The Nucleo Operativo Centrale di Securezza group, or NOCS for short, was created at the end of 1978 as the successor to the special police group Nucleo Anticommando, while the first such unit in the Italian law enforcement system.
The reason for the creation of the group was the same as that of similar units in other countries. The growing terrorist activity has forced many governments to reconsider their views on security issues both inside and outside the country. The impetus for the birth of the NOCS group was the events of 1972 of the year that occurred during the Munich Olympiad, when Palestinian terrorists from the Black September group were taken hostage by Israeli athletes. The extremely unsuccessful actions of the German police, unprepared for such threats, led to the death of the Israelis. Members of the same group later at the Fiumincino airport near Rome attacked a Pan Am airliner, causing an explosion inside the plane that killed 30 passengers. At the same time, in Italy itself, terrorists from the Red Brigade grouping launched a large-scale activity to capture hostages, including high-ranking politicians, judges, and businessmen. In addition, several other terrorist organizations, such as the New Order, Proletarian Armed Group, and others, were active on the Apennine Peninsula in the 1970s.
All this forced the Italian authorities to radically reconsider the system of countering terrorism. It was at that time that the General Inspectorate for Combating Terrorism was created in the country. A year later, she is transformed into a “Security Service” (Servicio di Sicurezza - SDS). One of its divisions is the intervention group Nucleo Anticommando, whose command was entrusted to Andrea Skandurran.
He was one of the founders of the combat team that operated in the 1960s in the regions of Sardinia and Calabria against gangs who were outraged in these areas. Since this unit has proven itself very well, on October 24 of 1977, the Minister of the Interior, Francesco Cossiga, decided to create several special units to combat terrorism and conduct special operations “Unità Interventi Speciali-UNIS”. Already in 1978, such groups became part of the Military Counterintelligence Service and the Information Security Service. In addition, the Anti-Terrorism Directorate was incorporated into the Central Bureau of Investigation and Special Operations, and the Nucleo Anticommando group was accordingly included in this department as a tactical unit and soon changed its name to Nucleo operativo centrale di Sicurezza (NOCS ). The division became subordinate to the director of the 4 division of the Central Bureau of Investigation.
In 1983, another reorganization took place, as a result of which the Central Bureau of Investigation was reorganized into the Central Public Security Police Directory. This reorganization did not affect the NOCS group; however, in the period from 1983 to 1986, a number of changes occurred in the structure of the division, and new tasks for the protection of VIPs appeared. The central police directory of the Department of Public Security was merged with the Special Operations Division, which hosted the NOCS team.
At the beginning of the new millennium, circumstances arose that required the development of specific specializations in the antiterror group; therefore, intervention units appeared in it, as well as divers, specialists in explosives, dog handlers, snipers and a number of others.
Today, the NOCS team performs the most complex tasks associated with increased risk and typical for special units. Naturally, this places high demands on the physical and psychological condition of the unit’s fighters.
The group performs tasks that, due to their complexity and danger, cannot be performed by ordinary police units, namely, the release of hostages, the neutralization and detention of members of terrorist organizations and mafia groups, the implementation of interference when firearms are used. weapon. Leather heads provide protection for both Italian and foreign VIPs throughout the country, especially those who are potential targets for terrorists or criminals.
NOCS is included in the Central Public Security Police Directory of the Italian Ministry of the Interior. The direct management of the group is carried out by the chief of the operational command of special operations. The unit serves around 140 operatives, divided into 5 teams. The headquarters of the group is located in Rome, since 2003, it is commanded by Colonel Paolo Gropuzo. The main part of the group - combat units - is located in the suburbs of Rome on the territory of the multifunctional police training center. On this base there is housing for operatives, an arsenal, a workshop and a garage for vehicles, a dog kennel, a pool, an office building, a shooting gallery, objects for high-altitude training, a driving range and a shooting range with a heading for shooting at a distance of 200 meters.
NOCS consists of a command and a secretariat, whose task is to provide administrative aspects of the unit, and two sections: operational and operational support.
Operational service includes two operational groups for special events, a security operational group and a department for selection, education and training.
Task forces for special operations carry out the tasks of rescuing hostages, invading objects that are under the control of terrorists, apprehending dangerous armed criminals, and providing support to territorial police units. The security operations team is primarily responsible for the security of VIPs. The task forces consist of invasion teams, as well as teams of specialists: divers, dog trainers, snipers, paratroopers, etc.
The operational support service includes a group of vehicles, medical support, communications, technical staff.
