Celebration marking the International Day of Mountain Soldiers

On Thursday 24 May, a celebration was held at the Slovenian Alpine Museum in Mojstrana to mark the International Day of Mountain Soldiers. On that day in 1985, the International Federation of Mountain Soldiers (IFMS) was founded in Mittenwald, Germany. It includes the following members: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, Spain and the USA as well as Slovenia. The international organisation, consisting of over half a million mountain soldiers, is currently chaired by Secretary-General BG Bojan Pograjc.

BG Pograjc began his ceremonial speech by expressing his congratulations to the ‘grey berets’ (mountain soldiers) and emphasizing the values of mountain soldiers in Slovenia and abroad, such as promoting peace and respect of human rights; preserving the memory of the soldiers who were killed or died in the mountains, regardless of which side they had fought for and regardless of their world view, and encouraging friendship and professional cooperation among active, reserve and retired mountain soldiers, as well as the commitment to preserve mountain nature. Referring to the accomplished development level of military mountaineering in Slovenia and in the context of preparing the new Mid-Term Defence Programme, he also gave several expert recommendations to defence planners at the Ministry of Defence as possible guidelines for the further development of military mountain units in the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF).

Although pervaded by a ceremonial atmosphere, the meeting, as usual, also provided an opportunity to cover expert topics. BG (Retired) Janez Kavar gave an interesting and remarkable lecture on the background of the ski race of the US 10th Mountain Division on Mt. Mangart in June 1945 and its successful revival in 2011.

In addition to a large number of active, reserve and retired mountain soldiers, their loved ones and their supporters, the ceremony was attended by Deputy Chief of Staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces, BG Andrej Osterman, and Secretary-General of the Office of the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Uroš Krek.

The ceremony, which included the performance of the mountain soldier choir Gorščaki, was organised by the Slovenian Organisation of Mountain Soldiers, the Slovenian Alpine Museum and the SAF Multinational Centre of Excellence for Mountain Warfare.