Ski warfare

Ski warfare is the use of ski-equipped troops in war.

S. V. Ivanov. Campaign of Muscovites. XVI century. (1903)
Muscovite campaign against the Lithuanians, a painting by Sergei Ivanov (1903).
Skielober 1811
A Norwegian soldier on skis 1801.
The War in Finland, 1940 HU55566
Finnish ski troops in Northern Finland during the Winter War in January 1940.
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-099-0735-15, Nordeuropa, Gebirgsjäger mit Narvikschild und Ski
German Gebirgsjäger with skis in 1942.



Ski warfare is first recorded by the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus in the 13th century. Preceding the Battle of Oslo in 1200, Norwegian troops used skis for reconnoitering. They were also used in 1452 in Sweden, and in the 15th to 17th centuries by various other Scandinavian countries. In 1767, military ski competitions began. They evolved into the Biathlon.[1]

Napoleonic Wars

Denmark-Norway (though only Norwegian) ski troops were used against Sweden during the 1807–1814 Napoleonic Wars.

World War I

During WWI the Italian Army raised 88 Alpini Battalions. Their purpose was to fight summer and winter in the highest regions of the Alpine Arch. Most of the battalions were dissolved after WWI. Only nine Alpini regiments remain in service today, and only four still train every soldier in ski warfare: the 4th Alpini Parachutist Regiment, 5th Alpini Regiment, 6th Alpini Regiment and 7th Alpini Regiment.

World War II

Ski troops played a key role in the successes of the Finnish war effort against the Soviet Union during the Winter War in 1939.[2] Forested, rural terrain with no roads was used by Finnish ski troops with great success against the advancing mechanized Soviet troops. In the Battle of Suomussalmi, two Soviet mechanized divisions (45,000 men) were annihilated by three Finnish regiments (11,000 men).

The Soviet Union deployed 11 ski battalions, among other troops, in November 1941 to reinforce their defenses in the Battle of Moscow.[3]

The most common transportation for Norwegian soldiers during the Norwegian Campaign in 1940 was skis and sleds, and in Operation Gunnerside, paradropped Norwegian commandos covered a large distance using skis in order to reach and sabotage the heavy water plant Vemork at Rjukan in Telemark, Norway, which was being used by the Germans as part of their nuclear research programme.

Ski warfare even extended to the Middle East where the Australian Ski Corps were deployed against Vichy French forces in the mountains of Lebanon.[4]

Also during WWII, the United States Army 10th Mountain Division was established and trained for ski combat. They were deployed in Italy.

Contemporary usage

Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian defense forces use skis in cross country skiing but also by pulling squads of soldiers with tracked transport vehicles or snow mobiles. One or two ropes hang from the end of a tracked vehicle such as the famous Swedish Hägglunds Bandvagn 206 or the Finnish Sisu Nasu and troops hang onto the ropes with their hands and ski-poles.

Many nations train troops in skiing and winter warfare, including:

Other information

The Norwegian military have held skiing competitions since the 1670s. The sport of biathlon was developed from military skiing patrols.

The United States ski patrol plays a vital role in the plot to the book A Separate Peace.

See also


  1. ^ "Skiing for transport, hunting, and war". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  2. ^ "The Winter War 1939". 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  3. ^ Chen, Peter. "Battle of Moscow". Lava Development, LLC. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  4. ^ Australia's first ski troops by Col. R.W. Savage in Australian Ski Yearbook, 1942. Reprinted in: Bill Beatty. The white roof of Australia. Cassell, 1958. pp. 77-80.

External links

1st Ski Division (Wehrmacht)

The 1st Ski Division (German: 1. Skijäger-Division) was an infantry unit of the German Army trained to use skis for movement during winter. It was created on the Eastern Front in the autumn of 1943 in preparation for upcoming winter operations. It was enlarged into a full division in the summer of 1944. The division fought exclusively on the Eastern Front as part of Army Group Centre, including an approach to the Vistula river and during the retreat into Slovakia, southern Poland and the Czech lands (now the Czech Republic), where it surrendered to the Red Army in May 1945.

3 Commando Brigade

3 Commando Brigade is a commando formation of the British Armed Forces and the main manoeuvre formation of the Royal Marines. Its personnel are predominantly Royal Marines, supported by units of Royal Engineers, Royal Artillery, and the Fleet Air Arm, together with other Commando Qualified sailors, soldiers and airmen.

The brigade was formed in 1942, during the Second World War, with a mixture of Army commando and Royal Marine commando units and served in the Burma Campaign. After the Second World War, the Army commandos were disbanded and the brigade became a Royal Marine formation. Recently, the brigade has again become a mixed Army and Marine formation with the addition of an Army infantry battalion, artillery regiment and engineer regiment alongside three Royal Marine battalions and support services. Since the end of the Second World War, it has served in the Suez crisis, Falklands War, Gulf War and the War in Afghanistan.

