Vertical Manoeuvre: The NATO 5th Mountain Warfare Congress

Vertical Manoeuvre: The NATO 5th Mountain Warfare Congress

The Mountain Warfare Centre of Excellence recently hosted the 5th Annual Mountain Warfare Congress at the Brdo Congress Centre in Krani, Slovenia. This year’s theme was “Vertical Manoeuvre” and the event attracted military leaders and experts eager to expand their knowledge and competencies in mountain warfare.

The theme mirrored the evolving nature of modern mountain warfare, as the nature of conflicts transform so do mountain unit tactics. The congress explored vertical manoeuvre comprehensively, from its origins to present day paradrop (a drop or delivery by parachute) and paraglide principles in mountain environments. Attendees gained insights into the vital role of Close Air Support through the experiences of Joint Terminal Air Controllers and helicopter pilots in Afghanistan. Discussions also included drones, lessons from the Russo-Ukrainian War, and counter-Unmanned Aerial Vehicle strategies. This holistic approach covered all aspects of 21st-century mountain warfare.

A prominent feature of the 5th Annual Mountain Warfare Congress was the exhibition of industrial developments. Attendees had the privilege of witnessing the latest advancements in equipment and technology tailored for mountain operations. These innovations played a crucial role in enhancing troop effectiveness and safety in demanding environments.

The congress served as an invaluable platform for enhancing individual competencies and knowledge in mountain warfare. Attendees, ranging from Senior Non-Commissioned Officers to brigade commanders, had the opportunity to gain understanding from seasoned professionals and draw from real-life experiences. The combination of expert knowledge and practical wisdom allowed participants to develop an extensive comprehension of the complexities associated with operating in mountainous environments.The keynote speaker, General Ignazio Gamba, ITA Alpini Commanding General, provided the opening address in which he emphasized the importance of the mountain warfare community growth. He highlighted the complexity of mountainous terrain where improvisation is not an option, stating that “due to the very specific operational environment, we use to say that up in the mountain you cannot cheat!”.

Col Ruggero Cucchini, Deputy Director of the NATO Mountain Warfare Centre of Excellence shared that, “in the mountains, there are critical infrastructures and critical resources such as water or dams, power lines, pipelines, the roads, highways and tunnels that cross the mountains and connect them. Whoever controls these critical infrastructures has a decisive advantage over their adversary.”

This congress, attended by over 120 people in the mountain warfare community from 23 NATO member and partner nations, successfully brought together a diverse group of individuals interested in these tactics. This inclusive assembly comprised not only military leaders but also academics, industry professionals, and dedicated enthusiasts.

On Friday, October 6th, a tailored conference for commanders of mountain units was convened. This special session emphasized the pivotal role of effective leadership in mountain warfare. Commanders were recognized for their essential contributions to ensuring the success and safety of troops operating in challenging terrains, making this conference a vital component of the event.

The Mountain Warfare Centre of Excellence’s 5th Annual Mountain Warfare Congress was an exceptional opportunity for military professionals and subject matters experts to delve into the intricacies of mountain warfare, focusing on “Vertical Manoeuvre”. With a blend of expert knowledge, practical experience, and exposure to the latest developments, attendees left the congress better equipped to confront the unique challenges posed by mountain environments. By promoting collaboration and knowledge exchange, this event furthered the commitment of the global community to develop effective mountain warfare strategies and tactics.

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