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Maj. Andrea Paris


1. Preamble

Good morning, it’s an honour for me to present a short overview on the development of the doctrine on MSU, which is one of the most important and innovative experiences matured over the past years in the field of crisis response management, in national, NATO and European Union contexts. I will proceed through the following steps: - introduction on MSU; - update on the development of NATO, EU and national doctrines; - conclusions.


2. Introduction on MSU

The experience gained over the past decade in the field of crisis management operations has shown that, in relation to military operations, there is an important need for specialised forces capable of playing an effective part in complex operations with a mainly military nature but that involve facets of a non-military character: i.e. where military, civilian, security and public order issues coexist, are interdependent and have an impact on both the military operations and on the protection of the force from non-military threats stemming from the local population residing in the area of military operations. In this scenario, the military contingent might assume, on its own, public security tasks before a civil police mission is deployed to substitute or strengthen the collapsed local police infrastructure. This need was first felt by NATO in 1997 during the Bosnia-Herzegovina crisis in order to provide the complete implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement.

NATO felt the need to fill what was defined “the security gap”, the grey area between the military mission of SFOR (which troops were armed only with deadly force and were not specifically trained nor equipped to face public security problems and to manage law and order) and the mission of unarmed UN Civil Police with no executive mandate. In addition, the local police didn’t have the capability to intervene or didn’t intend to be involved in public order operations for ethnical or political reasons. The sum of these facts led to the consideration that to fill the security gap it was neither a job for a traditional combat military force nor, in a destabilised operational environment, one for the civil police. The best suitable forces were considered to be the police forces with a military status, or “gendarmerie forces”, which form the main body of an MSU. The Alliance, therefore, addressed Italy and the Carabinieri to form a Multinational Specialized Unit (MSU).

The name MSU stems from its distinctive characteristics. “Multinational” because of its wanted multinational composition and “specialized” because of its specialised role within the military instrument. 152 MSU is a specialised military tool, nowadays tested in several theatres, other than the combat military forces accustomed to operating on a FRIEND/FOE basis, which the Force Commander can have under his command to cope with the significant demands in terms of security and public order, for instance terrorist activities or crowd control. As you understand from this introduction there is a marked conceptual difference between the role of an MSU and that of a traditional combat military force. We may say that MSU, being part of the military instrument, expresses a military capability of ordinary police, which results in a new military function besides the traditional functions of “combat”, “combat support” and “combat support service”, that we can call “combat replacement” where, due to the nature of the threat, it is necessary to implement a military response with a typical mental and operational approach of an ordinary police.

This also stresses the fact that MSU’s role is something different from that of the traditional military police: the difference lies on the direction of the police effort. While the MP directs its activity towards policing and supporting the military instrument and community, the MSU, being a component of the military, directs its activity towards the civil environment in order to protect the military force from the threats originated from the civil community residing in the AOR and to ensure public security and law enforcement as well as towards the reconstruction of the local police. Although the framework of an MSU is mainly composed of police forces with a military status, nevertheless it can be integrated by Military Police forces in consideration of their professional contiguity, as the experience has shown. I said integrated by MPs and not replaced by MPs, because most of the latter, while efficient and well trained are not in a position to replace all the unique capabilities that MSUs have and to confer the large number of personnel that MSUs require while maintaining their commitment to military police tasks.

Moreover, some NATO Countries disagree on the engagement of their MPs for MSU tasks. I will not go into details on MSU’s specific tasks and operational functions such as the “Blue Box”, “Green Box”, Chain of Command, etc, because they have already been dealt with thoroughly in the previous sessions of this seminar.


