In today’s Pic of the Day, we see two Italian soldiers running in front of an M60A1 tank, which was part of “Column Alpha.” This was during the Battle of Checkpoint Pasta in Mogadishu, Somalia, on July 2nd, 1993. The incident is sometimes also known as the Battle of the Pasta Factory. This was a firefight between elements of the Italian Army and Somali rebels and is notable as being the first real military skirmish conducted by the Italian Army since the end of World War II.

At that time in Somalia, various checkpoints and strongholds tended to be named after everyday objects and common places. Checkpoint Pasta was near a deserted Barilla pasta factory by the intersection of 21 October Street and Imperial Street in Mogadishu.

Somali rebels, led by General Mohammed Farah Aidid, ambushed Italian forces at that location. The event turned out to be a prelude to US involvement in the Battle of Mogadishu in October.

Setting the Scene

In an effort named “Operation Kangaroo 11” on July 2, 1993, Italian troops organized two mechanized teams aiming to search for weaponry in the Haliwaa sector of Mogadishu. Close to an old Barilla pasta plant, a critical checkpoint named “Pasta” was established.


One squad, known as Alpha, started its journey from Mogadishu’s historic port. The other, Bravo, began from Balad, a city roughly twenty kilometers from Mogadishu, which served as a pivotal Italian base during this mission. The teamsโ€™ goal was a rectangle about 400 by 700 meters, spanning between Checkpoint Ferro and Pasta.

After their reconnaissance mission was completed, as both teams headed back, the area erupted in chaos, with snipers taking positions among the escalating violence. Due to the deteriorating situation for the Somalis, Bravo team, which was then near the pasta plant, had to intervene.


Somali militants effectively used barricades to trap some of the Italian VCC-1 Camillino armored vehicles, using anti-tank missiles to immobilize them. In the ensuing conflict, Paratrooper Pasquale Baccaro lost his life, and two others, Sergeant Major Giampiero Monti and Paratrooper Massimiliano Zaniolo, were injured.