Edelweiss Raid 23

More than just a folk song, the Austrian Army (Österreichs Bundesheer) Gebirgsjäger-Wettkampfes is a grueling Alpine mountaineer competition that is sort of the Olympics for mountain warfare folks.

In two days, teams cover 40 kilometers (24.85 miles) of rugged Austrian Alps terrain with up to 14,000 feet of cumulative elevation gain, completing various military tasks at 12 stations. They carry a litter with their equipment — both for challenges and in case of real casualty situations.

This year’s raid saw 22 teams from nine nations: Austria, Bulgaria, China, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, and the U.S.

Hosted by 6. Gebirgsbrigade— the Austrian home team– the event is rugged for sure.

Of interest, this year’s event also saw some trial use of the planned new Austrian Army Kampfweste, or battle-vest

When it came to the two American teams

U.S. National Guard Soldiers — from Vermont, home of the Army Mountain Warfare School and the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), and the Connecticut National Guard — returned to Austria this year to compete in the biennial event. This time, the 16-member U.S. team competed in two groups. Both finished; one cracked the top 10.

Sgt. 1st Class Tim McLaughlin, instructor, U.S. Army Mountain Warfare School, Vermont Army National Guard, conducts pre-marksmanship instruction for high angle shooting during the 2023 Edelweiss Raid Feb. 26, 2023, in Austria. Teams must engage 20 targets at 200 meters, shooting high to low, and receive time penalties for each missed target. 230226-Z-A3552-611. Photo By: Staff Sgt. Max Archambault

Teams in the top three this year were from Germany, Switzerland, and…China. While the first two are no surprise, the last should raise some eyebrows for the Indian Army, which has had lots of high-mountain antics with the Chinese as of late. 

A full 600-picture gallery is here.

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