The Technical Research and Training Department is staffed with instructors who have extensive experience in operational units. In addition to the selection of new employees, planning and conducting training courses, the staff of the department provides methodological assistance to officials responsible for training the fighters of the group. Other duties of the specialists of this department are the analysis and testing of technical means, special equipment, weapons, which can be used in the process of the group’s service activities. In addition, they follow the innovations in the field of special equipment, weapons, communications, analyze changes in the actions of terrorists, coordinate the exchange of experience with foreign colleagues. It is this department that is usually entrusted with the training of employees from other divisions and services of the Italian police and state bodies, as well as special foreign units with which the NOCS group cooperates.
We note, however, that the “leather heads” regularly exchange experience with many of their colleagues around the world, such as the Serb group SAJ, the Belgian ESI, the Spanish GEO, the French RAID, the German GSG-9, the Israeli Yams, and the special divisions of the American FBI and the Japanese police. In 2003, the NOCS group joined the international organization ATLAS, which includes 32 anti-terrorism units from 27 European countries.
Selection and training
To become a member of the NOCS group, you must pass a hard multistage selection. In this case, the main condition for admission to the police special forces of Italy is absolute voluntariness. Those who wish to become a member of the group must have at least four years of service in the police. The selection begins with an interview, which is conducted by one of the experienced officers of the group, followed by a detailed medical examination, a number of psychological tests and a test of the physical capabilities of the candidate.
The Fizo test includes: running on 5000 meters (up to 20 minutes), running on 100 meters (up to 14 seconds), swimming freestyle on 100 meters, high jump (not less than 1,35 meter), long jump (not less 4,5 meters), climbing a rope only using hands, firing a pistol at distances in 15 and 25 meters. In the course of the selection, special attention is paid to the motivation of candidates, their psychological stability, which will be necessary in the performance of official duties.
All those who have passed the initial screening are sent to the base course of study lasting 6 months. The same criteria are used to select women.
Basic training includes such sections as physical training, passing obstacles, studying martial arts, climbing, orienteering and topography. Beginners are also introduced to operational tactics, methods of intervention, invasion of objects seized by terrorists, methods of apprehending dangerous armed criminals, tactics of protecting VIPs, situational shooting, operational driving of a car, etc. Some time is spent by candidates in the Moen School of Mines where they acquire the qualification "mountaineer". Particular attention is paid to learning how to use helicopters and how to descend from them on the ropes. In the base camp there are high-altitude objects for training: a tower, a climbing wall. Traditionally, a lot of time is spent on firing training and practicing actions indoors.
In addition, there are courses for divers and underwater saboteurs; in the engineering school in Keccinola in the vicinity of Rome, there is a basic course on the use of explosive devices. Also, newcomers learn first aid techniques, including the basics of resuscitation in the field, they undergo parachute training on the basis of a civil parachute school to receive the Free Fall Advanced (FFA) qualification (jump in a free fall), etc.
Usually, no more than 5–10 percent of candidates pass all tests, and it is they who are enrolled in the staff of the NOCS group. After that, they begin a long and difficult path to advancement in the career ladder and mastery of their specialty. During the first two years, new employees expand and deepen their knowledge by attending special courses both in the unit itself and in special educational centers of the police, ground forces and the naval fleet. They also additionally study the tactics of hostage-freeing, sniper training, mine-blasting, master special equipment and tools designed to remove obstacles and intruders into enclosed spaces, buildings, structures, especially tasks in areas affected by RBF, advanced technologies diving, summer and winter mountaineering, topography, methods of training service dogs.
Specially selected members of the NOCS group attend a special course for divers at the COMSUBIN commando school in La Spezia. There, they are trained in the use of vehicles with a closed respiratory system, driving boats, learn methods of counter-terrorism tactics on the water. All members of the intervention teams undergo training in downhill skiing and mountaineering at the Moena Mountain Police Training Center.
Recently, the command of the group pays great attention to the study and analysis of various scenarios of terrorist attacks, especially in cases where chemical, biological and nuclear substances are used. The NOCS group has strengthened the training of its employees in this very direction, in order to acquaint them with this danger, the characteristics and characteristics of hazardous substances, the technologies for their production, to teach them how to counter such threats at the tactical and strategic level, and to select adequate protection mechanisms.
During its existence, the group participated in almost 5700 operations related to the release of hostages, the detention of dangerous criminals, and others, of which about 420 tasks were in the nature of providing force support to units of the Italian police. Since 1987, “leather heads” have carried out around 250 the arrests of various Italian mafia, criminal gangs and terrorist organizations. Thanks to their professional actions, 329 hostages who were captured by terrorists were released, while 40 aircraft thieves were arrested.
For outstanding performance in 12 performance, NOCS employees were awarded American silver medals, which they received for successful actions to free the American Red Dozier organization captured by the terrorists “Red Brigades”. 28 January 1982, the special forces stormed the apartment where the general was being held, disabling four terrorists. A weapon depot (machine guns, plastic explosives, hand grenades) and cases of well-known Italian citizens who were to be the targets of new abductions were found in the room. The authorities of Italy noted the merits of the group: the special forces were awarded one gold, 14 silver and 5 bronze medals for civil courage.
