Solbiate Olona (VA). On the 11th of December, at 6,30 pm, the Mayors of the Olona Valley gathered in the Officer Club of the “Ugo Mara” barracks to receive the traditional greetings for the coming Christmas season from the Commander of NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Italy (NRDC-ITA), Lt Gen. Giorgio Battisti, via videoconference from Kabul. Gen. Battisti, in Afghanistan since the 15th of January 2013 as Chief of Staff of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the First Citizens and the media representatives for their attendance, a clear example of the strong bond of the Headquarter with the community. He also said he looks forward to meeting them on the return of the NRDC-ITA contingent from Afghanistan on the 25th of January, and on the official welcome ceremony on the 10th of February at the “Ugo Mara” barracks.
Gen. Battisti added that they will celebrate in the traditional Italian way on Christmas Eve in Kabul, with the Holy Mass and a cup of hot chocolate so that the distance from home will be lessened on this special occasion.
Solbiate Olona, 7 Jan 08. Two HQ NRDC-ITA officers received good news upon returning to work this New Year.
The Chief of Staff, now Major General Antonio Satta, was formally promoted from Brigadier General by NRDC-ITA’s Commander at a special ceremony today.
Upon handing over the new insignia, Lieutenant General Gay paid credit to General Satta’s achievements in his former rank, particularly those he undertook whilst on operational duties abroad.
Also receiving a New Year’s gift was Lieutenant Colonel Mark Rosenstein, who was formally promoted from the rank of Major. Colonel Rosenstein currently works as a Grade 1 Staff Officer in HQ NRDC-ITA’s Communication and Information Systems Branch, but will be leaving the Headquarters to take up battalion command.
In January 2008, after its excellent performance of the previous year, HQ NRDC-ITA was again invited to take part in the Friendship Trophy within the Italian Mountain Troop Ski Championships, a set of ski races among national military teams and multinational NATO HQs.
The cross country training started during November 2007 in S. Maria Maggiore and Val Formazza (Verbania Province), and in Pila (Aosta) for the downhill training.
Christmas stand down came and went, but the training kept continued. By New Year’s Eve the team was confirmed: for the downhill event; LTC Robin Carrow USA-Army, LTC Pierluigi Costa ITA-Army, LTC Giuseppe Musico’ ITA-Army and Maj Francesco Sorvillo ITA-Army.
For the cross country event the team was trained by Maj Roberto Mastrotto ITA-Army, who pushed the following to their limits: Col Peter Grunebach DEU-Army, LTC Fabio Sandonnini Punzi ITA-Army, Maj Francesco Sorvillo ITA-Army (again!) and Maj Steve White GBR-Army.
After all this training, the team at last reached S. Candido, (Alto Adige Province) in the far northern-eastern corner of Italy, where the competitions took place, to be met by plenty of snow and good weather.
30 Jan 08, Race Day 1 (15km cross country): The name “cross-country” could mislead the reader, letting him think of a vast, flat area with beautiful pine trees in the distance. Nothing could be more wrong. The track started with a bridge to cross -the wrong way- after 200 meters, and it went on and on uphill-downhill-uphill again for fifteen kilometers. The uphill parts caused pain in the legs and lungs, while the downhill portions were hard on your body, especially with the parts of your body you smashed on the snow when falling. Anyway, all of the team completed the event, much to the satisfaction of Maj Steve White who would never believe this possible with only two months and 20 hours of training.
31 Jan 08, Race Day 2 (Giant Downhill Slalom and Cross-country Team-Sprint): Downhill we scored well, no falling nor big mistakes, so we finished only eight seconds after the first-placed team. In the team sprint both Col Grunebach and Maj Mastrotto were initially slow, but the Support Team swiftly replaced the batteries of both and the speed improved.
1 Feb 08, Final Race Day (Patrol): 25 km of cross country ski with a shooting in the middle. The start was fast, the uphills never-ending. After some 20 km, the team reached the range and fired the rifles they were carrying on their backs from the departure line. We did not perform too well, with only one target hit out the three necessary. Possibly the hard panting and gasping played some part in it. However only 5 km after that, the finish line was in sight, and the team sprinted (...) with all its might for the last 80 meters.
Well, all good things come to an end, and the same afternoon the NRDC-ITA team proudly paraded in the main square of S. Candido for the closing ceremony, to receive the applause of the fellow competitors and the cheering crowd. We had enjoyed a perfect occasion to foster good relations with other HQs and units from all over the world, and we proudly flew the flag. The Support Brigade provided the team with excellent support for the whole training phase and the competition, with transportation and a professional driver all the way.
