The Italian Almanac

alpini (Italian mountain troops)

Italian News - January 29

The Italian army will be out in force when the Turin Winter Olympics begin next month, not just providing security but also tending ski slopes and manning first aid stations. Some 2,500 soldiers, about 1,000 of them from anti-aircraft artillery regiments, will help the police and other armed forces ward off potential threats during the February 10-26 Games.

Many of the soldiers are already patrolling and protecting the Olympic sites, General Franco Cravarezza said at the presentation of the army's Olympic operations. "It's an important engagement and we are ready to provide highly professional collaboration from every point of view," he said.

The anti-aircraft units will work with the Air Force to make sure the skies are safe over Turin and its neighbouring mountains during the event. The Air Force will have fighter planes ready to intervene at a moment's notice. The rest of the soldiers will support Games organizing committee TOROC in a range of administrative jobs, with the help of a variety of technology and equipment, including snowmobiles.

The army is contributing to an Olympic security force that will be 9,000-strong in total. The Interior Ministry said it is giving security top priority as the worldwide resonance of the event and its vicinity to the April 9 Italian general elections make it a potential terrorist target. Metal-detector checks will be set up at the Olympic sites, which will also be protected by sniffer dogs and marksmen.