This elite unit of the Italian police is distinguished by high professional and moral qualities of employees and a strong sense of loyalty of each member of the group to his unit. By the way, the slogan of “leather heads” is the Latin expression “Sicut nox silentes”, which means “Silent as night” ...
The NOCS group is armed with the most modern small arms, special equipment and equipment to successfully solve a wide range of tasks.
Each employee has at his disposal several types of short-barreled weapons, of which the most commonly used examples are the Beretta Mod.92, Beretta Px4 Storm and H&K P-2000. All of them are ideal for performing tasks, and most importantly, they are very convenient for concealed wearing under a civilian suit.
The main weapon in interventions remains the H&K MP-5 submachine gun, especially its compact MP5 A5 version, the MP5 SD6 silencer version, and the shortened MP5 KPDW (all 9x19 Parabellum). Each of these samples can be additionally equipped with various auxiliary devices, such as various types of target designators, laser markers, night vision scopes and tactical flashlights, etc.
Recently, this legendary weapon has received its development in the form of a new version of the H&K UMP 9 in the same caliber, which should soon replace the old models.
Several years ago, the group's command decided that the unit needed a new long-barreled weapon. The choice fell on the American 5,56 mm M-4 carbine, which is used in other Italian special units. This sample can be equipped with many additional devices and devices, such as night sights, tactical flashlights, underbarrel grenade launchers, various aiming systems, including those using a laser. In addition, the group has a small number of H&K G-36 rifles (mostly with a short barrel), which are used to guard escorts of VIPs. The most recent example of this kind of weapon was a rifle produced by the Patriotic Ordinance Factory, which is, in fact, a radically redesigned self-loading M-16 rifle, equipped with modern optics and auxiliary devices.
In addition, among the long-barreled samples in the group's arsenal, there is the Austrian Steyr AUG rifle, which entered service with the unit in the late 90s of the last century, equipped with x4 fixed magnification optics. In addition, the special forces use older versions acquired in the late 1980s: Israeli self-loading rifles GALIL VB-STB 5,56 mm (which are actually analogous to the Kalashnikov assault rifle, only converted to NATO caliber), German H&K G-41 in combination with the H&K 79 40 underbarrel grenade launcher, as well as domestic Beretta AR / SC-70/90.
NOCS fighters use Benelli M-4 rifles and Beretta 202 as a more powerful assault weapon; Franchi PA3 – 345 rifles and its short version PA3 / 215, which are ideally suited for security tasks, can be used as a backup option. In addition, Franchi SPAS 15 semi-automatic rifle is worth mentioning. It is mainly used during an invasion of the premises or when it is necessary to break locks or locks on doors, gates, and also to provide fire support to assault groups.
The most important part of the group's arsenal is sniper weapons, which are used in the most difficult situations during anti-terrorist operations. Since its inception, the unit has been equipped with Mauser 86 SR rifles in 7,62 x51 (.308 Winchester) manual-bolt and H&K G-3 SG / 1 and PSG-1 semi-automatic rifles equipped with Zeiss scopes with x6 magnification, as well as night sights Simrad Optronics KN 202. For firing at long distances in the late 1990s, the group purchased French Ultima Ration rifles with an integrated silencer. Currently, NOCS snipers use rifles such as HS Precision, Sako TRG-21 7,62 x51 mm, Accuracy International caliber .338 Lapua Magnum, as well as Sako TRG-22, caliber .308 Winchester, equipped with Schmit & Bender optics.
Now about the equipment. NOCS fighters usually wear a dark blue jumpsuit made from a special Nomex material, Danner boots that are comfortable to wear both in urban and in field conditions. The materials used in shoes prevent slipping, have antistatic properties.
On the left sleeve of the jacket there is a semicircular chevron “Polizia”, on the right - a chevron with the national flag and the emblem of the group with the motto “Sicut Nox Silentes”.
For actions in urban environments, another camouflage of the type “Vegetata” or “San Marco” is used, in combination with the shoes “Cosmas Novation”. With standard uniforms, divisional personnel wear locally-made Strom NOCS tactical vests. These vests may also have additional ballistic protection level NIJ IIIA due to the additional armor. The individual protection of each commando is provided by a bullet-proof vest and a Gallet-type helmet with two types of masks. In addition, to protect the head from minor strikes, the team members use Pro-Tec helmets, and they are used mainly during training practice and during parachute jumping.
The rest of the equipment includes a special French-made suit, a protective Avon mask, a camouflage suit for Guillie snipers, etc.