Having successfully attended the Italian Military Academy, LTG Zanelli commissioned in 1987 into the 187th Parachute Regiment. After passing the two year SOF selection courses he moved on to the 9th Assault Battalion "Col Moschin" (ITA Tier 1 SOF unit).
LTG Zanelli has commanded Italian SOF combat formations at every level and has extensive experience in counterrorism operations alongside NATO and european regional partners.
In particular, his command appointments include:
· Lt/Cpt – OC Platoon/Detachment/Company, 187th Parachute Regiment and 9th Assault Battalion "Col Moschin" (ITA Tier 1 SOF unit);
· Lt Col – Commanding Officer, 1st "Raiders" Battalion (9th Assault Regiment "Col Moschin");
· Col – Commanding Officer, 9th Assault Regiment "Col Moschin";
· 1 Star – Commander ITA Army Special Operations Command (COMFOSE);
· 2 Star – General Officer Commander ITA Joint Special Operations Command (COFS);
· 3 Star – General Officer Deputy Commander ITA Army Operations Command.
· 3 Star – General Officer Deputy Commander NATO Resolute Support Mission.
Staff posts have been mainly Joint Operational and/or international facing appointments and include:
· Maj – Operations Section Head Officer, Parachute "Folgore" Brigade HQ;
· Maj – Training Section Head Officer, 9th Assault Regiment "Col Moschin";
· Maj – Exchange Officer, British Mechanised 3rd Division, stationed in Bulford (Wiltshire);
· Lt Col – Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations (ACOS OPS), ITA Joint Special Operations Command (COFS);
· Col – Chief of Staff, ITA Joint Special Operations Command (COFS).
During his military career, LTG Zanelli has taken part in numerous missions abroad, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, including:
· Op. "Airone" – Iraq (1991);
· Op. "Restore Hope" – Somalia (1992 – 1994 various commitments);
· Op. "IFOR/SFOR" – Bosnia-Herzegovina (1995 – 1998 various commitments)
· Op. "Telic 1" – Iraq (2003)
· Op. "ISAF & Resolute Support" – Afghanistan (2005 – 2021 various commitments)
During his career, LTG Zanelli attended the Italian General Staff Officer Course at the Army War School in Civitavecchia (Rome), the Scuola di Applicazioni in Turin (ITA), where he obtained a Bachelor in Military Strategic Science and the UK Joint Command & Staff Course (JSCSC) in Shrivenham, where he obtained a Master of Arts in Defence Studies from King's College - London. In 2010, LTG Zanelli obtained recognition of the following foreign languages: English (JFLT: 4/4/4/4) and German (JFLT: 3/3/3/3) at the Army Foreign Languages School.
He has also served as Military Attaché in the United Kingdom for three years, with accreditation extended to Ireland and Iceland (2010 – 2013).
LTG Zanelli is married to Romy and has four children (two bad boys and two good girls). As a Special Forces operator he is supposed to practice all sports, with a preference for mountaineering, parachuting and diving (never give up…).