Camp Hale

Camp Hale, between Red Cliff and Leadville in the Eagle River valley in Colorado, was a U.S. Army training facility constructed in 1942 for what became the 10th Mountain Division. It was named for General Irving Hale and was at an elevation of 9,200 feet (2,800 m) above sea level. Onslow S. Rolfe, who had developed mountain warfare techniques as commander of the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment, was selected to command Camp Hale.Soldiers were trained in mountain climbing, Alpine and Nordic skiing, cold-weather survival as well as various weapons and ordnance. When it was in full operation, approximately 15,000 soldiers were housed there.

The creation of an elite ski corps was a national effort, with assistance from the National Association of Ski Patrol, local ski clubs, and Hollywood. Enough men were recruited to create three army regiments, which were deployed after training. Camp Hale was decommissioned in November 1945.

Chasseurs Alpins

The chasseurs alpins (English: Alpine Hunters) are the elite mountain infantry of the French Army. They are trained to operate in mountainous terrain and in urban warfare.

Cold-weather warfare

Cold-weather warfare, also known as Arctic warfare or winter warfare, encompasses military operations affected by snow, ice, thawing conditions or cold, both on land and at sea. Cold-weather conditions occur year-round at high elevation or at high latitudes, and elsewhere materialise seasonally during the winter period. Mountain warfare often takes place in cold weather or on terrain that is affected by ice and snow, such as the Alps and the Himalayas. Historically, most such operations have been during winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Some have occurred above the Arctic Circle where snow, ice and cold may occur throughout the year. At times, cold or its aftermath—thaw—has been a decisive factor in the failure of a campaign, as with Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812 and the German invasion of Russia during World War II.

Costanzo Picco

Costanzo Picco (1917 – 9 December 2009) was an Italian military officer and skier. He served as an officer during World War II in first the Italian 4th Army and later the Italian resistance forces. After WWII, he participated in the 1948 Winter Olympics, and served as a commander in the Italian Mountain Warfare School.

Cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing is a form of skiing where skiers rely on their own locomotion to move across snow-covered terrain, rather than using ski lifts or other forms of assistance. Cross-country skiing is widely practiced as a sport and recreational activity; however, some still use it as a means of transportation. Variants of cross-country skiing are adapted to a range of terrain which spans unimproved, sometimes mountainous terrain to groomed courses that are specifically designed for the sport.

Modern cross-country skiing is similar to the original form of skiing, from which all skiing disciplines evolved, including alpine skiing, ski jumping and Telemark skiing. Skiers propel themselves either by striding forward (classic style) or side-to-side in a skating motion (skate skiing), aided by arms pushing on ski poles against the snow. It is practised in regions with snow-covered landscapes, including Northern Europe, Canada, Russia and regions in the United States.

Competitive cross-country skiing is one of the Nordic skiing sports. Cross-country skiing and rifle marksmanship are the two components of biathlon, ski-orienteering is a form of cross-country skiing, which includes map navigation along snow trails and tracks.

Finnish Army

The Finnish Army (Finnish: Maavoimat, Swedish: Armén) is the land forces branch of the Finnish Defence Forces.

Today's Army is divided into six branches: the infantry (which includes armoured units), field artillery, anti-aircraft artillery, engineers, signals, and materiel troops. The commander of the Finnish Army since 1 August 2017 is Lieutenant General Petri Hulkko.

History of skiing

Skiing, or traveling over snow on skis, has a history of at least eight millennia. The earliest archaeological examples of skis were found in Russia and date to 6000 BCE. Although modern skiing has evolved from beginnings in Scandinavia, 5000-year-old wall paintings suggest use of skis in the Xinjiang region of what is now China. Originally purely utilitarian, starting in the mid-1800s skiing became a popular recreational activity and sport, becoming practiced in snow-covered regions worldwide, and providing a market for the development of ski resorts and their related communities.

Leadville, Colorado

Leadville is the statutory city that is the county seat and only incorporated municipality in Lake County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 2,759 at the 2017 United States Census. Situated at an elevation of 10,152 feet (3,094 m), Leadville has the highest elevation of any incorporated city in the United States. Originally called Silver City, Leadville was the last place Doc Holliday was a law man and the first proposed capital of the state.

A former silver mining town that lies amongst the headwaters of the Arkansas River in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the Leadville Historic District contains many historic structures and sites in its dynamic mining era. In the late 19th century, Leadville was the second most populous city in Colorado, after Denver. Leadville is notable for having a large number of 14,000 foot peaks viewable from town.

Marcel Pourchier

André Eugène Marcel Pourchier (1 June 1897 – 1 September 1944) was a French military officer whose last rank was Lieutenant-Colonel.

