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MW Congress – When Science Meets Real-life Experience

The NATO MW COE organized the 1st Mountain Warfare (MW) Congress between 12th and 15th June 2018 in Poljče, Slovenia.

The congress focused on different aspects and points of views regarding mountain warfare and leadership. The event provided expert knowledge and real-life experience.

Command Chief Master Sergeant Jack Johnson, Jr., the Command Senior Enlisted Leader (CSEL) at Allied Command Transformation set the general frame for the topic by placing mountain warfare into the global context of NATO.

The historical approach to the topic was presented by Peter Lieb, PhD, a top-ranking military historian, author, TV-analyst and mountaineer. He shared some scientifically proven information regarding mountain warfare from the past to the present.

MAJ Laurent Lucchini provided facts and figures on the military operation in Afghanistan Dinner Out, based on the experience and knowledge he gained as company commander in this operation in mountainous terrain. He highlighted the topic from a general military leadership point of view.

The next speaker, Ernest Roth, PhD, current maneuver manager at JMTC, USA and military historian shared his real-life involvement in Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan. He experienced the battlefield first-hand and learned by painful experience where and what the problems and challenges were in mountain warfare, while being under fire and facing the natural and human factors in a war waged in the mountains. In a very clear way, he pointed out the needs and demands as well as limitations. Support, load management and effectiveness were only some of his key points from the boots-on-the-ground perspective.

During the congress, the NATO MW COE took an opportunity and solemnly announced Romania as the next Sponsoring Nation. On this occasion, the Honourable Ambassador of Romania to the Republic of Slovenia, H.E. Mr. Anton Niculescu, pointed out that the membership of Romania as a Sponsoring Nation is also a result of an excellent bilateral cooperation between Romania and Slovenia.

In the afternoon, 12th June 2018, a technical recce was presented by members of the German “Gebirgsjägerbrigade 23” and the industry static display was held in correlation with mountain warfare.

The Mountain Cell presentation with CPT Niels Delenk (DEU AF) concluded the first day of the congress.

On the second day, focus was given on leadership topics. Leadership brings every system into existence. The current state of the art concerning popular leadership theories were presented by pointing out analogies from cybernetics, bionics and sports.

Mr. Janez Hudovernik from the Management Performance Academy provided the audience with in-depth information and insights what trust is and how it can be achieved by a successful leader.

In continuation of his presentation, Ernest Roth, PhD changed the perspective from the theoretical aspect of science to the real-life experience in leadership in a very tangible way.
In a metaphorical outdoor leadership exercise, the congress attendees had a chance, through empirical experience, to get some impulses for reflecting on their own leadership.

On the last day of the MW congress, Prof. Blaž Torkar, PhD (SAF History Museum, SVN), gave the participants an insight on the 12th Isonzo offensive, thus setting impulses for learning from  empiric history in mountain warfare.

LTC Christoph Kück (NATO Standardization Office) concluded the congress with the last lecture. He started from a general point of view and later focused on mountain warfare standardization documents inside NATO by pointing out the purpose of the standardization in NATO-led missions.

The MW Congress ended with a plenary discussion and way ahead expectations. The participants were given a chance to ask open or questions to the speakers in their domain.

The 1st MW Congress brought together subject matter experts from 13 nations with speakers who shared their knowledge and experiences from different points of view and are usually not touched on during conventional career training. The NATO MW COE is looking forward to organize the 2019 MW Congress with emphasis on the topic Risk Management.

See you next year!