Inside the Elite Forces that Guard the Pope

(Photo: Fczarnowski)

It's a halberd--an ancient weapon. But it's not for show. The Swiss Guardsman who carries it is a trained expert in its use, as well as a variety of modern firearms. The tiny Vatican City, which consists of a 110 acres, has several hundred highly trained soldiers and policemen who are masters of their lethal crafts. Tyler Rogoway of Jalopnik gives us a close look at the Pope's own warriors: the Swiss Guard and the Gendarmerie Corps:

Although many would think the Vatican is protected by a token force of spear-slinging cosplayers, this is not the case. Although the Vatican does not like to discuss it, many plain-clothed officers are nearby the Pope when he is moving about. This especially includes when he travels abroad. These Swiss Guard officers pack the best weaponry available, namely tricked-out Heckler & Koch MP7 personal defense weapon (PDW) that fires armor piercing small caliber rifle rounds. This weapon is extremely popular with elite units ranging from SEAL Team Six to presidential protection units around the globe. It is also compact enough to be packed in an underarm-sling that can be concealed underneath a sport coat.

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