Mountain Warfare Training Center

The Mountain Warfare Training Center (MWTC) is a United States Marine Corps installation located in Pickel Meadows on California State Route 108 at 6,800 feet (2,100 m) above sea level in the Toiyabe National Forest, 21 miles (34 km) northwest of Bridgeport, California. The training center exists to train units in complex compartmented terrain.

Multinational Centre of Excellence for Mountain Warfare

Multinational Centre of Excellence for Mountain Warfare (MN COEMW; Slovene: Večnacionalni center odličnosti za gorsko bojevanje) is one of NATO Centres of Excellence, located in Bohinjska Bela, Slovenia. It is "responsible for training individuals and units for operation in the mountains and other terrains difficult to pass".Currently Centre is not fully accredited; full accreditation is planned for 2015.

Outline of military science and technology

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to military science:

Military science – study of the technique, psychology, practice and other phenomena which constitute war and armed conflict. It strives to be a scientific system that if properly employed, will greatly enhance the practitioner's ability to prevail in an armed conflict with any adversary. To this end, it is unconcerned whether that adversary is an opposing military force, guerrillas or other irregulars, or any adversary who knows of or utilizes military science in response.

Outline of skiing

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to skiing:

Skiing is a recreational activity using skis as equipment for traveling over snow. Skis are used in conjunction with boots that connect to the ski with use of a binding.

Outline of war

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to war:

War – organised and often prolonged armed conflict that is carried out by states and/or non-state actors – is characterised by extreme violence, social disruption, and economic destruction. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political communities, and therefore is defined as a form of political violence or intervention.Warfare – refers to the common activities and characteristics of types of war, or of wars in general.

Ryhmy ja Romppainen

Ryhmy ja Romppainen was a Finnish series of adventure stories published as 14 separate volumes during 1940 - 1967, and later ten first books as one volume. The author was Armas Josef Pulla, who has written lots of another books too. The books were highly popular during the war in winter 1940.

The protagonists, Kalle Ryhmy and Second Lieutenant Ville Romppainen were no action heroes, but down-to-earth rogue forest warriors, who would fight principally with cunning, and disliked the pompous brass and the bureaucracy. For example, a typical trick would be to use machine gun barrage to prevent the crew of a Soviet motor boat to access the deck, and then change the Soviet flag to a pair of dirty underpants.

Always accompanied by Ryhmy's tomcat Mörökölli ("Bogeyman"), their secret weapon was a log of wood, for striking the enemy to knock him out instead of killing. Their archenemy was Commissar Natalia Vengrovska, who would during the series fall in love with Ryhmy and plan to escape to America with him, while Ryhmy was horrified of the thought.

In the book Jees, mullikuhnuri, both protagonists were "knighted" with the Mannerheim Cross. In this exploit, they would find a barge in Lake Ladoga loaded with six brand-new Soviet tanks, and fight a small battle to claim its ownership with a Soviet patrol boat. An embedded reporter accompanying them wrote an article about this, resulting in the Mannerheim crosses being awarded almost instantly.

During the Continuation War, the series was a part of Finnish propaganda. After the war, the British- and Soviet-run Allied Control Commission required the Ryhmy ja Romppainen series removed from public libraries, because in them Soviet soldiers were depicted as lazy, dirty, involuntary and stupid. On the other hand, Pulla does not treat the Finnish higher command with silk gloves: they are represented as bureaucratic, slow-witted and officious. The Nicaraguans are represented as a pompous military dictatorship, which make a civil war on whether the national radio should play classical music (Sinfonistas) or popular music (Cancionistas).

One of the most famous propaganda claims in the book series was that according to Soviet doctrine, skis are suitable only for highway traffic. This was a reference to the initially poor (consider Battle of Raatteentie) ski warfare skills of the Soviet soldiers. Although this did improve, the writer would ignore this.

Three movies were made on the basis of the books. The General Headquarters of the Finnish Defence Forces considered the movie Jees ja just as derogatory to the Finnish soldier. In fall 1944, Finnish censorship (pressed by the Soviet Union) forbade the distribution of Jees ja just as derogatory of the Soviet Union. Distribution of the movie was allowed again only in 1988, during perestroika. In this movie, the protagonists were played by Oiva Luhtala (Ryhmy) and Reino Valkama (Romppainen).


Skiing can be a means of transport, a recreational activity or a competitive winter sport in which the participant uses skis to glide on snow. Many types of competitive skiing events are recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the International Ski Federation (FIS).

Vânători de munte

The Vânători de Munte (Romanian pronunciation: [vɨnəˈtorʲ de ˈmunte], English translation: Mountain Huntsmen) are the elite mountain troops of the Romanian Land Forces. They were first established as an independent Army Corps in 1916 during World War I, and became operational in 1917 under Corpul de Munte designation.

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