3. Development of NATO, EU and national doctrines

Given this general overview on the principles that support the conceptual architecture of MSU, it is time to step into the core of this presentation which is to provide an updated panorama on the development of the national, NATO and EU MSU doctrines. I would like to stress that the three doctrines, having involved the Carabinieri as a proactive actor, lie on the same principles and are mutually harmonic and coherent. The genesis of a doctrine on MSU is, obviously, to be explored within NATO which gave birth to the Unit. MSU was established as an operational tool during a military operation without any doctrinal support, on the unique requirement to fill the security gap in Bosnia. For the aforesaid reasons, the establishment of the technical - tactical procedures, necessary for the effective employment of the Unit, anticipate and lay the foundations for an MSU doctrine, which consequently develops on the basis of the experience gained in the field, in a bottom to top process. Several references to MSU have been included in the NATO doctrine at all levels since the year 2000 with the contribution of the Carabinieri General Headquarters.

The scenario for an MSU employment was first cited in the AJP 01 (a) now superseded by the AJP 01 (b) “Allied Joint Doctrine” which chapter 2204 reads that the military, due to its capabilities, may be called on to contribute, in non art. 5 - crisis response operations, to tasks which are the responsibility of civil actors and that range from public security to border security. This is the ground on which the descendant NATO doctrine assigns to MSU a wide range of specific tasks which in a stable context traditionally fall within the responsibility of ordinary (i.e. civil) police forces. AJP 3.4. “Non art. 5 - crisis response operations” more clearly states in chapter 0407b that the military support to public security may require the involvement in operations to maintain local law and order during the initial stage of an operation until appropriate civilian authorities can take over these tasks, appointing MSU as the appropriate Unit to conduct such operations.

The same AJP also made provisions, in chapter 0405 and 0406, for crowd control capability to be possessed by the force committed to “non combatant evacuation operations”, the so called NEO, and “extraction operations”. This creates the grounds for a use of MSU forces also in the latter two scenarios. I would like to draw your attention on the fact that the employment of MSU is foreseen during the initial phase of a crisis response operation which is the most demanding and intense part of it, in view of transferring the responsibility for public security to civil authorities. In fact the timing of deployment of an MSU needs to be synchronized and concomitant with that of the combat component of the expeditionary corps. In fact, as a part of the military component of a mission, it deploys in phase 2 of PSO and may extend its presence until the end of phase 3 when the main Peace Support Force has withdrawn. The specific tasks of an MSU, however, which mission is defined as the creation of a secure environment by protecting the force from non military threats, have been listed in the AJP 3.4.1 “Peace support operations”, chapter 0529, and encompass information gathering, investigations, criminal intelligence, counter terrorism, maintenance of (local) law and order as well as all the public security related aspects. Eventually, the task of crowd control and, in general, of countering crowd violence is provided for in the ATP 3.4.1.1 “PSO tactical procedures”. While MSU is doctrinally and practically not a military police, NATO has framed it into a wider concept of military police capability. This conceptual discrepancy dates back to the origin of the Unit where the distinction between a military police force and a police force with a military status, i.e. a gendarmerie force, was not clearly perceived in the NATO environment. This is the reason why MSU was included in the Allied Procedural Publication 12 “NATO Military Police Doctrine and Procedures”, but this insertion didn’t obtain a unanimous consensus by the Nations due to MSU’s commitment in policing the civilian community. The APP 12 is meant to be superseded by a new AJP 3.2.3.3 “Military Police” and whether it will cover the general principles of the MSU function or not is yet to be determined, leaving the tactical procedures to be envisioned in a descendant ATP. Probably a separate NATO doctrinal and procedural publication on MSU would be more coherent with the NATO doctrinal corpus.

Moreover the autonomy of the MSU function of “combat replacement” from the one of MP is clearly stated in the AJP 3 “Allied Joint Operations”, chapter 2007, which, while describing the composition of Commands, states that it is also a functional component of the NATO integrated command. I would like to stress anyway that MSU is not the public enemy number one of the MP forces but the first Allied of those MPs which national legislations permit to take on ordinary police duties in theatre. While contributing to the development of a NATO doctrine on MSU, the Carabinieri have also elaborated a national publication on MSU, which is, to date, the only existing comprehensive doctrinal and procedural document that disciplines the employment of gendarmerie forces, as part of the military, for the conduct of ordinary police tasks in destabilized areas. The national document, in fact, based upon the NATO references to MSU, merges the latter with the experience matured in the operational theatres by the Carabinieri, that have commanded all 4 of the Regiments deployed so far, the SOPs issued by the Force Commanders in the theatres as well as with the EU vision for such specific operations.

