The Carabinieri have been active on an international scale since 1897, date of their debut in Crete. Such commitment has increasingly grown over time and currently plays an essential role in major theatres of operations, alongside that of other armed forces, to ensure legality and safety to populations in need of stability.
The key to the undisputed success of the “Carabinieri Method” is referred to as M.S.U. (Multinational Specialised Unit). It is an organisational structure arising from the original Carabinieri paradigm that, in its dual nature of “military” and “police” force, is able to perform operational tasks of order enforcement and public safety in destabilised areas and assist in the reconstruction and administration of local institutions.
The M.S.U. has become a key element in the NATO arena and a model for the EU and the UN, which in turn have developed the instruments of the Integrated Police Unit (IPU) and the Formed Police Unit (FPU) organised on the basis on the M.S.U. model.
In the 1990s, the Balkans provided the setting for the first peacekeeping mission carried out by the Carabinieri under NATO mandate, sending the first two M.S.U. Regiments to Bosnia and Kosovo, where the Corps still operates according to two different arrangements. In Bosnia, the Corps operates within the European Gendarmerie Force framework, and in Kosovo, both with a M.S.U. Regiment for civil order and for the protection of ethnic minorities, and with a contingent under the EU “EULEX” mission.
The latest trend in peacekeeping missions is aimed at the process of institutional reconstruction, thus the operational commitment of the Corps has evolved accordingly.
The Carabinieri operate in Baghdad within the “NATO Training Mission - Iraq” training the Iraqi Federal Police Force, with the finality of developing the skills of local law enforcement forces, a function already activated in the M.S.U. operation “Ancient Babylon”.
The Carabinieri have been involved in the “EUPOL Afghanistan” EU-mission for the training of the Afghan Uniformed Police since July 2007, and in the “NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan” since November 2009, helping to shape the Afghan National Civil Order Police (A.N.C.O.P.). Due to the important role covered in this context, the leadership of the police training programme was entrusted to a General of the Carabinieri.
The Carabinieri intervention penetrates to the heart of Africa, namely to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Carabinieri train local law enforcement, as part of the European “EUPOL” mission.
In the Middle East, the Carabinieri participate in the “TIPH” mission (Temporary International Presence in Hebron), to supervise the September 1995 Arab-Israeli peace agreement, as well as in the “EUBAM” mission (European Union Border Assistance Mission), supporting the Palestinian border police at the Rafah border crossing in the Gaza Strip. In addition, the Corps is committed to monitoring functions in the “UNFICYP” mission (United Nations Peacekeeping Force) in Cyprus and in the “EUMM” mission (European Union Monitoring Mission) in Georgia.
Following a specific UN request after the January 2010 Haiti earthquake, the Carabinieri took part in the UN (MINUSTAH) mission on the island, deploying in May 2010, a Formed Police Unit (FPU) of 120 single units to execute public order tasks in support of the local police and other UN agents. The personnel wore the European Gendarmerie Force (EGF) colours.
The Corps' international commitments also include the safeguard of Italian diplomatic seats overseas, under the command of the Comando Carabinieri Ministero Affari Esteri (Carabinieri Ministry of Foreign Affairs Command). This is a rather difficult job, requiring Carabinieri officers not only to possess perfect language skills, but also the ability to assess and evaluate, in agreement with the Crisis Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, critical situations, which in sensitive parts of the world can occur at any time.