Nucleo Operativo Centrale di Sicurezza
The Nucleo Operativo Centrale di Sicurezza, or NOCS is Italian National Police unit responsible for executing high-risk interventions, such as the arrest of dangerous fugitives, the rescue of hostages, and conducting counterrorist operations. The unit is composed special intervention teams that are equipped with specialized weapons and equipment. NOCS is capable of rapidly deploying throughout Italy by land, sea and air.
Since its inception in 1978, the unit has carried out over 4,850 special operations and protection tasks which have resulted in 234 arrests. NOCs has also
participated in 17 interventions leading to the release of 323 hostages and the arrest of 38 kidnappers.
With the increased rise in international terrorism, during the early 70's, the Italian government came to the realization that its current security forces were ill prepared to battle this new threat. As a result, in 1974 the Chief of the Anti terrorism Bureau of the Polizia de Stato (State Police), Emilio Santillo, announced the necessity of establishing a specialized police tactical unit with the capability to arrest known terrorists and provide support to the local Anti terrorist Bureau field offices.
The initial team, named the "Anti-commando Unit", consisted of 35 men who were selected from the "Gold Flames" Police Sports Group who, and was commanded by Maj. Andrea Scandurra. After completing their initial one year training course , which included instruction in high-speed driving, firearms, and a tactical assaults, the unit was declared operational in 1975. They immediately commenced operations against the left wing terrorist organization known as "NAP" (Proletarian Armed Nucleus).
In the following years the unit conducted operations against the right wing group "New Order", which resulted in the arrests of two known terrorists, Gentile Schiavone and Pierluigi Concutelli. In 1977, the Italian Government felt the need to reorganize the structure of security services to streamline operations and improve operational capabilities. This reorganization resulted in the formation of the Military Intelligence Security Service (SISMI), Democratic Intelligence Security Service (SISDE), and the Central Office for General Investigations and Special Operations (UCIGOS). UCIGOS became responsible for conducting Italian police anti terrorism and countertrrorist activities. The police Anti-commando Unit was redesignated the Nucleo Operativo Centrale di.
Sicurezza (Central Operational Security Nucleus), and assigned to the newly formed UCIGOS as its tactical arm. Due to its new responsibilities, NOCS was authorized to expanded its ranks and new unit personnel were recruited
In January, 1982, NOCS executed what is probably it's best known, and most publicized operation. US Army Brigadier General James Dozier was kidnapped by Italian Red Brigades terrorists, while on his way to work. The terrorist held him hostage in a small apartment in Padua, and planned to execute him if their demands were not met. Using information gained by US special intelligence units, aggressive interrogation of suspects in Italian custody, and help form Mafioso informants, Italian law enforcement officials were able to narrow Gen. Dozier's location to a small apartment. Using the noise of near by construction site to mask their movements, a 10-man team of NOCS operators, dressed in civilian clothing, and operating under the command of Capt. Edoardo stormed into the apartment freeing Dozier before his captors could kill him.
In the following years NOCS expanded in size and capabilities and under new CO, then Maj. Maurizio Genolini, the unit became a full fledged CT unit, with capabilities of operations against aircraft, train, bus, Embassy and Soccer Stadium and established very good relations with several CT units in the western world.
NOCS has once again undergone a reorganization, and become the Special Operations Division of Anti-terrorism. The unit enhanced its C3I capabilities, and added a computer and video section to its roster. NOCS was at the forefront regarding the incorporation of computers into its training. NOCS has also improved its training in VIP protection and defensive driving, augmenting its training in these areas with assistance from the US Secret Service (USSS). This relationship has resulted in the formation of a unit similar in function to the USSS Counter Assault Team (CAT). Although VIP protection is not one of NOCS primary missions, they have been tasked with performing close protection duties when high profile personalities visit Italy.
Currently, NOCS is composed of approximately 100 men divided into three counter terrorist (CT) teams and one Protection Detail. The unit also maintains a Logistics Branch with specialized personnel who operate in support of operatives.
Prospective NOCS operators are drawn from the ranks of experienced National Police officers. They must successfully pass the units initial physical and psychological screening. Those who pass this phase then undertake a six month basic training program. During the initial training phase, students are provided instruction in several skills including: high-speed driving techniques, radio communications, topography, martial arts training, firearms, and specialized assault techniques, and others. These skills must be successfully mastered before the student can advance to the more specialized second phase. Candidates successfully completing the first phase, advance to the six month long advance training course. During the advanced phase students will be instructed in rock climbing and mountaineering, explosives, sniping , and other specialized skills. Lastly they attended the Italian Army's parachute school where operatives are trained in both conventional static line and HALO parachute techniques. Several unit members have received SCUBA, EOD training.
NOCS insures that its intervention techniques are constantly updated and improved through the exchange of information and joint training conducted with foreign specialist units. NOCS operators have trained with a virtual who's who of international counter terror and special operations units including: the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), Israel's YA'M'AM border guard unit, Germany's GSG-9 and and several state police SEKs, Spain's GEO, France's national police RAID unit, the Japanese NPA "Escort Service" , Swiss Ticino Canton Unit, Saudi National Guard CT Team, Belgian ESI, US Army's 10th Special Forces Group, Danish Jaegerkorpset and Dutch KCT. NOCS operators have also attended training at the International Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (ILRRP) School in Weingarten, Germany. SOD/NOCS has also been at the forefront of establishing relations with similar units of the former Warsaw Pact, including the Austrian SEG.
To help it execute its mission, NOCS has a wide range of specialized equipment and weapons at its disposal. Weapons in use by NOCS operators are known to include the following: HK-MP5 series of submachine guns equipped, with a wide variety of night vision, laser targeting, and illumination devices; Franchi SPAS-15 and Bernadelli B4 12 gauge shotguns; Baretta 92F 9mm pistols with both standard and 20 round extended magazines; Mauser 66 and HK PSG-1 7.62 mm sniper rifles.
For transportation NOCS maintains a small fleet of specialized modified vehicles that are operated by the units drivers. The fleet is known to include: Alfa-Romeo limousines, Mitsubishi vans, motorcycles, jeeps, and armored vehicles. NOCS also has access to National Police aircraft and boats for rapid transport.
Operators wear flame proof coveralls, Nomex or shooting gloves, Nomex balaclava, either a Kevlar or plastic Pro-Tec style helmet, customized assault vest, Kevlar body armor, and assault boots.