was considered to be confidential, and their numbers were not considered when looking at the overall contingent of Italian soldiers in the country at the time, 2011. However, educated estimations put their numbers at somewhere around 200.

Italian SOF Fact of the Day: A “Sarissa,” after which the operation was named, was a type of wooden battle spear used by the Macedonians.

Bonus Italian SOF Fact of the Day: TF-45 was the largest special forces unit fielded by Italy since that used in Operation Ibis in 1992-1994 in Somalia.

Inside the Italian Gruppo di Intervento Speciale (GIS)


In the shadowy world of counter-terrorism and high-stakes law enforcement, few units command as much respect as Italy’s Gruppo di Intervento Speciale (GIS). An elite Special Forces unit of the Carabinieri, Italy’s gendarmerie, the GIS stands at the forefront of Italy’s response to domestic and international security threats. This article delves into the formation, capabilities, and critical role of GIS in global security operations.

Formation and Historical Context

Established in 1978, the GIS was Italy’s answer to a growing tide of domestic terrorism during the tumultuous “Years of Lead.” These years were marked by widespread violence, primarily from extremist factions on both the left and right. The GIS was formed to provide a rapid and effective response to this new kind of threat. Over the years, its mandate has expanded, evolving with the shifting landscape of global terrorism and organized crime.

Organizational Structure

As an integral part of the Carabinieri, the GIS benefits from a unique position within Italy’s military and law enforcement framework. It operates under a centralized command, enabling swift action and efficient coordination with other national and international agencies. This structure is pivotal for a unit tasked with addressing high-risk situations where every second counts.