Medics – Italian Nibbio Task Force on Dangerous Mission


By Maj. William Mott, 11th Public Affairs Detachment

BAGRAM, Afghanistan — The Italian Nibbio Task Force has deployed into the Afghan mountains surrounding Forward Operating Base Salerno in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to execute the dangerous mission of search and seizure for the War on Terror.

Supporting the Italian Nibbio Task Force is a formidable medical team of eight doctors, six nurses and 12 medics.

Nibbio is equipped to support itself medically and augment the Task Force-44 Combat Support Hospital if the coalition was to sustain mass casualties.

Managing the medical team is Dr. Lt. Col. Luigi De Meo, chief of medicine, from Turin, Italy and Dr. Maj. Alfonso Zizza, director of Sanitary Service, from Messina, Sicily. Their specialties are respectively, urology and neurology. FOB Salerno has three doctors who specialize in cardiology, preventative medicine, internal medicine and one general practitioner.

“Our medical team is well supplied with a mobile pharmacy, ambulatory dental lab, and five ambulances,” said De Meo. Two ambulances are in Salerno.

The first aid station in Bagram can hold 12 patients and operates as a Level 1 plus stabilization clinic until the patient can be moved to the TF-44 CSH for more critical care. The aid station is divided into triage, recovery and quarantine areas to manage injuries, ailments and infectious diseases.

“Having our own resources allows us to operate independently and offer assistance to TF-44 if needed rather than request it. This makes the Nibbio Task a true ally in the War on Terror,” said Zizza.

Physical injuries are not the only battle losses that armies face in battle. Fatigue, stress, shock and malaise, or the loss of will, account for a high loss of troop strength. Because of this the medical team has a resident psychiatrist in Salerno to provide care for troops who may show symptoms of depression or stress.

This is the first combat deployment for the Italian army since WWII and has a contingent of more than 950 soldiers comprised of troops from six Italian brigades that have successfully participated in more than 15 international operations other than war over two decades.

“By supporting ourselves, we support the success of OEF,” said Zizza.