COMNRDC-ITA, who was present on the last competition day, was also proud of the effort, and even our score was not that bad: 10th out of 15 competing teams. Taking into account that most of the national teams counted young and professional athletes, the performance was actually rather good! In a future our team could perform even better if we had fresh legs for each event.
See you next year for the CASTA 2009!
Solbiate Olona, 22 Apr 08. The 23-strong UK Contingent at the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps (Italy) gathered with their spouses to bid farewell to their Deputy Commander and Senior British Officer today.
Coinciding with the annual UK Ladies’ Dinner Night, the Contingent gathered at a country restaurant in Varese, not only to treat their spouses to a night of fine Italian food and wine, but also to say goodbye to three members of their community.
Major General Bill CB, who departs in preparation for his next appointment as a Lieutenant General and the UK Military representative to NATO and the EU in Brussels in two weeks, has been HQ NRDC-ITA’s Deputy Commander since August 2006.
The Contingent also said goodbye to his wife, Mrs Gabrielle Bill and thanked both for all their support, kindness, friendship and leadership over the last two years.
Also being dined out was Captain James Jennings, who will continue to serve as General Bill’s Aide de Camp in Brussels.
Solbiate Olona, 23 Apr 08. Members of HQ NRDC-ITA joined Lieutenant Colonel Bert Pellegrino and his NetherlandsColleagues in celebrating the official birthday of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix.
An occasion that gives rise to great celebration all over the Netherlands was also enjoyed at HQ NRDC-ITA today.
The Netherlands Senior National Representative and his colleagues gathered members of HQ NRDC-ITA together to enjoy traditional Dutch liqueurs and aperitifs as well as formally toast Her Majesty.
Speaking before the toast, Colonel Pellegrino explained the background to the event and its symbolism before playing the national anthems of both the Netherlands and the host nation, Italy.
Following this official ceremony, all present were invited to sample the fine national cuisine on offer and enjoy the rest of the afternoon.
Solbiate Olona, 22 November 2007. The 27-strong UK Contingent at the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps (Italy) treated their Italian hosts to a very British Regimental Dinner on Thursday 22 November.
The dinner, hosted by the HQ’s Deputy Commander Major General David Bill CB, was themed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Siege of Delhi.
The siege, which saw Gurkha soldiers playing a decisive part in the British recapture of Delhi in 1857, is a particular source of pride to General Bill in his role as Colonel, The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers.
The evening commenced with a presentation on the details surrounding the Siege of Delhi, before settling down to a traditional Regimental Dinner, albeit with cuisine influenced by the Italian setting.
If the Anglo-Italian blend of culture was not a spectacle in its own right, the addition of musical accompaniment in the form of the pipes played by LCpl Dasharath Gurung of The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers, was the icing on the cake.
Not only did the evening provide an opportunity for the members of HQ NRDC-ITA’s UK community to celebrate in traditional fashion, it also offered the perfect occasion to thank the Contingent’s hosts - and in quite some style too.
Solbiate Olona, 29 Jun 07. “It gets better every year” said one attendee at today’s International Day celebrations hosted by HQ NRDC-IT.
The Headquarters’ fifth foray into the cultural offerings of its contributing nations has certainly been its biggest and best yet.
The Commander, Lieutenant General Del Vecchio, reminded us that it is an “opportunity to get to know each other and our countries’ traditions a little better…to bring us all closer together”.
The cross-cultural community that makes up HQ NRDC-IT has always been close, but add a new nation (France) and enough food and beverages to feed those attending twice over, and we all became “the best of friends”.
The afternoon’s events began just after lunch. However, those who had already eaten had made a mistake. Each of the contributing nations competed to provide “a little taste from home”, which provided the possibility to go on a seemingly endless gastronomic tour of 14 countries, washed down with wine, sangria and famous brands of beer.
When not eating or drinking, there was plenty to keep us occupied. Music and dance abounded with a traditional organ from Holland, and musicians and dancers from Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Turkey who performed throughout the afternoon.
When not mesmerised by the sights and sounds on the stage, children were let loose on the bouncy castles, slides and horse-rides provided by the local community. The adults were only dissuaded from having a go on these themselves by a display of classic cars and motorcycles, as well as other offerings from local businesses.
The series of events supposedly ended at 7 pm, but some revelers, who were reluctant to leave, seemed to want to carry on until the beginning of next year’s celebration. Whether they are there or not, this year’s International Day will certainly take some beating.