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German Army Mountain Warfare
World War II Mountain War
209 pages; 16 chapters and 1 appendix
During World War II, the German Army created more than eleven divisions of
mountain warfare troops. These elite units were trained to fight in the mountains
and rough terrain. They also proved lethal on flat terrain, and even in urban combat.
This report, written by the German Army in World War II, and edited by
QuikManuevers to make it more relevant to modern conditions, is a guidebook for
In Afghanistan, the US Army could have benefited from a unit trained, organized, and
equipped like a German mountain division. Instead, the 10th mountain division
of the US Army was formed, and given absolutely no training in mountain warfare.
The Germans knew how to fight in the mountains, and the combat leaders of German
mountain units were skilled in tactics both at the divisional and lower levels. German
Army Mountain Warfare describes how mountain war was fought in World War
II. Yet, the military art displayed in World War II is just as useful today.
German Army Mountain Warfare is thus a dual book. On one hand it describes the
German Army’s approach to mountain warfare in World War II, and on the other
hand it provides guidance for those who would like to learn how to fight in modern
“The Germans hold that the basic tactics of warfare in mountains are the same as in the flat, but that the application of
the principles must be modified to fit the high and rugged terrain. In mountainous terrain the movement of troops and the
employment of heavy equipment are limited, and deployment is restricted to such an extent that only comparatively small
forces can operate. Soldiers must be prepared to advance over narrow roads, tortuous paths, trackless terrain, steep and
slippery slopes, ravines, precipices, and glaciers. Movement frequently is threatened by avalanches, rockfalls, landslides,
and cornice fractures. Besides these special terrain factors, the weather also exerts a great influence on mountain
fighting. Meteorological phenomena, such as burning sun, heavy rain, and blinding snow coupled with intense cold, may
occur in swift sequences.
In mountains, the Germans believe, the infantry-artillery team retains the ascendancy which on other fields of battle it
yields in part to armor and air power. Relatively unimportant roles are played in mountain warfare by the tank and the
airplane. The employment of heavy infantry weapons and artillery is hampered by their bulk and weight, by the
considerable dead space, and by the difficulties of observation due to weather and intervening terrain features. It is the
infantry, above all, that must bear the brunt of the battle. Consequently, the Germans stress the principle that the
importance of shock action and close combat increases as the efficiency of other methods of fighting decreases, and that
in some respects mountain fighting resembles guerrilla warfare.”
Excerpt from German Army Mountain Warfare
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