01 – Unveiling the Dynamics of Vertical Manoeuvre in Mountain Warfare

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COL Leon Holc, SVN (A); NATO MW COE Director

The recently concluded 5th NATO Mountain Warfare Congress touched on the critical aspects of mountain warfare, with a particular emphasis on the pivotal concept of vertical manoeuvre. The event brought together experienced lecturers and participants from various countries to delve deep into the dynamic field of mountain warfare, emphasizing the strategic importance of vertical manoeuvre in such challenging terrain.

Mountains have always posed unique challenges to military operations. The Congress aimed to shed light on the complexities and strategic significance of operating in rugged landscapes, highlighting the decisive role played by vertical manoeuvre. Lessons learned from mountain warfare underscore the need for specialized skills, adaptive strategies, and a profound understanding of the obstacles inherent in such environments.

At its core, the event aimed to underscore the complexity of vertical manoeuvre in mountain warfare, recognizing the advantages that high ground offers while acknowledging the formidable challenges it presents to military operations. Vertical manoeuvre embodies adaptability, resilience, and agility – attributes which are indispensable for success in such demanding landscapes.

Throughout the Congress, discussions revolved around the critical elements and integrated strategies required to effectively conduct vertical manoeuvre in mountain warfare. The comprehensive dialogue covered the physical, logistical, strategic, and leadership dimensions, recognizing the dynamic nature of operations in mountainous terrain and the impact of vertical manoeuvre on mission success.

We delved into the principles of parachuting and paragliding in mountain environments, examined the force structures of mountain units, explored the significance of close air support based on experiences in Afghanistan, and analysed the strategic use of drones, especially in conflict scenarios such as the Russo‐Ukrainian war.

The scope of our discourse extended beyond tactical considerations to encompass critical aspects such as Combat Service Support (CSS) and Engineer (ENG) support, medical assistance, and the crucial roles played by helicopters and drones in supporting mountain warfare operations. The lessons learned provided us with invaluable insights, enhancing our collective understanding of the challenges and opportunities presented in mountain warfare.

The event provided a platform for diverse perspectives, expert insights, and collaborative discussions, fostering a deeper understanding of the complexities of vertical manoeuvre in mountain warfare. The participants engaged in robust dialogues, exchanged experiences, and shared expertise, collectively aiming to enhance their understanding of manoeuvring in challenging landscapes.

The four‐day Congress marked a significant milestone in the collective exploration of
mountain warfare and vertical manoeuvre. Lecturers from many different nations and organizations contributed their insights, expertise, and dedication to enriching the collective understanding of this specific land domain. The vibrant exchanges, diverse perspectives, and invaluable collaborations between mountain warfare experts, troop commanders, school leaders, academia and industry highlighted the depth of the discussions and the wealth of knowledge shared during the event.

The engagement between military experts, academic leaders, industry innovators, and technology providers emerged as an invaluable platform for the exchange of ideas and best practice, and the exploration of cutting‐edge solutions. The collective efforts invested in analysing the various dimensions of vertical manoeuvre significantly enhanced our understanding of the challenges and opportunities presented by mountain warfare.

I express my gratitude to every participant, speaker, organizer, and contributor for their unwavering commitment, passion, and valuable contributions to the success of the Congress.
The dedication and expertise displayed have been instrumental in shaping a more comprehensive understanding of the intricacies involved in operating in challenging
mountainous landscapes.

The engagement between military experts, academic leaders, industry innovators, and technology providers emerged as an invaluable platform for the exchange of ideas and best practice, and the exploration of cutting‐edge solutions. The collective efforts invested in analysing the various dimensions of vertical manoeuvre significantly enhanced our understanding of the challenges and opportunities presented by mountain warfare.

I express my gratitude to every participant, speaker, organizer, and contributor for their unwavering commitment, passion, and valuable contributions to the success of the Congress.
The dedication and expertise displayed have been instrumental in shaping a more comprehensive understanding of the intricacies involved in operating in challenging
mountainous landscapes.

See the Power point Presentation of titled “support and cooperation with other COE in 2024”

The engagement between military experts, academic leaders, industry innovators, and technology providers emerged as an invaluable platform for the exchange of ideas and best practice, and the exploration of cutting‐edge solutions. The collective efforts invested in analysing the various dimensions of vertical manoeuvre significantly enhanced our understanding of the challenges and opportunities presented by mountain warfare.

I express my gratitude to every participant, speaker, organizer, and contributor for their unwavering commitment, passion, and valuable contributions to the success of the Congress.
The dedication and expertise displayed have been instrumental in shaping a more comprehensive understanding of the intricacies involved in operating in challenging
mountainous landscapes.