It must be stressed, at this point, that no other nation is currently endowed with such a doctrinal and procedural corpus and such a consolidated experience. The national doctrine and procedures are currently applied by the 3 MSU Regiments deployed. Now we need to spend a few words on the EU MSU. As you all know, there is no EU doctrinal reference. The Carabinieri General Headquarters, although, has elaborated two documents respectively doctrinal and procedural. The first one entitled “European Union Multinational Specialised Union Concept” sets out the general principles governing an MSU, which is to be considered a sort of “bridge” towards a civil police mission, which is the same vision as NATO’s. The decision on the deployment of an MSU should be made as early as possible in the decision making process as an aspect of the Military Strategic Options (MSO), taking into consideration that in the course of the operation, should the situation require, MSU may turn into an Integrated Police Unit (IPU) under the command of the Police Head of Mission in order to stress the police function.

The role and tasks of MSU may vary in accordance to the provisions of the military concept of operations (CONOPS) and the operational plan (OPLAN). The second one, entitled “European Union Multinational Specialised Union Procedures” sets out the flexible technical - tactical procedures governing the employment of an MSU in the field, and that need to be integrated by SOPs issued by the Force Commander. It also focuses on the potential tasks of an MSU listing for each one the key factors and the broad co-ordination procedures with Military Police, local police when existing and possible International Police Missions operating in the same area. The focal aspect of the second document is flexibility in order to be able to adapt to every emerging situation in the field. The two aforesaid documents have been both submitted to the EU Military Committee and are now being staffed by the Military Staff. It must be said that while MSU is a tool that falls within the military aspect of crisis management capable of performing police duties in a highly destabilized situation to manage non military aspects that may impact negatively on military operations, the European Union, has got additional tools to carry out police duties that fall into the civil crisis management, i.e. the Integrated Police Units (IPU) for substitution missions and Police missions with no executive mandate like EUPM in Bosnia.

It is also necessary to underline that the EU police missions already have a doctrinal discipline, that was elaborated with the contribution of the Carabinieri, recently tested in the exercise “Lucerna 03” conducted in Rome by the Carabinieri themselves under the auspices of the EU and with the participation of 25 European Nations. Someone may be oblivious of the differences between MSU and IPU. Very shortly the differences lie in the mission and nature of the unit: the MSU’s mission, to create a secure environment, is part of the mission of the military force and the nature of the MSU is military, while the IPU’s mission, to consolidate a secure environment, is autonomous from that of the military contingent and the nature is civilian.


4. Conclusions

MSU is a specialised tool that the Force Commander has in his hands to cope with public security related aspects, including possible terrorist activities, ever since the initial stage of a mission. MSU undertakes the role of a bridge towards an international CIVPOL mission or until the local police is capable of taking its responsibilities. This new function of the military may be called “combat replacement” and endows the Force Commander of an exclusive capability of ordinary police, which the military instrument needs more than ever and cannot afford to lose.

It is imperative that MSU, which has been operating for 6 years now as an essential component of NATO and international crisis response operations, be disciplined in dedicated NATO and European Union doctrines or, with reference to NATO, even under the overarching of the MP with respect of its autonomy and specific requirements. In fact, the NATO doctrinal references cited before cannot substitute a text that sets out the fundamental principles by which MSU actions are guided to achieve its mission as well as the procedures by which the Unit conducts its operations. Moreover it must be stressed that while on the one hand NATO provides at least a minimum doctrinal reference for MSU, the European Union on the other doesn’t offer any. It is, therefore, necessary that the two aforementioned EU documents elaborated by the Carabinieri be endorsed as soon as possible in order to allow the EU to effectively deploy MSUs in future operations.


(*) - Major of the Carabinieri Force, Chief of the 3rd section of the Department of Military Plans
and Police at the Carabinieri Headquarters.