US, Italian police corps celebrate longtime partnership



By Staff Sgt. Amanda Fry SETAF-Africa Public Affairs Vicenza, Italy Sep 24, 2021
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On Sept. 22, 2021, members of the Italian Carabinieri Corps were recognized for their longstanding efforts in both the Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units (CoESPU), and the Operational Protection Directorate, U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa at Caserma Chinoto in Vicenza, Italy.

Lt. Col. Vito Camassa was awarded with the Medaglia di Lungo Comando, and Col. Maurizio Mele was recognized with the Medaglia Mauriziana, both prestigious awards presented by the Italian Carabinieri Corps.

Additionally, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Antonio Spinelli and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Franco Bove, and Brig. Gen. Giovanni Pietro Barbano were recognized with the U.S. Army Military Police Regimental Association’s Friend of the Regiment award by CoESPU and SETAF-AF for their ongoing cooperation and partnership.

In remarks, SETAF-AF Operational Protection Directorate Sgt. Maj. Joel Zecca recognized Spinelli and Bove. He spoke on his personal work with the two officers, which began in 2008, when the three were conducting missions in Afghanistan.

“The first time that our base was attacked, rockets and gunfire, we had to respond,” Zecca said. “My very first firefight was in Kabul, and I was not worried, I was not concerned, because when I looked to my right, (CW3) Franco Bove was with me. When I looked to my left, (CW5) Antonio Spinelli was with me.”

“I can’t thank you enough,” Zecca said.  “You were there in that first firefight -- something you can’t forget. I thank you. It is truly an honor not only for the Army and our Military Police Corps, but for our nation to stand in front of these two great flags on an Italian base and present this American award, it is incredible.”

Col. Rebecca Hazelett, the CoESPU deputy director, said that the awards ceremony, which took place approaching the 80th anniversary of the U.S. Military Police Corps and the 16th Anniversary of CoESPU in Vicenza, is a significant reminder of the ongoing partnership between U.S. Army military police and the Italian Carabinieri Corps.

“This the 80th Military Police Regimental week, and this is a great opportunity to recognize the Carabinieri officers that we work with on a daily basis here at CoESPU at an Italian compound in honor of the Military Police Corps association. Sgt. Maj. Zecca saw the opportunity on the horizon and seized it, and this ceremony happened.  It’s the perfect time.” 

Barbano also spoke at the event on the longstanding partnership between the two units, with efforts ranging from local community protection, to security and peacekeeping missions throughout the world.

“During many occasions, the U.S. military police and Italian Carabinieri faced serious combat situations and provided security to the force, protection to the force and civilians, providing the security and the safety of protection and supplies,” he said. “We are grateful to the soldiers who come and allow us to have freedom and democracy,” Barbano added.  “Let’s keep moving forward with this partnership, and the strong links between our corps.”

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