Lions of England tackle Slovenian mountains

October 27, 2017

The North West’s Reservist Infantry 4th Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (4 LANCS) deployed on their Annual Deployment Exercise (ADE) to Slovenia for Ex TRIGLAV STAR. Taking place over two weeks in September, 105 soldiers, mostly Reservists from the North West but with elements from 4th Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment (4 YORKS) and Queens Own Yeomanry (QOY), all travelled to BOHINJSKA BELA Barracks. They were to take part in a tri-lateral exercise with the 132nd Mountain Regiment Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) and the US Colorado National Guard (CNG). The military camp, situated in the stunning Julian Alps, is NATO’s Multinational Centre of Excellence for Mountain Warfare used by military specialists world-wide.

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Activities included a period of acclimatization in the mountains, rock climbing, repelling, river crossings, a 16km orienteering mountain hike and the usual collective training low level tactics in the open and Fighting In Woods And Forests (FIWAF).

The Field Training Exercise (FTX) was a great finale largely due to the novelty of exercising in mountainous terrain and the unseasonal cold weather conditions. The soldiers were cold, wet but cheerful. They were allowed fires in the harbour to dry their kit and sleeping bags, and they arrived on the final morning in good order before assaulting two mountains: ‘Obj ALPHA’ was a 500m FIWAF ascent and ‘Obj BRAVO’ was at the top of a ski slope at 1700m. The FTX brought out some stoic junior leadership, indeed it was essential. The Slovenians were impressed with the British soldiers and their positive attitude in spite of not being mountain specialists.

The Slovenians ran a battlefield tour focussing on Lt Rommel’s progress through the mountains to break through the Italian Army’s defensive lines into Italy almost 100 years ago (24 – 26 Oct 1917) which capped off the OTX.

In summary, over two weeks the 105 soldiers improved their soldiering skills, battle fitness and mental resilience, and generated strong relationships with US and Slovenian NATO partners.